Thursday, November 10, 2016

Amarillo Bound

The song may get you to Amarillo by morning but American Airlines takes a little bit longer.

It is worth waiting for, though, especially this week when the National Ranch Rodeo Championships come to town. These aren't the bull riders with glitzy chaps you see on TV or the rodeo competitors on the professional circuit. These are the guys and gals who wrangle steers, bulls and heifers; break broncs, train horses to cut and rope outside of the arena. On ranches from Kitsap County to Kissimmee.  Rodeo was inspired by the skills necessary to do their jobs and once a year ranchers and cowhands gather to see who among them does it best.

This is what attracted the Good Girls to Amarillo but when we learned about the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum, beautiful Palo Duro Canyon, the cowgirls running the top-rated riding outfitter in the West and of course that famous Big Texan Steak Ranch and its 72-oz steak dinner challenge, it had ROAD TRIP! written all over it. There's a symphony too!

So flying west and cowboying up we go. #Amarillosonmymind has us in its grasp so read and ride along.

          

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Diggin' Digby Pines Resort



We arrived at Digby Pine Resort and Spa in the late afternoon, a place oozing with character. The golf course and gorgeous gardens surround the main lodge, a 1929 Norman-style chateau. This building offers 85 guestrooms including six luxury suites and common areas. Those wishing a more private setting, choose among 31 one, two and three-bedroom Maritime-style cottages. Each cottage has a homey living room, with a cozy fireplace and spacious veranda. Complimentary wireless Internet is available throughout the property.
Digby Pines Resort and Spa
Photo @ Debi Lander

The lobby takes one back in time though everything has been refitted. I enjoyed the slideshow on the computer showing the Digby Resort back in the 1930's-50's. The veranda is a gracious spot for an afternoon drink, and we found the main bar and restaurant, plus the gift shop downstairs.

King Room with view of Annapolis Basin
My room on the third floor offered a King-sized bed and magnificent panoramas of the pool and Annapolis Basin. While the room itself was not oversized, I felt comfortable there. I could see the tiny town of Digby across the Bay of Fundy. That evening we dined on famous Digby scallops, known amongst scallop lovers for their tender, sweet, succulent and bigger size. Digby is the Scallop Capital of the World.

Scallop Appetizer at Digby Pines Resort
Photo @ Debi Lander

The Pines first opened in 1905 as a large wooden hotel. During World War I, army officers used the facilities.  After the war, its new owners, the Canadian Pacific Railway, replaced the original wooden hotel with the present building that opened on June 24, 1929. The Government of Nova Scotia purchased the hotel in 1965. In 2001, management by New Castle Hotels and  Resorts took over. In 2005, the hotel officially became the “Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa” in recognition of the past and celebration of the future.

The Town of Digby and Bay of Fundy
Looking toward the Wharf and Marina in Digby
Photo @ Debi Lander

Greg Turner of Gael Tours
Photo @ Debi Lander
After stepping into the town's Visitor Center, we met Greg Turner of Gael Tours, who led us on a walking tour to discover Digby's Stones, Steeples, Ships & Seafood. Digby was named after Admiral Sir Robert Digby, who organized the original community in the 1760's. The town became incorporated in 1890. Hence, it is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Downtown Digby
Photo @ Debi Lander
The streets of Digby are live with maritime history and flavor. We investigated the Admiral's Walk and Boardwalk, Fisherman's Wharf and the fishing fleet.  Unfortunately, many of the lobster and scallop boats were out working, and we were too early to see their return.  What a shame because I think that event would have been one of the trip's highlights. We did see the much needed steep stairways on floating docks that rise and fall with the incredible tidal changes.

Lobster and Scallop Boats make up the Fishing Fleet
Photo @ Debi Lander

We continued and climbed the hill to see historic homes along Queen Street and the Trinity Anglican Church, a National Historic site and cemetery before eventually returning to the Visitor Center. We learned that little Digby hosts the largest multi-day motorcycle rally in Canada,  the Wharf Rat Rally, on Labor Day weekend.  Imagine tens of thousands of bikes and bikers. (We're glad we missed that one.)

Interior of Trinity Anglican Church, Digby, NS
Photo @ Debi Lander

Greg explained the tides on the Bay of Fundy, a famous natural wonder for its miraculous shift of water, the highest in the world. Twice a day, 115 billion tons of water move in and out causing a rise and fall of 20, 30, often 40 feet. During a full moon and high winds, Bay of Fundy tides rise as high as fifty-three feet. In Digby, it ranges from 27 to 32 feet. (Next trip, I want to try Tidal Bore rafting.)
Low Tide


On our drive back to the resort, we witnessed low tide.  Whoa- what a change.  For anyone who ever read the children's classic book, The Five Chinese Brothers, I swear it looked my recollections of the  brother who drank up the sea.  Within our two-hour tour, a tidal pool of tremendous proportion was created.

The Tide Returns to Digby

High Tide restores beauty to the shores of Digby.

We returned in time for lunch at the 19th Hotel at Digby Pines Golf Course. From this vantage point,  the course looked beautiful and not too crowded. What did we pick to eat? Why, seafood chowder, and a lobster roll, of course!
Digby Pines Golf Course
Photo @ Debi Lander


Afterward, the Aveda salon at the resort pleasured us with spa treatments. I indulged in a facial that left me feeling moisturized and relaxed.









Digby is surrounded by interesting little villages, scenic coves and inlets and other surprises. One side trip took us to Rendezvous-vous de la Baie Acadian Interpretive Center in Church Point where Denis and his daughter Isabelle Comeau were waiting for us.

Surprise, surprise, they were distant cousins of a friend of Judy's. No surprise, every Comeau in North America is related because they are descended from the one Comeau who came here.

We sampled a classic dish, rapure or rappie (pronounced "roppie"), grated potatoes and meat stock, tasted dried fish, then learned about the French colonists who stayed in Canada rather than be deported to Louisiana.
  
Back to Annapolis Royal for Dinner and a Ghost Tour

Fish and Scallops at Cafe Compose in Annapolis Royal

Not too much relaxation allowed, we are working girls, so headed back to Annapolis Royal for dinner at Cafe Compose. The restaurant became a surprising delight. My fish was tender and light; the sauce divine. The Viennese owners serve delicious seafood and an audacious apple strudel a la mode. I squeezed in one bite of Sacher torte that was passed around the table, but found it a bit dry. The restaurant offers scenic views of the Bay; however, some tables sit directly in the sun as it sets.

The evening ended with a Candlelight Ghost Tour at what is now the Fort Anne Historic Site. Originally started in 1629 as Port Royal, the area fell to the British in 1710 and was renamed Fort Anne. Heritage interpreter Alan Melanson  leads a tour in Garrison Cemetery, formerly used by the French military, Acadians, the British military and the parish of St. Luke’s. The headstones that  survive represent only a portion of the total number of people buried in this graveyard.

Ghost Tour at Fort Anne
Melanson begins by talking about the traditions surrounding his outfit. He wears a ribbon on his hat called a “Weeper,” given to members of the funeral procession as a gift from the host.

Most participants pick up a candle-powered lantern to carry, and as the light fades, the tour sets off,  bobbing and weaving through the darkness. The lanterns create a pleasing atmosphere but one that attracts mosquitoes and not one especially adequate for photography. Soon we were being eaten alive and called it a night. Sadly, Melanson is a good storyteller, and this ghost tour is far better than most. However, douse yourself with bug spray if you want to enjoy the tour of one of Canada’s oldest English graveyards.

Overall, we dug Digby Pines Resort and the tidal change in the Bay and Fundy is something we will never forget. Annapolis Royal also gets our recommendation for a day trip.
Digby Pines Resort and Spa, Digby, Nova Scotia

Monday, November 2, 2015

Travel Like the Good Girls

Did you envy our Two Nation Vacation to Eastern Canada and Maine? Want to go on a lobster roll crawl of your own?

Do we have a deal for you.

Members of the 60-year-old  Society of American Travel Writers have once again assembled a stellar list of travel treats and adventures for the annual Travel Auction and you are invited to participate.

Among the trips, excursions and stays offered are accommodations at three of the places we stayed plus a whale watching trip.



Sample the sights and lobster flavor of this year's 2-nation vacation that the Good Girls in the Badlands took and blogged about with stays in Portland, Maine; St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick and at Digby Pines in Nova Scotia.






Other choices? Try these.
 
 

Stay at the Peabody Memphis and star as its Honorary Duck Master.














For food lovers there are cook books, giant Texas steaks, a food writer's flavorful guide to the flavors of New Orleans and an evening's stay, a five-course dinner and breakfast for two at Paul Kitching 's Michelelin-starred 21212, Royal Terrace, Edinburgh.
Marcliffe
Speaking of Scotland, golfers can choose from the 5-star Marcliffe Hotel with rounds at Royal Aberdeen and Trump International or 5-star Lochgreen House Hotel overlooking Royal Troon. Better yet, combine them.



Go to sea for six- to-eight days in the Caribbean with Carnival Cruise Lines or the Atlantic Ocean off Maine on a Windjammer cruise.


Safari in south India, spend a week in Tobago or a weekend in Trinidad or get away to condos in Destin, FL. or Orange Beach, AL.




Bidding continues until 11:45 p.m. EST  Nov. 8, which means you can buy these and many more treats - suitcases and shoes to City Passes and SCUBA dives - for holiday gift-giving.
http://events.readysetauction.com/satw/2015 

If you decide to recreate our Two Nation Vacation, let us hear about it. We will share it on Good Girls in the Badlands along with a picture or two you choose to include. Where was you favorite lobster roll?

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Biggest of Oopses

Just discovered that a post we thought had published while we were both on the road - Debi in Africa, Judy in Cambodia and Vietnam - didn't.

With many apologies to our hosts, here is Diggin' Digby Pines Resort. Chronologically it goes between Driving to Digby and Fundy Ferry to Passamaquoddy Bay.

Diggin' Digby Pines Resort 


We arrived at Digby Pine Resort and Spa in the late afternoon, a place oozing with character. The golf course and gorgeous gardens surround the main lodge, a 1929 Norman-style chateau. This building offers 85 guestrooms including six luxury suites and common areas. Those wishing a more private setting, choose among 31 one, two and three-bedroom Maritime-style cottages. Each cottage has a homey living room, with a cozy fireplace and spacious veranda. Complimentary wireless Internet is available throughout the property.
Digby Pines Resort and Spa
Photo @ Debi Lander

The lobby takes one back in time though everything has been refitted. I enjoyed the slideshow on the computer showing the Digby Resort back in the 1930's-50's. The veranda is a gracious spot for an afternoon drink, and we found the main bar and restaurant, plus the gift shop downstairs.

King Room with view of Annapolis Basin
My room on the third floor offered a King-sized bed and magnificent panoramas of the pool and Annapolis Basin. While the room itself was not over-sized, I felt comfortable there. I could see the tiny town of Digby across the Bay of Fundy. That evening we dined on famous Digby scallops, known among scallop lovers for their tender, sweet, succulent and bigger size. Digby is the Scallop Capital of the World.

Scallop Appetizer at Digby Pines Resort
Photo @ Debi Lander

The Pines first opened in 1905 as a large wooden hotel. During World War I, army officers used the facilities.  After the war, its new owners, the Canadian Pacific Railway, replaced the original wooden hotel with the present building that opened on June 24, 1929. The Government of Nova Scotia purchased the hotel in 1965. In 2001, management by New Castle Hotels and  Resorts took over. In 2005, the hotel officially became the “Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa” in recognition of the past and celebration of the future.

The Town of Digby and Bay of Fundy
Looking toward the Wharf and Marina in Digby
Photo @ Debi Lander

Greg Turner of Gael Tours
Photo @ Debi Lander
After stepping into the town's Visitor Center, we met Greg Turner of Gael Tours, who led us on a walking tour to discover Digby's Stones, Steeples, Ships & Seafood. Digby was named after Admiral Sir Robert Digby, who organized the original community in the 1760's. The town became incorporated in 1890. Hence, it is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Downtown Digby
Photo @ Debi Lander
The streets of Digby are alive with maritime history and flavor. We investigated the Admiral's Walk and Boardwalk, Fisherman's Wharf and the fishing fleet.  Unfortunately, many of the lobster and scallop boats were out working, and we were too early to see their return.  What a shame because I think that event would have been one of the trip's highlights. We did see the much needed steep stairways on floating docks that rise and fall with the incredible tidal changes.

Lobster and Scallop Boats make up the Fishing Fleet
Photo @ Debi Lander

We continued and climbed the hill to see historic homes along Queen Street and the Trinity Anglican Church, a National Historic site and cemetery before eventually returning to the Visitor Center. We learned that little Digby hosts the largest multi-day motorcycle rally in Canada, the Wharf Rat Rally, on Labor Day weekend.  Imagine tens of thousands of bikes and bikers. (We're glad we missed that one.)

Interior of Trinity Anglican Church, Digby, NS
Photo @ Debi Lander

Greg explained the tides on the Bay of Fundy, a famous natural wonder for its miraculous shift of water, the highest in the world. Twice a day, 115 billion tons of water move in and out causing a rise and fall of 20, 30, often 40 feet. During a full moon and high winds, Bay of Fundy tides rise as high as 53 feet. In Digby, it ranges from 27 to 32 feet. (Next trip, I want to try Tidal Bore rafting.)
Low Tide


On our drive back to the resort, we witnessed low tide.  Whoa- what a change.  For anyone who ever read the children's classic book, The Five Chinese Brothers, I swear it looked like my recollections of the  brother who drank up the sea.  Within our two-hour tour, a tidal pool of tremendous proportion was created.

The Tide Returns to Digby

High Tide restores beauty to the shores of Digby.

We returned in time for lunch at the 19th Hotel at Digby Pines Golf Course. From this vantage point,  the course looked beautiful and not too crowded. What did we pick to eat? Why, seafood chowder, and a lobster roll, of course!
Digby Pines Golf Course
Photo @ Debi Lander


Afterward, the Aveda salon at the resort pleasured us with spa treatments. I indulged in a facial that left me feeling moisturized and relaxed.









Digby is surrounded by interesting little villages, scenic coves and inlets and other surprises. One side trip took us to Rendezvous-vous de la Baie Acadian Interpretive Center in Church Point where Denis and his daughter Isabelle Comeau were waiting for us.

Surprise, surprise, they were distant cousins of a friend of Judy's. No surprise, every Comeau in North America is related because they are descended from the one Comeau who came here.

We sampled a classic dish, rauture or rattie, grated potatoes and meat stock, tasted dried fish, then learned about the French colonists who stayed in Canada rather than be deported to Louisiana.
  
Back to Annapolis Royal for Dinner and a Ghost Tour

Fish and Scallops at Cafe Compose in Annapolis Royal

Not too much relaxation allowed, we are working girls, so headed back to Annapolis Royal for dinner at Cafe Compose. The restaurant became a surprising delight. My fish was tender and light; the sauce divine. The Viennese owners serve delicious seafood and an audacious apple strudel a la mode. I squeezed in one bite of Sacher torte that was passed around the table, but found it a bit dry. The restaurant offers scenic views of the Bay; however, some tables sit directly in the sun as it sets.

The evening ended with a Candlelight Ghost Tour at what is now the Fort Anne Historic Site. Originally started in 1629 as Port Royal, the area fell to the British in 1710 and was renamed Fort Anne. Heritage interpreter Alan Melanson  leads a tour in Garrison Cemetery, formerly used by the French military, Acadians, the British military and the parish of St. Luke’s. The headstones that  survive represent only a portion of the total number of people buried in this graveyard.

Ghost Tour at Fort Anne
Melanson begins by talking about the traditions surrounding his outfit. He wears a ribbon on his hat called a “Weeper,” given to members of the funeral procession as a gift from the host.

Most participants pick up a candle-powered lantern to carry, and as the light fades, the tour sets off,  bobbing and weaving through the darkness. The lanterns create a pleasing atmosphere but one that attracts mosquitoes and not one especially adequate for photography. Soon we were being eaten alive and called it a night. Sadly, Melanson is a good storyteller, and this ghost tour is far better than most. However, douse yourself with bug spray if you want to enjoy the tour of one of Canada’s oldest English graveyards.

Overall, we dug Digby Pines Resort and the tidal change in the Bay and Fundy is something we will never forget. Annapolis Royal also gets our recommendation for a day trip.
Digby Pines Resort and Spa, Digby, Nova Scotia

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Taste Testing Lobster Rolls: Someone's Got to Do It



You've heard of a pub crawl but how about a lobster roll crawl?  While in New England, plans called to start one in the late afternoon and eat our way through three restaurants known for their lobster rolls.  By the end, I guarantee I was the one with a roll-- hanging over my belt.

Perkins Cove

It all started in the quintessential Maine town of Ogunquit. Ogunquit with its Perkins Cove would win the contest for a look-alike Cabot Cove, the charming hamlet of Jessica Fletcher on the old TV series, "Murder She Wrote".  It's upper class, preppy, clean and oh so Maine.  Rocky coastline, lighthouse, walking trails and adorable little shops. 

 The Taste Test

The Lobster Shack, Ogunquit, Maine
First stop: the Lobster Shack. Yes, that is its official name, and an adroit one at that. The seafood shanty has been in operation since 1947, the oldest restaurant in Perkins Cove. Originally built around 1900, the simple lobsterman's shack housed traps, rope, buoys and other fishing equipment.  Over time the building was updated and added to, but was still little more than a storage shed, with no running water, heat, or electricity. In 1947, the shop was converted into a restaurant called Maxwell Perkins Lobster Pound and remained much the same through the 1950's-60. In the winter of 1977 a storm surged through Perkins Cove and did quite a bit of damage to the building, but the original frame remained. This prompted a major renovation that reorganized the kitchen and updated the plumbing, electrical work, and dining room. The “Shack” has been owned and operated by the Evans family since the 1980s.
 
Live lobsters caught by local lobstermen wait in tanks filled with ocean water pumped straight from Perkins Cove. Can't get more local than that!
Serving chowder at the Lobster Shack
 
We started off with a cup of seafood chowder made from an old New England family recipe. The kitchen uses no thickening flour, just the perfect combination of clams, haddock, potatoes, onions and spices in a milk and cream base. After the chowder, I dove straight in for the traditional lobster roll sandwich.  It comes on a buttery toasted roll, mostly lobster meat with or without mayonnaise. I gobbled down about half of it knowing I was in for more. The lobster tasted fresh, tender and juicy- exactly what I wanted.
Lobster Roll at the Lobster Shack


Lobster Roll Price: $17.00

Satisfaction: 10



Next we drove on to Jake's Seafood Restaurant in Wells, about two miles north of Ogunquit. The family-run restaurant stays open year-round and is extremely popular with locals, especially at breakfast time. Believe it or not, they open at 5 a.m. for breakfast, seven days a week.
Jake's Seafood Restaurant in Wells, Maine
Jake's  claim to fame comes from their fried clams and onion rings, but I thought the lobster roll was mighty fine. Only owner Ky makes the seafood chowder because she wants to make sure it comes out right. Jake's lives up to their motto, "Five star dining on a paper plate." The restaurant is also a favorite stop for ice cream, available from the outdoor take-out counter as well as in the restaurant.
Fried Clams

Lobster Roll Price $14.99

Satisfaction: 9

Finally, we headed in the opposite direction and ended up at Shore Road Restaurant and Market, a seat of the pants operation with a fantastic product. The restaurant is in its first year with a new owner, Jason Johnson, and he is working to make it a go.  By all rights, he should succeed.  The lobster roll is brimming with succulent meat and sells for an amazingly low price of $9.99. You can't beat it.
Shore Road Restaurant
The little restaurant rests just minutes from York Beach and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as offer a wonderful little market with fresh produce, dairy, meat, snacks, and wine and beer.
Shore Road Lobster Roll with homemade chips

Lobster Roll Price: Only $ 9.99

Satisfaction: 9

The Results

Debi says: Could be that I liked the atmosphere in the Lobster Shack and hence rated their product the highest with a 10. Honestly, I would be more than thrilled to eat any of these lobster rolls any day. They were all fantastic. 
 
Judy says: I wanted transplant them all back to Florida's First Coast so we could take turns dining on lobster rolls year' round. If I had to pick one it would be Jake's. Loved the overflowing lobster and the no-gimmicks family atmosphere. I've had better onion rings but their clams were the best.

Afterwards
Nubble Lighthouse, Cape Neddick, Maine

To walk off the feast, we drove to nearby Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick, another spectacular photo-op in Maine.  Didn't have time for a tour but this location is gorgeous. We also passed by what looked like fair grounds. 


Lastly,  we returned to the venerable Cliff House Resort standing high above a rocky ledge (Bald Hill Cliff) with thunderous waves below. The Cliff House has been welcoming guests since 1872 and is the place to stay for an Ogunquit vacation. However, the resort is closing after this season for a MAJOR renovation, so next July and August (2016) it will be even better. But, remember: location is,as they say   everything, and the panoramic vista at the Cliff House won't change.
View from my balcony at the Cliff House, Ogunquit, Maine

My spacious room overlooked coast, but the highlight of the visit was my facial at the spa. The therapist used Maine ingredients to make a blueberry smoothie mask. Wish I had a photo of my Smurf-like face. The additional sensation of smooth hot and cold rocks sliding across my skin made a fantastic indulgence, highly recommended.  
The Cliff as seen from the Cliff House Dining Room

To finish  our trip we attended a sold-out performance at the Ogunquit Playhouse. For 82 years it has been staging quality summer theater and the current facility is excellent. We watched an amazing cast perform "Victor Victoria" to a standing ovation.  No wonder tickets are hard to come by.
The Ogunquit Playhouse
The next morning the Good Girls were driven to Boston where they hopped a plane and returned to Jacksonville and St. Augustine.  We are still raving about our Two Nation Vacation to anyone who will listen; Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine make superior summer getaways. Go soon!
Nighttime View of the Cliff House