|Earliest: September 24, 2003||Latest: August 25, 2019||Total: 49|
Things to Do in Boston
Last week I was looking for some fun things to do around the Boston area. Something fun for guys to do - someplace to take a Father in Law that's visiting the area. These are the places that I came up with.
Best Burger Challenge
He likes eating burgers, so I thought it would be fun to do a "best burger" challenge. Where is the best burger in the Boston Area? We would be spending most of the time around Framingham/Natick.
- Tasty Burger (Boston MA)
- Walburger (Boston, MA)
- Smashburger Natick
- The Burger Bar by Wegmans (Natick, MA)
- Met Bar (Natick, MA)
- Craigie on Main (Boston) - Only open for Dinner.
- Ashland Ale House (Ashland, MA)
- George?s Coney Island - Hot Dogs and More (Worcester)
- Stone's Public House (Ashland, MA)
General Sites (Boston)
Some fun things to do in Boston. The idea was to come up with some unique Boston places.
- Fenway Park Tours - We done this in the past, certainly would be good to mix up a visit to Walburger.
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - A little culture is always fun. It would have been pretty low on the list.
- Bell In Hand Tavern - Nice place to hang out for a bit for drinks and appetizers. Maybe catch a game.
- Observation Deck at Independence Wharf - Kind of a neat way to see the city.
- Taza Chocolate Factory - What could go wrong with a Chocolate Tour?
- A4cade - Dinner Only - Great place to play video games. 11 Pinball machines!
- Urban Axes - Fun to watch other people throw axes at a target.
General Sites (Metrowest)
I was looking for some day trips.
- Basketball Hall of Fame - Relive some classic NBA moments.
- Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History - The Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History - Good place for anyone that worked in the Post Office.
- Kimball Farm Westford - Great way to spend a day!
- The Patriots Hall of Fame - Perfect for any Patriot fan.
- Wrentham Village Premium Outlets - Plenty of good stores to check out.
- The Sports Museum - TD Garden
- MOM Jordan's Furniture
- Nashoba Valley Winery - Learn about how wine in made in New England. (Tip: Same as they do in California.)
Guide to Traveling with a Medical Condition
If you have a medical condition, there’s no need to give up traveling. There’s plenty of places to see and inspire your recovery.
Great Tips from the Guide
The guide offers helpful travel advice and information, such as:
- Some of the common problems associated with travelling abroad with a health condition.
- How to plan and pack for a holiday if you have a disability or certain health issues.
- Vaccinations and visas, and taking medical supplies through customs.
- Other useful tips and resources to help you travel safely.
Five Things I Learned about the Travel Advice Site
InsuranceWith is a UK based organization, but a lot of the travel tips certain apply to anyone that travels around the world.
Information is well organized into several chapters so you can get right to the information you are looking for.
There’s a checklist of what you should be aware of before you travel with a medical condition.
Great tips on getting your medical supplies through customs (Chapter 3)
Did you know that If you have a heart condition, you should avoid traveling to locations that are over 2,000 meters. (Hey, I actually learned something new!)
Read Before Traveling
The Guide to Traveling with a Medical Condition is very useful and certainly worth reading before any traveling. I would recommend reading it while your planning hotels/airlines.
Even if your an expert in traveling, this guide can be a refresher on how to make the most of your vacation.
Great Wolf Lodge New England
We visited Great Wolf Lodge New England for the first time this past August. We didn't know what to expect and were very excited about going. Overall it was a fun trip, we would certainly go back
Some Things We Learned about Great Wolf Lodge
The Lodge is located just off of Route 2 - pretty much isolated from other businesses and shopping areas. The lodge is closest to Leominster town line. 12-Minutes from Wachusett Mountain and 54 miles from Boston. It's a mile walk from the Wachusett MBTA Station.
Food was good, we didn't find it all that expensive. The lunch menu at the Hungry As A Wolf is the same as Lodge Wood Fired Grill.
There is a Dunkin Donuts where you purchase a Great Wolf Ice Coffee mug. It's a good place to grab some coffee before heading home.
We got the Paw package, which gives you a MagiQuest game, Color Wand, Creation Station animal, Glitter Tattoo and more. All this for $74.99. Which seems expensive, but we found it's a good way to get the most fun out of stay.
The package was good because it gave us a chance to explore various activities that we might have done without the package deal. Great Wolf might be known for its water park, but they do offer a lot for those that don't like the water.
You should be aware that there is upsell when you get the Paw package - for example, the package comes with the basic wand for mind quest, but the upgraded ones are more colorful. You get a teddy bear but have to pay extra for accessories such as shoes and clothes. Kids will certainly want the extra things from the Paw package.
Your better off getting the temporary tattoo before you leave. It will come off in the chlorine pool - but not in a standard shower.
We found that kids rather play the MagiQuest game than go to the water park. It does take some time to play the game and you will be going all over the building.
Remember where things are, it may save a little bit of running around. Maybe a Notebook would help make your own map.
You can bring back the wand on future trips to continue the MagiQuest game.
Wolf Pup Den Suite Room
We found out the cheaper rooms at the Lodge go quick. They are located above the lobby. If you get a Den room, your room is on the other side of the building.
The Wolf Pup Den room is located in the game area (wall Climbing, Mini-golf etc) The rides shut down around 10pm. So if the kids are early sleepers, you may want to turn up the TV to drown out the sound.
The den rooms have bunk beds with a TV that is suitable for the top bunk. The rooms aren't anything special. There is a microwave, small dorm size refrigerator- which we stocked with water and juice.
In the Game Room, the "must" win prize is the large Great Wolf Lodge ball. When I won it someone offered me $10 - before I even took it out.
The key to this game is to watch people try to get the ball and see what grip is working or not working.
You should know that when you giggle the joystick, it changes the claw position. Keep giggling it so that it positions well when it drops.
Try to get the Great Wolf Ball
THe Wolf Tail seems to be a scary ride. It's a single person ride, you get in a small chamber and you basically drop about 10-feet and then it's a regular sidle. There's a heartbeat sound as you wait for the floor to open. It only adds to the thrill of the ride.
Some slides, River Canyon Run, Howlin' Tornado - require more than one person. Which isn't fun for families with small children.
Getting to Great Wolf Lodge New England
The best way to get to Great Wolf Lodge is to take Route 2 to exit 28 in Fitchburg.
Brenton Point Sea Wall
If you visit the Newport Mansions or downtown Newport, Rhode Island, chances are you may have visited Brenton Point, a picturesque view of Narragansett Bay.
Brenton Point Sea Wall
The seawall between the Ocean Beach and the rocky beach was put up in 1935 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). This was all part of the New Deal put in place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that helps bring prosperity around the country.
The wall was put up to protect the erosion that was occurring around Brenton Point State Park.
If you go down the stairs near the only jetty at Brenton Point, you should see the marker of the Works Progress Administration.
About the Works Progress Administration
The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads.
Other Work in this area include:
- The Cliff Walk Sidewalk
- Vernon Park Improvements and Slide
- Cardines Field
You can find all the other historic work requested by the Works in Progress Administration on the Living New Deal website.
The Amish Village
The Amish Village is a great place where you can learn all about the Amish lifestyle in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Here you can take a small bus tour, a tour of an old Amish house and a small village where you can explore an old school house and plenty of opportunities to take pictures with props. There are several small shops where you can buy souvenirs.
Nine Things We Learned About the Tour
It's worth doing both the bus tour and the house tour. There are some information overlap, but you do learn a lot about the Amish lifestyle.
When you walk in the Amish Village there is a small store where you purchase tickets. There are 2 other shops on the grounds, so there are more things that are available.
There are plenty of opportunities to ask questions on the tour, so it's good to think of some before you go.
The bus tour stops at a farm stand where you can buy produce and merchandise. A good way to support the Amish.
You'll see plenty of horse buggies on the bus tour. Be aware that the Amish don't like you to take pictures of them. (Wonder Why? Ask your tour guide!)
You are allowed to explore the village without paying for a tour.
There are bathrooms in the Amish Village, next to the schoolhouse. Just typical bathrooms nothing different/special about them.
We did both the Bus Tour and the House Tour. We arrived at 10 am and left the property at 12:44 pm. We did take our time exploring the Village, especially the schoolhouse and general store.
There are small gumball type machines available to feed the farm animals, bring quarters if you want to feed them. If you forget, you can always get change at the general store.
Finding the Amish Village
The Amish Village is located in Ronks, PA - 199 Hartman Bridge Road, Ronks PA. About a couple of miles from the Tanger Outlets in Lancaster.
Bus passing a horse and buggy during the tour.
Crayola Experience Store
Recently we visited the Crayola Experience in Easton, PA. We have a lot of fun at the general Experience - more about that in a later post. This weeks post is all about the Crayola Experience Store.
You can visit the store without paying for the Crayola Experience.
The store looks pretty cool, as you walk in you see a large colorful wall in the back of the store.
That's where the experience kind of ends.
We were a bit disappointed in the Crayola Store product selection. We thought they would have more unique Crayola merchandise. In fact, they didn't carry some basic crayon packs.
- We visited during the busy "Back to School" shopping season and they didn't really have anything to promote "Back to School." I was thinking that Staples actually had more Crayon box options than the Experience Store.
- We brought our Back to School shopping list - so we could get some Crayola items. We thought it would be a fun way to get school supplies. They didn't carry the right number of pens or crayons that we needed - we ended up getting the supplies at Staples.
- In the back of the store is a wall of different crayons and markers. You can make your own set using any combination you wish. We did think that was neat and created a couple of packs.
- We did find some unique items such as Wipe off Crayons and color socks.
- They don't have any shopping carts or baskets, which limited our purchases. If we had a basket, we might have purchased more items.
- Crayola makes Silly Puddy but they only carried one multipack in the whole store.
At the End of the Day
We would not likely go out of our way to visit the store. It was a fun day, but we walked away from a bit disappointed.
We did talk to a manager before we left to tell them what we thought of the store, we gave them some ideas on how they could make it a better experience for other shoppers.
AAA Trip Tik Booklets
One of the services that AAA offers is a TripTik, a booklet that helps you plan your long drive to your vacation destination. AAA has been providing travel assistance for more than a century - so they know the best route to get to your destination.
2002 - Old Travel TripTik
In 2002, I traveled from San Jose, California to Boston, Massachusetts. (Read my trip notes.) I used AAA TripTik to help navigate the southern route so that I could stop in the right cities and not miss any roadside attractions.
I remember sitting with an agent and walked through the trip. A few days later, I got a nice spiral bound copy of my trip with additional maps of my location, should I want to know more about the city.
2018 - Visit to Pennsylvania
This year we are traveling to Pennsylvania for a fun trip to Hershey Park. I thought it would be worth getting a new TripTik and seeing what has changed in 16 years - after all in the world of Waze and Google Maps, do you still need TripTik?
Short answer - it appears that Waze and Google Maps don't have to worry about AAA as a competitor. AAA TripTik falls short of expectations
Six Things I have learned
- The 2018 version of TripTik is a bunch of pages of Google Maps with additional information on road constructions and Driving regulations.
- When I made my TripTik this year, I wasn't asked any specific details about my trip. For example, we planned to bypass the George Washington Bridge and the Tappen Zee Bridge - basically, we didn't want to go anyplace near New York City.
- I wasn't asked about when I wanted to take breaks. In 2002, AAA told me that they recommend stopping every 400 miles. In 2018, I wasn't advised on any places to take breaks.
- In 2002, I was talking with a travel agent. In 2018, I was talking with a person at the front desk taking my order. Both the 2002 and the 2018 books are comb bound.
- The 2002 book had interesting facts for example: "Boston (pop 574,300). Many scenes from the beginning of the Revolution were played in Boston. While preserving its historic landmarks, the city has maintained its position as governmental cultural educational and commercial capital of the state."
- When I got my book in 2002, they walked through the book with me. They highlighted the trip and showed how to use it. In 2018, I picked up the book and was asked if I had any questions - I simply said that I'll look through the book and come back with any questions.
Should You Get a TripTik?
Since the books are part of the AAA membership, it doesn't hurt to get one made for a long trip. In the rare case that the car GPS goes out, at least you'll have a map available.
I think most people will just rely on services like Waze to give them the most up to date best route to their destination. Waze is adding additional information such as locations to popular restaurants nearby and local attractions.
Wall Huggers at the Airport
On a recent trip, I was surprised on the number of people that were looking and needing a spot to charge up their smartphones. This was true at airports and at several Starbucks stores.
There's no reason for this. The solution is simple and very practical.
While waiting for their flights, people would seek locations to power up their device before getting on board. They pull out their USB cables just hoping for a free spot at the power charging area.
Samsung even made fun of them in 2014.
The simple solution is to use a USB power charger, otherwise known as portable power banks. They provide a bit of extra juice whenever you need it.
The good thing is that you don't need to find a wall changing the station. Simply plug in your phone and go. Amazing how much flexibility it can bring. You can charge your device while walking on the plane.
On a recent trip, I found that the Jackery USB 6000 mAh/22.2Wh was plenty of power. I was able to charge up my iPhone 6s Plus several times and still had plenty of available charges available.
The iPhone 6S Plus has a 2750 mAh battery. This means that the 6000 mAh will fully charge a "dead" iPhone at least 2 times. I use the Jackery Bar Premium USB Power Charger. It's nice because you can see exactly how much charge is available and it's a good fit in the packet.
Bonus: If you have a SwissGear 1900 ScanSmart TSA Laptop Backpack, the Jackery Bar Premium USB Power Charger will fit in the Cellular pocket. Which makes it handy to have whenever you need it.
I would recommend not getting the updated model with built-in Apple Lightning Cables, because of the short cable length. Using a 12-inch cable, you can keep the charger in the back pocket while charging the phone in the front pocket. I find the 12-inch length to be good for in the in-flight seat pocket.
How Well Do You Know Road Signs?
Think back to the last time you really thought about road signs. It was probably when you took your permit or drivers license test, right? Aside from stop, yield, merging, school crossing, no U-turns, and a few other signs, you might not completely understand the meaning behind every road sign you pass on your daily commute.
Don't Know All The Signs? You're Not Alone
When you take a written test at the DMV, you must score 80 percent or higher to pass the test. If you go the Internet and take an online test, which tests your knowledge of road signs, most sites also consider 80 percent or better to be passing.
One source reported that most online test takers believed it to be "ok" and safe to drive the maximum posted speed limit during inclement weather. The same source also reported that more than half of test takers were unable to properly identify an advanced warning sign for a school. 35 percent were unable to identify a "lane ends" sign.
As a driver who knows some of the road signs (but maybe not all), you may wonder how important it is to be completely knowledgeable.
Are There Consequences To Not Knowing Road Signs?
You know how to use a stop sign and can follow directions on the highway. Is it really a big deal if you don't all of the road signs? Not knowing all the road signs is potentially dangerous and can put you at greater risk of being involved in an accident.
Think about sharing the road with a motorist that doesn't know what stop sign means. While the stop sign is one of the most basic and commonly known signs, we can't assume that every motorist knows what it symbolizes or even follows it.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), each year, nearly one-third (or about 700,000) of all intersection crashes in the U.S. are at intersections which have stop signs. Given the high rate of incidents, it's safe to assume that some drivers don't see, understand, or adhere to stop signs.
How Well Do You Know Your Signs?
Depending on where you live, you may be more likely to see some road signs than others. For example, if you live in a rural area you may be familiar with the sign that depicts a farmer on a tractor. Someone who lives in an urban area may not understand the meaning behind the sign.
Even if you feel like you know most (if not all) of the road signs in your area, it doesn't hurt to brush up on a few more, especially if you're planning a road trip or travel for work.
Want to test how well you pay attention to signs? "Cards of Distractibility" is a free online game that simulates distracted driving while road signs change on the screen. At the end of the game, you are asked to properly identify all the signs you saw while driving. Want to see how many signs you actually know? There are plenty of practice tests online, give one of them a try.
Tools To Utilize When You Drive a Rental Car
Traveling for the holidays often means renting a car when yours in the shop or once you get off an airplane. Ideally, we'd all rent a car that we're familiar with, such as our own, but that's not always the case.
Depending on when and where you rent a car, your choices may be slim but if you have a choice, here are some things to request and use in a rental car, especially when you're traveling in unfamiliar territory.
Reconsider Using GPS
GPS can be extremely helpful, particularly when you're driving on highways and interstates that you've never traveled, but they can also be complicated to use, force you to take your eyes off the road, and even give you inaccurate results.
Instead, consider taking advantage of navigational apps that deliver results in real-time. Heading to Florida for the holidays? Florida NavMap is a "must have" navigational tool for residents and tourists, alike. Not only does it give you access to the traffic conditions in real-time but the free online tool also lets you see where there are road construction and other areas that may delay your travel.
Use Hands-Free Options
Although most states ban texting and driving, and more are starting to ban the use of all handheld devices while driving, your state's laws may be different from those where you're renting a car. Not only should you find out the distracted driving laws for the state you are driving in but also use a hands-free option whenever possible (and regardless of the law).
Ideally, you should avoid making a phone call or using your device at all but if you need to, a hands-free option is less dangerous and allows you to keep both hands on the wheel.
Request A Vehicle With Safety Features
Most of today's newest cars have top-of-the-line safety features which include blind spot detection, lane departure and forward collision warnings, as well as back up cameras. While many rentals are newer vehicles, the company may opt out of some of the safety features.
When renting a car, take a look at your options and request a car with safety technology, if possible. You may have to pay more for the technology but it's often worth the cost of feeling a little more confident and secure as you drive.
Go For The Wi-Fi
If you have the option of having Wi-Fi in your rental car, you should take advantage of that tech feature. Not only can it help you stay better connected and use apps more easily but you can also save on roaming fees and other charges to your smartphone bill when you travel.
A Tip For Using Technology in a Rental Car
Before you drive the rental car off of the lot make sure you've figured how to use all the features in the car and then focus your attention on the technology. Make sure you've tested everything out and asked questions before you hit the highway so you can focus on the drive and not how to use the technology.