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So it begins… (Day 1)

If this entry sounds just a tad bit fractured, it’s because it’s about 4:00 in the morning Eastern Time and I really should be asleep right now… However, I figured that I may as well treat you all to the very first blog entry to grace this site.

Mom and Karli, with Jake and me at the airport.So our adventure began rather uneventfully, Mom and Karli saw us off at the airport (to which we’d arrived a solid 4 to 5 hours early thanks to the “Patrick C Davies Rule of Flight” which maintains that if you arrive to the airport less than 4 hours before your departure time, you may as well not even pack), we checked our bags, and saw our way through security. Then came our first roadblock; our flight was scheduled to depart an hour and a half late. Fortunately, shortly after seeing this on the flight board at the airport, the airline called my Dad informing him of this unfortunate turn of events… Fantastic timing.

So we had an extra couples hours to kill at the airport, and kill them we did. Luckily, once it came time to board, we were treated to all the amenities that first class had to offer. Yes, we got to fly first class, apparently they were the only seats my dad could get with his frequent flier miles to the east coast at this time (no skin off my back). I know that every sitcom and stand-up comedian since the dawn of time has addressed the many differences between first class and coach, and I couldn’t help but think of the many comedic bits I’d heard as I watched things like Jake staring blankly at the hot towel the flightJake and I enjoying the amenities... attendant had just handed him, the way they let you sit down first and then parade the coach passengers in so you have to awkwardly look away while they behold your splendor, or the frightened looks on the flight attendants’ faces whenever a coach passenger somehow penetrated the cloth curtain and attempted to use the first class bathroom. All-in-all, it was a rather enjoyable flight, and thanks to the many entertainment choices available on the personal video sets provided, it went rather quickly as well.

Of course, it wasn’t meant to go so well, and we were soon to pay the price for such comfort…

We landed in Philadelphia at about 1:00 EST, and made our way to the baggage claim eager to be on our way. The flight was packed, and we all stood around the baggage claim belt like a herd of cattle waiting to be fed. Nothing came… Finally, after a good 20 min or The sweet release our luggage brings.so, the buzzer went off and the bags started rotating. Still, nothing came… After another 20 to 30 min of watching the same bags go by, and listening to Jake practically hyperventilate, convinced that our luggage was completely lost, the belt stopped. I’d probably told Jake at least six times to calm down and just wait before the belt started back up again, and we continued to stand eagerly inspecting each bag that rounded the corner. I don’t think the waiting would’ve been quite so bad, but it instead of it feeling as if I was standing next to a 280 pound guy in a sweat stained Phillies T-Shirt, it felt as if I were actually standing inside his armpit. Finally we had the sweet release of the arrival of our luggage, and we were out in to the (semi)fresh air of the Philadelphia night.

However, at 2 am, the directions to our hotel we received from the Hertz gate agent, coupled with the confusing directions spit out at us by the “NeverLost” navigation system in our car made for a rather exciting drive around Philadelphia. Never mind the fact that our Hotel was about a good 3 minutes away from the airport, and we made it there about a half hour after driving away from the airport; it was exciting nonetheless… Luckily I think it was too late for the Patrick C “lost whilst driving” stress levels to reach their fullest capacity.

Thus we arrived to our destination… Tomorrow we’ll probably spend a good half hour listing Pros and Cons of the ideas Dad’s come up with for the day, so I should probably rest up and prepare myself.

The Streets of Philadelphia… (Day 2)

So sure enough, we spent a good hour or so this morning voicing the pros and cons to a good three options or so my Dad had come up with in the few hours he’d been awake before us. The whole decision making process that takes place between the three of us better become a little more streamlined towards the end of this trip, or we’re in for some long and frustrating discussions… (seeing how Jake tried to get us to decide whether he should get 2 or 3 pieces of french toast, a task that was apparently above his own head, I don’t really see the decision making between the three of us getting much better)

By the time we got out of the hotel, it was pretty close to noon, so our carefully weighed decision between breakfast at ihop or Denny’s was starting to look a little meaningless. We thought about going to those places for lunch nonetheless, but the ihop was completely full (yes, an ihop completely full at noon… I’d never thought I’d see anything like that either.) So the preposterous notion of making a second decision on where to eat became necessary, and we selected a nearby Boston Market. Unsurprisingly, it was closed until 1 for “electrical reasons.” I have no idea what kind of electrical problems keeps a store closed for an extra couple hours, more like “let’s sleep in for a few extra hours on a weekend… reasons.” We lucked out on our third try though, as there was a 5 Guys Burger joint just up the road, so on the pre-trip advice of my friend Andrew, we enjoyed some flat out fantastic burgers there.

Luckily, we started to get the hang of the NeverLost available in the car, and my desire to chuck it out the window into oncoming traffic subsided as the day went on. We made our way into downtown Philadelphia, parked the car, and just started walking down the street looking for something historic.

Pretty cool town, that Philadelphia… We checked out this little courtyard where Benjamin Franklin’s home once stood, as well as a little Ben Franklin-centric museum. We were rather aimless in our wanderings at first, and found our way into the Liberty Museum. I’m not really sure why we picked it out, I think it was based solely on the fact that the name “Liberty Museum” just sounds like it would have all kinds of cool artifacts inside; that was, until the lady at the desk inside informed us that it was a museum of “mostly modern glass art portraying the theme of liberty.” I think that the awkwardness of the idea of turning around and exiting the building immediately upon hearing this was enough alone to guilt us into paying the “expected donation” and walking around looking at glass art for a few minutes. Luckily there were a few kind of cool things interspersed between the random new agey glass stuff. I must say that few things are quite as enjoyable as watching Patrick C analyze a work of modern glass art…

Needless to say, upon leaving the Liberty Museum, we made more of an effort to find a map of the historical areas in Philadelphia.

Once we found said map, finding Independence Hall was much easier, and while it was only open for guided tours (which were completely sold out for the day) , it was still pretty cool to walk around and look at the building the Declaration of Independence was signed in. For a mild history geek such as myself, and a major history geek such as my Dad, it was pretty cool to think about the fact that it was in that actual building almost 231 years ago to the day (August 2nd) that the Declaration was signed.

Right across the street was the Liberty Bell, which was pretty cool. It was a nice quick walk through the museum, a quick photo in front of the bell, and we were on our way.

On the way back to the car, we decided that we were going to drive out the the block where the Football, Baskeball and Baseball stadiums are located; and my Dad thought it a good idea to ask directions from a guy we passed on our walk to our parking spot. Now if there’s one thing I think we’ve learned for certain on this trip, it’s to trust only the use of the NeverLost or GoogleMaps when it comes to finding our way from location to location. I’m fairly certain that our Philadelphia friend we spoke to told us about 14 different turns to take and gave us a half a dozen landmarks to watch out for on our way out to the stadium. “Really? Is that all there is to getting to the stadium? That should be a breeze!”

Thanks to our trusty NeverLost GPS system, we did find our way to the stadium, and after taking pictures with Dr. J (who Jake was telling us currently lives in St. George, a claim that after I assured him it couldn’t be true, he backed up with the rock solid testimony of “his friend Parker’s cousin.” Well paint me sold… –don’t worry, google later affirmed that Dr. J is currently residing in Florida with his family) we decided to jog on over to the baseball stadium and see if there were any cheap tickets left for the game currently in action.

Can I just say going to a major league baseball game is one of the more amazing experiences you can have? I really can’t think of an adjective to describe what it’s like, but there’s just something about walking into a ballpark, it’s really an unmatched feeling. Patrick C was completely loving life, walking around with an air of excitement almost like a kid in Disneyland. I couldn’t really blame him either. I mean, even though it was a team none of us knew a thing about, and a stadium that while absolutely beautiful, isn’t necessarily mired in history, you couldn’t help but walk around with a sense of childlike awe. Buy us some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, cuz we didn’t care if we ever came back…

After walking around and watching the game from standing points around the lower level, we walked up to our seats and enjoyed the comfort of being surrounded by Philly fans. I was thoroughly entertained by the ones directly in front of us… About 4 kids, none older than 15, and all of them stereotypical Philly fans in training. Calling their own players “bums,” discussing which ones needed to be traded and why, and losing their minds at a sweet bases loaded 2 RBI double in the 8th inning to pad the Phillies lead over the in-state rival Pirates.

Needless to say, all three of us left the Ball Park quite happy with that last minute decision…

That happiness felt was short lived, however, as we got bogged down in traffic that didn’t go away. We left straight from the stadium to New York, and for the first hour or so, averaged a break-neck speed of about 15 mph… By about 5:00 we were all pretty hungry, so we pulled off the Turnpike at the first sight of any town that would appear to have restaurants of any sort. The first such town was Bordentown, New Jersey, and the only place we saw from the freeway exit to the next freeway entrance was a Denny’s. Dad winced at the notion of something other than brown rice or fat free protein powder, and took being forced to eat a Denny’s omelette (with cheese! gasp!) in stride. Although, we were all rather disappointed when we discovered that what we thought was the way back onto the freeway was actually just a road taking us to much better eating establishments out of the town…

Invigorated by our hearty Denny’s meals, we set forth ready to tackle a further onslaught of traffic with renewed vigor; vigor we needed in excess once we came upon New York. Our Hotel was right in the middle of downtown Manhattan, and I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate what a nightmare it was navigating the insanity that is New York City traffic. Somehow we survived being cut off and honked at by Eleven-Thousand cars and cabs, and finally found our way to the hotel. After checking in, and finding a former resident of Dimple Dell to be working behind the front desk at our hotel (yes, the world is indeed small), we made it up to our room to find our view to be overlooking Times Square. That’s right, directly outside our bedroom window… Pretty cool…

We left the hotel to walk up and down Broadway real quick to enjoy a very quick view of the sites. We even got to see Jake jaywalk right in front of an NYPD squad car while trying to reenact a scene from the office (watch it here). Only Jake would be so immersed in his attempt at an impersonation of the Office, that he’d forget he’s in downtown Manhattan and not North East Sandy…

Well, it’s rather late again, and I was dying all day today thanks to my lack of sleep, so I’d better get some in while I still can.

Start Spreadin’ The News… (Day 3)

Okay, off the top of my head, I’m going to say that there is a slight difference between Utah and Manhattan… Shocking, I Jake and me at Rockefeller Plazaknow, but throughout the entire day, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that something just felt the tiniest bit different.

This morning we didn’t get out until around noon or so, but you can rest assured that we made up any lost time today with the speed-tour style we attacked New York with today. We left the hotel, and just started walking on up towards Rockefeller Plaza. After a quick detour through the NBC store, scanning through any and all merchandise related to the Office. So we quickly took a picture of the Plaza, and then walked on over to the nearby St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Big Cathedrals like that have always been something I’ve really enjoyed, and this one was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen. We then decided to wander in the general direction of Central Park, with plans to find the Temple on the way…

So after another good walk, we knew we were somewhere near the temple, but weren’t quite sure exactly where it was. My Dad stopped and asked a nearby doorman if he knew where the LDS Temple was. The doorman gazed into the air and mouthed the words “LDS Temple?” to himself with a rather confused look on his face, then caught himself and said “the Mormon Temple??” We said that’s what we were looking for, and he took around the corner of his building and showed us the building directly next door to his, which just happened to be the Manhattan Temple. Literally right next door. We laughed at ourselves (well, mostly my Dad) and took another quick couple pictures.

On we went to Central Park, kind of a surreal experience to suddenly find yourselves surrounded by cement, urine and steel – to being surrounded by grass, dog feces and trees… We took a completely separate route home, and took in as much more of the New York experience as possible. We got back to the apartment, talked to our former neighbor to find out a good place to get some pizza for dinner, rested for half hour or so at the hotel, and then took a cab down to Little Italy to get some dinner from Lombardi’s Pizza. A cool little New York style Pizza Restaurant that was founded in 1905. After dinner, we walked down to Ground Zero, and then debated between taking the subway up to the Empire State Building or walking… Surprisingly enough, a list of pros and cons weren’t required, we simply decided to continue along the theme of the day. It was actually pretty cool walking throughout the entire city, as we went from borough to borough, you got a real sense of what those different parts of New York City were really like. At times, I nearly waited with bated breath to hear someone yelling “Yo Vinny!” — “Hey, I’m Wawlkin’ heeree!” — or any one of the many many New York stereotypes that come to mind.

We made it to the Empire State Building at a good time, thanks to the fact that our fearless tour guide, Patrick C Davies, only has two speeds: Extremely Fast, and Ridiculous. Fortunately Jake was with us, so we were only going extremely fast.

The Empire State Building was awesome. The line waiting got to be a little much after a while, but luckily after we rode the elevator up the first 80 floors, they gave us the option of skipping the line for the elevator going up the last 6, and taking the stairs if we so chose. With Mr. “I run up mountains” in charge, I’ll let you imagine how quickly we bolted out of the line and up the stairs. In all seriousness though, it was the much wiser decision to make. The nighttime skyline of the city was incredible, and well worth it.

By the time we got back to the hotel, we collapsed in a heap, ready to take a good, well-deserved rest… I guess that with only one full day to spend in New York, we saw almost as much as you could with the time we had available.

Well, once again, it’s almost 2 am, so I say to you; goodnight.

–I figured I’d leave you with two pictures that Patrick C took unprompted by Jake or myself… Draw your own conclusions as to what side of New York he’s looking to capture on film ;)

On the Road Again… (Day 4)

We got to sleep in this morning, which was nice. Once we got all packed up and ready to go, we left straight from the hotel to the road outta town.

We caught some pretty sweet views of the city on our way out, and then we were into Connecticut before we knew it. We decided to stop off in West Haven, Connecticut, having seen that it was home to a Rita’s Ice place (which our cousin Holly so kindly recommended we stop by). We pulled off the exit, and immediately saw a Wendy’s, which Jake promptly vetoed. As we drove further into town, it became more and more apparent that places to eat were becoming increasingly scarce. We got after Jake for ruining our chance at some food before getting our icy treats, but then we came upon Tom & Pat’s pizza. Now we had pizza the night before for dinner, but this place just looked too awesome to pass up… Right on the beach, and simply the epitome of a great little beach-side pizza place. While our lunch was in the oven, we walked down to the beach and walked around in the ocean for a bit. The water was surprisingly quite warm, and the atmosphere in the town was incredible.

We ate our lunch, and drove down to Rita’s. It was this frozen Italian Ice type place, and it was delicious. We walked over to a little bridge overlooking another beach and enjoyed the ices whilst enjoying the view. I’m fairly certain that Jake has made it his new mission to talk the parents into moving there.

We hit the road again, and after talking to my friend Suzy, who used to live in the Connecticut/Rhode Island area, we decided to take the long way to Boston, and drive through Newport, Rhode Island.

Another great decision, as the drive there was simply littered with gorgeous views. Newport itself was literally one of the most beautiful places I’d ever been to before; a quaint little town center, and an amazing road covered in the most impressive mansions you’ve ever seen. The road winded down towards the ocean, and we pulled into a public beach. This one wasn’t quite as traditional sandy beach as the last, but with the portions of boulder outcrops and enormous manors looking out in the distance, it was certainly more impressive. Not too far off-shore, was another impressive mansion sitting on a tiny private island… Simply amazing.

We got back into the car, drove up through Rhode Island, and on our way to Boston. Once we reached our hotel, we decided to drive down to Cambridge and see Harvard and the Charles River. It was a perfect time of day, and the view of the river and the Boston skyline were incredible.

All in all, it was a gorgeous day. Apologies that there was nothing too entertaining today, but it was easily the most scenic day we’d had thus far.

Said I Think I’ll Go To Boston… (Day 5)

What a day… Let me start out by saying that I absolutely love Boston. Easily my favorite of the cities we’ve gone to thus far. I can’t exactly put my finger on exactly what it was about the city that’s enthralled me the way it has; whether it be the fact that it’s simply a gorgeous city, the ravenous sports fans, the history, the collegiate atmosphere, some undefinable trait, or a combination of all of those things and then some — I’m sold on Boston.

I started the day out with a run. I hadn’t been at all this trip, which was making for a long stretch between runs for yours truly, and that was starting to make me pretty unhappy. It kind of came back to bite me, what with all the walking and standing we had planned for the day, but it was worth it. We left the hotel, and found our way to an underground parking place towards the center of town. We emerged right by what’s called “the freedom trail” — a path leading you throughout the city from one historic site to another — since we were right there, we figured we’d grab a map of it, and start following. For some insane reason, my Dad decided that despite the fact he’s been to Boston several times, that it was a good idea for me to take the lead with the map. This proved to be a somewhat unwise idea when I ended up taking us in the exact opposite direction we were supposed to go (after that first mishap, I was able to get my bearings, and had no troubles the rest of the day).

The path was relatively neat… We saw a couple cool old churches, Paul Revere’s house and such. Eventually it lead us over a bridge and up to the Bunker Hill monument, which closely resembled the Washington monument. We saw that you were allowed to climb the 290 steps to the top if you wanted, so obviously Patrick C. decided he wanted to try running to the top… Jake and I elected to run the first 70 or so and walk the rest; once we caught our breath, the view from the top of the monument was worth well the burning thighs and sore feet. We left the monument, walked to the harbor and took a quick look at Ol’ Ironsides, and then it was time for more walking. By this time, Jake was ready to put an end to the walking portion of the tour and start taking cabs, but with Patrick C. on a call and in full stride, he was out of luck (to his credit, he kept along like quite the trooper).

We spent the next few hours walking through various parts of Boston, just enjoying the city itself. As the clock neared 7, you could practically feel the city start to come alive. The excitement seemed to radiate through the streets, as crowds began to form from out of nowhere, funneling towards Fenway.

I can’t really say that I’ve quite experienced anything like my first game at Fenway… Our tickets were in the standing room only section, but to put it as the guy who was walking towards the stadium with us did when my Dad asked him if those were crappy seats: “You’re in Fenway… The Sox are playin… I don’t really get where the question is here…” Once we walked through the gate and into Yawkey Way, it was like you’d arrived at the world’s largest family reunion. It didn’t matter who you were, or where you came from, as long as you were wearing some type of Red Sox gear – you were family. We got some Fenway food, walked on up to where we were to stand for the rest of the game, and stood back to soak in the baseball goodness. Even if the game was no good, the experience would’ve been a lasting memory on its own; but the Sox had a 4 run 7th inning to come from behind to win the game, which sweetened the experience all the more.

After the game, we walked from the Ballpark back into town and to our car. I’m fairly certain we were all running on fumes by that point, and incredibly relieved to be able to sit down for the first time all day once we reached our car. We got back to the hotel pretty late, and of course I’m up even later, so I’ll put an end to this entry now. None of the pictures are really going to do this day/this town/or this game any justice (and the camera died during the baseball game, so we didn’t get as many pics there as we would’ve liked), but it’s days like today that trips like this are made for.

(Apologies that this entry was also pretty void of humor or entertainment value — I’m way too tired to be clever tonight)

‘n So Was the Turnpike From Stockbridge to Boston… (Day 6)

Okay, so we didn’t drive on the Turnpike all the way to Stockbridge, but we did drive on plenty of Turnpikes, and we did drive out of Boston today…

So we decided to visit Boston College on our way out of town, and of course our handy NeverLost (which has saved our lives countless times throughout this trip) decided that when we asked it to direct us to Boston College, we obviously meant for it to take us to a satellite campus of the College. After several minutes of confused driving, we realized we weren’t quite where we were supposed to be, and made our way to the actual Boston College campus. Like pretty much everything else here, it was pretty sweet… Patrick C. was an old pro, having been there a few years ago to watch our cousin Meagan’s husband Paul play football at his time there as QB.

The day before, while during our power tour of Boston, we had stumbled upon a stand for a Danish pastry shop; so today we decided to stop by the shop itself. One of the reasons we stopped by Boston College was because it was supposed to be on the way to the pastry shop, but thanks to the extremely absurd traffic patterns of Cambridge on a Thursday morning/afternoon, it took us quite a while to get there. I must say that once we did find our way to the shop, the extra time spent in Boston was worth it… Apparently the owners of the shop brought in two genuine Danish pastry bakers to run the store (none of which were there today, unfortunately) and the quality of the pastries showed the genuineness (yes, that’s a word, I looked it up to make sure) of it all. They were definitely the real deal, and I made sure to buy plenty of all kinds, so Jake and my Dad got to taste the full spectrum of Danish goodness. Of course, it turned into Justin eating like three full pastries all on his own, which resulted in that unpleasant feeling of being packed to the gills with custard which I hadn’t felt in several years…

This also meant the unpleasantness of deciding what we were going to do next… With the impeccable skills of decision making contained between the three of us (which I’ve already elaborated on earlier in the blog), we knew we were in for quite the morning with that decision looming on the horizon. Patrick C even resorted to turning off the AC and letting us bake in the 97 degree heat until we reached a verdict. Of course, he was the first to buckle and turn it back on. We finally decided that although we all really wanted to see either Palmyra or the Maine-Vermont-New Hampshire area, we were worried that going to either was going to keep us far too rushed for the rest of the trip. So off we were towards the DC area…

After stopping by the Boston Temple when it surprised us off the side of the freeway (we were lucky to escape the world’s chattiest woman there and get back on the road, to be honest with you…), the rest of the drive southwest was more or less uneventful. I gave Patrick C a couple hours break to sleep while I took the wheel, but most of the driving was done by him. Mostly the entire day was spent on the road, but the views were incredible the entire way throughout.

We decided that Harrison, Pennsylvania was likely our best bet for the place to stay the night, seeing as DC itself was a little too far out, so the logical place for us to stop for dinner was none other than Scranton, Pennsylvania. Jake was more than pleased to be able to have dinner at a restaurant located within the very Steamtown Mall mentioned in The Office. Aside from the fact that the surrounding countryside was actually quite scenic, the city of Scranton was more or less exactly how you’d picture it to be… That is, if you’re the kind of person who goes around trying to picture how Scranton would be, as I know so many of you are…

Next thing we knew, we were in Harrisburg, and ready to call it a night. Now I’m almost done with the entry for today and my butt is 100% asleep.

Lovely.

…Older Than the Trees, Younger Than the Mountains… (Day 7)

I can tell we’ve been on the road for quite a while now, because I just had to sit and think for several minutes about where we were this morning so I could start writing the events of the day. I guess with as much as we did in Harrisburg, it should come as quite the shock that I forgot that’s where we’d stayed last night…

After a quick exit and a relatively short drive, we were in Gettysburg. My Dad and I had visited Gettysburg a couple years ago during a trip to DC, but since it was just south of where we were and Jake had never been there before, we decided to visit again. We looked around the museum for a little while, I’d forgotten how interesting I found that museum, and was pleasantly surprised with how fascinating the museum itself remained the second time around. The actual drive through the grounds was still as scenic as I’d remembered, and was pretty entertaining for geeks such as my Dad and me. This time we were wise enough to actually drive the car from location to location, last time we were in Gettysburg we parked the car at the museum and walked all over the grounds. This made for a much quicker and less sweaty tour.

After checking out Gettysburg, we put things to a vote, and decided not to go into DC after all. While it is truly one of my favorite cities in the world, we decided that since we’d already spent quite a while in DC just a couple years ago, and since we really didn’t have a whole lot of time to do much in town if we were to go there, that we’d drive down to the Charlottesville area to see Monticello and that whole area instead. Shortly after hitting the road, we checked the blog from Patrick C’s phone, and saw that his co-worker Matt had left a comment with a suggestion of a place to visit. Turned out that with our decision to bypass DC, it fit rather nicely into our route, so we decided to take him up on his idea of visiting Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

We met up with Matt at the park entrance, and took a bus down into the town. Matt served as a great tour guide, and led us through the town pointing out several interesting facts and gorgeous views. The town and area were simply stunning, one overlook of the confluence Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers inspired Thomas Jefferson to say that it alone was worth the trip across the Atlantic — it was definitely worth the trip a little further down the freeway…

After walking through the various corners of town, admiring the views, and enjoying some ice cream, we thanked Matt for the suggestion, and made our way towards Charlottesville. The drive was absolutely beautiful, and before we knew it, we were already there…

Since we made good time, we decided to see the Bourne Ultimatum; but when got our tickets, we realized that we were actually quite hungry. We didn’t have a ton of time, so when we hit up the nearest restaurant (Chili’s), we asked the waiter to help us out by making it as quick as possible. He did just that, and we had probably the fastest dinner in the history of Chili’s dining existence. We made it to the movie on time, and despite the fact that the theater probably hasn’t been too rockin’ since the 1980s, and the fact that it smelled like stale urine when we first walked in, the movie was still extremely enjoyable.

It’s already 2 am, and Jake and Patrick C are already fighting over who gets the most bed space… A fight that will likely go well into tomorrow morning.

(Day 8)

Today’s entry isn’t going to be anything special, just as a forewarning… I’m kind of tired, and I’m just not fully into it tonight. Apologies.

This morning we got up and actually had the free breakfast offered at the hotel, but only just in time to get packed up and checked out in time. We decided to stop by the University of Virginia campus, seeing how we were only a few miles away, and it was pretty well worth the stop. The campus, as well as the surrounding town were pretty sweet… Jake decided he’d rather sit in the car and bake, apparently his incident waking up yelling in the middle of the night had left him a little grumpy…

So on we went to Monticello, the former residence of Thomas Jefferson. It was a pretty cool place, much cooler once I realized that it’s the building on the back of the nickel. Well, we walked all over the grounds, and looked at most everything up there, but we still had about an hour until the time our tour of the house began. Luckily, Patrick C had left his wallet in the car, and seeing how we came from the parking lot to the house via bus, he had (got) to walk/run to the car and back (which I’m sure he would’ve rather done than sit around, waiting for our turn). We nearly decided to turn back and forgo the actual tour through the house, but figured that since we’d come, we may as well stay and go. The inside of the house was pretty interesting, but even more entertaining for me was watching my Dad pace and fidget uncomfortably through the tour as our tour guide burst at the seams with sunshine and enthusiasm.

After Smiles McGee finished leading the group tour, we walked past Jefferson’s tombstone and back to the car. Then we continued the drive towards the ocean… We stopped for lunch, and again for gas. During the stop for gas, I was using one of those gas station restrooms that are made for only one person at a time usage, and apparently the lock didn’t work, because when I was washing my hands, some guy walked in. As if it wasn’t awkward enough in the confined space of the tiny restroom, apparently the guy didn’t get the picture as to what type of restroom we were dealing with, and he just started doing his thing with me right there… Needless to say, I left before waiting to dry my hands.

We got stuck in some pretty bad traffic just outside of Norfolk, but made it to our hotel at a relatively good time. We checked in, and decided to drive down to Virginia Beach to check it out. It seemed like a pretty happenin’ place… A little too much for Patrick C’s taste… So we decided that one night in the area would be enough, and tomorrow we start heading down the outer banks.

Can’t You See The Sunshine? Can’t You Just Feel The Moonshine? (Day 9)

So Patrick C was definitely not a fan of the entire Virginia Beach area. He sure made that much abundantly clear, as the further we drove, the more he’d announce how much better he felt.

We left without much of an idea as to where exactly we were going to stay, luckily my Mom has been the world’s best travel agent, and she was working furiously at finding us a place… We left a little later on, as we’d all slept in. My Dad set his phone alarm so we’d be able to wake up and go to church, but he apparently had it set to “weekday mode” and it didn’t go off. Probably the biggest disappointment for all of us, as we were all looking forward to a nice meeting in small town Virginia/North Carolina.

The first place we stopped was right as you begin the journey down the Outer Banks, Kitty Hawk – site of the first successful flight by the Wright brothers. Kind of neat to see, almost as cool as the fact that I was in Kitty Hawk, and I am a Kittyhawk (meaning a graduate of Altara Elementary School, home of the Kittyhawks… That’s right!)

So we began our trip down the Outer Banks, and I have to say, it’s pretty dang cool out here. Unfortunately, most of the time dunes obstructed the view of the beach itself, despite the fact the road is probably only 50 yards or so away from the ocean; but the towns and houses along the way were scenic enough in their own right. The more we drove down the Banks, the crazier the whole area seemed, just a long thin sandbar running all the way down the coastline. At one point, we drove past a huge sand dune that I later read has moved so much over time that its buried a hotel and a miniature golf course. The whole area seemed very similar to parts of the west coast of Denmark, so the combination of the unique scenery and the nostalgia of the similarity to West Jylland made me enjoy it all the more…

We hit the town of Hatteras, and showed up towards the very front of the line for the ferry ride to Ocracoke. Before we knew it, the 40 min ride was over, and we were driving down to the south end of the island. My Mom pulled through in pure Lisa fashion, and had found us a room in a bed and breakfast in town — She really outdid herself yet again. Truly an amazing travel agent to say the least.

We walked around town, and enjoyed the quaintness of the island. Patrick C surely feels much better about Ocracoke than he did Virginia Beach. We’re excited to spend a day relaxing on the beach tomorrow, Ocracoke’s beach has recently been named the top beach in the US for 2007 (and yes, that includes Hawaii…), so it will be the perfect spot to unwind after all our driving and power-touring…

The Outer Banks. (Day 10)

It was a pretty good feeling to get up this morning and know we didn’t have to get in the car and drive for several hours. Instead we helped ourselves to some of the Breakfast portion of the Bed and Breakfast at which are currently staying. We got a pretty early start to the morning for once, and Jake was not about to let the day go to waste; finally he had something he was really motivated to get out the door early for.

The beach is within walking distance of where we’re staying, but an even shorter drive and we were there, ready to see if the “top beach” of 2007 was all it’s cracked up to be. Now I’m no beach expert, but it really was pretty dang nice. The beaches were pretty big, the water was quite warm, and it wasn’t terribly crowded. The portion of the beach we were at is the only part of the beach watched by a lifeguard, the other 14 miles of the beach is come as you are and likely pretty desolate. Now, while it may not be the traditional Hawaii beach (we know girls, there’s nothing like Hawaii), it was just as enjoyable as any beach I’d ever been to before.

We got there, and I went directly into the water while Jake went directly to his castle constructing…

After spending a good hour or so of, ummmm, (I can’t think of a word to describe “playing in the waves” that doesn’t sound completely ridiculous) my Dad and I decided to start digging an awesome pit. We fought off the incoming tide quite valiantly until a little water found a way in and we were doomed.

After digging, we enjoyed watching Jake flail about while being: chased by a bee, “pinched by a crab,” knocked around by waves, being hit by small waves, and anything else that might make the little guy fall over himself in as awkward a manner as imaginable. Much laughing ensued, and I just had to egg it on by throwing him around in the waves for a bit.

Jake then took his turn goofin around in the waves, Patrick C took a nap, and I went for a nice long walk up the beach. That’s one of the cooler parts of this whole beach, is the fact that for about 14 miles north of where we were was straight empty beach…

After a good 5 hours on the beach, we called it a day. We decided on an early dinner/late lunch, a linner if you will… Thanks to our handy map, we found a restaurant called Howard’s Pub. It was pretty good stuff, my Dad and I enjoyed some fresh Mahi Mahi and of course some Hush Puppies… After linner we went home and enjoyed much needed showers, then just kinda relaxed in the room for a while.

We went into town around sunset and got some ice cream, and I must say that I have a major grudge with the particular ice cream place in Ocracoke we visited. I was looking quite forward to a good soft serve ice cream after a full day in the sun, and after my dad got a two scoop cone that was approximately the size of Jake’s head, I was quite excited. Apparently “I’d like the largest size soft serve you have” is Ocracokian for “please give me a wuss sized cup with an amount of vanilla soft serve to make a McDonald’s kiddie cone look incredibly filling.” I guess to look at it in a positive light, at least I was able to finish my ice cream… Patrick C had to eventually surrender to his cone and toss it in a dumpster.

We did our best to beat the mosquitoes home, seeing how the 30 some-odd bites I already had from last night were plenty enough on their own… Jury’s still out on whether or not we were successful, by now my arms and legs are pure itch.

Tomorrow we’ll be on the road again, and I’ll be sad to leave the quaint secluded life of Ocracoke behind, but I also look forward to continuing our journey.

Oh My Sweet Carolina… (Day 11)

Got up earlier than planned this morning… We were planning on catching the 12:00 ferry from Ocracoke to Cedar Island, but Patrick C got up early and found out there was a ferry leaving at 9:30, and decided we’d take a shot at making that one to give us a little more time.

Took a quick shower and went out to grab breakfast real quick before we had to leave. I joined a nice old couple by the name of Frank and Rosie, who had just got done talking to my dad and brother while they ate breakfast. They were incredibly friendly, and both spoke with a great southern drawl that has been one of the best parts of the southward portion of our journey. That true southern hospitality…

We packed up in a hurry, and made it with time to spare to the early ferry. Now two hours and fifteen minutes in a ferry sure sounds like a long time, but it was actually not bad at all. The constant breeze kept it nice and cool, it was nowhere near a full ferry, plenty of room to walk around, and an air-conditioned cabin. Before we knew it, land was on the horizon, and we were back on the road. We took a quick detour and drove around Harker’s Island, it was an enjoyable continuation of our final tour of the coastal Carolina area before we were to head back to the mainland for good.

Most of the rest of the day was spent driving. We hit up Raleigh, and stopped by the NC State practice fields to say a quick hello to Paul, who was in the middle of football practice. He took a couple minutes out of his schedule to say hi. We were lucky to get a picture of the event, seeing how my Dad was too nervous to bring a camera in, worried that the team might think we were spying on them. A man with his two sons carrying in a digital camera, the typical spies… Paul was able to convince him that it was okay to bring one in…

We continued a short way on up to Durham, checked into the hotel, got some dinner (where Jake spilled about 3 slices of pizza worth of cheese and sauce in his lap), and that was more or less our night…

Look for a similar travel day tomorrow.

In Georgia Nights Are Softer Than a Whisper… (Day 12)

This is going to be the shortest entry thus far… Hands down… Or at least the one with the fewest pictures… Really not much more than a lot of driving today.

First thing we did before we left Durham was stop off at the official Durham Bulls (a minor league baseball team) store so I could buy a hat. As I’m sure at least one or two of you have noticed, I’m often wearing a different hat in many of the pictures you’ve seen throughout the course of this blog. I decided very early that I was going to buy a hat representing each state we’ve stayed in, and North Carolina was proving to be a bit difficult. I knew that if I got a UNC or Duke hat, that I would never wear it, so when the thought of getting a Durham Bulls hat came to mind, it was perfect.

After the hat purchasing, we started one of the longer drives of the trip thus far. It was a pretty drive, I was surprised by the amount of pine trees in the area, guess I just always figured those weren’t really southern type trees, but there were plenty of em all over the place. The other kind of cool thing to notice along the drive were these huge sections of trees absolutely covered in these ivy vine deals.

I took the wheel for a while after lunch, and I have to say–I hate South Carolina drivers. I was probably cut off at least 3 separate times, and watched some of the more moronic attempts at freeway maneuvering that I’d ever seen before. I was happy to cross over into Georgia where some sanity seemed to return to the roads.

We stopped by Lifetime Fitness (or as Patrick C refers to it “Life Center,” “Life Place,” “Fitness Center,” or any other combination of words that don’t add up to the actual name. I guess you can’t really blame the guy, he only goes there twice a day, 6 days a week) to get the information regarding the hotel that my cousin Brian and his wife April were kind enough to hook us up with (one of the many sweet perks they get at the job). Was good to see them again, it’d been quite some time… We checked into the hotel, caught a movie, and then met up with Brian and April for dinner at (you guessed it!) 5 Guys. I’m fairly certain they’ve become the official sponsors of this trip of ours…

Dinner was good, we sat around and shot the breeze for a while, always a good time, and loosely planned out our day tomorrow. We spent the drive home continuing our never-ending debate with Jake about whether or not the woman’s voice eminating from our NeverLost Navigation unit (we named her Rita) says “you have arrived” or “you have arrive” — Jake is convinced that she says “you have arrive,” while Patrick C and I would argue that out off all the words she’s programmed to say, that’s probably the only actual full phrase – so wouldn’t make much sense for them to have it recorded incorrectly… He still won’t yield, but Jake has been “right” about pretty much all his other claims this trip thus far, so we’d be fools to doubt his superior knowledge.

Georgia On My Mind. (Day 13)

Well, I hate to say this, but there are already SEVERAL problems with this entry, and I haven’t even finished writing the first sentence yet. See, I have to get up in about 4 hours so we can get ready, packed, and on our way to the airport to catch our flight home. 4 hours isn’t a whole lot of sleep, and I’m pretty shot right now as is… The other problem is that the internet at the hotel we’re at right now is incredibly stingy. Patrick C bought it with his laptop, and it won’t let mine hook up unless we buy it again… That wouldn’t be so much of a problem if Patrick C’s mac and my PC decided not to be friends. See, I had to edit all the pictures on my laptop, throw them onto a thumbdrive and then pull them down on my Dad’s laptop. Problem I run into now though, is this bad boy has no FTP program, and I’m not about to stay up all night trying to find one that works on a mac, and the only other alternative I have is to upload the photos one at a time, which it’s far too late to even consider doing. So I’m just going to write this post without the pictures, and upload them when we get back to SLC tomorrow morning. Apologies to all those who are looking forward to them (the Atwood family especially).

(Okay, so turns out that Patrick C woke up at like 2 AM because my laptop was making noise, so he read the blog, saw that I couldn’t upload, and was up the rest of the night trying to figure out how to FTP on this mac. Silly Patrick C….)

I really wish I was conscious enough to write a post to do today a little more justice, as it was a pretty cool day. We left the fantastic free hotel Brian and April hooked us up with, and drove out to see their house. It was a pretty nice place, fun to see Brian slowly turning into Mark with his little projects as a homeowner. We couldn’t help but laugh and make that mental comparison when April shared a story of him fertilizing the lawn in the middle of the night immediately after they got it. After receiving the grand tour and hanging out for a while, we all went out and got breakfast at the Waffle House. Brian and April said that you haven’t really visited Georgia until you’ve eaten breakfast at a Waffle House, and as there seemed to be about one every other block, you couldn’t really argue with that logic.

After enjoying our Waffle House waffleness, Brian and April returned to work, and we left to head on up to Stone Mountain, which was suggested to us by Brian and April. It was a pretty amazing place. Kind of crazy to just be driving through normal Georgia forestland and have an 800+ foot solid granite boulder come into view. An enormous carving of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee on the side of the mountain made the view just that more impressive.

After looking at the carving on the face, we drove around and decided to hike to the top. This decision was mostly a Patrick C one (although I helped it along, since I knew he really wanted to but felt guilty at the fact Jake wasn’t too stoked about the idea). The hike was pretty nice, but I gotta say, it was a hot one today, and we were all fairly soaked in sweat by the time we reached the top. Jake, the poor kid, had been about pushed to his limits… Patrick C, in true Patrick C fashion, decided he wanted to run to the top, and I did my best to push a quicker pace to the top (though I wasn’t foolish enough to run), and Jake was a trooper and kept right up to the end. Although he did his fair share of voicing exactly what he thought about the decision to hike up the mountain and how much he “loathed” (to use an exact quote) the experience.

The view from up top made the whole thing worth it, you could even see downtown Atlanta on the horizon… We enjoyed the view for a while, and rested up until Jake was (somewhat) ready and willing to head back down.

We reached the car and drove into the city to check into our new hotel. We then rested for a little while, and drove into the city to check out Olympic Park and parts of downtown Atlanta. It was pretty neat, and we were even lucky enough to receive suggestions of places to visit by a couple nice men who only needed a couple bucks for various things. The second guy even talked Utah Jazz basketball with us for a while, before asking us to all hold hands in a circle and pray with him. Patrick C promised we’d pray for him in the car and just gave him the cash without the public prayer. Although, I would’ve given a few bucks to witness Patrick C holding hands and praying with someone in the middle of a city.

We then drove on up to Brian and April’s area to find a place to eat, they were going to try and make it, but three of Brian’s coworkers weren’t at work for these days, and left the poor guy swamped. We enjoyed a nice southern cookin joint at his request though, and they were able to sneak away from work and meet up with us at Dairy Queen for some shakes after.

It was fun to be able to hang out with them while we were out here, probably one of the cooler parts of the trip, they really seemed to be doing well and tearing it up here in Atlanta.

Well, we drove back and now here I am, listening to my Dad snore up a storm and knowing that I have to get up in less than 4 hours. Should be lovely.

Home Again.

Well, after getting up at 4:45 AM, rushing to the airport, sitting on the runway in Atlanta for over an hour before we took off, and flying back across the country, we were back home.  As usual after long trips such as ours, it was sad to see it all end, but we were all pretty ready to get back home.

We ended up driving a total of 2,405 miles from the time we left Philadelphia until we dropped off the rental car.  That’s further than driving from Salt Lake City to Boston…  Definitely an incredible trip, and I wish I had a more significant note to end this epic series of blog entries on, but it’s not really there.  Thanks for following the trip, hope you enjoyed hearing about our (sometimes monotonous to read, I’m sure) adventures.

Goodnight.

(A map of the entire route of our trip)