Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Year Ahead

Happy New Year, CT Readers! Hope you all had a happy holiday season.

Here in New Jersey, we are just starting to come out of a deep freeze that we’ve been in since right after Christmas. We’re talking zero degrees and -4 wind chills - definitely not my favorite weather!

I’ve been enjoying reading articles from other writers with their 2017 highlights, and I was just about to start compiling my own recap (Austin, Florida, North Carolina, northern California, Hawaii, lunch at the CIA in New York, and tons of delicious foods here in NJ - I have included a few photos throughout this post from our wonderful 2017 travels), but then I thought, I’d rather look ahead to what’s coming up this year. I’ve always been more of a “looking forward” person. 
Sailing the beautiful waters of Hawaii
Luscious malasadas (Portugese doughnuts) from Leonards in Honolulu
So this month we’re heading off to a small ship cruise of Costa Rica & Panama with UnCruise! We’ll be visiting many of the fabulous national parks in both countries. Costa Rica boasts incredible, diverse wildlife (from monkeys to exotic birds to sloths!), and a tropical paradise home to sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales. In-between, there will be kayaking, snorkeling, eating, drinking, and plenty of relaxing in the warm weather (ahhhhhh!). 
Fabulous breakfast biscuit at Buttermilk in Sarasota
The trip caps off with an ocean-to-ocean transit through the Panama Canal. The 48 mile canal is an engineering marvel that took over 75,000 workers to build. My husband crossed the Panama Canal, courtesy of a US government sailing (read: on the way to Vietnam) many years ago and wanted me to experience it, too; I have a feeling this cruise may be somewhat more enjoyable for him :-)
The beautiful Japanese Gardens in San Francisco
To add to our enjoyment of this trip, three good friends will be joining us so I’m sure we will have a fabulous time!
The friendly llamas of Mendocino
Next up, most likely in March, will be a short road trip to the Holy City (Charleston) with another set of friends. We’ve only been to Charleston once and we absolutely loved it. My only negative about this beautiful city from our previous trip was the humidity (definitely not a good hair city!), but the history, art, and FOOD is so wonderful, I will “force” myself to slog through it (believe me, I won’t have to be forced). I’m already starting to make a mind-list of restaurants to hit (Hominy Grill, FIG, Husk, Rodney Scott BBQ to name a few). I absolutely love southern, low country food and there is no shortage of terrific restaurants in Charleston.
Delectable, warm doughnuts and jam at Hotel Ella in Austin
Of course, we’ll probably want to tour one of the gorgeous old plantations (Magnolia Plantation or Drayton Hall?), and maybe (weather dependent) sail out to visit Fort Sumter National Park. Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War at troops at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 so this is an important chapter in our history. We didn’t get to Fort Sumter on our last visit due to rain so I’m hoping we can do it this time.

And, finally, in early September we will meet up with another set of friends for a two-week road trip through the "Vacationland" state - Maine! Details are still being formulated, but penciled in as of now, we will start in Portland, meander up coastal Route 1 with gorgeous ocean views around every turn, stopping here and there for lobster rolls, peeky-toe crab rolls, and fresh blueberry ice cream. We’ll visit Rockport (home to Maine’s fleet of tall ships and maybe do a day sail), Rockland (I’d love to stop at the Farnsworth Museum which houses the Wyeth Center, featuring works of Andrew, NC, and Jamie Wyeth), and Camden (just to soak up the beauty of this seaside village). 
Gorgeous sunset in Wilmington, NC

I’m going to try my darndest to snag a reservation at The Lost Kitchen while we’re in the general Freedom area, though it won’t be easy. Then we’ll cross the gorgeous Penobscot Narrows Bridge (the highest bridge observatory in the world, with incredible views up and down the Penobscot River) on our way to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park (the jewel in the National Park system).
Acadia National Park
After that, it’s uncharted territory as we head inland to Moosehead Lake. Planning about 3 nights at The Lodge at Moosehead Lake in Greenville. Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine, is surrounded by incredible scenic vistas including Mt Katahdin, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and parts of the Appalachian Trail. This area offers the opportunity to really get away from it all, and experience the wilderness while hiking, kayaking, or what I’m most excited about, going on a “moose safari!” I’ve wanted to do that ever since reading about this lodge a few years ago. Moose can be elusive but hopefully we’ll see one or two.
Tableside ice cream at the CIA
Of course, we’ll want a little pampering after all that outdoorsy-ness, and luckily the lodge offers that, too.

So that’s our itinerary (so far) for this year. Your intrepid food/baking/travel reporter will be back soon with a full download. Until then, wishing you good food, warmth, and happiness in 2018!

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