As far as I’m concerned, there’s no vacation better than a road trip. Laying on a beach in Tahiti? Too boring. Carving a path through the rain forest in South America? Too sweaty. Drinking hot chocolate in a cozy Aspen lodge while Ryan Gosling tells you how fantastic you look in your sweater? Okay you got me, that one is better than a road trip.
Ryan Gosling notwithstanding, road trips are awesome. When planning a road trip, I always make sure I have a bag full of snacks, plenty of water for my pup, an iPod loaded with new podcasts, my trusty National Parks Passport, and a couple side trips courtesy of OnTheWay. OnTheWay App is “A better way to get there.” Load in your departure point and destination, and it will supply you with potential stop overs along the way. The site will suggest restaurants, movie theaters, and points of interest along your route so you can eat where locals do (and avoid the road trip trap of dollar menus). While not (yet) totally comprehensive, OnTheWay is a great starting point to begin planning your meandering adventure.
I hate frozen yogurt. I try to like it, I swear. The Pinkberry, Red Mango/, etc. invasion has been going on for a few years now, but every time I try a new concoction, it’s always the same. It’s not an ice cream replacement. It’s not even ice cream-adjacent.
My search for healthy, delicious ice cream-like treats took a turn for the better this weekend when walked through the doors of The Soft Serve Fruit Co. in New York City’s Union Square neighborhood. The delicious concoctions are dairy free, gluten free, fat free, vegan, and kosher parve. All those ultra-healthy terms normally scare me, but I went ahead and gave it a shot anyway (against the better judgment of my sweet tooth). It was amazing! Delicious and refreshing, the soft serves are made up of only three ingredients: fruit, water, and a dash of organic cane sugar. Choose one (or all) of the rotating menu of fruit soft serve flavors and then pick from a variety of toppings to round out your sundae. I had dark chocolate and blueberry soft serve with pomegranate seeds on top and I didn’t miss my usual strawberry cheesquake blizzard one bit.
In the past three days, I’ve visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island,Clinton Castle, Federal Hall, and the birthplace of Teddy Roosevelt. No, I’m not looking for clues to figure out who stole the Declaration of Independence, I’m collecting stamps for my National Parks Passport.
The National Parks Passport ($8.95) is part guidebook, part wish list, part check list of all the historic sites, parks, and memorials that the National Park Service is in charge of. At each NPS site across America, there is a specific stamp (usually in the information center/gift shop) that you use to make a cancellation and mark it in your passport. I’m sure the passport is really meant for kids to get them excited about visiting the breathtaking and fascinating treasures that dot America, but I’ve become obsessed with mine. I’ve found myself going out of my way to finagle routes that include the historic spots. Every place I’ve visited has surprised me, made me learn something, and given my camera a workout. Grab one immediately for your summer road trips- my only regret is that I didn’t get mine sooner!
One more bonus feature: profits from the passports funnel back into the National Park Service so you can feel warm and fuzzy buying yours.
We’ve been fantasizing about treehouses — ones that you build, ones that you rent — for a while now. The closest we’ve gotten to having one of our own is a little fort attached to our D.I.Y. playground. Part of the problem is that we don’t have any appropriately placed, sturdy trees on our property. After reading the story of the HemLoft, maybe that’s not such a problem after all.
You see, Joel Allen had this idea to put an egg-shaped treehouse high up in the woods in Whistler, B.C. The land where his hand-built, gorgeous dwelling rests is “crown land” or national Canadian property. Using salvaged wood mostly gathered for free through Craigslist, Allen worked on the project for nearly 3 years. The unique egg shape is incredibly sturdy and fits into the surrounding forest gracefully. We hope it will be there for a long time and that explorers enjoying hunting it down.
In the meantime, Joel has set up a lovely site that explains his journey to the Hemloft, and is wondering what to do next. Curious for more? Check it out here.
Have you ever had an egg-and-cheese sandwich so good you dream about it? Neither had I until I got one from Circle W General Store in Palenville, NY. It’s not really on our regular route when we’re upstate. I suspect it’s not on anyone’s regular route, but let me tell you, if you are within an hour’s drive of the place, it’s worthy of a detour. I’ve become obsessed with the place, and not just because sandwiches are so good.
A lovingly restored general store on route 23A, it is the kind of place that an uncreative mind would drive by hundred times without noticing. Lucky for us that owner Pat and her family were willing to uncover the gem, sprucing up the interior and exterior with just enough country chic to inspire any crafty decorator.
You’ll find vintage aprons over the windows, a collection of old photos and signs around the cash register, and the perfect assortment of dry goods on the shelf. From Fluffernutter to Barilla, you’ll find yourself wanting to stock up your pantry even if you hadn’t planned to shop for groceries.
But the best part of all is the food. Aside from the aforementioned egg-and-cheeses (I get mine with avocado and a splash of hot sauce), there are other treats made of locally grown ingredients. On Mother’s day, I had a ramp quiche. Also on the menu was french toast pudding bread with a berry compote. If you’re thinking of a hike to the nearby waterfalls, order a Kaaterskill to go: ham, cheddar and secret special chutney.
Circle W, 3328 Rt. 23A, Palenville, NY 12463. See their Facebook page for more details, and a peek at what’s on the menu.
If you stop by, tell them I sent you!