Road Trip Essentials

As much as I enjoy hopping on a plane and heading off to a new destination (preferably a nice tropical one!) I love road tripping. My husband and I met as teenagers and the freedom of the open road, and ability to pick our own music (Stone Temple Pilots was on major repeat) was very appealing to us. This was the time before cell phones and tablets and I like to think back on all the places we visited and jams we got ourselves out of by working together. Our relationship was forged on the road and we've passed that same sense of adventure onto our boys. I have spent a lot of years perfecting our road trip essentials. Over time each packing list took on more or less items depending on where we were at in our lives. Before the boys we could survive on a change of clothes and a handful of CDs. With babies and toddlers we had mountains of diapers, toys and sippy cups. As teenagers, they generally require a few snacks and their ear phones. 

My husband and I are at the point in our lives where we have come full circle. We find the boys coming with us less often as they have their own lives and commitments now, but we are young and there is still more road to be travelled. When it comes to road trip essentials you want to make sure you have everything you need to prevent buying something you already have while on the road but there is no need to over pack. I try and stick to using three bags for just the husband and myself. AMH is a big fan of back packs where as I am a big fan of L.L.Bean's Boat and Totes. I have tested out many (many, many) travel bags over the years and I can say that these have not only lasted longer than the others, they are washable, hold a lot and when not in use, fold away. Plus you can monogram them #ifitsnotmovingmonogramit

We recently spent two nights and three days on the road. I brought my medium sized long handle zip top in blue to hold all my clothing and toiletries and my large sized regular handle open top red boat and tote to hold all the items I call my road trip essentials.

Road Trip Essentials

Blanket - Impromptu picnics or cool nights. I love my Hudson's Bay strip blanket with carrying strap and bring it on every road trip.

Sweater - Speaking of cool nights, I always bring a sweater. Even in the dead of summer. You can never predict what the night air will feel like. I bought this fleece pullover from L.L. Bean before our road trip and I know I will be getting a lot of use out of it this summer. 

Sunscreen - I cannot stress enough how important it is to have sunblock with you. Even just sitting in the car you can get burns on your face and arms. Hawaiian Tropic spray is my go to. The spray is so easy to apply. I try and add a quick spritz every few hours. 

Hat - There are so many times that I have left home without a hat and promptly regretted it. You never know when the opportunity for an adventure that will cause your hair to constantly blow in your face will come up! I frequently wear the hat I bought at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica but I also love this Ralph Lauren hat (I have it in red) or a baseball team hat like this Blue Jays one. 

Sunnies - You can never have too many pairs of sunnies. I would love to invest in a good pair of Pradas or Ray-Bans but I have yet to find a pair that feel just right. Until then, I like picking up cheap ones from our local farmer's market or Wal-Mart. 

Travel mug/cup - I never leave home without a Tervis Tumbler. For my Canadian friends, Tervis is an insulated mug that has been made in American since 1946. It will keep beverages warm or cold and each comes with a lid with an easy drink lip. I bought mine when I visited the Maker's Mark Distillery last spring. They come in a range of patterns and characters and you can purchase them at Target or on the Tervis website. It's great for those moments in your trip when you don't want a full drink and you can split a cold beverage between you and your car mates. 

Emergency kit - I don't mean go full out and buy a hospital grade kit. I have a small Lilly Pulitzer cosmetic case that I carry around some supplies that I/we might need. Tylenol, Band-Aids, Tums, Pepto. Anything you think you might need and really don't want to have to stop to pick up. 

Snacks and water - Our road trips frequently take us across the border to the US. One of the first things we do when we finally get into the US is stop at Target and/or Wal-Mart and pick up a case of water (I drink water like a mad person) and snacks. Granola bars are quick and easy to throw into your travel bag, I fell in love with the Girl Guides thin mint granola bars last week! We try and remain as healthy as we can while on the road and will pick up a few bananas, apples and ready to go cut fruit. 

Add in your favourite play list and you have the makings of a great road trip!

Have I forgotten anything? Is there anything you would add to this road trip essentials list? Add your picks to the comments below. I'll see you on the open road! 

Dolly Parton at Artpark

Our weekend road trip continued and we headed west to historic Lewiston. I love this picturesque small town but I wasn't there to see the town. I was there to cross off a bucket list item --see Dolly Parton live in concert! 

This was my first time visiting Artpark in Lewiston. The outdoor concert stage was set near the Niagara Gorge which made for a beautiful sunset (Dolly called it "God's lighting). There are a few different ticket types, we choose the one with a seat provided (folding chair), you also have the option of sitting on a hill and bringing your own chair. I had my camera in my purse, my Nikon D3200 because that thing never leaves my side because we were in the middle of a road trip and I forgot it was there. They would not allow it in. They said anything with a detachable lens was considered "professional". I tried to give them the Dolly charm "Well I'm not even sure the lens is removable" and "You should see the photos I take, I promise I am no professional" but they were not having it. AMH had to walk back to our hotel to drop it off. So from here on out, I only have iPhone photos (*Note- they said point and shoots are fine. I should have pointed out that most point and shoots have more zoom than my camera but I didn't want to push my luck.)

AMH and me. Look at that smile, I could not be more excited! He's such a champ. Walked to Artpark, then back to the hotel. Back to Artpark and found me in a mess of 6000 other Dolly Parton fans. Should probably point out that my hubby doesn't even listen to country music (except Zac Brown Band). 

We got to Artpark shortly after the gates opened at 5:30 (the majority of seats are general admission so we wanted to try and get the best seats!) There is no opening act on Dolly's "Pure and Simple" tour and she wasn't taking the stage until 8pm, so we had a lot of time on our hands. Luckily there was a huge section cordoned off for food trucks, beer vendors and Dolly merchandise. I saved seats while AMH headed off in search of mac & cheese (I saw someone else with it). It was delicious! AMH bought me a Dolly sweater and once the sun went down, so did the temperature, and I was happy to have it! 

Dolly had two acts, the first she was dressed all in white and performed old hits and songs from her upcoming album. Dolly Parton was the first musician I ever heard. Both of my parents are fans and I'm sure many kids in the 80's grew up with Dolly and Kenny Christmas albums. In this first half she played Jolene and My Tennessee Mountain Home, two of my favourite Dolly songs. Dolly briefly spoke about her time working on Steel Magnolias, my favourite movie, and on 9 to 5, which was met with a rather loud round of applause from the crowd. Dolly knows her fans all too well. 

After a 20 minute intermission, and costume change into a black leather ensemble, we were treated to a few more classic Dolly songs, 9 to 5, Here you come again, Islands in the stream and the encore I will always love you. Throughout her set she shared stories of her upbringing in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and repeatedly stated that she "needs the money" to keep her Dollywood theme park and the new Dollywood Dream More Resort up and running. She weaved her Dollyisms into each story she told and more than once asked for forgiveness when running to grab a tissue, or to warm herself by the heaters staff placed on the stage after the sun went down. It was a cool evening with a lot of wind and she asked the front row to catch her wing incase it blew off. 

photo via The Buffalo News

Dolly put on an entertaining show that was delightfully Pure and Simple. Just a few musicians, a drum machine that replaced a real life drummer, her singing and story telling. Which is all this fan wanted to see in the first place. I'm delighted to report that even my non-country music loving husband enjoyed himself. 

I enjoyed myself so much that I already have tickets to see her this September in Toronto. Crossing off a bucket list item is so fun, why not do it twice! 

Holiday Inn Downtown Rochester

In yesterday's post I shared our visit to the Rochester Red Wings and how we were delayed on our road trip due to some car troubles. Well after a few hours delay, we finally made it to our hotel for the night, the Holiday Inn Downtown Rochester

We checked in, which was fast and efficient, and dropped our bags in our room. We snapped a few pictures and then walked to Frontier Field. The front desk gave us directions to walk and it could not be easier! It took us maybe 5 minutes.

*Tip* Inquire before booking about any special offers for Rochester Red Wings visitors. Many area hotels will offer a special rate for fans of their local sports team.

I've met a few people over the years that travel to Rochester from Ontario, Canada for business. This hotel would be perfect for business travellers! The hotel is right downtown and they have an excellent business centre. They also have a pool, which since we were delayed, we were unfortunately not able to use. 

The bed was a welcome site after the loooong day we had. The alarm clock on the bedside was a CD player! I had a good chuckle about this one since you don't see many CD players anymore. I made sure to bring up Adele's 25 (which I bought on CD of course!)

Truth time -- I am a fussy sleeper. I shared in this blog post how I travel with my own special pillow. Well I have been finding that hotels have really stepped up their pillow game and I am no longer travelling with my pillow. So I guess leaving my pillow at the hotel was a good thing! Having a pillow selection at the Holiday Inn just made me love them all the more. Because I am a side sleeper I need a firm pillow. This fills in the space between your shoulder and chin. I used the soft pillow to elevate my knee (which I do every night at home) to help align my hips. This is very important for side sleepers! Not only is it more comfortable but it keeps your body aligned. This helps with breathing and to prevent pain. In case you were not already aware, I am totally obsessed with sleeping!

A nice chair for sitting and a full length mirror! Seeing the mirror reminded me that I have yet to put one up in my bedroom. For shame! 

We had an excellent view of the Genesee River and a Keurig with different teas and coffees (the room also had a bar fridge and microwave). I can't believe how quickly Keurig took over the hospitality industry! Over the last few months every hotel I have stayed at has one. I'm going to start bringing my own Kcups with my when I travel. 

The location could not be more perfect. There is a Dunkin Donuts across the street, we walked to the Rochester Red Wings game, around Downtown and found a Scottish pub (how random is that?) and in the morning headed to Victor, NY to the Eastview Mall (they have a HUGE L.L.Bean store).

Onto my famous hotel rating system (its not famous but a girl can dream!)

Stylish hotel - yes
Clean and comfortable beds - yes
Good location to see the city - yes
Active and responsive to guests on social media - yes
Would I stay here again - yes

A 5 star rating!

Our visit to the Holiday Inn Downtown Rochester was short but lovely and we look forward to seeing them again! 

Special thanks to Joanne and the entire team at the Holiday Inn Downtown Rochester for making our stay a lovely one.

Rochester Red Wings

Last weekend the husband and I decided to take a little couples weekend away in New York State. The Rochester Red Wings were playing on Saturday night and the promotion was a fireworks night! I love fireworks! Rochester is a great place to visit, it's only a three hour drive from Toronto, Ontario, and what a beautiful drive it is (unless your tire blows on the QEW and you have to drive home to get another car and then start the road trip all over again). We quickly checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Rochester Downtown, and walked over to the field. 

Even with the car troubles we had, we still made it in time to watch the Rochester Red Wings play the Toledo MudHens. Before finding our seat we went on a tour of the stadium, which we last visited in 2014 (See a full list of all stadiums we have visited). First up was the team store. 

An entire wall of hats! Classic New Era hats in full back and snap back. AMH and The Oldest already have a Rochester Red Wings hat so we moved on. 

Well this is new, a full section of women's wear! A great assortment of women's clothing in team colours and pastels. All fitted to women and not the dreaded "unisex" sizing. As a baseball loving female, I was so excited to see this! I've passed on many baseball t-shirts and sweaters because the fit was all wrong. 

I didn't purchase any new clothing but we did leave with a blue plaid, baseball, picnic blanket! Three of my favourite things combined! 

Our new picnic blanket came in handy right away! We stopped by the peanut and chemical free lawn where families sat and children were free to run around. 

Ok, this may seem a little odd but when you visit as many baseball fields as I do this is important. The Red Wings have one of the cleanest bathrooms in all of baseball. Yes, I am saying that out of all the MiLB and MLB fields I have been to, this is the cleanest. They also have a very clean changing station which I no longer need but did meet a mother in here that said she was so happy it was clean and easy to use. 

I'd have to say my favourite thing about seeing a baseball game in Rochester is their wide assortment of craft breweries (well, after actually seeing the game of course!). We stopped to try Rohrbach Brewing Company and to support a local children's charity. All the money raised from beer sales that night supported a local skate club!

Found our seats, Section 205 Row L Seat 5&6 (For those wondering, these seats are $11.50 making it a great value for a night out with your spouse and/or kids!). Time to enjoy a little ball, sunshine and beer, #ROCthesummer. We had a great view with the Kodiak building overlooking the park and we got the last bit of sunshine on our side. 

The Zooperstars is a hilarious troop of animals with names that play on famous sports players, this guy is Mackerel Jordan. He spits baseballs at the bat boy and wants to play a game of catch. When the bat boy becomes annoyed with him, Mackerel Jordan eats him and spits out his clothes! Then he spits the bat boy out with just his boxer shorts on and runs away. It's great fun between innings. They have quite a few characters and they all have their signature moves. 

We were feeling antsy thanks to sitting so long in the car (with our blown tire we were in the car 5 hours, with an hour of waiting for a tow truck) so we left our seats and walked around the field. We found a new stand that sells adult root beer, Small Town Brewery out of Illinois. AMH and I decided to split a Not Your Fathers Root Beer 5.9% since we were not all that sure how a beer root beer was going to taste. This is dangerous stuff my friends! It is delicious and tastes as silky and sweet as a regular root beer, but you get a buzz! It is very sugary and I'm glad we decided to just split one. I would buy this and serve it as a dessert drink.

We found a table in the outdoor eating area, the perfect viewing spot for the on field fireworks. 

And it was right beside the bar! Two more craft beers, Brooklyn Summer Ale (love it!) and we purchased two plastic Red Wings mason jars for $2 to take home for the boys. 

The fireworks were set to 80's music and paid tribute to the purple one, Prince!

The fireworks were outstanding and the 80's music took me back to being a little kid. It was the great way to finish out our visit to the Rochester Red Wings. 

Many thanks to Nate and the Rochester Red Wings for the tickets and for a wonderful night out!

Rainy Day In London

Location: Westminster Bridge, London

Outfit | Shirt: Gap (on sale!) | Jeans: Mavi Jeans | Belt: H&M | Walking shoes: Nike |
Trench: Michael Kors (Major sale alert!) | Scarf: Vintage (Similar here, here and here all under $50!)
Lipstick: Bite Amuse Bouche in Radish | Blush: Bobbi Brown in Nectar

Well I got the obligatory blogger shot while in London - Staring off into the distance on the bridge with Big Ben in the background :D It was actually a funny shooting day since it rained (and rained and rained) which was actually unexpected as the weather channel had predicted sun all day! But that's life in London. My mom says "You don't travel to the UK for their weather but if it's going to rain, you're in the best city for it". As usual, mom was right; London is beautiful in the rain. After seeing Big Ben and hearing the bells chime, we carried on to the London Eye (blog post here). My advice for anyone travelling to London-- invest in a good rain coat. I bought this trench with a hood and I'm so thankful. It didn't protect my hair from the humidity (oh the frizz!) but it did keep me dry the entire day.

We walked so much in London that by the last day, I had blisters on both feet and couldn't walk while wearing shoes. If you follow me on Snapchat (Celebr8thislife) you saw how I travelled through the airport - in a pair of slippers I got from the Sofitel Hotel! It wasn't the classiest way to travel but at least I could walk. The Nike walking shoes I bought would be good for those who walk 2-5 km's a day but we did closer to 40 kms each day. I regretted not bringing my Saucony running shoes with me which would have been better suited to long walking distances. Learn from my mistake!

Camden Market

One afternoon we decided to hop on our favourite Tube and visit Camden Market. Now I'll admit that I was not really that interested in seeing Camden Market. AMH had done a little research (I still think it was because he likes Amy Winehouse so much!) and said it looked like a "cool" place to see. Well... he was right and I was wrong! Camden Market is a very "cool" (does anyone say cool anymore?) place to see and shop. Oh the shopping! Let's take a little tour and you can see for yourself.

We started our tour of Camden Market in Stables Market (there are six market areas within Camden Market) is an eclectic group of vendors selling clothing, antiques, odd and ends and food. 

Stables Market is where the Amy Winehouse statue is located. The statue was unveiled two years ago and has attracted many fans, I waited for a group of girls to finish taking selfies before snapping this photo. Many fans bring colourful bracelets to add to the statue. I'll admit I was not a fan of her's while she was alive, but my husband was. I only recently started listening to her "Back to Black" album but I did always like her version of "Valerie". I have not seen the recent documentary "Amy" but AMH and The Oldest saw it and loved it. 

A beautiful clock with the year Stables Market was founded, 1849. 

It seems that Camden Town has quite the musical history. While peaking in and out of vendor stalls we came across this tiny blue sign stating that John Lennon once lived in this space. 

If you are a vintage clothing lover (I know I am!) then this is THE place in London to shop. The shop on the left had the most wonderful assortment of coats and the shop on the right was more 70's style dresses and shirts. I'm seriously smarting over not buying that blue coat.

Fleming Antiques had some incredibly interesting pieces outside...

But that was nothing compared to inside! They had some spectacular blue and white ginger jars (I'm an avid collector of blue and white). I wish that airlines didn't have overage charges so I could have brought all of these home with me! 

There are aisles after aisles after aisles of food vendors in Camden Market. Here you can find every single variety of food offered. Looking for thai, they have it. Ethiopian? No problem. Mexican, si! The smell was intoxicating! I made AMH a promise that when we go back to London that we can stay in Camden Market for a few days (and eat until we burst!). By then I should have figured out a way to get all that blue and white shipped back home to Canada!