Eastern Tour de Oden

A new baby in the family means making time to visit with relatives. Babies are joyous! Everyone wants to meet Oden, but it’s not easy or realistic for all of our family members to come to us. Case in point: John’s father, who lives in Connecticut. We knew a trip East was in our future from the moment Oden took his first breath, and this month, it happened! We figured that since we’d be getting on a plane to cross the country anyway, we should make the trip really count. We dubbed it the “Tour de Oden.” We planned time with John’s dad and stepmom at their summer house on Fishers Island, NY, a couple of days in the city to see friends (plus John had meetings), and a few days in Princeton, NJ with John’s brother’s family. Bonus: we’d get to celebrate his brother Nat’s 50th birthday!

Our only experience with traveling with a baby had been our long weekend to Colorado. We learned that babies need a lot of stuff, but maybe not as much as you think- we totally over-packed! This trip would be twice as long as the one to Colorado, but I was determined to pack less. I gathered the basic necessities and went lighter on clothes for myself and Oden, figuring we could do a load of laundry somewhere in the middle.

Getting to Fishers Island from Park City wouldn’t be easy or quick. We’d fly into Boston and stay the night, then drive through Rhode Island to New London, CT and take a ferry to the island the next day. After the flight home from Colorado (during which Oden scream-cried for half of the flight), I had major anxiety about a 4 ½ hour plane ride. Fortunately, the stars aligned- when Oden wasn’t charming the flight attendants, he was happily eating or peacefully sleeping. He was even invited into the cockpit by the pilots and I got a shot of him wearing one of their caps! Precious.

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After the over-priced stay at a Logan Airport hotel, we drove the couple of hours to pick up the ferry. As would be the norm for the whole trip, I sat in the back seat next to Oden. We had time before getting onto the ferry to walk around the boardwalk where there was some kind of festival for Sailing Days. It made for great people-watching!

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Something about taking a ferry to our destination always makes it feel special to me, and it was Oden’s first boat ride! After our ride across Long Island Sound, John’s dad met us at the dock on Fishers Island. His wife, Kenny, grew up vacationing on the tiny island. Fishers Island is only 9 miles long and 1 mile wide. There is one café and one gift shop. The town is charming and there’s a lot of pride for the island life there, which I learned in the gift shop where just about everything had the silhouette of the island on it. Kenny’s home is lovely and the view is gorgeous. Everything is green and lush and the hydrangeas were unbelievable! Oden finally met his Abba (the Howe family’s name for their grandpa).

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We spent the next couple of days visiting with family, spending time with friends who were also on the island, going for beautiful walks, and soaking in the scenery. John was able to get out for an early morning of fishing, and Oden even dunked his toes in the ocean! We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to return, because our visit felt too short. We did manage to get a few family photos to mark the occasion. Kenny was able to get Oden to laugh every time!

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After the ferry ride back to New London, we drove to John’s hometown of Greenwich for a night. We stayed at a hotel on the water with a cute little patio overlooking the harbor. We had happy hour there, people-watching and marveling at an enormous yacht that pulled in, before strolling up Greenwich Avenue to have a delicious al fresco dinner. You can’t beat seafood on the coast. Yum!

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There’s no sleeping in on vacation for us these days! We enjoyed the continental breakfast and (lots of) coffee at the hotel and hung out with Oden before packing up to move on. John introduced Oden to Glenville Pizza, a favorite from his childhood, where the guys behind the counter speak Italian. The place is LEGIT. During the drive, we had to make a stop or two to keep Oden content-ish (did I mention he cut his first tooth before we left home?). We made our way into Manhattan and then on to Brooklyn, where we settled in for two nights at our dear friends’ apartment. Sadly, they were vacationing in Italy while we were there, but it was a serious luxury to be able to spread out at their place instead of live out of a tiny hotel room. We were able to watch some of the Tour de France and walked along Brooklyn’s lovely brownstones to pick up dinner. I’m so fascinated by city living; each stoop reflects its occupant’s personality.

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The next day, John took a train into NYC for a couple of meetings. Oden and I braved the loud streets on our own to meet my friend, Betsy, for lunch. Betsy used to live in Salt Lake, and the last time I saw her, it was in Brooklyn when I met her baby, James. This time, she got to meet my baby! She chose a hip and delicious restaurant called Flatbush Farm. As soon as I saw the turntable on the bar, I knew I’d like it. Of course, we got zero photos of us together. FAIL. (I somehow photographed the shortcake dessert, though. Hmmm.)

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In the morning, we packed up again. I felt that Oden’s second tooth had popped through- no wonder he’d been semi-fussy! We strolled to pick up coffee, bagels, and DONUTS (yes!). Truthfully, while I’ve always loved the energy of New York and found Brooklyn to be far more mellow, it felt like almost too much for me this time. Maybe it’s my new mommy-ness that had me on edge a bit more. Maybe it was the lack of sleep that made me cringe at the jackhammering and honking and frenzied pace first thing in the morning. The fresh blueberry donut certainly helped; we ate breakfast in the rooftop garden in our friends’ building before packing up to move on. Next stop: Princeton, NJ!

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As I mentioned, our visit coincided with John’s siblings’ 50th birthday (they’re twins!). His sister wouldn’t be there, but we’d be picking up John’s dad at the train station and celebrating at a party my sister-in-law, Mimi, was putting together. We had some time before picking up Abba, so we did a little gift-shopping and visited John Witherspoon’s statue at Princeton University. John’s a descendant of the guy in the statue, who was the first president of Princeton and just happened to sign the Declaration of Independence. It’s where John’s name comes from, as well as Oden John Witherspoon. It was so cool to show Big O where his big name comes from! I know it made John proud.

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We picked up John’s dad and headed to Nat and Mimi’s beautiful house. I’m always inspired by Mimi’s home; she places great importance on family and there are framed photos all over the place. It’s very comfortable. Oden met two of his three cousins and got some time with Auntie and Uncle and we prepped for the party. Mimi did a beautiful job with the setting and food and it was a blast to meet some of their friends and clink glasses to Nat’s 50th. I was so happy that we were able to be there!

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We took it slow the next day, which happened to be the last day of our trip. Time flies! John, his brother, and his nephew, Henry wanted to play some tennis, so Big Nat and I tagged along to watch while Mimi had some one-on-one time with Oden. I loved getting the chance to chat with John’s dad and it was extremely entertaining to watch the Howe brothers take on Henry. We actually got rained out in a surprise thunderstorm! The big boys claimed victory due to the weather delay, though the score said otherwise! The rain squelched earlier plans to spend time at Mimi’s parent’s pool for the afternoon, but it did let up in time for a stroll through the quiet neighborhood and a little fishing off of the neighbor’s dock. What a beautiful place to grow up.

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That night, a dear family friend kindly babysat Oden while the family went out for drinks and dinner in an adorable old town on the Delaware River called Lambertville. The setting was quaint and the food was delicious. There was a quote on our menus that felt very appropriate for our last night gathered as a family.

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The next day, everyone soaked up as much Oden time as possible before we hugged and parted ways. Goodbyes are particularly hard when we all live so far away from each other; too many months go by in between visits. We talked about planning another get-together sometime after Christmas, so that’s something to look forward to. I can only imagine how different our growing little boy will be by then!

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I had some time on the drive to the Philadelphia airport to stress out about the even longer flight home, but aside from 5 minutes of crying (that felt like an hour), Oden miraculously slept all the way to Salt Lake City. I can only imagine that the busy trip caught up with him. In 10 days, Oden visited 6 states, had his first ferry ride and touched the ocean, met multiple family members, sprouted a tooth, and laughed through it all. Not bad for a 4 ½ month old, right?!

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See more of our travel adventures on the TRAVEL BLISS page. 

One year ago: Black and Blue Oatmeal Scones.

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