A Night Away In Lanesboro: Our Babymoon

Feb 13, 2018

My husband and I have two adorable kids and a newborn. A month and a half before the exciting arrival of our third daughter, we went on our "baby-moon". Our oldest two are five and three, so we are in the thick of parenthood. Every year we try to get away for at least a night to strengthen our marriage and have kid-free time. One of our favorite things to do is visit a Bed & Breakfast. Taylor's undergrad is in English, literature and writing. So when we were dating, he did really sweet things, like write me poetry. Of course, the combination of his poetry skills, his 6'5" football player frame and rocking long blonde hair made me sure he was the "one". And then when we got engaged and he said he would love to spend our wedding night at a Bed & Breakfast, I knew I was marrying the perfect guy for me. Every year since our wedding, we have enjoyed a night away.

I have been kind of obsessed with Bed and Breakfasts since I was a kid. My parents took us to one in New Hampshire when we were living in Pennsylvania and I thought it was magical. Well, it was magical until I dove into the lake and lost my glasses. I could not see anything the rest of our stay, but I didn't forget how cool it was. Then, I started dreaming of owning my own B&B and even decided to start college as a business major to pursue my dream. After changing my major a few times, I decided to table that dream (for the time being) and pursue a career in communications. All the while, still being a customer at B&B's and logging ideas for my own establishment someday.

Why are Bed & Breakfasts amazing? Well, since they are all so unique, I will use our most recent stay in Lanesboro to tell you why this ONE Bed & Breakfast was awesome. We stayed at The Historic Scanlan House and it was a real treat!

Bed and Breakfast: The Historic Scanlan House in Lanesboro

Five favorite things about this Bed and Breakfast:
  1. The decor. It was really eclectic and since it was the holiday season it was decked out with Christmas stuff. Some might think it was a bit overwhelming, we thought it was mega festive.
  2. The evening drink selection. There were tons of hot chocolate, tea and coffee choices. And every sized marshmallow you could imagine for the hot cocoa.
  3. The staff. The owners chatted with us for a long time in the morning and even let us check out the rooms we didn't stay in.
  4. The breakfast. It was so good, by far the highlight. It was warm, delicious and fresh. The conversation was also really enjoyable with the other couple who had stayed the night.
  5. The room. The giant tub, queen bed and comfy couch were exactly what a pregnant lady needs to relax at 30 weeks pregnant.
Why a bed and breakfast for a baby-moon?
  1. Relaxing time. At a bed ad breakfast, you can just slow down and have zero obligations. It's amazing.
  2. Couple time. Spending a solid 24 hours with my husband (and without my kids) is so good for our marriage. We reconnect, talk about the future and make new memories.
  3. Limited Travel. Most women don't like to travel too far for their babymoon, especially if it's after 32 weeks. Bed and breakfasts provide a getaway that's not too far away, but still away from all the chaos of life.
  4. TV time. Call me crazy, but there may not be a better place to watch an old movie favorite with my husband than from the comfort of our room at a B&B. 
  5. Food. Having someone else cook for me while I'm pregnant is just perfection.
If you are pregnant and want a babymoon or just need a romantic getaway with your husband, I recommend The Historic Scanlan House in Lanesboro. It was a fantastic getaway before we added our beautiful new baby to the picture!

10 Steps To A Great Resort Family Vacation

Nov 7, 2017

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but we went on another lake vacation this past summer. This time it was with my parents, grandma, sister and her family. We went just north of Brainerd, Minnesota to a wonderful cabin on Gull Lake at Grand View Lodge Resort.

Note: Grand View Lodge Resort provided me with a few photos to use for this post. Scroll to the bottom to see our family photos. This post is not a review of the resort. All the recommendations in this post are my opinions and I was not paid for this post.
We had seven adults and four kids, so we knew we would have to plan for a little bit of chaos. Since we have stayed at Grand View Lodge many times, we knew how to best maximize their accommodations and amenities to best suite our large family.

Tips for a Great Resort Vacation

  1. Plan for optimum sleeping arrangements: We got a cabin that had four bedrooms, so each couple (and my grandma) had a room. The kids were able to go to bed at a reasonable time and give us adults free time to watch movies, visit and play games.
  2. Meal Plans: We got the Modified American Plan, which got us a buffet breakfast at the lodge and dinner at one of the many resort restaurants. Since our kids are early risers, we beat the rush for breakfast and it was a calm and relaxing meal. Pro Tip: Make reservations for dinner early, time slots fill up quickly and eating dinner at 7:30 with toddlers is literally my worst nightmare.
  3. Only plan one "scheduled" event for the day: Grand View Lodge had many options for activities throughout the day. Many are included with the price of the cabin, but you do have to sign up for them. We signed up for one a day, so we didn't over plan our vacation. 
  4. Don't drop the nap: Sometimes kids need to skip naps, that's just life. However, whenever possible, we try to still have our kids nap on trips. This allows for some down time for adults and the kids aren't crabby at dinner. 
  5. Plan fun activities for the grown ups: The men in our group golfed twice during nap (9 hole). The ladies had coffee and ice cream at the resort. 
  6. Mommy time: This is my one regret. My sister and I were both pregnant on this trip and I wish we would have saved our money to use the spa. It would have been perfection.
  7. Use caution with great-grandparents: My grandma fell off a dock and broke a few ribs. It was very scary, but she is doing much better now. When it happened, the staff were extremely helpful. Besides getting the wheelchair and making sure she got the proper medical attention, they also checked on her many times throughout the duration of our stay. It's paramount to keep an eye on kids by lakes, but also important to look out for your grandparents.
  8. Take pictures: I don't really have to tell millennial moms the importance of picture taking. But, this is a great opportunity to get cousin, grandparent and great-grandparent photos. 
  9. Buy a keepsake: My daughter got a stuffed loon (she has a mild obsession) and they both got t-shirts. Whenever we play with the loon we reminisce about time with family. 
  10. Enjoy moments: It's so easy as millennial parents to look at our phones when the grandparents are watching the kiddos. But I encourage everyone to leave the phones in the cabin on a few outings (I mean, it's my camera, I can't leave it every time), and just be present. Enjoy the moment and have fun as a family!!

Family Photos:

Property of Dreams of Adventure Blog | Do not distribute

Property of Dreams of Adventure Blog | Do not distribute
Property of Dreams of Adventure Blog | Do not distribute

My Heart, Our Honeymoon & Hurricanes

Oct 16, 2017

These past few months I have been watching the devastation in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico. Not only that, but my family lived in Jacksonville for Hurricane Andrew, so I have memories of how Floridians handle hurricanes; they are tough people.

As I was feeling horrible about the people of Texas, I was also watching this other storm. I don't have too many ties to Texas, but I still feel compassion and love for those who are experiencing severe devastation. Florida and Georgia are totally different. I have lived in both states for a total of 8 years of my childhood. Florida, when I was 2-6, which doesn't sound like it could impact me much. But, imagine a childhood filled with days spent outside, beaches and season passes to Disney (because you know every relative came to visit us when we lived there). It was amazing and when we moved to Pennsylvania I remember being super super sad. Pennsylvania is ridiculously awesome, but that's another blog post. Point is, I lived in Florida, I loved it and we continued to vacation there for the rest of my childhood and adulthood. You can expect about one million more posts on Saint Augustine alone in the future of this blog. But first I want to focus and tell you about our honeymoon and why the barrier islands of Florida and Georgia are so amazing.

We took our honeymoon before either of us had smart phones. So, I don't have a ton of visuals for this trip, but Jekyll Island Club Hotel did provide me with excellent photos (scroll to the bottom to see more from Jekyll Island Club Hotel).

Day One
We started the morning out at our beloved Stillwater, MN Bed & Breakfast, The Rivertown Inn. It's amazing, it's not cheap, it's worth it. We then flew from Minneapolis to Jacksonville. We drove in our sweet rental (a Charger, now my husband's dream car) to Jekyll Island. Literally the most idyllic dreamy place you can find on the barrier islands of Georgia. It has so much history, I can't even go into that. Spanish moss plus ocean, plus old old beautiful buildings. It used to be members only, but now the public is also welcome! Our suite exceeded our expectations. It was huge, glorious and romantic. We had a king bed, sitting area, fireplace, big bathroom with a shower Jacuzzi tub combo. I must have told them we were on our honeymoon, because they left a wonderful bottle of wine. Okay, it looked wonderful, neither of us drink alcohol, but we so appreciated the kind gesture. They also did turn down service. We thought someone broke into our room, turns out they just got our room all ready for a romantic evening while we were out to dinner. A+ for service.

Day Two
Jekyll Island Club Hotel's breakfast buffet was the best breakfast we have ever had. I'm kind of a snob who doesn't love buffets, but this one was on point. I recommend staying here just for the breakfast buffet. After breakfast, we took out bikes and explored the island. If you know anything about the Georgia barrier islands, you know about the iconic Spanish moss. It's breath-taking and all around the island. We biked to a dock, where we watched a storm come in and even saw dolphins. The bike back was a bit more brisk, because we got caught in the storm. We then took a swim in their beautiful historic pool. I truly felt like a fancy club member from long ago. We ate dinner at a local restaurant on the Atlantic. Delish.

Day Three-Four
Breakfast buffet round two. Excellent again. We checked out of our hotel and drove along the coast to Amelia Island. On our way, I made my husband try hot boiled peanuts. He was a total Midwest snob and hated them, but we are still together; we survived that apparent diss at my heritage. Amelia Island is another barrier island just outside of Jacksonville, Florida. I've stayed at the Hoyt House before but for our honeymoon we stayed at Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. A beautiful bed and breakfast type establishment, right on the ocean. Again, our room was amazing. Much smaller than our room at Jekyll, but filled with charm. It was also ocean front, so we could open our windows and hear the waves. We stayed two nights. We also got a honeymoon type package so we had wine, dessert both nights and one dinner at a local restaurant in addition to the breakfasts that came with our room. The desserts were an amazing treat and the dinner was phenomenal. We spent our time, relaxing in our room, exploring the island and sitting on the porch and beach.

Day Five
Amelia breakfast. It was delicious, but my favorite part was meeting people from all over the world. There were so many European tourists and often times American's don't get much interaction with Europeans on vacation (well, I had not, anyway). It was neat talking about the differences and why they loved vacationing in Florida. I was so proud that they felt welcome, comfortable and thought it was beautiful. I mean, Georgians and Floridians really have that southern hospitality thing down. I always find myself chatting with people in grocery stores (okay, just Publix) down there. I love it. We took this day to drive A1A slowly down to Saint Augustine. This is probably the most emotional part for me to write, because if you have seen any photos of Irma's destruction, Ponde Vedre got hit really bad. It is between Jacksonville and Saint Augustine. And I am sure there is devastation or hurricane damage all along the coast there. A1A is a road that hugs the coast and the only thing between the road and the beach are these wonderful beach homes, large and small. I'm sure it's those homeowners' little piece of heaven.

Day Six-Seven
This will be brief, because you will see many more posts about Saint Augustine. Detailed ones with restaurant recommendations, must do lists and hotel recommendations. I can't even count the amount of times I have been to Saint Augustine over my life. We started going when I lived in Jacksonville, so I have been going there forever. We tacked on Saint Augustine to our honeymoon agenda, because we couldn't be that close and not go. We stayed at the Best Western on Anastasia Island, a barrier island to Saint Augustine. While we were there, we went to our favorite restaurant Osteen's, fed dolphins at Marineland (just down the coast toward Daytona), took photos in front of Flagler College and walked the streets of this romantic old Spanish town. The perfect way to end our trip. In a place we had both been and a place we have since taken our children twice. It was amazing to dream about our family there and then walk those same streets with our two tots in tow. Saint Augustine was a huge part of my childhood and I intend for it to be a place that bears the same weight for my children. A home away from home, a place where locals treat tourists like locals, a place where the ocean is filled with big waves, dolphins and boats and the inter-coastal way is calm, relaxing and peaceful. A perfect place to end our honeymoon and get our adventure started.

Note: I'm praying daily for those who call these places home. Although I feel strongly about my connections to this area, I am constantly reminded that there are people affected who own homes and have lived in these places their entire life. They own businesses and have had their lives affected by this storm. And there are people who have experienced loss of life, a tragedy too hard to even comprehend. My heart goes out to these people the most. If my favorite vacation spot was affected, it doesn't change my life, but I feel deeply for those who are in this position. If you can help or make an impact to this region, Texas or Puerto Rice, please do so. They are wonderful humans who truly show love to others, now is our time to help them. It has been awhile since the hurricanes hit, but rebuilding will take years.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel Photos:

Loons & Long Lake

Aug 28, 2017

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Hello! Welcome to my new blog, Dreams of Adventure. As I was thinking about the best way to begin a blog about adventure, I decided I would start with sharing about my summer vacation. If you want to know more about me, visit my bio. One of my biggest passions is travel. I had the privilege to travel to both Europe and South America in college, but now that I'm an adult, I haven't had those same opportunities. Luckily, I can get just as excited about trips in the US, Minnesota (where I live) or even day trips! This may sound like a major nerd confession, but I like planing trips so much I even sometimes (okay... lots of time) plan trips I know I will never go on. It's not sad, I promise. I get to go plenty of places that are cool, near and far, and I know even if I plan a trip I won't take, I will still get to see some pretty amazing places. This brings me to one of my latest adventures.

My husband and I currently take most of our vacations with our parents. I really enjoy the quality family time you get while road tripping across America and staying in a shared space for a week. My kids absolutely love spending that time with their grandparents, aunts, uncle and cousins. They make memories and talk about our vacations all the time. Plus, there are bound to be those "not fun in the moment" memories that you laugh over for years to come. This summer, we did not plan a big road trip style vacation with either of our parents. Instead, we decided to stay in the Upper Midwest, and I'm so glad we did! My in-laws rented a cabin on Long Lake near Spooner, Wisconsin. I had my doubts that it would be exciting, but once we got there, settled in the cabin and took our rented boat out on the water, I was AMAZED.

First off, let's talk about how hard it is to rent a cabin in some parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. It seems like I search Homeaway or VRBO every spring, hunting for a reasonable cabin in one of the major tourist cities, only to be frustrated by the prices, the inventory or the fear that we will get there and it will be a disappointment. I'm so glad my in-laws planned this vacation without any input from me, because it turned out perfect. And my father-in-law grew up in Shell Lake, which is 6 miles from Spooner, so he obviously knew WAY more about the area than I did.

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We got to our cabin, which I'm going to be honest, the whole family thought may not be suitable for our family of 5 adults and 2 kids, but after a quick tour we were pleasantly surprised! It had plenty of space, lots of character and great views of the water. The other BEST part? The loons. Can I talk about my mild obsession with loons? I didn't grow up in Minnesota or Wisconsin or near places with lots and lots of lakes, so I think loons are pretty cool. Why are loons so great, you ask?
  1. They make the coolest sound while you are sipping coffee on the porch. In preparation for this vacation, I legit pulled up a youtube clip of a loon call and my daughter can now do a loon call. It's pretty awesome.
  2. They are beautiful. I tried desperately to get the perfect loon photograph, but I failed. 
  3. I kayaked right next to two loons and they made the coolest noises and I just sat and watched them for a few minutes.
  4. They can dive into the water and they magically appear in a totally different location.
Now, let's talk about why I loved Long Lake. My in-laws rented a boat from Hayward, Wisconsin and we tied it up on our rental's dock. I'm sure we would have had a lovely time without a boat, but it really really took our experience up a notch. Renting a boat is not cheap, but if you want an on the water experience, you can also rent a kayak or canoe for much cheaper. So, keep that in mind as I list off all the reasons why Long Lake is amazing.
  1. It's not insanely busy like some lakes in Minnesota. If you have been to Cross Lake or Gull Lake, you know what I mean.
  2. It's really long, but it doesn't have that many channels. So, you can boat on it for a long time, with minimal time slowing down to pass through crowded channels.
  3. The people of Long Lake are super friendly. Two or three neighbors stopped by to say hello, chat and give us pointers for the lake.
  4. There are multiple restaurants where you can dock a boat and enjoy a meal by the water. All of these places are accessible by vehicle, too. We went to Prop's Sports Bar and Grill. Yummy, great spot by the water and very nice staff.
  5. Ice cream. We stopped twice for gas and ice cream at The Hive on Long Lake. Highly recommend it. 
  6. Swimming sandbar. In the big portion of Long Lake, at the southern end, there is an island/sandbar area where lots of people bring their boats. They tie them to trees on the island and it's an amazing place for little kids to swim. The sandy bottom goes on for a long time and makes for a fantastic swimming, picnic and napping location.
  7. Real estate. We had a great time looking at all the cabins and homes for sale.
  8. Fishing. I'm basically a professional fisher(wo)men. I caught some perch, blue gill and bass. Just kidding, they do have great fishing, but I am not a professional.
  9. No data. We were not attached to our cell phones, because no one in the family had service. Also, our cabin did not have wifi or cable/satellite. A blessing, for sure.
  10. The boat wave. My husband and my sister-in-law insisted that I was incorrectly waving at other boats. They taught me the "correct" way to do the boat wave. Apparently, it's a short "hey there" wave. Do not act too excited, apparently, that's not cool.
To sum it up: I totally recommend renting a cabin on Long Lake. It's beautiful, peaceful and just perfect. Do you have a favorite lake in Minnesota or Wisconsin? Let me know!