Recap of my fall 2011 blog

This article is a recap of a blog I wrote during October about kick scooting along the banks of Lake Michigan and along the northeast banks of Atlantic Ocean, from New York City to Quebec City and back again. We accomplished the northeast portion of our trip during a two week cruise aboard the MSC Poesia.

More complete articles about these various ports of call are posted on this site, however, this article was written while my husband and I were on-the-go.

Prior to our cruise, we kick scooted along Racine's beautiful Lake Michigan's shores

October 1, 2011: We will be on the road as well as on the Atlantic Ocean between October 1st and October 22nd. The first part of our journey is by car to visit family in Wisconsin and to kick scoot along Racine and Milwaukee's famous Lake Michigan parks.

Karen in beautiful Pershing Park, Racine, WI, 10/1/2011

The ocean part of our trip will be along the North Atlantic coast, from New York City to Quebec City and back again. Unless the weather is bad, we plan on kick scooting at every port.

Phil kick scooting along a long fishing pier on Racine, Wisconsin's lakefront.

Racine is a beautiful place to visit and we recommend it highly. It has miles of groomed lakefront with relatively level roads and sidewalks, an interesting revitalized downtown, famous Kringle (a fruit-based flaky delicacy only found here and in Denmark), and a pretty, park-like zoo, which is also on the lakefront.

We also visited Milwaukee's Lake Park on the Shores of Lake Michigan

October 2, 2011: If you like to stroll, kick scoot, bike, or rollerblade, you'll find Milwaukee's miles of relatively level bike paths and Lake Michigan's lakefront access delightful. Seeing Old Milwaukee, with its unique, 1800s German-style mansions is also a pleasure (as are the city's German-style beers).

We started and ended our lakefront excursion at Alterra, a centrally-located cafe that overlooks the lake and serves excellent coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

Begin a stroll or scooter trip trip on Milwaukee's Lake Park at Alterra, which overlooks Lake Michigan. 10/2/2011

Sidewalks and other paths extend for miles along the lakefront, whether in Lake Park (pictured below), or along a bike path that leads into Milwaukee's spectacular Grant Park.

Enjoy miles of relatively level Lake Parksidewalks and roads on foot or by kick scooter, bike, rollerblades, or skateboard, 10/2/2011

After our scoot, we visited our famous, 83 year old aunt, Fifi the Hat Lady, a writer and educator who's real name is Marion Guild. Click here to see the video!

FiFi the Hat Lady - Marion Guild of Milwaukee, WI - 10/2/2011

When we returned home, our ship was ready . . .

October 8, 2011: Not only does our cruise ship, the MSC Poesia, await, it is moored directly in front of our house!

The MSC Poesia moored at Pier 88 in NYC about to embark on a voyage along the coast to Canada - 10/8/11

At noon, we are almost packed and ready. The only thing that remains is to make our kick scooters shipshape. We are bringing CityKicker by NYCeWheels and a Xootr Roma. For the trip, my Roma is decked out with new Avenir Comfy Soft Grips, a small handlebar case, plenty of StapIts, and a nylon shopping bag to hold any trinkets that might catch my fancy during shore leave.

A day at sea traveling to Halifax, Canada

October 9, 2011: Today was our first day at sea. We spent it exploring the MSG Poesia's sparkling rooms and admired its pool deck. Our early October weather was still warm enough to have it filled with swimmers.

Inside, the ship features a huge cafeteria, where everyone eats breakfast and lunch (see below), two huge dining rooms, where passengers eat formal evening dinners, numerous lounges, a casino, and a spectacular, Broadway-sized theater.

Spending a day inside the MSG Poesia Cruise Ship - 10/9/11

Our personal preference was the cafeteria (we avoided almost all formal areas, including the dining rooms). Although crowded at the stroke of breakfast or lunch, within two hours of either period, it emptied out, making it a perfect place to relax, nibble on ever-present food, drink the world's finest cappuccino ($2.50) and unlimited ice tea (included with our tickets), and sip wine, as needed.

To our knowledge, the cafeteria was the only non-smoking, public area on the ship, which was another reason to love it. A walking trip through the casino, for example, embedded enough smoke in my hair to make me glad that I brought an extra bottle of shampoo.

I also love the cafeteria's floor-to-ceiling windows and, of course, ever present food, so it became our second home, with the first being our balcony stateroom on the 12th floor (conveniently right under the cafeteria). Another area I love is the fitness center/spa, which also features floor-to-ceiling windows.

Throughout the ship is highly polished brass, beautiful woodwork, cushy furniture, thousands of ceiling lights, and a corridor that leads to a concert space. Amazingly, there is enough room for 3,000 passengers and 1,000 crew to live and work without bumping into each other (except at peak eating times).

Halifax, Canada - a perfect place to kick scoot (except up and down hill)

October 10, 2011: Halifax has three completely different types of terrains: Up, down, and flat.

This was our first land excursion since embarking from New York Harbor, so we were excited about kick scooting around the first stop in our voyage. Alas, we immediately headed for its famous Halifax Citadel and nearby Halifax Public Gardens (which has The Uncommon Grounds, a coffee shop that features thick, fresh bakery). Both were on top of a steep hill that rose almost perpendicularly from the shore.

Sightseeing in Halifax can require climing a very high hill - 10/10/11

Halifax is a very large, fresh city, with a lovely seaport that serves tourists well. It includes museums, shops, fine arts, street vendors, plenty of places to dine or snack, magnificent views, and a huge, well-stocked tourist information center.

It was at this information center where I learned about two, relatively nearby, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Lunenburg and Goggins Fossil Cliffs.

Although Nova Scotia is a two-day road trip from New York City, the distance isn't a killer. If you love beautiful landscape (such as found in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York), you'll find that driving here is very worthwhile.

Related article: Kick Scooting in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Tourist maps of Halifax can be found at:

Sydney, Canada - a warm, friendly village

October 11, 2011: Sydney, Canada, is absolutely swarming with locals who want to tell you about their beautiful island, Cape Breton, as well as sell you hand-made items.

The town of Sydney is so small, in fact, that their resourcefulness in promoting tourism is remarkable. Areas of interest include the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada and Bras d'Or Lake, which appears to be exceptionally beautiful.

Sydney Harbor residents work hard to acquaint you with their area - 10/10/11

Kick scooting in Sydney is a pleasure as the city and its waterfront are all relatively level.

Related article: Kick Scooting in Sydney, Nova Scotia

Tourist maps can be acquired from:

Charlottetown, PEI, Canada - a sparkling city with plenty of characters

October 12, 2011: Charlottetown on the Prince Edward Island (PEI) is a beautiful and welcoming tourist attraction. It features miles of level walkways along its shores, as well as throughout its Old Town.

That said, I happen to love large, silly looking cows, which is why you see one below instead of memorable landscape. That said, Cow Ice Cream is famous throughout PEI and it tastes great, too!

Cow Ice Cream - 10/12/11

The Old Town portion of the city features candy shops, cafe, and heavy references to Ann of Green Gables, a novel about a mischievous orphan girl who has adventures all over the island.

Because of the candy and references, I thought for sure that the distinguished-looking, brass gentleman sitting invitingly on the bench below was Willy Wonka. Instead, it is Sir John MacDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. A photo of him on Wikipedia looks like he was a pleasant sort of man, so I'm sure he wouldn't mind my mistake (although I am not so sure about other Canadians who are proud of their heritage).

Statue of Sir John A. MacDonald in Charlottetown, PEI, Canada - 10/12/11

Related article: Kick Scooting in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Tourist maps can be acquired from:

Cruising to Quebec City, Canada

October 13, 2011: For the most part, our days at sea were perfect.

Looking at open sea on route to Quebec City, Canada - 10/13/11

For those of you who are planning a cruise and who believe that you'll catch up on your reading or writing during days at sea, be forewarned that when the sea is rough, it is unlikely you'll be able to do much anything. During one patch of questionable weather, I spent a day and a half in bed.

Quebec City - stunning city made perfect for tourists

October 14, 2011: Arrival at Quebec City marked the half-way point of our two week cruise. It was the only location where we had almost two days of shore leave, with our ship docked at a pier, conveniently located near its Old Town.

Quebec City is lovely and artistically designed. Despite its 200+ year old dwellings, I'm sure that in the past, they never looked as good as they do today. No matter where you wander in this area, visual treats await.

Old Town decorations in Quebec City - 10/14/11

We did take our kick scooters into the city center. While it is built on a very steep hill, making it necessary to walk our scooters quite a bit of the way, we were able to cover distances not normally associated with strolling.

Horse drawn buggy and a kick scooter in Quebec City, Canada - 10/14/11

The port was within walking distance of the city center, and, depending on where cruise ships are docked, some are significantly closer than others. That said, riding a kick scooter or foldable bike into town makes commuting a snap. Bike racks are available, too, so it isn't necessary to lug your personal transportation all over the place after you arrive.

Related article: Kick Scooting in Quebec City, Quebec

Tourist maps can be acquired from:

St. John, Canada - known for very low and high tides

October 18, 2011: Among many interesting geographic wonders, St. John's visual claim to fame is its exceptionally high tides.

Despite high tides, its shoreline is relatively level, making it perfect for kick scooting, walking, and biking enthusiasts. That said, honor detours, which, of course, we didn't. To get to its famous Reversing Falls (where the force of incoming tides reverses the flow of an out flowing river), we chose to lift our scooters over a fence and, in Phil's case, actually crawl through a small hole in another fence.

Silly us! A well-marked detour led to the Reversing Falls over a perfectly serviceable sidewalk. It was so easy to traverse, in fact, that Phil made the trip twice in an attempt to see tidal changes.

I, instead, explored the city center, which is not kick scooter-friendly. Its hills are too steep to scoot up and too dangerous to scoot down. That said, it's a nice town, with some interesting art galleries and other attractions off the beaten (but very high) trail.

Light house, cruise dock, and Phil on a kick scooter in St. John, Canada - 10/18/11

The picture below, which was taken at relatively low tide, will give you an idea about tidal action:

Tides in St. John, Canada, make the harbor appear like a deep lock - 10/18/11

Related article: Kick Scooting in St. John, New Brunswick

Acquire a tourist map from:

Bar Harbor, Maine - relaxing in the October rain

October 19, 2011: The only location during our voyage where rain made land adventures uncomfortable was in Bar Harbor.

Our ship was anchored off shore, requiring a tender ride to the dock. Tenders, which carry a little over 100 passengers per trip, are cruising's dirty little secret. With several thousand passengers aboard the main vessels clamoring to get on land (or back to the ship), wait lines for tenders can be horrendous.

Consequently, Phil (being a manly man) decided to undergo the inconvenience, while I took advantage of the luxuries on our multi-million dollar ship, including its fitness center, and spa. Strangely enough, I had the place to myself! I spent a major part of the day peacefully viewing the shore through panoramic windows, whether I was on a treadmill, lounging, or in a hot tub.

The tender ride to Bar Harbor was very long. I stayed in the MSC Poesia's fitness and spa rooms - 10/19/11

While I love exploration, I do not love rainy, October days. Why I was the only person to avail myself to the ship's wonders during this challenging weather, I do not know.

A PDF tourist map can be had from:

Boston, MA - a perfect port for a quick historical tour

October 20, 2011: It was raining in Boston when we arrived and by the time we got to the city center, the sky turned bright blue and the temperature went up 10-degrees to the high 70s. How lucky were we?

Well, almost too lucky as the day was so gorgeous that we lost track of time, making it back to our ship with only 15 minutes to spare.

TIP: If you think that taking a cab back to your ship will save you some anxiety, you better have your port's exact address on hand. In our case, we didn't, and the cab driver didn't know where it was.

Historical tour of Boston - 10/20/11

The good news is that public transportation between the harbor and city center led us directly to an information building and from there, we were able to take The Freedom Trail Tour. These tours are led by costumed actors, making them informative, dramatic, and very humorous.

Tourist maps can be acquired from:

Newport, Rhode Island - stunning, but too far from the ship

October 21, 2011: A tender is a small, 100+ passenger boat used to transport people from an anchored ship to shore and back again. Based on our current experiences, when we select a future cruise, we will give priority to all routes and vessels that don't need tenders.

In the case of the MSC Poesia's visit to Newport, Rhode Island, approximately 3,000 passengers attempted to board one of three tenders, with each one-way tender trip lasting approximately a half hour. (Do the math.)

New Port, RI, is stunning - 10/21/11

The good news is that not all passengers made the trip. I, for example, spent the afternoon in the ship's warm, bubbling spa, behind panoramic windows that featured Newport's harbor (and hid everyone else's problems).

My husband, however, did manage to board an early tender (the majority of other anxious passengers were not so lucky), and enjoyed kick scooting to all the beautiful locations we visited a year ago (this beat walking by a long shot).

After standing in line for a half hour, he then boarded a relatively early tender for the return trip. Other very unlucky and cold passengers didn't make it back to our ship until after dark, several hours later.

Back home - and home will never be the same again!

October 22, 2011: Starting in Wisconsin, then returning home to cruise from New York Harbor to Quebec City and back, my husband, Phil, and I learned that:

    ||| Taking kick scooters on a large ship cruise truly extended the scope of our excursions, and

    ||| Taking BMX-sized kick scooters on a road trip to Wisconsin allowed us to cover more ground with more comfort in far less time.

We also learned that obtaining tourist destination maps prior to the cruise would have greatly aided our planning because shore time is very brief (4 to 6 hours). That said, we rolled off our ship hoping to quickly find marvelous things, and we did!

Our objective to meet interesting people among our ship's 3,000 guests was more than met! Unfortunately, the autumn colors we planned on seeing were almost uniformly shades of green, rather than reds, golds, and pinks.

The MSC Poesia is very, very big! 10/22/11

Life aboard the MSC Poesia was far more elegant than our Weehawken apartment, making us feel humble when we returned. Its glittering lights and highly polished brass are now only memories preserved in our 2,000 or so photos (least we forget).

NOTE: This blog became the basis for several articles about cruising with kick scooters. Hopefully, these articles will also be useful for people who want to learn more about cruising along the East Coast to Canada as well as for people who like to take long walks when on shore.

Questions? Just ask!
Karen Little

Article by Karen Little. Photographs primarily by Karen Little with help from Philip Little. First published on on 10/30/2011. All rights reserved.