Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tennessee to Maine (and places in between)

Last week, Mike and I went on our biggest adventure together yet*: a 5-day road trip from Tennessee to Maine! It was full of new experiences for me, as I'd never been to the northeast at all, or on a major road trip (much less with him).

We left bright and early at 7am from Cleveland, Maryland-bound for the night. One of our best friends, Jon, is from there, so we stayed with his parents for the night. We didn't originally intend to do much extra exploring, but by the time we got close, we realized that we had made incredible time, so we decided on a spontaneous side-trip to Washington, D.C. for a few hours!

Washington, D.C.! 
Georgia & Kentucky, and now Tennessee!
Lincoln Memorial
Love D.C. at night!
I hadn't been there since I was like, seven, so it was really fun to explore the National Mall for awhile! I wish we'd had time to check out a few museums and such, too, but oh well--it's just an excuse for another adventure in the future. ;)

The next morning, we decided that, heck, we made such good time on the first leg of the trip, why not hit another city on the way to Maine? Our choice: New York City!

New York City!
I'll be honest: I was super excited about going. As a general rule, I'm not much of a city girl, but I do enjoy visiting, and NYC is one of those places that I have always wanted to visit at some point. Our friend, Chris, has been, and he basically saved our lives by suggesting we park in New Jersey and take this thing called PATH (basically a subway train from NJ to NY) into the city. Best. idea. ever. For real, if you're ever stopping by, that's the way to go. It's only $2.25 a ticket, and saves you from the nightmare of driving in Manhattan. Believe me--it's worth it.

Anyway. After taking the train to 33rd St. (as far as it goes), we decided to walk to Times Square (super limited time to see the city, so we decided walking was the best way to take in as much as possible). SO CRAZY. Anything you've ever heard about how crowded and lively and huge NYC is? All true. Trust me. It is one city I can honestly say lives up to its reputation.

After that, we decided we wanted to see Central Park. When I say it feels like a breath of fresh air, I'm not kidding or trying to be cliche. It literally feels like you can breathe all of a sudden. (Like I said. Definitely not a big-city kind of girl. Give me mountains and rivers and big open skies any day.) We only walked around the first tiny bit, but I'm pretty sure we'll be visiting again--there is way too much to see!

The little birds made me so happy :)
Since we had already been there for 2 hours and needed to get back on the road, we took the subway back to the PATH station. (Am I lame for having always wanted to ride on the subway in New York? Oh well--another thing to check off my list!) After that, it was a nonstop trip** to Harmony, Maine!

Maine is beautiful. Lots and lots of small towns and rural areas, and trees and mountains and just plain gorgeousness. (It's an interesting experience visiting Maine and NYC in one day. Talk about your polar opposites.) We got there pretty late, but the next day, we got to do some exploring around Moosehead Lake! (We really wanted to see a moose. No such luck, as far as live ones go, but we did see a dead one in the back of some hunter's truck, which was still kinda cool…)

(Random side story: Apparently cops are not the norm. We were looking around in a little shop, when all of a sudden:

"Holy s***!!! What in the world is that doing here?!"

We look outside to see them staring a police car driving through town. ? I found it pretty funny.)

Anyway. The wedding we went to was lovely, and it was good to see a few people I hadn't seen since graduation, albeit a little awkward because I knew very, very few people overall. Oh well.

On our trip back from Maine to Virginia, we really wanted to stop in Boston, but it ended up raining THE ENTIRE TIME from Maine until Hartford, Connecticut. Ugh. Our biggest adventure of that part of the trip was definitely New Jersey.

Oh my goodness. Never again.

Illegal to pump your own gas. (A little bit of shock when a random dude comes up to my car and asks for my credit card. Um, no?) Crazy drivers. To turn left or make a U-turn, you have to turn right (?). There's a town named Buttzville (yes, with a Z). There are signs all over the interstate that say "No Turns Allowed"…when there is nowhere to turn anyway, even if you wanted to. (Like, to turn, you would literally have to jump a guardrail and a ditch. Are these people insane?) Their nickname, "The Garden State," has no particular reason behind it. (Again, ?)

Lesson learned: avoid NJ at all costs on future road trips.***

We finally arrived in Virginia (staying with Jon's brother and sister-in-law this time around), and after waking up to a gorgeous sunrise the next morning...

Not. even. close.
...we headed for Shenandoah National Park to take Skyline Drive (105 miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Fall perfection). So, so, so beautiful, especially this time of year! It was peak season for fall foliage, and absolutely worth the $15--even though it rained half the time we were there. Still worth it.

So! There's the abbreviated version of my trip. We're already planning our next one--it was so much fun! (And surprisingly affordable, too, if you do it right.) My only complaint is that I wish we'd had more time. 5 days was nowhere near enough!

*Well. As far as the traditional, concrete, "exploring a place we've never been" sort of adventure goes. Our whole relationship has been something of an adventure, from day one, but that's beside the point here.
**That is, nonstop minus the insane New Jersey traffic. Seriously, I hate driving through NJ.
***Sorry to all you New Jersey natives. I'm sure the state has some wonderful qualities, but forgive me, because I did not see them.

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