Over the past few weeks we have been busy traveling abroad, treasure hunting and volunteering. We spent 6 days vacationing in Nicaragua with a toddler. She was such trooper.
We left on Christmas Day so she handed out chocolates to all the workers, flight attendants, and bus drivers we ran into. We wanted to make sure they knew we appreciated them being there for us on Christmas. She brought a smile to everyones face that she gave candy to!
She endured an extremely early wake-up call and 2 rather short flights. We found out very quickly she no longer likes to sleep on the airplane. This made it a little trying but nothing we were not expecting.
Upon arriving in Nicaragua, our little princess immediately met a few little ones her age while we waited to clear customs. The line was long and the wait was longer; she was just as entertaining for them as they were for her.
Once we cleared customs we walked through the international arrival door looking for the little sign with our names on it. Nothing. We waited and waited. Still no one arrived. I had arranged a ride for us a week earlier. We waited nearly 2 hours at which point the little one fell asleep in the Kelty backpack. The delay was frustrating, but in the time we waited we met some expats who asked if WE were the living in Nicaragua! A great couple with 3 kids who run an ice cream shop in Matagalpa!
Since the driver didn’t show, or we all failed to see each other, we took a taxi. The address I had for the villa we were staying at seemed easy enough to find … if there were street signs and house numbers in Nicaragua. Since the roads are not marked, our very limited english speaking driver couldn’t find our rental. We stopped 3 times to ask for directions. It finally took a phone call to the property to find our way.
After a few turns we were there … we had arrived to an absolutely beautiful guest house. We were completely blown away by the tropical oasis.
Stay tuned for multiple posts about our week in Nicaragua!
When you have a long road trip ahead of you and you have a kiddo or 3, try these 5 Essentials to Traveling with Kiddos to make the ride a little smoother.
Travel Organizer from Tip Junkie! Take a canvas shoe bag and let the kiddo’s stuff it with their favorite items: small toys, books, snacks, glow sticks and a new toys is always a fun surprise, make sure to wrap it! Who doesn’t love to unwrap a new present!
These are the BEST items to keep little ones busy. The kiddos can practice their fine motor skills by taking the backing off and sticking them on themselves and removing them. The best part is that they stick to the surface and can be removed without the gummy residue stickers leave behind. We use these on airplane rides as well! I have BOXES of fun kid BandAids. *Do not hold me to this. (we have OLD cars … 1971 VW Bug and a 1978 FJ40 Landcruiser) we DO NOT drive expensive vehicles with full leather interior. So, please test this theory before you hand over a box of BandAids to your kids and they get stuck on your nice BMW SUV leather seats.
Music Unlimited by Amazon is your go to! As Prime members we just added this to our account. We get 250 Downloads a month… and they do NOT disappear after a month so they are YOURS!
Fun Cheap Or Free has an AWESOME idea for a book tote! Fill a tote with your child’s favorite books, and put them within arms length so they can reach them.
When all else fails….hand over the electronics. Check out this list of awesome Apps for Traveling Toddler from Media Macaroni.
What are your favorite road trip activities for the kiddos?
With only another small mile ride ahead of us to Kitty Hawk we decided to jump on our bikes for the 12 mile ride. Before we left Nags Head we backtracked a mile to Sam & Omies for breakfast! Our first real breakfast fuel on the trip!
We figured out a great way to get the little one in her Yepp Seat as easy as possible. She loves the seat but she loves to play more! So when its time to load her up we tell her we are going to look for School Buses. She eagerly runs to her seat and says “Hurry Daddy Hurry!” … works every time!
Once she is in her seat she asks each of us if we are “ready”.
“Are you READY daddy?” — “Are you READY mama?” — “READY! Lets go!
Our ride to Kitty Hawk was slow. We had a western wind so it slowed us up a little. We were on sleepy old Hwy 12 with limited traffic but a lot of vacation rentals. We were planning on stopping at a brewery in Kitty Hawk near mile marker 8 (everyone uses mile markers there). But somehow we over shot it and missed it all together.
We stopped into a bike shop and then spent a little more time at the beach. We saw the National Park for the Wright Brothers and road in! We have a National Parks pass and were able to get in for free. We only stopped for the restrooms and didn’t do much sight seeing. The monument sits on top of a tall grassy noel with a hike to the top. Working on a few pair of tired legs we chose not to make the hike.
After the exploration of the museum, we headed back down Hwy 12 in search of a cute place to stay for our last night. We found one that said vacant and rode in. But no one was there. I called the number left on the door and no one answered. So we rode on. We got to the end of the road where hwy 12 meets hwy 158. We found a very nice and very expensive Hilton Garden Hotel. They had a room for us with 1 king size bed. up until this point we had been able to put the little angel in her own room or bed or crib of some sort. So a 1 room arrangement wasn’t really up our alley. At the same time the motel we stopped at earlier returned my call! They had a few rooms we could choose from. So we made the 2 mile ride back into the wind.
The Beach Haven Motel is a very cute and quiet place! Completely remodeled, they accommodations were excellent! It was close to nap time for the toddler so we tried to put her down in the second room for a short nap. FAIL. She was too excited to play on the beach!
So we walked on the beach! We took her sand tools and walked about a mile up and turned around. We ran across a star fish, lots of shells, and she spend a lot of time watching a group of kids boogey boarding.
We opted for dinner at a sports bar and grille across hwy 158. A simple dinner of seafood and steak rounded the day out nicely!
Our last day of our Outer Banks by Bike tour was here. A 53 mile ride from Kitty Hawk to Elizabeth city on the following day and we had finished the trip. We started around 8am and were ready to hit the road. We stopped at Duck Donuts which was across from the Hilton Garden Hotel we stopped at the day before. This was the neatest donut place we had ever seen. They literally make the donuts in front of you and then you pick how you wanted it frosted! We got half a dozen, a coffee and a small milk for the little lady. We downed ALL OF THEM with no help from the 2 year old.
Once back on our bikes about 5 miles into the ride we encountered some road construction which resulted in 1 of the 2 bridges being closed. We were expecting to have a large shoulder on a 2 lane, one direction bridge. We road as far down the closed bridge as we could until we met up with some construction workers who told us that they were paving large sections of the bridge and we couldn’t cross.
Then we road the .5 mile back to the entrance and proceeded to jump into traffic on the slim shoulder, 2 lane bridge. I had Donald ride in front and I took up the rear. That way the little angel was between us incase something happened. We waited for a nice break in traffic to start the 2 mile ride across the bridge, although the break didn’t last long. Most of the drivers were courteous and waited to pass us until the oncoming traffic was minimal. But we had a few who were in a hurry and didn’t care about our 3′ biker bubble. Needless to say we took a break on the other side and let our white knuckles return to their normal color before we proceeded.
Farmland again. We stopped at a farmers market and purchased a cantaloupe, a banana and some Gatorade. We let the little one run in the freshly mowed grass and she played with her dinosaur in the rock beds.
For lunch we stopped at Weeping Radish Butcher and Brewery. A very German feel to the place complete with goats in the front of the building! We got a flight of beers and some schnitzel for lunch.
Back on the road to Elizabeth City, we passed the site of the Grave Diggers “birth place” (for lack of better words). For approximately a 1/2 mile we passed museums, an off road track, a mini golf course, and a campsite.
With 15 miles left of our trip we stopped a park for the little one. It was brand new and she loved every bit of it!
Once we were back on the road we spotted a crop duster. It swooped back and forth across the road ahead of us. The little one LOVED it and would call for the “airplane” every time is crossed the road!
The last stretch of the ride was tiring. We were sore and ready to be done. We had some headwind. A few hills and a little rain. We were ready for it to end.
Looking back we had an amazing time. Every bit was great and our little girl had a wonderful time!
A few years ago (pre-baby) we discovered an area in Virginia where the wineries were close enough together that we could easily bike from winery to winery. One winery even said there was a “bike and wine taste tour”. We have been trying to find this area since we moved back and low and behold, this weekend we did!
It was about 50 degrees outside so we loaded the bikes in the UAV and headed northwest to an area near Middleburg, VA. The hour and a half drive took us on the backroads passing an awesome craft brew shop called Crafted. It shares a parking lot with the only diesel gas station in a 15 mile stretch so we were in luck by finding both of them. Crafted wasn’t open yet so we made a point to stop on our way home.
Just outside Middleburg lies the very small town of Aldie, VA. The Aldie Mill Historic District had a nice quaint feel. Although, if you blinked you would totally miss the town. While driving along, we noticed the all to familiar smell of a smoker, bellowing out the smell of the BBQ Master’s latest offerings at the Aldie Country Store. Varun Parti is definitely a BBQ Master! We feasted on two massive plates of BBQ smoked ribs and 2 pints of mash potatoes and macaroni and cheese. With an amazing lunch in our bellies we were sure to get a long ride in.
We first stopped at Chrysalis Vineyards which sits 1.5 miles off hwy 50 on a rutted single lane dirt road. We pulled into a picturesque setting with a pond, rolling hills and plenty of seating. There is a nice place for families to corral the kids while the parents can sip on a glass of wine, play bean bag toss or have a picnic.
From Chrysalis Vineyards we drove a few miles down 50 to Greenhill Winery & Vineyard (although you could bike this portion, the road is a little rough at times). Sitting directly off hwy 50 on a 1/4 mile long driveway, The Greenhill Winery and Vineyard was where we decided to start our cycling trip. While Donald unloaded the bikes I got us a nice glass of Syrah for sampling and pre-ride motivation.
This winery loop is a relatively easy 7 mile bike loop, with the primary difficulty being not tasting to many glasses of wine to continue on with the adventure. You can start this loop by heading out of Greenhill Winery and turning left on US 50 for approximately 1/2 mile until you come to your first dirt road on the left named Parsons Road. Parsons Road is a quiet dirt road with limited to no traffic, perfect for a mountain bike, hybrid or cyclocross bike.
At the “T”in the road turn right on Halfway Road and start up a gradual hill. Before you know it, you will be at Boxwood Estate Winery and it is time to taste some more wine. Boxwood has a very modern layout with a wine cave, a picnic area and a circular tasting room. Skylights and white paint fill the rooms with immense lighting and the wine cave is gorgeous. Boxwood has great wine with a pristine layout.
After Boxwood, you jump back on US 50 and bike through the town of Middleburg. We had been here before years ago on a motorcycle and remembered the plethora of restaurants and cool shops in the downtown area. This area is a go to weekend stop for washingtonians. From antique stores to a conglomerate of restaurants and coffee shops, Middleburg is a great place to poke around on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
When we got back to Greenhill we pulled the bikes up to a table at the edge of the field and shared a glass of red wine. The little lady of ours scooted around on her Strider in the field and stomped through the very small snow pile that was rapidly melting. We ran in the field chasing puppies and tried to catch the horseback rider on the horizon.
After a day of biking, we loaded up the UAV and started the drive home making sure to stop at Crafted on the way back. The quaint shop was loaded with tons of craft beers, wines and ciders. The owners and their cheerful dog greeted us with a friendly smile and a nice chat about ciders and the awesome assortment of beers available! The owners have an extensive knowledge about the 100s of beers stocking the shelfs and are more than willing to explain the differences of them all. After purchasing a good amount of cider and beer for future samplings, we were on our way home wrapping up another awesome adventure.
Recently we had the opportunity to return home to the Nevada City, California area for a visit. While we truly wish a longer stay (permanent) would have been in the cards, it just is not at the moment. We still have high hopes of living in this town in the near future and crave the eclectic area packed full of great food, lakes, mountain bike trails and cool festivals.
If living in Nevada City, CA is not something you are able to do, the next best thing would be to visit. Hopefully our whirlwind trip pictured below will help you see the high points, but this doesn’t even start to capture the super cool stores and amazing outdoor activities surrounding this area.
This trip was really focused on spending time with friends, however in our free time, the below restaurants and locations are a must!
Breakfast started a small New Orleans themed place call Ike’s Quarter Café. Ike’s prides themselves on local ingredients and a variety of gluten free, vegan and healthy food options. Numerous different types of locally baked bread, waffles and creations are available. Ike’s is CASH only, has outdoor seating and allows “dog parking” just outside the entrance. Get the Gasserhouser and thank me later!
The craft beer scene is alive and well in Nevada City. Jernigan’s Tap House & Grill has brought the “tap house” and burger joint theme to town and are doing a great job supplying a HUGE selection of craft beer. Go to Jernigan’s, select a few different beers to try in a tester flight and have a giant burger; makes me smile just thinking about it.
The afternoon was spent shopping and sipping on coffee from Cafe’ Mekka. We walked the streets poking in shops, window shopping and people watching. The weather was spectacular for mid January. We stopped at Pioneer Park and let the little lady run laps around the spacious park.
The evening called for PIZZA in with friends. North Ridge Restaurant has great food as a whole, but they make pizzas that are to die for! North Ridge is a great family place with a huge variety of food and some nice beers on tap.
The following day we had lunch at Lefty’s which sits on a super quaint creek and has the BEST outdoor seating in the town. The “SOP” burger is where it’s at, paired with one of the multiple craft beer options available, you can’t go wrong at Lefty’s.
Finally not a restaurant, but definitely a must visit location is Ol’ Republic Brewery. When Ol’ Republic came to town we were ecstatic. Nevada City needed a quality place to hang out and have a locally made beer in a family friendly environment. Ol’ Republic does not serve food, however they allow you (and encourage you to) bring food in from one of the many local dinning establishments close by.
Nevada City is a town with loads of character; a real must see of Northern California. We have traveled all over the world and Nevada City, California is on the top of my list as one of the most versatile towns with great food, shopping, beer and incredible outdoor fun. Go check it out!
This year instead of drawing straws or pulling a destination out of a hat just pick your favorite type of shoes! This infographic will lead you through Yes and No questions according to your shoe choice!