Posts Tagged ‘day trips’

Last month, my girl Jackie and I took off on a Saturday morning, heading north up Route 1 to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, about an hour from Boston. (After 12 years in New England, my Texas-girl sense of space still marvels that you can get to another state that quickly.)

Our main destination was Book & Bar, which has had a facelift since I was there last, and still feels full of literary possibilities. We browsed for ages, split a salad and some yummy pretzel rolls, had a long chat with one of the managers, browsed some more. Eventually, we left to wander the main drag (and get caught in a rainstorm). But Jackie had another destination in mind to cap off our day: Auspicious Brew, a kombucha brewery in nearby Dover.

I’d only had kombucha once or twice before, and wasn’t sure I liked it: the fermentation can make it taste real funky. But I’d never even heard of a kombucha brewery, and from the moment we walked in, I was utterly charmed.

The brewery is in a former industrial space that reminded me both of Downeast and of the Lower Mills buildings, near where I used to live. It’s bright and funky, with potted plants and twinkle lights and hand-painted signs. We tried flights of kombucha, choosing from the eight (!) flavors they had on tap, and I picked up a mix-and-match four-pack to take home to my guy. You can also order Mexican food from the restaurant down the hall – they’ll even deliver it right to your table. We were hungry after a day of shopping and schlepping, so we took full advantage.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the kombucha: it reminded me of the fruity ciders I love, with a little extra funk and some creative flavors. (Concord grape and cardamom – the dark purple one above – was surprisingly delicious.) We sipped and talked and snapped photos and talked some more. I was delighted to try something new and tasty, and it was even more fun to share it with a friend.

What local(ish) adventures and/or fun libations are you having, these days?


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devereux beach marblehead

On Fridays in the summer, we like to take day trips.

Since my husband is usually done early on Fridays (he’s a therapist and his schedule ebbs and flows with the school year and vacations), and I’m freelancing/job hunting, we are continuing our summer tradition of exploring the Boston area. A few weeks ago, we decided to revisit Marblehead, a little town on the North Shore that we’d visited a long while back.

It was a hot, humid afternoon, but it was – in a word – glorious.

striped petunias window box flowers

We drove up after a busy morning: sessions for him, yoga and errands and some writing work at the library for me. After a freak thunderstorm, the skies had (mostly) cleared, and we nosed our way into the pretty downtown area, and spent a couple of hours wandering.

I found a sweet blue dress at a boutique called She, and we poked in and out of several other shops. I was disappointed to find that Authors and Artists, a great old used bookstore, had closed (or at least moved?). But the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore, several streets over, is thriving. Of course we had to go for a browse.

spirit of 76 bookstore interior

We also found a garden shop overflowing with flowers, and Bella, one of the resident spaniels, sprawled out in the doorway.

garden shop flowers dog spaniel bella

We headed, with our books, over to Devereux Beach, where J settled down on my yoga mat (necessity being the mother of invention) and I waded into the waves, then walked up and down the beach for a while. I love the feel of sand under my feet, of wind and waves and sky. Eventually I stretched out next to J and read a bit of Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places, which felt fitting even though we were only a mile from town.

katie devereux beach selfie marblehead

When we got hungry, we headed back in and decided to try the local taqueria, Howling Wolf, which – glory be – was delicious. We took the leftover salsa home and snacked on it for days.

All in all, a delightful return to Marblehead. I’m sure we’ll be back (again).

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Summer Fri-dates

katie jer cliff walk

My husband and I didn’t do a lot of traveling this summer. Aside from a lovely anniversary weekend in Maine and a quick August getaway to Rhode Island, we stayed pretty close to home.

But our schedules were both flexible enough this year to allow for a new summer ritual: what we dubbed “Fri-dates.” Whenever possible, we planned fun day (or half-day) trips to local spots on Fridays, and soaked up both the summer sunshine and some extra time together.

On July 3, we started the holiday weekend with a trip to our beach (a mile from our house) and a little light reading.

between you and me beach

The following week, J came up to Harvard Square and we spent some time at the Harvard Art Museums – a favorite spot of mine. (The courtyard currently features this cool triangle sculpture.) Afterward, we ate dinner at Daedalus.

triangle sculpture harvard art museums

Our next adventure was quite close to home: Steel & Rye, a hip new restaurant in Milton, the next town over.

steel and rye lights sunset

The patio lights created a lovely ambiance, and the food – including this raspberry dessert confection we shared – was delicious. So fun to discover a new favorite spot in our neighborhood.

raspberry dessert steel & rye

A couple of weeks later, we drove up to Ogunquit, Maine, for an afternoon of exploring. We met some friends for an early dinner and made it to the beach (with ice cream) in time for this luminous sunset.

ogunquit beach sunset

Our next destination was Scituate, MA, a little south of where we live.

sailboats scituate ma

We explored the quaint downtown area, spent a couple of hours reading on the beach, and then ate a delicious Italian dinner al fresco (with live music!).

snicker of magic book beach summer

Next we headed to Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA.

crane beach ipswich ma

More reading on the beach, and a yummy dinner at a hip little place called Salt.

mary oliver winter hours beach

We wrapped up our string of beach dates with another afternoon close to home.

recipes for love and murder cover beach

And a few weeks later, we had an early fall Fri-date: a fascinating evening spent exploring the Science Behind Pixar exhibit at the Museum of Science.

mike sully monsters inc

I love a good road trip or weekend getaway. But it’s been nice to remember that there are adventures waiting in my backyard – and to savor them with my favorite person.


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Around here, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. I had the day off, and the hubs did too (after one early meeting) – so we hopped in the car and headed north to Portsmouth, N.H.

portsmouth street

We’d been to Portsmouth once before, taking a day trip last summer to poke around the downtown area and browse several bookstores. We did that this time, too, but first we had a different, specific mission in mind: Mexican food.

vida cantina portsmouth nh

After nearly four years in New England, I’d all but given up on finding decent Mexican food anywhere in this area besides my own kitchen. We make burritos and enchiladas regularly, but we miss the fiery salsas and distinctive flavors of the Tex-Mex restaurants in our home state. (Hence why I ate four Mexican meals during my recent trip to Austin.)

Needless to say, we were excited – though a bit nervous – to check out Vida Cantina, on a recommendation from one of J’s co-workers.

jer tacos vida portsmouth nh

I think his face says it all.

We stuffed ourselves with chips and three kinds of salsa (including the best salsa verde I’ve had in months), then munched on several varieties of taco – chicken, two kinds of fish and fried avocado. While the tacos were a little chichi and a lot hipster (the menu involves kale and pork confit), they were fresh, filling and delicious. More Mexicali than Tex-Mex – but who’s complaining? Not this girl.

tacos vida cantina portsmouth nh

After clearing our plates, we headed downtown, where we spent several hours wandering in and out of shops. We tasted jams and mustards at the Stonewall Kitchen shop, savored ice cream from Annabelle’s

annabelles ice cream portsmouth nh

…and browsed the shelves at both RiverRun Bookstore and the delightful (and extensive) Book & Bar.

portsmouth book & bar

Bonus: I snapped this photo of a gorgeous rainbow bookshelf at the whimsical Pickwick’s Mercantile.

books by color portsmouth nh

All in all, a wonderful day out with my love. Portsmouth, you were delightful. (And delicious.)

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Living in New England, I’m (still) constantly amazed by how close together everything is. Drive a few hours from Boston and you could be in any one of six states. We drove to Maine for the day last month, just because we could. (I grew up in west central Texas, where we routinely drove two hours one way to play district high school football games.)

We’ve got plans to explore all the New England states, but I also love taking off for an adventure closer to home, when we didn’t plan ahead but want to discover a new place, and get back in time to make soup for dinner and watch a little Castle. So on Saturday, we hopped in the car and let Agatha, our trusty GPS, point us toward Marblehead.

I admit I had an ulterior motive: I’d heard about the Spirit of ’76 bookstore. And yes, we went, and it was lovely. But before we hit the bookstore, we found some other gems, such as these autumn leaves:

Marblehead has a charming little downtown area, lined with quaint old buildings, and we spent a couple of hours browsing the shops, picking up a few treasures. We bought a wee Christmas-tree-shaped ornament made of shells (with a tiny starfish on top), and I dragged J into Artists + Authors, where I found a lovely old edition of Eight Cousins for $10. (And so many other books I wanted to buy. But I’ll be back.)

I could have snapped dozens of photos of the signage (I love unusual signs), but this one was a favorite:

(The toy store itself was also fabulous – crammed with cool toys, puzzles and games.)

It was one of those crisp autumn afternoons, a little chilly in the shade but perfect in the sunshine, with trees gently waving their vivid leaves and the sun making us squint and smile at the same time. Especially when we found a street called Darling:

(That’s my darling. On Darling Street. All together now: Awww.)

We bought chai lattes from a little cafe and sipped them as we walked to the Spirit of ’76. J employed his usual bookstore technique, which is to pick out a book, curl up in a chair and read while I browse to my heart’s content:

I love simple adventures like this one – exploring a town, getting a feel for its streets and its vibe, and then hopping back in the car and heading home. I love weekends away and long vacations too, but it’s fun to make new discoveries by traveling literally over the next hill. (As Woody Allen famously noted, the trick with this kind of voyage is “to avoid the pitfalls, seize the opportunities, and get back home by six o’clock.”)

What little adventures have you had lately?

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