Well, we took our East Coast trip and WHEW, what a trip! We drove over 4,000 miles, through 17 states and one Canadian Province in 18 days. I took over 500 pictures, and won't be posting them all, but here are some highlights.
We rented a Toyota Corolla and it really turned out to be a good gas mileage car. We averaged over 33 mpg on the trip. Our vehicles get a little over 20ish mpg, so it saved us in gas money, and we put 4,000 miles on it. Better a rental car than our own! :)
We left on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 bright and early so we could get to Indianapolis, IN. We stopped at Trader Joe's in Milwaukee to get Mochi ice cream for the girls. Mochi is a Japanese rice dough and they take little balls of ice cream and wrap them in mochi. The girls LOVE it.
We got to Lebanon, Indiana and spent the night. The next day we headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to check out the museum. Travis liked seeing the Formula One cars. I think he would have rather driven one, but..... We took the bus tour, which normally takes you for a drive around the track. Unfortunately for us, that day there were people who had paid (probably a small fortune) to drive around it in small race cars. Oh well, it was fun to see around the track.
From there, we headed into Ohio. We were heading to Columbus to see my Great Auntie Mary, Jesse and second cousin Linda. Mary is my Mom's Mom's sister, Linda is my mom's cousin. We hoped to see my other cousins, but it didn't work out this time. Hopefully we can make more solid plans during our move to D.C. so we can spend more time visiting. We couldn't see them until later in the day, so we headed to the Longaberger Basket Headquarters building. It's a HUGE basket. I don't collect the baskets, but it was fun to see the building and find out that the place we really needed to go was called Homestead and it's the place where you can shop, eat, stay. I am hoping Renee and I get to go there on a girl field trip! :)
We finally hooked up with Mary, Jesse and Linda and went to Cracker Barrel. It was my first time there, and won't be the last. Yummy food and fun company. :) After our dinner and good-byes, we headed toward West Virginia. We stayed in St. Clairsville, Ohio that night and got up early and headed into West Virginia then into Pennsylvania. Our goal in Pennsylvania was Hershey Chocolate World. We took the chocolate ride for the free chocolate, looked at the gift shop and explored the town. Everything revolves around chocolate. Even the street lights are like Hershey Kisses.
We ended up staying in Hanover, PA which is where George and Helen live. George was the Chaplain Travis knew in Virginia when he first got in the Coast Guard. In fact, George baptised Travis. We visited with them for a little while that night and it was very fun to hear about their adventures in retirement and their son who is a Brigadier General in the USMC.
We got up the next morning and headed to Gettysburg. We explored some of the battlefield, then headed to the beautiful brand new museum. Travis could have spent DAYS there. We plan to make another trip there when we live closer. We finished up at Gettysburg and drove through Maryland, then into Virginia to RENEE'S and CHAD'S!!!! :)
We spent 8 days at their house. During that time, we went to Larry's retirement (finally) ceremony. I say finally, because Larry, like Brett Favre, was going to retire several times before. I actually SAW WITH MY OWN EYES the Retirement Certificate. It was a great party, as usual, at Larry's. He brewed some his special beers, and had TONS of food. It was fun to see other Portland friends, too. Heck, we already have several people we know from Portland that live there. We also spent an afternoon going to lunch at Dogfish Head Alehouse with Larry, Jan, their son Cameron and his fiancee Courtney. After our burgers and beer we headed into D.C. to check out some sites since traffic back to Chad and Renee's was going to be horrible.
We went to the capital building, the Supreme Court building, then headed over to the Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Korean War Memorial. It was cool to walk around and see all the historical stuff. I am excited about living there and being able to really check out everything. :)
While we were at Chad and Renee's we spent lots of time visiting, swimming, seeing stuff, we had Ikea Swedish Meatballs, a quick trip to Fredericksburg, and a family trip to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg (on our way home, we were in the middle of a DOWNPOUR like I've never seen before. We actually had to pull over off the freeway because it was raining so hard, you couldn't see the road. There were lots of people pulled over so we didn't feel like total wimps). We also spent some time checking out areas to live. We still don't know, but at least we've seen all the areas and will know when we are checking out houses on line.
After our teary good-byes we headed to Trader Joes for more Mochi ice cream, then out of Virginia through Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. We spent most of the day in the car since we got stuck in D.C. traffic, Baltimore traffic, and New York traffic. We finally stopped in East Haven, Connecticut. THAT was a night we were VERY HAPPY to be out of the car! The next day we went to Mystic Pizza and the Coast Guard Academy.
We drove through Connecticut into Rhode Island then into Massachusetts. We went to Braintree, the birthplace of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Travis read the book about John Adams and is really interested in his life. We couldn't find the home, so we left and headed into Quincy, MA, where the Adams' house is located. We actually went to the museum and found it closed and had almost given up. We got lost and found the Thomas Crane Public Library and talked to this super sweet librarian and she told us about the Adam's Home. We drove quickly up to the house and scored a private tour of the library on the grounds by Chris Davis (he ROCKS!). They closed down so we drove on. We drove through Boston in a HUGE lightning and rain storm.
We reached New Hampshire. We stayed in Concord since we were heading to my Great Aunt Eleanor's house in Lakeport (near Laconia). She's a sweet, little feisty thing! She's my Dad's Mom's sister. We visited at her house that night, then headed back in the morning to pick her up to head out to Center Harbor. My Great, Great Grampa's house is now a knitting shop connected to the Keepsake Quilt store. The ladies in the knit store let us go upstairs (off limits to customers cuz of their offices). We saw the room where my Grandma and her two brothers were born, and Aunt E showed us where the kitchen used to be, the cool old shelves where the kids used to climb to get the candy, the hallway they used to ride their bikes . It was fun. And the trip to the quilt shop was fun too! :) After that, we saw the school they went to then to lunch. We are planning to head up for another trip when we live out there. :) While we were there, it was raining and we wanted to go up to Mt. Washington (the tallest peak on the East coast). We didn't go because of the weather.
Again in the car, we headed into Vermont. OH MY GOODNESS!!! Gorgeousness! We all loved the part of the state we drove through. Lush, green, Washingtonish. Back into New York on our way to Niagara Falls. We drove through Schenectady, NY. For those of you who know about MySpace, when you register, you have to put in your zip code. LOTS and LOTS of people put 12345 which is the zip code for Schenectady. Just a fun place to stop and snap a picture. We stayed in Syracuse, then headed to the falls the first thing the next morning.
If you haven't gotten to go the Niagara Falls, you NEED to go! It's so beautiful. We spent several hours walking around the American side, then walked over the Rainbow Bridge into Canada (get your passports, or you'll get hassled when you try to come back into the USA, even with US Military IDs). Anyway, like everyone says, you really have to go to the Canadian side to see the WHOLE picture of the falls. We spent time there until they lit them up at night. It was so cool.
We found a place to stay in Findley Lake, New York and got up and went to Cleveland, OH to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was REALLY COOL. Too bad we couldn't take pictures, because we saw all kinds of memorabilia from so many of our favorite musical talents.
Our trip was almost done. We spent the night in Elkhart, Indiana. We drove through the Notre Dame campus (beautiful campus and bookstore). Then we stopped in the Chicago area for lunch at Chevy's and then 4 hours later, we drove into Sturgeon Bay. We had such a fabulous time. Travis is now planning to buy 2 BMW motorcycles and tour the country on those! Crazy guy. There are so many cool places to see that we missed because of weather or just wanting to get to the next big thing. I'd love to be able to stop and see more stuff. Maybe when he retires. :)