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We did it. We packed our suitcases for a two month, homeless, move-abroad extravaganza. The movers came, boxed up the rest of our household, and will be back to pick it all up, and put it on a boat to Europe on Monday. I’m not freaking out, you’re freaking out! The little guys and I spent a couple days hiding out in Rochester with family while the professionals packed up our home.
Speaking of hanging out with family… from Michigan, we traversed Canada to Niagara Falls, Ontario. If you want to see the first part of our Eastern US road trip, you can find it here. For this portion of the trip, our destinations were mostly chosen based on family, or friends we wanted visit. This is a great way to a. catch up with family and friends, and b. have built in tour-guides and/or a place to stay. If you plan a trip using this method, just be sure to remember the guideline set by Benjamin Franklin when he said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”
Legendary Niagara Falls. What I find odd about Niagara Falls is, hey, here’s this awe-inspiring natural wonder…let’s put up a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, a wax museum, and a Hard Rock Cafe. Makes sense…right? The views from the Canadian side are better, if you ask me, which I know you didn’t but thanks for letting me tell you anyway. That’s why you’re here, right?
Pro tip: Did you know, there are tunnels behind Niagara Falls? I did not, but now I do. It was a little claustrophobic, damp, loud, and freaky but also totally awesome. You’re able to view behind the falls and stand on an observation deck at the bottom of them. Its a different, impressive perspective. You access these tunnels through the ticket booth at the Canadian visitor’s center.
From Niagara we did the short hop over to Rochester, NY to visit family- the same family I camped out with, waiting for the movers to move. While in Rochester, we visited Seabreeze amusement park and Dinosaur Barbeque. Seabreeze is one of those historic kind of amusement parks with rickety wooden roller coasters and a waterpark, making for an afternoon of fun. I found it ironic, eating barbeque in Rochester, since we were in the midst of moving to Kansas City. From Rochester, we headed north through Vermont and New Hampshire, stopping for a slow drive around Dartmouth’s campus, before making our way to Bangor, Maine, where we were visiting my husband’s grandfather.
While we were in Maine, we spent a day at Acadia, and visited Moosehead Lake. While in Acadia, we drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain, circumnavigated the park in our vehicle, hiked the Beehive, and soaked up a lot of fresh northeastern air at a rare sandy beach, before finishing off our outing with happy hour in Bar Harbor. The Beehive is a short, intense hike with drop-off cliffs and a series of metal ladders attached to the side of sheer rock for you to climb. Of course, you cannot step foot in Maine without stopping for lobster.
What I learned on this day trip: lobster…”lobstah”… isn’t always a fancy restaurant affair. In fact, I’m sure it tastes better the way we had it. Which was at a roadside walk up counter, where you order, take a number, and head out to the picnic tables to dine wearing a plastic bib. Maybe you already knew this.
As we drove back down the northeastern coast of the United States, we stopped in Plymouth, Massachusettes to see the famous rock upon which the pilgrims first set foot in what we now call the United States of America. You have to read the history of this poor rock, who probably didn’t even want fame in the first place. Its preservation, or lack thereof, is a comical series of unfortunate events. Made even more-so, by the fact that seeing it was so underwhelming. Speaking of the preservation of Plymouth Rock, I too, have failed to preserve this, as I lost all pics from this trip (thankfully, I was able to salvage these from my husband’s stash).
From there, we stayed a night with a friend in Providence, Rhode Island. She took us to a great place for dinner and drinks in her neighborhood. We continued down the east coast and crashed with another couple friends near West Point. They took us on a mountain hike with amazing views of the Hudson River Valley. I had no idea that area was so beautiful. After that, we drove to central PA to stay with my in-laws and do some laundry. I can’t get enough of the green, rolling farmland in that region. We celebrated our first anniversary, and Independence Day in Washington D.C. We kayaked on the Potomac and watched the fireworks over the Mall with friends. Surprisingly, even though I’d lived in DC, I had never done either of these things. Yet, not as surprising as you might think. There’s just so much to do in Washington DC.
Been-there-done-that tip: when renting kayaks from the Key Bridge Boathouse in Georgetown on a holiday weekend, I recommend getting there as early as you can get yourself out of bed, to avoid the outrageous line that will form.
From DC we turned west, back toward our new home in Kansas. We spent a night at a hotel in Virginia, and another in Saint Louis. When we completed our giant road trip loop friends took us in again for a few nights before our new house was ready to move in. This trip took us 6,000 miles over the course of five and a half weeks. In that time, we stayed in hotels for nine nights. We camped a handful, but the majority of time was spent under the hospitality and kindness of our family and friends. I’m so grateful for the people who took us in, fed us, showed us around and allowed us to have this excellent adventure. Next time you’re planning a trip, consider the road and who you might reconnect with on it.
The eastern portion of our trip, mapped out.
1. Atlanta, Georgia 2. Jonesboro, Arkansas 3. Davenport, Iowa (or a stop in Kansas City/Saint Louis) 4. Chicago, Illinois 5. Green Bay, Wisconsin 6. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park 7. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore 8. Mackinac Island, Michigan 9. Traverse City, Michigan 10. Niagara Falls, Ontario 11. Rochester, New York 12. Acadia National Park 13. Providence, Rhode Island and Plymouth, Mass. 14. Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York 15. Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 16. Washington, DC 17. Saint Louis, Missouri 18. Kansas City, Kansas and that’s a wrap.
Our entire 6,000 (or so) mile journey. You can read the first half of it here. If you aren’t up for the whole thing, you could easily use almost any portion of it as a rough outline for your next road trip. A Midwestern Kansas City-Saint Louis-Chicago loop, for example. Or a Great Lakes roundabout Lake Michigan with a couple stops up on Lake Superior (take the ferry from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, or Muskegon to Milwaukee, or vice versa) or swing all the way down and around Chicago. Or head out the the east coast and choose your own adventure. And from there head back south to Georgia. The possibilities are endless. They always are.