Travel, Places

Visit to Lowell

by Chansoda on September 13, 2014

We took a small trip to Lowell, Ma, now known as little Cambodia town. My mother had been wanting to visit her brother for a while, (though not blood related, my grandfather had all daughters so he ended up adopting some young men as his own ) who is now living with cancer. It’s been hard on him and his wife, and I know my mother has been missing connections to her former life.

Karla is a big fan of Cambodia town, so when she heard Lowell, she perked up and was ready to go. We went with my brother Veasna, his girlfriend Sokha, and my mother.

First we stopped at the asian store in Lowell to pick up some groceries and snacks. Then we headed over to my uncle’s house, he was there with his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. He looked great, and it was nice for them to catch up with my mom. We also got to hang out with my cousin and his cute little guy, named Benji. It was great for us to see everyone, with him being sick, it’s hard to know how much time is left. They also prepared a beautiful meal for us, that I did not get to enjoy because I’m deathly allergic to shellfish, but everyone else enjoyed it. It was fun to laugh over the stories exchanged. We even wanted to take Benji home with us, he’s too cute.

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ChansodaVisit to Lowell

Trip to Maine

by Chansoda on August 12, 2014

Madawaska, Maine! God’s country, because there are more cows than people.

We took the 10+ hour trek up the the heart of the St. John Valley to visit our friends Shirley and Angelo (they spend part of their summer in Maine, winter in Florida, and the rest of the time, down the street from us in CT). Karla and I seem to have a thing for only vacationing with retired people 🙂

Madawaska is Shirley’s home town and we really wanted to see it. She was excited for us to come up during the Acadian Festival to show off her roots. Angelo was excited for company, he’s a very social Italian man. They are also celebrating their five year wedding anniversary (they are quite possibly the cutest couple I have ever met).

We left really early in the morning and made a quick stop in Ogunquit, Maine to take a walk along Marginal Way and grab lunch. It’s quite breathtaking, the coast is absolutely gorgeous and the walk was very easy, relaxing and scenic. We even ran in to a friend and her husband from Connecticut on our walk who were vacationing in Maine, such a small world. Then we continued on towards the valley into the backwoods to Shirley’s cottage on Long Lake.

We literally camped out on Shirley’s front lawn, sleeping right at the lake front to the sounds of the loons. It was perfect! Still had access to the shower and bathroom and Shirley’s delicious cooking each day. We spent time exploring the St. John Valley, tried to do a little house hunting for our other retired folks, boating, and had lots of laughs. It was a great time! We met Shirley’s family and became friends with her neighbors Denise and Brigitte. The weather worked out perfectly, it really doesn’t get too warm up there but there was a bit of a heat wave that gave us clear blue sunny skies everyday perfect for boating and swimming. We saw bald eagles, fields of potatoes and wheat, and trails everywhere, but no moose!

Since our trip also coincided with the full moon (supermoon), I was able to get some practice with night time moon photos. Was very excited to set up for that.

Looking forward to coming back again


Entering Marginal Way.


Looking out from Ogunquit, Maine.


Beautiful sea.


More scenic intake on Marginal Way.


Another stop along the road to check out Mount Katahdin view.


Mount Katahdin is some where out there… I think.


Set up our “camp.”


Yup, nice view.


Started off with breakfast here. Awesome bread!


It was a little shop and breakfast place. So cute!


Explored a nearby church.

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Fields everywhere.


He had a beautiful garden and gave us fresh produce from it!




How cute are they?


Us on the overlook to Long Lake.


One of the four corners of the U.S. Madawaska, Maine.


These heads are fun.


The causeway to the island.


Morning walk to the island.


But watch out for cars… and the dust they bring.


Wheat field in the middle of the island.




Boating time.


Relaxing on the water.


Pretty and undeveloped.






A smooch.


St. Agatha at the Lakeview restaurant.


Crab apples! (A favorite cambodian snack)


Sunset portrait of Karla.




And the full moon.


Happy Anniversary!


3 a.m.


Calm lake water in the morning.


More boat time.


Finally, a group picture.


That’s a bald eagle!




And more fields




Another sun set portrait.




Early morning rise.


Traveling back through the fog.


Portland, Maine for lunch at Central Provisions. So good!


Karla didn’t know how to focus the camera but Life is good.

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ChansodaTrip to Maine

Savannah and Florida

by Chansoda on January 16, 2014

Karla and I decided to drive a car packed with goodies to our semi retired friends in Florida, who are pretty much family to us. They just built their new house in Kissimee, and are staying there for the winter, so if we delivered the car to them, they would host us and fly us back north. Win/Win situation for everyone, it’s an excuse to take a little break from this cold northeastern winter. Wish we could’ve stayed longer.

Got up and hit the road at 3 am, and drove straight through to Savannah, GA, where we spent a night in the Marshall House. It was a beautiful old hotel with charming decor, lots of history, and a few ghosts! Yikes. Very nice city, will definitely spend more time there in the future. After, we hit the road for Florida, and visited St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. Not as charming as Savannah, but learned a lot of history there too. Could have been warmer also!

All in all, we had a great time with Shirley and Angelo, and will head south again. If we didn’t have to rush back for work, we could have enjoyed a little more sun, and lived like retired folks!

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ChansodaSavannah and Florida

Saturday Morning.

by Chansoda on December 7, 2013

Visiting Caramoor because Karla wanted to go in to work on a Saturday, but we ended up walking around the beautiful grounds of her job instead with Holly. It really is a magical place.

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ChansodaSaturday Morning.

In to Sedona

by Chansoda on October 12, 2013

Sedona, the last leg of our trip. The weather got nicer in Colorado on the day we had to hit the road, and it was a looooong drive. Explored a little bit more of the landscape in Colorado, and in to Utah, we decided to hit the four corners and do the hokey we’re in all four states thing in the navajo land. Drove a little bit in to monument valley and realized, we are just going to be driving forever! So we headed back on our road to Sedona. It took forever to find a bathroom too!

We heard on the news that National Parks are opening on Saturday, which was awesome, originally our plan was to stop in the Grand Canyon during our ride down, but it wasn’t Saturday yet… However, once we hit Sedona, we didn’t want to leave. Just wanted our foot on the ground, explore, and take in the scenery. It was gorgeous, the red rocks, everywhere you turned you saw these spectacular formations. And we hiked, a lot. We would get up, grab a little breakfast, go out for a few hours, come back in to town, have lunch, then do more hikes. We were doing the whole road trip thing and were glad to be moving around. But, I think mother nature was trying to tell us to just calm down and take it easy… After a couple days of hiking, we ran in to a rattlesnake, but it rattled to let us know that it was there, and we listened… Then later in our afternoon hike, we kind of pushed it too close to dusk. Once that sun starts going down it gets dark and kind of chilly. Well, it turns out the creatures also like to come out at that time, as we were walking further in to our hike, the few people we saw were walking the opposite direction for a reason. Eventually, we decided to turn around, and happened to come upon these scary looking things called Javelinas in our path. We climbed up a tree and saw that there were 7  or 8 of them, and thought, crap, we are stuck here all night. I tried to google what to do but had no service out there, it’s sad that in nature, my first instinct is “quick, google it!”

After a while up that tree, we got brave and decided to just make a lot of noise. Here we are, in this tree trying to make ourselves sound like big scary monsters to these Javelinas and it worked! They started to scatter, and once we thought the coast was clear. We ran, full speed, out of there. So happy to finally be in the car, that we decided we were just going to visit a vineyard the next day and relax.

I loved Sedona, it had some funky new age people, but the nature is everywhere.


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ChansodaIn to Sedona

To Colorado we go…

by Chansoda on October 10, 2013

The drive to Colorado from New Mexico was beautiful. We are headed to Durango,  had a pit stop in Pagosa Springs and roomed in the Mancos Valley. Originally, we wanted to come up here to explore Mesa Verda, but with the government shutdown, national parks are closed.

Hoped to be able to go on some fantastic hikes, but we got completely rained and snowed on. It was still gorgeous, the mountains in the background are unbelievable. We visited this great little honey place called Honeyville and tried all sorts of interesting whipped honey. We wanted to see the Honey Bees, eventually we are starting up our own colony as beekeepers. I wanted to see the old mining town of Silverton, so we drove up this high switchback and ended up in a total white-out of snow as the elevation increased. Kind of dangerous, but we turned around, the little SUV we rented came out really handy for this.

It was great, and our gracious AirBnB host was awesome. We got to talk with her and get to know a little bit more about the town we stayed in. Wished the weather was nicer and the parks were open, but it was still pretty out there and we enjoyed ourselves. Loved the little local health food store Zuma!

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ChansodaTo Colorado we go…

First leg of the southwest – New Mexico

by Chansoda on October 7, 2013

We flew in to Albuquerque, picked up the rental and drove to our room in Santa Fe. Did a little bit of exploring in this artsy little city (they weren’t kidding about art galleries galore!), hiked, then headed to the Balloon Festival at 3 am, took some dawn pictures of the event, then took the High Road to Taos. It’s a lot to pack in only a few days, but we enjoyed it. The elevation did not bother us. This is our first time out in the desert, and clear blue skies are nice.

Our room was great, love the southwest decor, and the adobe homes. But I found out I might not be the biggest fan of tex-mex food. We did go to a couple great restaurants, Vinaigrette and Tune Up were delicious. We enjoyed our visit out here. Heading north to Colorado next!


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ChansodaFirst leg of the southwest – New Mexico