I have more friends to be grateful for this summer. As I mentioned, Ben & Sara Jensen live in New Canaan. I knew Ben in college and was excited that we knew someone in the area we were moving to. It has been such a delight to get to know them better and to spend time with them! Both Todd and I feel grateful that they invited us to do fun things with them, and we feel that having their friendship has been such a bonus this summer while we are so far from family and friends in Utah.
Sara has been a delightful summer companion and a fellow "lady of leisure". Sara is smart and interesting, and we share many of the same interests such as food and cooking (and reality TV). When she told me that she used to eat green beans straight from the can I knew she was a kindred spirit. I know that doesn't say much about either of our food tastes, but I understood her in that moment and I liked her.
We talk a lot about food and life. I find Sara extremely refreshing in her "realness" and inspiring in her social attitudes. I am an introvert and she is an extrovert, and it has been tremendously helpful for me to have a friend that helps me think outside my comfort zone. All I really want to do is plan, cook, and host delicious meals at my house for friends, family, and people I want to get to know better, but my shyness, social awkwardness, and laziness get the best of me. Sara actually DOES those things! Spending time with Sara has helped me remember how fun it is to socialize and meet people, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. Now that I am leaving CT, I hope I can get enough doses of "Sara" to keep me motivated and on my toes! She has been sweet and good to me this summer. Thank you, Sara! I love you!
So it was fitting that Todd and I spend one more weekend with the Jensens before I come home. (It has also been so nice for Todd to have a friend in Ben.) They invited us to go camping with them at Burlingame state park in Rhode Island. Todd and I brought NO camping gear with us this summer, but thanks to some generous benefactors (the same generous benefactors that have let me and Sara use their pool all summer) we got hooked up with a HUGE tent and an air mattress.
On our drive up to RI, Sara had suggested we stop and check out the peach festival at Lyman Orchards near Durham, CT. There wasn't much of a festival unless you counted the face painting and the free balloons, but Todd and I spent a little time in the U-pick orchards.
Can you appreciate those rolling hills lined with hundreds of fruit trees? There were apples, pears, nectarines, and peaches with several varieties of each! It was gorgeous countryside. The peaches were GIANT and almost too beautiful to pick!
It was fun to just walk amongst the rows and rows of trees and feel the breeze and hear the bees buzz and smell sun-ripening peaches.
It sounds all very romantic because it was just a little. Todd is a farmer at heart, and he could not stop himself from picking peaches, even on a phone call.
We ended up with over 25 lbs of peaches. Some of the individual peaches weighed over a pound each! And they have been delicious!
That night Ben and Sara joined us and we ate foil dinner and had Nutella s'mores 'round the campfire. I'm telling you, don't mess with the chocolate bar nonsense, Nutella is the way to go.
Todd and I slept really well in our spacious tent and separate beds. We both had our electronics to wind down with.
Pregnant ladies need a little extra comfort when "roughing" it hence the multitude of pillows. And I was not sleeping on a hill as it appears I am. It was a good night's sleep.
The next morning we all loaded up our bikes and headed up to catch the ferry over to Block Island, RI. Block Island is only an hour ferry ride and it is a charming location with a small town of cute hotels, shops, and restaurants and cute houses and farms further inland. There are only about 900-1000 permanent residents, and the single school has 150 students from K-12. But during the summer, the island is full of cottage renters and day-trippers. It was busy but not overly crowded.
I am SO glad we brought our bikes with is this summer! Rosie has been a great bike and she is SOLID as a tank! We got to see a little bit of the island as our GPS lead us on a wild goose chase to find the restaurant we had selected. We ended up on a very hilly dirt road that ran past cute farms and cottages. I didn't mind the ride at all, but Todd's bike had a breakdown, and we had to walk and coast on our bikes all the way back to the hardware store.
We were hungry at this point and did not want to keep searching for this elusive restaurant that was at odds with our GPS, so Sara the extrovert asked the locals at the hardware store where they would eat and we went there.
We were all in the mood for some good seafood, and this place (Finns, in Old Harbor) served local catch.
We ordered local oysters (yum!) and BOTH fisherman's platters... the fried one AND the broiled one. And a few french fries. I swear there is a salad and some broccoli on that table somewhere! We ate fried cod, broiled flounder, scallops both ways, fried clams (I passed on those), fried shrimp, and lobster salad. Fresh seafood is the BEST. We have really not taken good advantage of that this summer. Here's the damage...
Clean platters are a good sign of good food. I know it looks like we did a number on lunch, but we saved a bit of room for the homemade ice cream served next door.
Don't you love summer and cute ice cream shops?
Lastly, we headed over to the beach for some nap time which was well deserved after our little bike ride and our huge lunch. The beach was full of revelers and music from a live band, but the weather was warm and sunny and we laid down and enjoyed the summer atmosphere.
What a lovely day spent with lovely friends! See why we feel grateful? (See my growing bump?)
Todd and I have loved being here in Connecticut. There have been small moments of feeling lonely for family and for the summer family gatherings that we have missed out on. It's not fun to be away from the people we love so much, but we have really made the most of this unique opportunity. We have seen so much and have had great adventures. My brother, Chip, pointed out to me that while our involvement with everything we do in our "normal lives" is great and fulfilling, there is something unique and special about taking a "vacation" from that and just being together for a prolonged amount of time. This has been a second honeymoon of sorts.
So thank you to friends who have enhanced this fun experience. We will always treasure this summer, and we hope to see you again soon!