Traveling with a 90 pound bundle of crazy is not always the easiest, and often, you can be hard-pressed to find "dog friendly" places for any pup that breaks the 30 pound barrier. This however, is a collection of some of Orvis' favorite places (where you won't find any size-ism), and some of the things to do that we consider to be truly dog friendly.
They are, of course, our favorite co-pilots.
We sure set the bar high for winter weekends during this first one of 2014 – it’ll be a tough one to beat! On Friday afternoon, after Thursday’s snowstorm, the fun began when we met one of my college roommates and her boyfriend for a long, laughter-filled lunch at Duckfat. Fantastic fries & fun friends are always a wanted distraction from the coldest of winter days.
The following morning, Michael and I packed our snowshoes, Orvis, and some snacks, and headed north to my family’s cottage in Wiscasset. We had two picture perfect days to snowshoe around the farm and even ventured out onto the beautiful, frozen Sheepscot River for the first time. Taking a break from the snowshoeing, we found that sipping milk punches, reading, and napping by the fire were every bit as enjoyable for us as our adventures in the snow.
Yesterday evening we decided to take advantage of our location and Primo‘s last dinner service until April, and enjoyed another fantastic meal at the renowned midcoast restaurant – this time at the walk-in counter. After a deliciously filling meal of brussels sprouts, meatballs, cassoulet, polenta with roasted vegetables, and a caramelized banana cream pie, we headed home to watch the Downton Abbey premiere by the fire – a delightful end to a delightful weekend. It’s back to work for now, but you can bet that this week will be filled with plenty of winter weather getaway day-dreaming!
As soon as our lovely friend, Li Ward, released the coffee table book she created with her business partner, Brittany Bang, I bought two copies – one for our own collection and one for a giveaway. If you haven’t already heard about it on blogs like Design*Sponge (!), the book, Rescue Pets of Boston, is beautifully executed and features the most charming photos of rescue animals throughout the city of Boston. Michael and I are longtime fans of Li’s vibrant pet imagery & whimsical calligraphy, so it’s especially exciting for us to own a copy of the book that combines our friend’s talents. Boston is a city near and dear to our hearts, which makes us even happier to share the book with Map & Menu readers. Plus, 100% of proceeds from the book will be donated to animal-related charities – incredible, right?
To enter to win your own signed copy of Rescue Pets of Boston, simply follow Map & Menu on Facebook or Instagram and then leave a comment below. You have until midnight on Friday December 20th!
Since our travel plans for Thanksgiving were cancelled due to the weather, Meredith and I found ourselves with an unexpected free weekend and thus, an opportunity for another Map & Menu day trip! So when the people at the Tamworth Lyceum reached out to us about visiting their shop, we did a little research about the store and the area, and felt that it would be the perfect fit for a Saturday drive. It’s rare that Meredith and I take a trip, however short, that doesn’t revolve around food in some way, but the opportunity to visit the Swift River with Orvis and get some holiday shopping done at the same time felt like the perfect way to spend the day.
The Tamworth Lyceum isn’t exactly what you’d expect to find in a small rural New England town like Tamworth. Its branding, aesthetic, and highly curated selection of foods and wares seem fit for a shop in Brooklyn, but after watching numerous people come filtering in to grab a coffee, running into friends, and staying to chat for awhile, you realize that it’s less about the products they carry and more about the community space they’ve created. Don’t get us wrong, the selection of American-made home goods, outdoor gear, and specialty foods (many sourced locally) are more than worth the trip (as evidenced by the bags in our living room), it’s just that you could fit right in with nothing more than a cup of coffee and some time to kill.
Hemenway State Forest
The folks at the Lyceum recommended that we take Orvis to the fire tower on Great Hill for a short hike with an awesome vista reward. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the trail to the fire tower and the Big Pine Natural Area that we had already planned to visit are simply two halves of the same park – Hemenway State Forest. If you just want to visit the fire tower and take in its breathtaking panoramic views of the region (the tower itself is open to the public), park on the west side of the forest at the intersection of Great Hill and Hemenway Roads, and make the short trip up the backroad to the tower. Although the views from the tower are hard to beat, the grandeur and power of the Swift River and gigantic white pines on the other side of the park offer another spectacular setting. It’s hard to believe that both are just minutes apart, and even in winter, both delivered amazing natural beauty and have us wanting to return again once the weather gets warmer.
Meredith and I are trying to get out and make a few more day trips to explore the many towns of New England that are within a few hours distance from Portland. So many times when we head south, we either stop in Portsmouth or Boston, but just between the two is Newburyport, MA, an awesome, historic colonial town set on the Merrimack River. Last weekend, we took Orvis along for a drive and tried to explore as much of the area as the day would allow. There was plenty of fun to be had for such a short drive, and the following are what we consider to be the highlights of Newburyport.
Just outside of Newburyport is this sprawling park on the site of an old local estate. There are miles of trails and carriage roads to hike, including the estate gardens, foundations of the razed homes, and views of the Merrimack River. Orvis loved playing fetch well off the path, and we could’ve easily spent the entire day exploring the different areas of the park, but our bellies were letting us know that there was lunch to be had!
Recently awarded Boston Magazine’s best new restaurant north of town, Brine is a delicious oyster and crudo bar (New England’s first) in downtown Newburyport. Brine’s cozy atmosphere and minimal branding make for a pretty cool setting. Some of the highlights of our meal were the tuna crudo with carrot, pistachio, burnt scallion, and mint, my oyster po boy, and of course, a few of the local Massachusetts oysters. Check out the Wine and Brine, where for $40/person you’ll be treated to a four course dinner and a bottle of wine.
Had we not just received the latest shipment of wine from our trip to Sonoma, we could’ve easily walked out of Grand Trunk Imports with a number of bottles of wine and delicious cheeses from their impressive selection.
Meredith had read about the hand pies from Buttermilk Baking Company in Boston Magazine, so when we passed by the bakery while walking around downtown, we couldn’t help but stop in for a mid-afternoon treat. The hand pies are indeed tasty, but I’m a particular sucker for cinnamon buns, of which they make a mean one.
For Meredith, it wouldn’t be much of a roadtrip without a little bit of antiquing. Oldies Marketplace has a huge selection of antiques and collectibles, but unfortunately I couldn’t convince Mere to bring the life-size statue of a bull home with us.
After we’d finished our walk around Newburyport, we drove further down the Merrimack River to Plum Island. The drive along the marshes of the river, and crossing onto the island reminded us of the beaches back down south. Although we didn’t have time to make it to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on the southern part of the island, Orvis had plenty of fun chasing his ball down the beach and splashing through the water. If the sheer amount of sand in my backseat was any sign, this was possibly Orvis’s favorite part of our trip.
The following are a few of the places we didn’t make it to, but will be keeping on our radar for the next trip to Newburyport: Joppa Fine Foods, CEIA Kitchen + Bar, Soufflés
One of the coolest parts about Maine is how varied the terrain can be within such a small distance. Meredith and I live on the coast, but less than an hour away is the picturesque Lakes Region, and just a little bit further, the spectacular White Mountains. Nestled in between the two is Sabattus Mountain, a short easy hike just outside of Lovell, Maine, with some of the most breathtaking views of the White Mountains and the Kezar Lake region. A few weeks ago, Meredith and I took Orvis for a day hike up the mountain, and although the trail itself is quite enjoyable, with some sections of colorful deciduous growth and others of needle-laden coniferous forest, the view from the top was simply amazing. The three of us spent a good deal of time enjoying the view before our hike back down, and still made it home in the early afternoon.
Each year that we’ve lived in Maine, we’ve been fortunate to find that as fall fades to winter, there always seems be one last burst of warmer weather. We’ve come to savor these Indian Summers, and late last week turned into one of my favorites yet. In the few brief days of sun and unusual warmth, we crammed in as much time outside as possible. We enjoyed brunch in town, spent time in the yard with Orvis, grilled out, enjoyed meals on the patio, and went on numerous neighborhood walks to Orvis’s favorite secret beach. Even after the warm spell snapped, we kept the awesome weekend going with our favorite local dog-friendly race, the Bayside Trail 5k. This year, we were joined by a number of friends that bravely faced the cold wind, and afterwards, treated ourselves to some of the delicious treats served up by the Urban Sugar food truck (hopefully we’ll be returning for Map & Menu in the very near future). Now, as the colder weather begins to become standard, we’re turning our eyes toward planning winter adventures and looking forward to all of the fun yet another season will bring.
Side note: While reading about Indian Summers, I saw a reference to its British equivalent – All-Hallows Summer – which seemed fitting given that the warm air blew in this year on Halloween.
In an attempt to take advantage of the beautiful, but all too-short, fall season in Maine, we decided to take a day off from work and try a new hike with Orvis. After giving it some thought, we chose Tumbledown Mountain via the dog-friendly (and less strenuous) Brook Trail. The drive up to Franklin County during the foliage-filled first week of October was gorgeous. We drove through new towns we’d never visited and enjoyed some of the prettiest vistas of colorful, rolling mountains.
Visiting the trail on a Monday, we ended up having the whole hike to ourselves, and Orvis was as happy as could be as he ran free ahead of us. Though we didn’t stay too long at the top because of the chilly temperatures & high wind, Orvis didn’t seem to mind the cold a bit and ended up taking a dip in the picturesque Tumbledown Pond. We continued to laugh at our semi-spastic hiking partner the whole way down the mountain as we vowed to return in the warmer months of the summer when we, too, might actually want to go for a swim in the pond.
Orvis and I held down the fort here in Maine this weekend while Michael was in California for work, and I’d have to say that we managed to have a good bit of fun even though our trio was incomplete. I came back from our trip to Sonoma with an odd craving for Pai Men Miyake, so I treated myself to a solo lunch overlooking Longfellow Square on Friday. The next day included a stop at the farmer’s market, the garden center, and Longfellow Books where I fell in love with their shop dog, Eloise. Orvis and I ventured over to Cape Elizabeth for a walk in the woods before enjoying the last dinner of the season at my favorite restaurant, The Well at Jordan’s Farm. I had to be in Boston for work the next day, but I did manage to stop by American Field, a pop-up shop of featuring American-made goods from around the country. (More on that this week!)
Hopefully you all had a wonderful, crisp fall weekend as well!
Last week on our way down to North Carolina, Orvis and I decided to break up our trip a bit by staying at one of our favorite places along the route – Hotel Fauchère in Milford, PA. While I love traveling with both of my boys, I do enjoy my occasional solo road trips with my pal, Orvis. (See photos from my September trip to Stowe with Orvis.) I think there’s something extra special about experiencing a hotel alongside your dog, since they bring so much joy to our lives, it only makes sense to want to take them everywhere with us.
Rather than share more photos of Hotel Fauchère (see the posts from our 2012 stays in March, July, and October), I thought it might be nice to (share) a few images of Orvis around the property. After all, an adventure like this with Orvis is basically just an excuse for me to take way too many photos of him.
Clifton Inn seems to be that perfect melding of history, southern charm, elegance, and modern comfort. Meredith stayed here for an evening while passing through Charlottesville, and it was in large part due to Clifton that we made this most recent return trip to the area. As our first trip to a Relais & Châteaux property since becoming 5c members, we enjoyed a delightful upgrade to the charming honeymoon cottage and the opportunity to visit Jefferson’s Monticello before we departed. The staff was extremely accommodating in helping us plan our days, the property was unbelievably gorgeous in the springtime, and our stay was wonderfully relaxing and peaceful. Walking the grounds of the dog-friendly inn with Orvis, through the woods and beside the lake, we couldn’t help but daydream about many, many future return trips.