Vermont Part 1

It’s hard to know where to begin about the next big chunk of our journey. This was the destination we set out for the week before, and we knew we wanted to see Fall colors and little towns, and spend some time by the sea. We spent a total of nine nights/ten days in Vermont and Maine, and we could not have imagined how great it all worked out.
Continue reading “Vermont Part 1″

Into Upstate New York

Soundtrack. As we left the Great Lakes region, I was aware that we were a couple days behind on our journey. I had it in my mind that the fall color peak in Vermont was quickly approaching, if not passing us by; we had to get back on the road and put some miles behind us. On the other hand, we were getting tired of paying tolls and we felt that the toll-highways might be keeping us from seeing the real countryside. Sometime after Cleveland, we opted for local highways as we crossed Pennsylvania and into upstate New York. This meant that we’d skip Niagara Falls, which made me feel a bit like the tourist in Paris who skips the Louvre, but there was so much to see!
Continue reading “Into Upstate New York”

Tollways, Lake Erie and a Trailer Park

We’ve seen our share of toll booths this trip. I’d estimate how much we’ve spent so far on tolls, but I don’t want to think about it. They do move fast, but you don’t see as much.

Anyway, leaving Indiana Dunes was hard as it was such a nice place to be, but we had to move on. Back on the toll highway from Indiana (Lake Michigan) into Ohio (not quite ever crossing into Michigan!), and along the bottom of Lake Erie. Looking for a place to land for the night, I saw a red ribbon on the map, indicating a particular interesting spot: Port Clinton, Ohio, here we come!

On the way to Port Clinton, we found this farm stand and bought some local green beans and apples.

On the way to Port Clinton, we found this farm stand and bought some local green beans and apples.

Well, I still can’t figure out what inspired Mr. Rand McNally (is that even his real name?) to direct people to Port Clinton, unless it was perhaps sympathy for the place. It was right on the water. It may have had a lighthouse (didn’t look around enough to know). It was the Walleye capital of the world. But other than that, we remained fairly uninspired, except that I had never stayed the night in a trailer park before, and there is a certain romantic feeling that may accompany such an event for dreamers like me. Afterall, the Cowboy Junkies have that great song about such a place: Murder Tonight, in the Trailer Park.

We did find some interest in comparing our experience of Lake Michigan with Lake Erie in the morning though!

I took my coffee for a walk to the lake before the boys were up.

I took my coffee for a walk to the lake before the boys were up.


The path from our campsite to the beach.

The path from our campsite to the beach.


Moody lake from the beach.

Moody lake from the beach.


Ezra in the sunrise.

Ezra in the sunrise.


Asher in the sunrise.

Asher in the sunrise.

Chesterton, Indiana

Lake-MichiganI love the ocean. I think about it a lot. It’s easy to think of the ocean when you’re near the great lakes. Lake Michigan from Indiana Dunes State Park has a particular ocean-likeness — the water was an almost tropical greeny-blue when we were there. But still, there is something missing. The long sandy beach was great for walking and running, and there were gentle waves (though very small) breaking on the shore. The missing element was more sensory than solid, but it was noticeably absent. It was like someone was imagining the ocean, but hadn’t thought to complete the experience with… Salty Air! That’s what was missing!

Anyway, Chesterton is a cute town, and is the home of Ancient Faith Radio. We were hoping to meet up with Molly Sabourin, and even thought of hiring her to snap some family photos, but we couldn’t get around getting photo-ready in a camper, and we happened to be in town on Molly’s busiest day of the week. She did give us a great recommendation for local camping when she sent us to Indiana Dunes, though! It was awesome! Sand dunes, hiking trails, and a very nice nature center. It was worth getting a late start for the next destination!

You can just make out Chicago across the water.

You can just make out Chicago across the water.

Coming off a hiking trail in the trees.

Coming off a hiking trail in the trees.

An empty camp site makes a good school room beneath the trees. Trees! Tall, leafy green trees!

An empty camp site makes a good school room beneath the trees. Trees! Tall, leafy green trees!

Learning about the fur trade at the nature center. It's been fun to see Asher read on this trip.

Learning about the fur trade at the nature center. It’s been fun to see Asher read on this trip.

Which bird are you? Asher  is the ring-tailed hawk.

Which bird are you? Asher is the ring-tailed hawk.

Which bird are you? Ezra was the ring-billed gull. (Shelli was the Canadian Goose and I was the great blue heron).

Which bird are you? Ezra was the ring-billed gull. (Shelli was the Canadian Goose and I was the great blue heron).

Cool posters showing different seasons at the dunes.

Cool posters showing different seasons at the dunes.

Backing Up A Bit

So, we’re in love with Maine. And Vermont, too. And I could live in Boston in a second. Why have I lived so long without knowing that Boston is known as America’s Walking City? If you know me, you probably know that I love walks though a city! Well, before I tell you about moving plans, I’ll back up a bit and give an overview of our trail so far:

Sept 29 — We left for Omaha
Oct 1 — On to Chesterton, Indiana

  • stayed at Indiana Dunes State Park

Oct 2 — On to Ohio

  • stayed in a trailer park (basically) Port Clinton

Oct 3 — On to Upstate New York

  • stayed in Cooperstown, NY, home of the baseball Hall of Fame
  • nice campground, near Glimmerglass State Park

Oct 4 — On to Vermont

  • camped in the Green Mountain National Forest, in Woodford State Park
  • felt remote, beautiful, rustic

Oct 5 — Onward through Brattleboro

  • felt like we finally reached the destination part of our trip
  • cool farmers’ market
  • travelled one of my favorites drives ever

Oct 5-6 — Stayed 2 Nights in Northfield Falls, VT

  • got rescued form a church parking lot
  • made some new friends
  • found my dream backyard #1

Oct 7 — On to North East Kingdom, St. Johnsbury, VT

  • stayed with the Montagues
  • made some new friends

Oct 8 — On to Maine

  • stayed outside Augusta
  • first stay at a KOA, heated bathrooms!
  • finally purchased pillows (we forgot to bring ours)

Oct 9-11 — Out to Little Deer Isle Maine in Peneobscot Bay

  • * b l i s s *

Oct 12 — Down to Portland, Maine

  • stayed at a busy campground just outside of town
  • cool town
  • good food

Oct 13 — Down to Boston

  • poor planning (mostly) has brought us to a hotel for the night in Natick, Mass
  • who knew Columbus Day is such a big thing in Beantown?

Well, that gets us up to date. Stay tuned for more details on these past days and days to come!

Some random photos (see the instagram gallery to the left for more):

Asher peeking out from the camper. This shows how small it is...

Asher peeking out from the camper. This shows how small it is…


Highly recommend Stonington for authentic peaceful getaway, too!

Highly recommend Stonington for authentic peaceful getaway, too!

Somehow this little guy got into our cottage. He's about as small as my thumbnail.

Somehow this little guy got into our cottage. He’s about as small as my thumbnail.

To Maine and Back… so far.

This post kicks off a return (hopefully) to the family blog known as Bright Little Lights. There’s something about a road trip and especially the Northeast, that’s inspires me to want to write. Time is the obstacle, mostly.

So, for this return we’ll focus on our big trip out East which we’ve been calling “To Maine and Back”. We’ve been giving quick updates via instagram for the past week and a half, but these posts will back up and cover more of that and continue on with more photos and tales and thoughts.

Let’s begin!

We left Denver Sunday, Sept 29th. In typical Sittler fashion we headed out early. Ha! As if! We intended to head out early, but in this case the road out of Denver was paved with intentions, good or not, and we left closer to noon. That’s a late start for an 8 hour drive!

Regardless, we stayed the course pretty well to the big O, and got there for a late dinner of a family favorite, Diane’s (Shelli’s mom) Chicken and Noodles, then bedtime.

Yup, it's the prairie.

Yup, it’s the prairie.

We had planned to stay just a quick night and hit the road again the next day aiming toward Chicago, but Shelli got sick and was down for a day. While she rested, the boys and I headed for an Omaha favorite, Elmwood Park, with our bikes.

Shelli hunkers down for the day

Shelli hunkers down for the day


Elmwood Park, Omaha. Lots of trees. My Grandma used to live a block off this park, and it's very near UNO, where I went for my first year of college... so lots of memories for me.

Elmwood Park, Omaha. Lots of trees. My Grandma used to live a block off this park, and it’s very near UNO, where I went for my first year of college… so lots of memories for me.


Memorial Park, across the street from Elmwood... same bike ride.

Memorial Park, across the street from Elmwood… same bike ride.

Merry Christmas!

Heaven and earth are united today, for Christ is born! Today God has come upon earth, and man has gone up to heaven. Today, for man’s sake, is seen in the flesh He who by nature is invisible. Therefore, let us give glory and cry aloud to Him; Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, which Your coming has bestowed upon us, O Saviour, Glory to You!
-Great Vespers of the Nativity

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him:gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – St. Matthew 2:11 –
merrychristmas3
merrychristmas4

Merry Christmas and a Peaceful and Joyous New Year! Love, Neil, Shelli, Asher, and Ezra
merry christmas2
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-Asher,Ezra, and cousin Blakely (2012)

Fall 2012

I love Fall! The change in weather, going to a farm and the pumpkin patch, soups, the leaves, a feeling of coziness, sweaters…the list could go on and on. Here is a sampling of our Fall so far. Happy Fall!




Hiking and viewing elk with Uncle Mark, Aunt Sara, and baby Blakely in Rocky Mountain National Park





Baby Blakely’s first time at the Pumpkin Patch. She loved putting the straw in her mouth and rolling over the pumpkins! :)



Dancing in the leaves and playing in the trees!









Sunflower Farm, an amazing farm in Longmont, CO



Our annual trick-or-treating with our neighbors and Asher lost his first tooth!! He was super excited! Happy Fall!

SUMMER 2012

Our summer was a bit different due to Neil’s scooter accident. He is recovering well…walking, driving, biking now. We still managed to have lots of summer fun!! Here is an overview of the Summer of 2012…








Lots of pool time!!



Time with Baby Blakely!







Hiked with good friends and to new places…my first 14er, Mt. Sherman and Lake Isabel in the Roosevelt National Forest. Completely rejuvenates me!







Loved having out of town guests! Our good friends, the Mutos came from Seattle. It was super fun seeing them and it was like we had a mini vacation in our own city!:) Pool time, miniature golf, bumper boats & go-carts, eating out, ice cream from our favorite ice cream shop, Little Man,, Red Rocks, and Jazz in the park! Lots of fun! We also saw my good friend Lisa and her kids and I’m kicking myself that I have no pictures from that time. However, we had a great time seeing them!!



We managed a trip to Nebraska to see the King family, the Morehead family, and Grandpa and Grandma Henninger. Again, kicking myself I have no pictures of the King family! But, thank you for having us! The boys and I loved our time on the farm! :) Baby Clara was sadly sleeping when we took a group photo of all the boys! She is super cute and sweet! Maybe you want to send her out to Denver for her first get-a-away trip, Renae!! :) The boys love seeing Grandpa and Grandma! Thanks for everything Mom and Dad! We love you!
Oh! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA! WE LOVE YOU!

The Rockies!!

This Spring Asher has been playing baseball. I remember watching my brother’s baseball games and I enjoyed them. Now, my oldest son gets to join in on the fun! It really is a blast watching youth baseball. Asher is getting the hang of it and as always is very enthusiastic. When he hit his first hits without the use of a tee, he shouted out, “This is my first time hitting the ball without a tee!!” as he ran to first base. Of course, Mama was probably the only one who heard that.” :) Asher’s team is the Rockies and we got to go to a real Rockies game for the first time. The Youth baseball teams got to walk around the field. The boys loved it. When Ezra saw the field from up high, he exclaimed, “This is the best day ever!” The Colorado Rockies played the Seattle Mariners. So, there was a bit of shouting for the opposing team. Asher was born there and because of that, he wanted to root for the Mariners. Luckily, a nice gal in front of us was from Seattle and didn’t mind a bit.











It’s always fun to end the day getting ice cream!!