Family Vacation Template: New England Road Trip

The worst part of a family vacation, other than unexpected kid tantrums, is planning and research. So we want to try something new on The Dad… Family Vacation Templates. When someone on our staff or someone in our community goes on a cool vacation, we’ll have ’em lay out the itinerary (transportation, hotels, restaurants, activities, etc.) along with some very light commentary. Maybe you were wanting to visit the same spot? You can pick and choose from the template, do what you like and sub out what you don’t, and save a ton of time (and maybe money)!

They don’t have to be road trips, or busy vacations, or expensive. They can be super simple! In fact, it’s encouraged.

First up…. a New England road trip: Boston->Cape Cod->Portland Maine->Bar Harbor->White Mountain National Forest->Boston.

Have you been to these places? Anything I should’ve done but didn’t? Would you like to do a similar writeup for a trip you went on recently? Email us at [email protected]

Background

Not all vacations are the same, and not all families are the same. Helpful to know the folks on this trip. My wife and I have two kids: a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. They’re relatively flexible travels, as far as kids go. They aren’t always into overly active stuff like hiking, but they love swimming and experiencing new places. Your mileage may vary.

Day 1: Boston, Massachusetts

  • Flew into Boston Logan International Airport
  • Rented a car from Hertz Gold. Not an ad but I love Hertz Gold. Walk out, see your name on the board, pick any car. We let the kids pick. They picked a minivan. ????
  • Drove to Harvard
  • Alexander W. Kemp Playground. Pretty basic. But kids got some travel energy out.
  • Walked around Harvard. Visited Civil War Monument, Harvard Yard, John Harvard Statue, Harvard Square, Harvard Book Store. Bought some candy at Cabot’s Candy.
  • Drove to Fenway. Ate pizza at Woody’s Grill and Tap. Good pizza. (Just outside the restaurant, a dude stopped me on the street to tell me he loves The Dad! Love when that happens. If you see me, say hi!)
  • Walked over to Fenway Park and checked it out
  • Ate at The Barking Crab. Cool outdoor seating next to the water, traditional Boston seafood.
  • Walked over to Fan Pier Park. Not a lot for kids to do but we walked around and took in the cool views.
  • Walked back down to Children’s Wharf Park (currently under construction). Got photos with Hood Milk building (large milk jug for some reason?).
  • Got ice cream at Taiyaki NYC. Cool fish-lookin’ cones. Unique flavors.
  • Stayed at Seaport Hotel. Good city hotel with an indoor pool and fitness center. Location was awesome. We paid $345/night.
Fan Pier Park

Day 2: Boston, Massachusetts

  • Ate lunch at Buco Trattoria. More of a lunch spot for office workers, but pretty good. Had a small attached art gallery.
  • Boston Children’s Museum. Three floors. Lots to do for all ages. We stayed for several hours.
  • Took an Uber to The Paul Revere House. At this point, I had ENOUGH of Boston traffic. Depends on day/time of course, but we would’ve been better off walking. The Paul Revere House was slightly interesting from a historical perspective, just in sheer age of the structure and some stuff in it. But the kids definitely didn’t fully appreciate it and we weren’t there for long.
  • Walked down to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, did some window shopping. Lots of trinkets and touristy stuff. But also lots of food offerings if you want to try lots of stuff in one spot.
  • Ate at MIJA Cantina and Tequila Bar. This is a Mexican place in the market. Was actually super good. I picked the three most unique taco options on the menu and loved ’em all. My picky kids even liked the “crispy duck” taco.
  • Walked back to Seaport Hotel. Decently long walk for the kids but soooo much better than sitting in traffic. Saw the Boston Tea Party museum in distance.

Day 3: Cape Cod, Massachusetts

  • Drove to Cape Cod
  • Went to Seagull Beach. Nice, clean, pretty empty. Hardly any waves.
  • Ate lunch at Keltic Kitchen. They are known for breakfast food. Three words: CORNED BEEF HASH. Top notch.
  • Went to Veteran’s Park Beach. Had a good playground near the beach. My kids went in the water even though it was very cold.
  • Putt putt at Wild Animal Lagoon. Pretty standard family vacation putt putt. When in Rome, go putt putting. They did have this cooler of Dip N Dots style coffee ice cream though? Amazing.
  • Ate at TUGBOATS. $30 is a little pricey for a seafood sampler that literally has “Ritz crackers” on it, but cool outdoor seating overlooking the sun setting on the water.
  • Stayed at Hampton Inn & Suites Cape Cod. I’m sure there are better places to stay in Cape Cod but we honestly had trouble finding a good one. This place had free breakfast and indoor pool and hot tub. Did the trick. We paid $235/night.

Day 4: Drive up the coast to Bar Harbor, Maine

  • Drove up the coast
  • Stopped in Portland Maine at East End Beach on the Eastern Promenade trail. Loved this little town. Would’ve liked to spend more time there. Scenic and quaint. Saw a couple breweries and coffee shops. We just passed through. But this park had great views. We hiked around a bit.
  • Stayed at Holiday Inn Resort Bar Harbor – Acadia Natl Park. This hotel (or *ahem* resort, rather) was in a good location. The outside of the hotel was gorgeous. The outdoor pool overlooked the water in an almost infinity pool-esque way. Amazing. The staff was great. The rooms, however, were kind of stuffy and outdated. I’m not picky, but they didn’t give off a very clean feeling if you know what I mean. We paid $219/night.

Day 5: Bar Harbor, Maine

  • This was Father’s Day! I woke up and my entire family surprised me by wearing The Dad shirt. Hilarious and adorable.
  • Miss Samantha Lobster Fishing & Seal Watch Cruises. This was fantastic. We debated doing a 4 hour whale watching trip or this. We’re glad we picked this. The guides were great and it was very kid friendly and engaging. We saw a “pregnant lobster,” which even fascinated the naturalist (she hadn’t seen one before!).
  • Ate at Stewman’s Lobster Pound for lunch. This is a classic Maine thing. They had a “full lobster experience.” I did that. If you like lobster, pretty good! But for me, lobster is just so-so, and after seeing the “pregnant lobster”, it kinda grossed me out a bit tbh. But that’s just me. And I got a couple Thunder Hole Ales from Mid Atlantic Brewing and it was 100 emoji.
  • Drove up Cadillac Mountain and hiked a bit. As the highest point in Maine, this is the spot where the sun rises first on the United States each day. Pretty cool, and very accessible for families.
  • Went down to Sand Beach. Was overcast but still cool. Can’t say enough great things about Acadia National Park. So many great sights, especially if you like hiking, but even if you don’t.
  • Ate at Atlantic Brewing Midtown. Chill atmosphere and great food and beer flights. Plus rooftop dining!

Day 6: Bar Harbor, Maine

  • Next day hiked Jordan Pond from Trailhead to Bubble Rock Overlook and back. There’s a trail that goes up the east side of the pond. Maybe all the way around? Either way, hours of lovely hiking.
  • Ate at Jordan Pond House. Apparently, this is a must-do Acadia thing that we just stumbled upon. Glad we did. Good food. They’re known for “popovers“, which are spherical hollow pastry-like things that you put butter and jam on/in. Not bad.
  • Went to Wild Acadia. Kids were sick of hiking so we let them pick what we did in the afternoon. They chose this place they saw on the drive in that had a waterslide. They also had some ziplines and go-karts. It was… exactly what you would expect.
  • Walked across the Bar Island Land Bridge to Bar Island. During low tide, there is a sand bar bridge that becomes exposed. You can then walk across where the water used to be like Moses parting the Red Sea. It’s worth checking out! Make sure to time it right. My wife went for a jog and was out at Bar Island when the tide came back in and she had to wade through the water back to shore haha.
  • Ate dinner at Paddy’s Irish Pub. Actually a hotel restaurant. I got lobster bisque and it was ON POINT. But when is it ever not?
  • Walked to Mount Desert Island Ice Cream. Worth the .3 mile walk. Great flavors. I got “The Dude”, a white Russian flavored milkshake, with alcohol in it! We ate at the Village Green just outside the ice cream joint. A guy was playing violin and the weather was perfect. Quite nice.

Day 7: Drive through White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

  • Next day drove to New Hampshire. The drive itself was scenic. I took it all in while the kids watched a movie on the iPad. Ha.
  • Drove up Mt. Washington. This drive is no joke. It’s very tight, with no guardrails and very scary/steep ledges. I imagine if you are afraid of heights and/or not a great driver, you may panic a bit on the way up. On the way down, you CAN’T ride the brakes or they will overheat and fail. So take breaks. The peak was incredible though. Highest winds ever recorded were recorded at the top! They also have a cog railway that goes up it, but takes awhile.
  • Ate dinner at little pizza place called Pub 32. Great beer selection. Don’t know for sure but I feel we picked the best pizza place in town.
  • Stayed at RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain. This place was very nice. Huuuuge outdoor pool. Arcade. Winery. We hit up the winery for a tasting. I got the feeling the hotel was part of some sort of timeshare-style real estate investing salesy kinda thing. And I was scared we’d be solicited for some type of sales pitch while we were there, but thankfully it never came. We paid $250/night.

Day 8: White Mountain National Forest and drive back to Boston, Massachusetts

  • Hiked Flume Gorge. This was about 2 miles. But there was enough interesting stuff to see that the kids enjoyed it too.
  • Drove back to Boston airport

Two-Year-Old Takes First Steps After Major Brain Surgery

2-year-old takes first steps after brain surgery
(Facebook/Heather Figueroa)

Learning your child has a serious condition can be one of the most devastating pieces of news any parent can receive. So when Heather Figueroa learned her son had Craniosynostosis, a birth defect impacting one out of every 2,000 live births, she immediately turned her attention to getting him help.

However, unlike other defects, Craniosynostosis can sometimes be very subtle. Changes in the shape of the head may become noticeable and is typically the first and only symptom. It wasn’t until Branson was 18-months-old that his mother noticed something that “felt a little different” while giving him a routine haircut. Her suspicions were confirmed by the family’s doctor, but initially, specialists told her that surgery wouldn’t be necessary.

Despite the diagnosis, Heather was still concerned. Surgery to repair the defect was invasive, but the window was shrinking as it must be done while the child is still young in order to work properly. Eventually, their journey led them to the University of Vermont Medical Center, where doctors confirmed her suspicions and recommended the reparative procedure.

After a nearly seven hour-long medical marathon, Branson’s surgery was deemed a success. Just two days after having the major cranial operation, the brave little trooper was alert and active. The nurses decided to get him up and out of bed. His mother, shocked by his progress, grabbed her phone and recorded video of Branson’s first post-surgery steps.

You can hear Heather choking up in the video, later sharing with Good Morning America she was “bawling with joy”.

Branson was released and has been recovering at home. His mother sharing that the “change in these short 4 weeks we have seen in him seriously are extraordinary.” While having their child home safe is obviously the most gratifying part of the entire ordeal, Heather said she was also floored by the outpouring if support and comments on the video-sharing in a Facebook update “Never did I think sharing such a special moment would travel around the whole world and have people reach out and be touched and moved like we are.”

She ended the update with gratitude and a call for more positivity and kindness in general. “We need more of this in our world. More positivity and good”. 

In a world of divisiveness and divide, finally something we can all agree on!

PBR Is Selling 99-Packs Just In Time for Thanksgiving

Pabst 99 Cans
(Instagram/betacollective)

Ah, the holidays. That magical time of year when you give thanks, celebrate, and try to ignore your drunk uncle Toby between helpings of mashed potatoes.

Things are tense right now. The country is divided, opinions can’t be reconciled, arguments ensue. Is Joker a good movie? Shouldn’t Mason Rudolph be suspended too? Ok Boomer.

Mingling with family members both nuclear and extended can be fraught with tension. Thankfully, an old friend is here to save the day.

Beer! Specifically, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. And don’t worry, they’ve got enough for everyone.

Just in time for your trip over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, PBR has released a 99-pack of beer. That’s right. 99 bottles cans of beer to help you power through dinner and pass out before the Thursday night NFL game.

Take a look at this thing:

It will run you $175, require at least 3 people and 2 refrigerators to carry and store, and contains three kinds of PBR: Original, Easy, and Extra. (To be perfectly honest, I had no idea there was more than one kind of PBR, but with 99 cans, a little variety is fine with me.)

For now, it’s only available in the following states: Texas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Florida, New York, South Carolina, Montana, Virginia, California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arkansas, and Colorado. It may expand, but until it does, maybe taking a little detour on the way to the in-laws would be a good idea? For some reinforcements. Just a thought.

Teen With Autism Surprised With Visit From Polar Express Conductor

Teen with autism receives special visit
(Facebook/ Angie Swartout)

Autism can make things very difficult for those on the spectrum, as well as their family and friends. Public events and activities can present unique challenges that often require unique solutions. Thankfully, there are good people all around us who go the extra mile to ensure all people have the opportunity to enjoy life to their fullest. 

So when 18-year-old Ty Swartout was recently unable to attend a special event, staffers and volunteers came together in an incredible way to make his dream become a reality.

A huge fan of “The Polar Express”, Ty makes a point to watch the movie monthly and has read the book literally hundreds of times over. So when Ty’s grandparents found out that the Polar Express rolls down the tracks just four hours away from his home, the couple planned a visit for the family.

While the trip to get to The Grand Canyon Hotel’s Polar Express went as planned, upon arrival, Ty was simply too overwhelmed to actually board the infamous train he has loved for so many years. After overcoming two prior meltdowns, Ty and his family were unable to enjoy the ride. But that didn’t stop the train staff from refusing to leave without him. After his parents insisted they continue on, the train departed. “The staff of the Grand Canyon Railway tried so hard to help,” Ty’s mother Angie wrote in a Facebook post.

“They even held the train. Finally, I had to say let’s go back to the room. Angie admitting the initial disappointment was devastating. “I cried all the way back. My heart was shattered,” she says. “I wanted this so badly for my son.”

However, upon arriving back at the hotel, the family had a knock on their door. It was a hotel staffer popping by to check in on Ty. The hotel assisted the family in rebooking their visit with free special needs accommodations. But that was only the beginning, as moments later, another visitor came knocking. While angie and Ty were curled up reading the book, the real-life conductor from the train entered in full attire. “He sat next to Ty’s bed and chatted with him. Ty was star struck. He was so excited and happy. Then the conductor gave Ty his pocket watch! They said that they wanted everyone to experience something special and magical.”

“They succeeded,” she continued. “We may not have gotten to ride a train but we got something even more magical… We got the gift of human kindness!”

With the holidays just around the corner, this serves as a simple reminder of how a small gesture can truly have a massive impact on not only those involved directly but to anyone who encounters the act as well. 

No, a Joker Sequel Isn’t Happening Yet, But Let’s Be Serious

No Joker Sequel, Yet
(Warner Bros)

It probably isn’t going to surprise you, but remember that Joker movie that came out like two weeks ago and broke all sorts of box office records, toppling the two Deadpool movies to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time?

Well, guess what? It’s probably getting a sequel.

Shocking, I know. Usually, when something makes money, Hollywood gives it a round of applause and goes back to the drawing board to create original content, right? I kid, I kid. Everyone knew as soon as Joker made a mint on opening weekend that Hollywood was not only going to be making 50 different, increasingly bad versions of it over the next 5 years but that despite the director’s initial hesitations, there would be a sequel.

I’m not casting aspersions here. I enjoyed Joker just fine – though there’s absolutely zero chance we’d be having this discussion if it were a movie called “Arthur Fleck” or “Taxi Driver, Only Not” and had nothing to do with Batman. Besides if someone wanted to pay me millions of dollars to write a sequel to one of my The Dad articles, I’d sell out in about 3 seconds, especially if it was this one (DM me!).

Anyway, according to the Hollywood Reporter, director Todd Phillips (Hangover 3) and writer Scott Silver are in talks to bring the further adventures of Arthur Fleck to the big screen, though Deadline refutes it:

At this point there are no deals for a sequel, nor even any negotiations with director Todd Phillips or his co-writer Scott Silver to craft one.

Whatever.

Everyone knows this is going to happen, but what will it look like? Will Batman show up? Will it somehow tie into Matt Reeves’ The Batman? Who knows? But after a collection of hits and misses (mostly misses) with their DC comics characters, Warner Bros. has to at least be thinking about tying Fleck into the larger DCEU, right?

I personally prefer the idea of different directors taking one-off shots at various characters from the stable, without being beholden to continuity or uniting via one singular tone. You can’t out-Marvel Marvel! I say stick with the weird non-comic book movie comic book movie thing Phillips did with Joker. The Hollywood Reporter article even said that Phillips inititally pitched a series of origin stories for DC characters, but that has also been refuted. I say forget origin stories, just do standalone stories!

Can David Fincher direct a Zodiac-type movie in which Clark Kent investigates Lex Luthor’s ties to the corrupt government? Maybe Adrian Lyne can do something with Wonder Woman’s love life or Cronenberg can do a body-horror thing with Hawkman?

I’m just spit-balling here.

Walter-White-Wanna-Be Chemistry Professors Get Reaction From Police

Real Life Walter White
(AMC / Inside Edition)

Most of the time, when we worry about television being a bad influence, it’s about our kids repeating swear words, or taking up smoking. Adults should be old enough and mature enough to know the difference between fact and fiction, and to avoid emulating some of the behavior they see on TV.

Emphasis on “should be,” because there are a couple of guys in Arkansas who definitely didn’t get the memo. At least they have good taste?

Two college chemistry professors were busted by cops for following in the footsteps of one Walter White, the chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin in Breaking Bad. Bradley Allen Rowland, 40, and Terry Bateman, 45, both associate professors of chemistry at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, were arrested last week for manufacturing methamphetamine. One of them even was even known as “Henderson’s Heisenberg,” thanks to a mention in the college paper, in which he said he appreciated Breaking Bad for helping kids get interested in chemistry.

Not everything is the same, though. For one, they’re college professors, not high school. For another, they didn’t cook in an RV. No, these geniuses used a science lab AT THE COLLEGE WHERE THEY WORK.

That’s how they got caught, obviously. Someone reported an overwhelming odor emanating from the science lab on October 9th, when it was supposed to be closed. An environmental services company were the ones who knocked, presumably, when they came to campus to ventilate and clean the lab, shutting it down for nearly a month. Tests came back that the odor was caused by Benzyl chloride, which is one of the ingredients in meth.

Apparently it didn’t take the school long to figure it out as the two men were put on administrative leave on the 11th and are now awaiting their court appearances.

These guys may have taken inspiration from the show, but they clearly aren’t as smart as Bryan Cranston’s evil mastermind. I mean, they cooked where they worked. They might not even be as smart as Jesse!

Watch Tom Hanks Learn He’s Actually Related to Mister Rogers

Tom Hanks Related to Mister Rogers
(Facebook/Access)

Sometimes, you learn something that, at first, seems shocking and bizarre, but then you take a step back and realize that it actually makes perfect sense and you were crazy for not realizing it earlier.

This is one of those things.

If you don’t know, national treasure and America’s Dad Tom Hanks is starring in a new movie about national treasure and America’s Dad Mister Rogers. The movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, is about a reporter who is assigned to do a story on Fred Rogers, the children’s TV show host.

It’s based on the real-life experiences of writer Tom Junod, who was writing the story for Esquire magazine. He went into the project cynically and came away convinced, as anyone who grew up watching Mister Rogers already is, that the minister turned television star is the real deal.

 

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“The most heartfelt and uplifting film of the year.” #ABeautifulDayMovie in theaters November 22.

A post shared by A Beautiful Day Movie (@abeautifuldaymovie) on


If you go back far enough, we’re all related. But that doesn’t make this news any less exciting.

Tom Hanks isn’t actually Mr. Rogers, but he might as well be. He looks like him in the movie, and he seems to act like him in real life, evincing the same kindness to seemingly everyone he meets (check the social media receipts) that the cardigan-wearing host is famous for. Now, after a surprising revelation, we have an actual genetic reason why!

It turns out Hanks and Rogers are actually related! The entertainment show ACCESS confronted the movie star, along with wife Rita Wilson, at the premiere of the film, with the incredible news. The reporter hands the couple a document from Ancestry.com that shows that the two men are 6th cousins, much to Wilson’s astonishment.

The ever-humble Hanks takes it all in stride, saying “It all just comes together.”

The universe works in mysterious, and actually quite logical, ways!

Father Figures: Video Games

“I’m the single father of two handsome boys and a beautiful girl, the boys with one mom and the girl with another.

We’re apart most of the time so we have to find ways to keep in contact. They say video games are bad for kids and that they need to get outside more but I think we keep missing all the good that they bring.

Me and my kiddos play video games together often – both when they’re with me and when they’re away. All 3 kids are growing up to be very intelligent, they make good decisions, and they are well behaved. Yes, they play video games often, they hop on their phones and they are well connected with all their gadgets… but so am I.

And we share our passions so that they’re not just my kids, but they are my favorite people to be around.

They get along well, they play online together, and when good grades come in, I don’t hesitate to take them to go get that new game.”

– Benjamin Salcedo

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Twitter Remembers the Most Embarrassing Things Their Parents Did

(Twitter/JessicaRS; Getty/PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson)

Parents are embarrassing. It’s a fact of nature.

As you get older, you become more and more secure in who you are and simply stop worrying about some of those silly social norms that used to mean so much. And yes, sometimes this results in the absolute mortification of one’s kids.

Many will even remember these moments for the rest of their lives, which is exactly what Nick Harvey hoped when he posed the question, “What is the most embarrassing thing your parents have ever done in front of you?”

He shared his own to get the conversation rolling:

Nick’s mom strolled down to a bar and dragged him and his hardcore, punk rock persona right out of there in the middle of a show.

While definitely humiliating, others had stories that were even worse, or at least, equally bad. Admittedly, most of them involve fathers.

Some stories initially framed themselves as being embarrassing, but actually turned out to be remarkably sweet.

Do you have a particularly humiliating story from your childhood involving your parents? Have you already gifted your own kids with one?

Hero McDonald’s Worker Admits to Adding Extra Chicken Nugget to Every Box

Cody Bondarchuk Nugget Hero
(Facebook/Cody Bondarchuk & Getty/picture alliance)

Like a modern-day Robin Hood, an ex McDonald’s employee revealed he put an extra chicken nugget in boxes during his entire tenure at the fast-food chain.

Cody Bondarchuk of Alberta, Canada worked under the golden arches for two-and-a-half years. While not necessarily a noteworthy time, he admitted to willingly breaking company policy for the customers’ benefit, à la chicken nuggz.

Whether they assumed it was a simple mistake or a rebellious act of deep-fried generosity, the sight of an 11th warm, crispy nugget in that 10-piece would surely be enough to brighten anyone’s day.

The fast-food confession is on the verge of passing 80,000 retweets on Twitter and an astounding 900,000 likes, with countless people responding with various forms of praise and hero-worship.

When asked if he had ever received recognition for his acts while at the store, he responded, “The location was mostly drive-thru so not that I can remember, but I’d like to imagine they went home, saw the extra nug, and smiled a little.”

Other folks even chimed in to share their own generous acts of insubordination as employees in the food industry.

One person asked if there is a statute of limitations on ‘grand-theft-nuggets,’ to which Cody expertly responded, “I hope so because I calculated it and I would owe Ronald about $1,600.”

Well, here’s hoping the mighty clown never comes to collect. Cody, our professional nugg-napper, is truly an American, err… Canadian hero.