Saturday, January 6, 2018

#TravelingWithDC Our search for that Hallmark Christmas Town Continues in 2017

For the past 3 or 4 years we have opted to have Thanksgiving at the Griswald Inn in Essex CT with my brother and sister-in-law, after which we spend the weekend in Essex (or close-by) to make our annual visit to Toys Ahoy (for DC, of course) and to kick the Christmas season into gear.
(This post is not as long as it appears, it is made up of many photos)

Oh! But I do have to mention that DC skipped the turkey on Thanksgiving (they did not have it on "the bones") and opted for the prime rib, which is something in itself!


This year being no different; Toys Ahoy was our first stop on Friday morning.

I was sad to see that the "Christmas Barn" was closed but confused to see a new store called the Essex Duck. The Essex Duck sells rubber duckies - ducks in many categories (nurses, firefighters, bowlers.... etc) and in many different colors and sizes, but only ducks.

Is there that much of a demand for rubber duckies to sustain an entire store? Is this a "thing" that I just have not heard of? I mean, they did have a lot of different ducks.....so I guess we will see.

DC, being DC after looking at all of the ducks in the store, decided on a plain and simple pink duck and we were on our way.





The rest of Friday was spent just looking around because the area is quite pretty...





We did not happen upon any Roadside America attractions (Doug usually makes it a point to look them up before we leave for any "looking around" trip), but this wine bottle and glass, would probably qualify if submitted...

You all know how much DC enjoys staying in a hotel; mostly because he can completely take over the desk area for his computer, DVD's, Books and markers..... But I did actually get him to take a break and watch West Side Story with me, when normally I would watch it on the television and after refusing to watch it (or anything else he likes) with me, will look it up and watch it on his computer. He does not give up any of his computer time easily.

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DC spent years trying to learn how to snap his fingers - YEARS! He finally figured it out just a few years ago. The skill came in handy when he was able to participate fully in his 246th viewing of#WestSideStory (he actually watched it on TV with me and not on dvd or his computer)#WhenYoureAJet
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Later, because I always have a difficult time sleeping in a hotel room...


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On Saturday we had tickets for the North Pole Express in Essex. We rode this train many years ago when DC was much younger and I must admit to it being rather boring. I was not really looking forward to it at all, but it was something Christmassy to do, so why not?

I have to say that it turned out to be a whole different experience this time around. It was really great!



The last time we were there, I recall, the train and the gift shop - that was about the extent of it.

Now they have this whole other building open with trees, snacks, characters......







and a post office to mail your letter to Santa. DC sure took advantage of that!




Once on the train, we were greeted with character after character.....






There was a stop at the North Pole to "pick up" some passengers..


Mrs. Claus came to visit. She passed out bells to use in a sing-a-long.

DC always loves meeting Mrs. Claus...






After the sing-a-long came the man we had all been waiting for..... You know who..



After the train ride we drove over to Niantic for a late lunch/early dinner. This always takes a lot of explaining for DC - what comes after breakfast is lunch, even at 4:00 and even if he's had a bunch of treats or "walking around food" since breakfast. "walking around food", is not lunch. Lunch is sitting down at a table, in a restaurant if we are away. Even after the explanations and the many acknowledgements that "Yes, I understand" - he will still, as soon as he is finished eating say "Dinner is later, after that".


Which is exactly what he did. Fortunately there was a book store to distract him after I explained at all to him again.



After the visit to the bookstore, we headed over to get in line for the carriage ride, meeting a few reindeer along the way..


The carriage ride took just long enough for us to walk back down the other side of the street to see a few sights before heading to the green for the tree lighting, with not enough downtime to worry about dinner 'later after that'.





He happened upon Santa for the second time that day.


and some girls singing...

We got back to the green just in time for Santa to be driven down the street to arrive by Fire Truck for the tree lighting.


(Sorry for the photo quality - moving target)





It was time to head back home. DC had, in his own words "a wonderful time".

Home again, Home again....



The following weekend, after much research we took another weekend trip; this time to Rhode Island. Since Wickford Village and Newport both looked promising, we booked a room right in the middle of both places.

Well........ we needn't have bothered with Newport because Wickford was so cute and fun!


I am sure it is a cozy little town year round....





but it was extra special all decorated for Christmas.

I tried all to get a better picture of this window when there was not so much of a glare, but there were always people standing in front of it. If it were a mere two weeks later DC would have gotten a big kick out of this window. I have for years tired to get him to watch A Christmas Story but he was never interested, until Fox presented it as their LIVE Musical presentation this year. He saw Matthew Broderick from The Music Man and Deck the Halls, so he was in. He even watched the original version on Christmas Eve.

















There were shops and carolers.



There was an Elf parade. We did not know ahead of time, but if we had thought to bring one of  DC's  Elf Costumes, because of course he has more than one, he could have been able to participate in the parade.

We will surely remember one next time. (I have much better photos but I could hardly ask the permission of all of these people to use their likeness in this post)


Right after the parade we went to the dock to wait for Santa to arrive by boat.






Mrs. Claus was there waiting for Santa to hit land. DC was thrilled to see Mrs. Claus again.



Santa finally arrived.


DC opted for lunch after his meet and greet with Santa instead of going on the carriage ride - the line was looooonnnnngggg so that was fine with me.

(Full disclosure: The line was very long. I do not have a problem with long lines but I do get anxious when the long lines are not organized and THIS was not organized. I gave DC the option of lunch or the carriage ride and he chose lunch. If he picked the ride, we would have stayed in that unorganized line.)

After lunch we headed to Smith's Castle for more Christmas festivities.


It is still not all that clear to me why this is called a castle, but it really does not matter.



Inside was small and crowded. Not a lot of room to move, so we did not stay long. But DC did get to meet "Father Christmas", who was passing out handfuls (barehanded) of M&M's from his pocket, but I am not going to talk about that (yikes!).


 He saw a lot of other pretty neat stuff. Of course he headed straight for the spinning wheel - Sleeping Beauty, of course.






He decorated cookies..



We went back to the hotel for a little while so that he could wind down a bit before heading to Newport for the tree lighting. It was very crowded. We left immediately after the tree was lit.





Unlit tree.....

Lit Tree


We headed back to Wickford to see it lit up at night.







It looked much cuter in real life than in these pictures.

We headed home on Sunday morning...



I have to say, as Hallmark Christmas Movie Villages go, Wickford, RI was pretty darn close, glitter and all.

Home Again, Home Again...


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