Two weekends ago I road tripped up to Roanoke, VA to visit my sister, Sarah, who is in grad school at Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Lucky for her she gets to live in such a cute little valley town surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains while studying. We packed the weekend full of activities including: eating at cool places, visiting the farmer’s market, shopping at numerous antique stores, stopping by a mountaintop vineyard, going downtown, and hiking part of the A.T.
I had a great weekend visiting Sarah and hiking with Dad. I’ll share more later on my antique store finds and what I plan to use them for! Think doily coasters and vintage brewery crates. Oh yes!
Last weekend myself and 8 other ladies road tripped down to Savannah for Nia’s Bachelorette weekend! We stayed in a bed and breakfast and had the whole place to ourselves – that was quite a treat! The weekend consisted of outlet shopping in Hilton Head, a dinner at The Olde Pink House, drinks on the rooftop of a hotel, a day of walking and shopping in historic downtown, lunch at The Lady & Sons, getting dressed up and going out on the town, and as always enjoying lots of good laughs and quality time together.
I promised Nia free breakfast at the hotel, but I was wrong. One of a million things I ended up being wrong about on this trip. At least they had coffee. And at least I had breakfast bars, and LOTS of them. So we put another type of coffee in our coffee cups, chatted with the hotel receptionists about the wind that blew scaffolding everywhere, they ohh-ed and ahh-ed over our accents, we grabbed a few Boston and Freedom Trail brochures, and headed back up to the 2nd floor to grab our luggage. We took advantage of the deals on parksleepfly.com and scored a hotel room and free 10 days parking at the hotel while we were away.
[You may be wondering, WHY did we drive to Boston? Since Nia and I are both experts at saving money we calculated that driving would be able half the cost of flying since we waited too long to purchase ticket. Anddd who doesn’t love a ROAD TRIP?!]
Our game plan for the day: explore the Freedom Trail, meet up with Caleb and tour Harvard. We checked out of the hotel, loaded up the car, and typed in the address for the Boston Common Parking Garage. But it wouldn’t be a good trip without a pit stop to Target at the start of the day. Nia failed to pack thermal underwear, and after experiencing the wind and cold the night before she quickly decided she needed more layers for Europe. We went to Target and debated over knee high vs. thigh high socks for approximately 20 minutes.
Broadway sure looked different in the daylight than it did the night before, and I’m still not convinced the GPS didn’t drive us incircles to get todowntown. But I do know one thing, I love Boston. And Nia felt like we werein an episode ofBoston Public. We parked in the Boston Common Parking Garage underground, made our way up the stairs, were nearly blown away by the wind, and thought “ok, this cold isn’t too bad, once you get used to it.” This is right about when we tightened up our scarfs, pulled on our gloves, buttoned the top buttons of our jackets and put our hoodies up. And from then on, Nia could neither see nor hear anything I did because of that hoodie.
We walked around in a few circles in Boston Common, facebooked some mobile uploads, eyed some folks ice skating, pulled out our giant “hey I’m a tourist” map snagged from the Red Roof Inn, and spotted the start of the Freedom Trail. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you a thing about the Freedom Trail or what’s on it besides a statue of Paul Revere on his horse. We were too focused on following the double red brick line to actually pay attention to any of the historical places. I did get pictures of an old cemetery, Nia standing in opposition to the donkeys, the Old City Hall, some random buildings that are probably really important, a bridge, and the monument in Charlestown. Don’t worry, I took a lot more than just 6 pictures, trust me. After following about half of the Freedom Trail (its 2 miles total throughout downtown Boston), we got a call from Caleb and decided to meet up at Mike’s Pastries. As we continued down the Freedom Trail we kept our heads up at this point, on the look out for the deliciousness that is Mike’s Pastries. We saw at least a dozen people toting fancy boxes from Mike’s and knew we were about to experience something great. A BIG taste, if you will.
And then I felt like I was in an episode of Seinfield, you know the one where Elaine is in the bakery packed out with people trying to get one of those black and white cookies. The place was packed but we managed to grab a table. After Caleb wandered around lost for a little bit he showed up as well, apparently he couldn’t remember where this place was, even though it was his suggestion! Our order: Boston Creme Puff, Chocolate Croissant, Apple Fritter, 2 cups of coffee. Caleb: “Are yall really going to eat all that?!” Yes, yes we are. The waitress loved us (probably just loved our accents) and even let Nia go back into the kitchen to use the private bathroom. She says she was almost stuck in there because the door was blocked by a giant rack of pastries on her way out.
After Nia’s VIP visit to the pastry kitchen we continued along the Freedom Trail with Caleb joining us. We breezed past all the important historical things trying to make it to the monument and the Shipyard. We crossed a big bridge and this is where we found the USS Constitution and decided we had enough time to explore it. They had some serious security screening to get into the visitor’s center and then onto the boat. You’d think we were back at the airport or something! We climbed the wrong stairs onto the boat (we were in a hurry and wasn’t sure where the right stairs were) and proceeded to go straight down into the inside levels of the boat through some velcro doors. Nia made it down and then a sailor quickly came to tell us we were not allowed down there but Nia could stay because she was already down there. So there she was, inside the USS Constitution and sailor man velcro-ed her in. Then Caleb and I were led to the front of the boat where another sailor was beginning a long spiel and intro to the tour. My phone rings, its Nia, “Where are yall?? I’m down here by myself” “We can’t get down there, he’s starting a tour and the velcro doors are shut” “What am I supposed to do?” “I don’t know” – click – next thing we know, they kicked her out and she was back on deck reunited with us, just in time for the tour to make its way back to the inside of the boat. So before we knew it, we were stuck on this guided tour that we didn’t have time for nor want to be a part of. We followed it down one more level into the boat where I tried to get Nia to cross the rope lines to test out the hammocks but the sailor didn’t let that one happen either. After everyone slowly made it down to the bottom level of the boat we realized this was our only chance to get out. We flew back up the few flights of ladders to the deck and shut the velcro door. Nia and I look around and Caleb is nowhere to be found. What are we supposed to do in the situation? Nothing other than take a Jack and Rose signature Titanic pose picture on the hull of the boat. Oh wait, there are sailors allaround and they yell at us before Nia even gets one foot onto the ledge. Thankfully Caleb appeared from within the velcro, I’m still not sure what happened, and we high-tailed our way off of that boat.
Thanks to the unwanted tour we were now short on time, we walked through Charlestown and ended at the Bunker Hill monument, still surrounded by some snow. We took more pictures in celebration of completing the Freedom Trail and booked it to the nearest T stop toride over to Harvard. Caleb is working on his PhD in some crazy statistics fieldat Harvard and gave us a tour of his movie-star college. In the courtyard Nia and I both said, “I feel just like in themovies! All these smart people walking around dressed nicely.” Caleb made up lots of interesting and not quite true facts about the school during our brief tour, but we did learn that people like to pee on the foot of the statue of John Harvard. Since it had been a long, cold day of walking so far we decided to check out Caleb’s huge dorm room (actually is about the size of a closet) to rest our feet andget warm. Caleb introduced us to a few of his friends, which I think he only did so they could hear Nia talk. They were pretty fascinated! We all grabbed some coffee at this hopping college kid hotspot and then it was time for goodbyes as we boarded the T again back to Boston Common. Thankfully Nia didn’t leave her cell phone on the metro like she did that time in DC. We then drove another thousand miles down Broadway back to the Red Roof Inn and pulled up just in time for Rob and Steven Fisher to arrive as our airport taxi! It was fun seeing Rob and Steven since we hadn’t seen them since graduation a few years ago and we are very thankful they were willing to drive us to the airport!
Here we are at the airport. We realize our adventure has barely even began even though we had already been traveling all weekend. But boy were we thankful to be rid of our giant checked luggage bags (which somehow weren’t overweight). And now its off to get strip searched. Not really, but Nia nearly did. I always make it through security in a breeze but Nia on the other hand, barely makes it through. This time through she forgot to take her laptop out of its bag. They stopped the xray belt with our stuff inside and call for special forces to come check it out. She begins to slightly freak out as a man approaches her and asks, “ma’am, is this your bag? do you have a laptop in here? may I remove it?” After they decide we weren’t trying to bring a bomb on the airplace, they let us through. We hadn’t eaten since those pastries early in the afternoon, and remember we had no breakfast, only breakfast bars. Our flight left at 8:35pm and we had some time to kill. Thats when I spotted Sbarro! I’d been craving it since we tried to eat at the one in the mall near Red Roof Inn. We had some supper, Nia skyped with Austin, I made some phone calls, we boarded the plane, and began to learn so many fun facts about Iceland thanks to IcelandAir’s ads on the tv screens prior to taking off. Did you know that the prime minister’s number is listed in the phone book? Now if that doesn’t make you want to live there, I don’t know what will! Our flight was about 5 hours from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland and was just enough time to watch a movie and catch a few zzz’s.
The day was finally here! I got in the car at about 4:30am to head to Nia’s house, my mind racing the whole 1 hour drive there trying to figure out what I forgot, because surely I forgot something. Or maybe it was just the few 3 hours of sleep I got during the night that made me feel anxious. Or the fact that I was leaving Nala and Reina for a week and a half. Or maybe that we (read: ME) were about to drive 14 hours up to Boston.
I pulled up to Nia’s house a little after 5:30am, still pitch black outside. We loaded up my car with all of our luggage, Nia’s mom loaded us up with coffee, and Nia said her goodbyes to her fiancé. And then I almost wrecked us while still on Old Mill Farm Road – those curves just come so unexpectedly in the dark! No worries, I’m an expert driver and just wanted to test out how fast we could take those curves in preparation for the long drive ahead. And I needed to make sure Nia had her Dramamine.
Nia tried to get some sleep while I drove, but between Kacie calling and me waking her up to tell her something, she didn’t get much rest. I think her favorite time was when I woke her up to tell her to look at the giant flock of birds flying over us and wondering how they were flying in these heavy winds. Every state we drove through had traffic alert signs warning of high winds. Once we arrived in Boston, we realized just how much wind they really meant. I drove for nearly 6 hours until we stopped for gas and Subway. [side story – as some of you may know, Nia and I won a $250 Subway gift card at the state fair this past fall after competing in “Subway’s Great Fair-a-thon Challenge” scavenger hunt] And then Nia drove for a few hours while I napped and after a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts in ski town USA it was back to me driving. We hit our first toll booth after driving over the Hudson River and past the Poconos (who hasn’t heard of the Poconos??) and into New York, and I shelled out a big $1 bill.
The second toll booth. I can’t remember which state it was in, as Nia called it – BFE. I’ve never done one of these things before, and
neither has Nia correction: Nia HAS been through toll booths, it was just on a totally different highway. We slow down as all the other cars are but realize there is no person in the little both, so I keep on going through without stopping because no one else did. Fast forward about 20 miles when we get off the highway to get some gas. Now there’s the little man in the toll booth! I roll down my window and wait for him to say how much. He doesn’t say anything. I ask, “How much?” He says, “Where is your ticket?” “What ticket?” “The ticket! (holds up a stack of tickets) The ticket!” “I don’t have a ticket.” “How did you get on the highway?” “I don’t know, we’ve been driving on this road for a really long time.” “Fine, its $2 without a ticket.” I mean I thought we weren’t going to be let off the highway! Apparently the sketchy toll booth from miles before was where you got a ticket. No signs. No warnings. You’re just apparently supposed to know, stop, press a button, get a ticket. But no one else did it! …oops, turns out I drove through the fast pass lane, they didn’t need tickets.
We stop to get gas after exiting the toll road. Screw getting back onto that road, we will re-route. Don’t worry, we were on Broadway. All roads lead to Broadway. Even if the GPS tells you to turn onto a another street, you’ll eventually make it back onto Broadway. I’m still not convinced that dern GPS didn’t drive us in circles around the state of Massachusetts.
I wanted to a take a picture of every state we drove through, but that didn’t happen. North Carolina. Virginia. West Virginia. Maryland. Pennsylvania. New York. Connecticut. Massachusetts. 8 states in one day – and a whole lotta miles on the Honda. We took 81 and 84 most of the way, which hugged the mountains and passed through a lot of cute little towns. We paid a total of $4.50 in tolls on the way there. We made it almost all the way there in two tanks of gas – thankfully this was right before gas prices sky rocketed (weren’t too happy to see that a week and a half later upon our return…) and thankfully we filled the tank up completely before leaving town so we would come back to the states to a nice full tank.
Now if you’ve never driven in Boston then I need to give you a few warnings.
- There are no lines on the road and speed limit signs are rare. People just drive where they want to, however fast they want to. So you better hope you’re not in the way. And if snow is covering half of the far right line, then you better believe those cars will just make their way on over halfway into the left lane, whether there’s cars there or not.
- If you don’t know where you are, just look to the left or to the right and there will be not one, but two, Dunkin Donuts to comfort you.
- Plan to only go to places on one side of the road. Because if you want to get to the other side of the road, you’ll have to drive approximately 5 miles to turn around and drive back down the other side.
- When in doubt, just take Broadway.
Red Roof Inn, we can see you in the distance, right next to Giggles Comedy Club. We made it. Our home for the night! Oh, hey, police cars and the news crew filling up the parking lot – man I sure picked a winner of a hotel. Half the parking lot is covered in snow and the other half is covered in scaffolding and construction debris. In the chaos, I ran over a giant plastic cigarette butt holder, which took about 15 minutes to dislodge from underneath my car. With 100 mph winds the whole time, did I mention that yet? Yeah, as if the cold wasn’t enough, there was some serious wind during our stay in Boston. And this wind conveniently blew scaffolding all over the Red Roof Inn parking lot and toppled onto cars. Greattttt, and I’m supposed to be leaving my car here for 10 days? Very comforting! So after a trip to Fuddruckers for dinner (I wanted Sbarro but then we realized it was in the mall, and we were definitely not going in the mall for dinner), we checked into the hotel and made ourselves at home. Nia talked with Caleb to make our game plan for the next day while, surprisingly, I fell asleep.