A year back, I made my first cross-country trip. It was not exactly the New York-Seattle trip, but rather the South to North (Houston – Boston) trip. It worked as a good sample test for the real thing, considering it was the longest first trip with the husband. I got the wisest of words while planning it, from my mom-in-law. “A week long trip? The secret to a successful marriage is not to sit together in the car for more than two hours!”
Oh how right she was! We got into some of the biggest fights, but when i think back to the trip, those fights are not the ones that come to my mind. We drove through some of the nicest places, and some not so nice places too – but they gave us stories to share, memories to make and mental pictures to remember (lot of good ones at that!).
It was the end of fall, and I spent about a month (that’s more than the notice I gave my company) looking up places and routes to take. The best part of it all? We didn’t really stick to most of the plan we made! I am glad though, as we covered routes we might never have taken, and states we might not have visited otherwise. Packing for the trip was painful; what with me never having the heart to throw anything that was functional and useful (hey, to someone at least!), and the husband-man wanting to throw as much as possible, to drive with an empty car (ha! in your dreams!). I was packing till the last minute, and all it took H was one look at the mound of undecided things I had made in the middle of the house, and throw them out. I blame the outcome on having a dumpster quite close to the apartment.
I recommend using the Roadtrippers app/ website to make plans. They have great suggestions, city guides, highway guides, suggestions based on things to do, quirky things to do, offbeat routes, places to stay in, eat at, and rentals around the area.
The trip started in the northern suburb of Houston. I did a decent job of making my hotel reservations for the night. New Orleans,it was!We stayed in that part of the business district, that was close to all the activity. The first time around, we were at the Warehouse district, and now that we had already been here, we knew how to weave our plan better around this trip, and the things we liked to do this time around. We zeroed in on a few things; Cafe Du Monde, of course, for their super sugary beignets, Cafe-Au-Lait, but that wasn’t exactly breakfast! We walked the french market, did some shopping, added a lot of to-buys for a trip later on, and decided to have a creole seasoned breakfast at this small cafe that made a specially requested vegetarian (I can almost imagine all those disapproving head shakes) po-boy like sandwich just for me, and pickled bloody Mary! Yummmmm. After this it was time to hit the road again.
I drove the next 10 hours through Mississippi, Alabama and then Tennessee. Our original plan was to drive through Mobile, Alabama, into Florida, then Georgia and South Carolina. Hurricane Joaquin made the decision for us though, as we chose this alternate route. Being peak fall in the south, all hotels near the Great Smokeys were filled up, and we finally got a dingy hotel at Pigeon Forge. The one good thing about the terrifying room, is that in spite of the cold, cold morning, H and I got up at three in the morning, to make our way to our next stop, Water Rock Knob known for it’s amazing sun rise. I remember the drive – dark and scary, lest an animal should cross our path. The downside to it, we missed the fall colors in the Smokeys, the upside – we were on time to catch a beautiful sun rise as we entered the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Driving on the Blue Ridge parkway was a dream. It went close enough to some nice towns for us to catch good food, and see other things apart from nature itself! Asheville was one such city. I loved the young crowd, the quirky shops, and best of all, the best chaat-serving restaurant in all of USA! It’s not all the time, that you find pretty authentic Indian street food in the USA. The owner must be pretty Indian at heart. We loved it so much, that we went there a second night for dinner! The restaurant is called Chai Pani and I still dream of living in a city that has ‘Chai Pani’-level chaat. What’s more, we were even served chai while we waited an hour for our table! For your reference: http://www.chaipaniasheville.com/
We stayed an extra day at Asheville, because we wanted to check out the Biltmore estate, and do a few hikes around the area. The Romantic asheville website was a good source of things to do around here. reference: https://www.romanticasheville.com/attractions.html
As we hit the Blue Ridge parkway again, we decided to do the short hike to see the Crab Tree falls. Our smaller stops along the Parkway were to see the Linville Falls, NC and the Grandfather Mountain in the same area.
I wanted to have the B&B experience, and H didn’t quite like the idea of walking into someone else’s house at an odd hour that was comfortable to us, or sit with a stranger to have breakfast. So we met midway and chose to stay at a small, cozy inn at Boone, NC.
The rest of trip went by quicker, I want to say, because we had lesser road to cover, and took more stops.
We were supposed to stop at Roanoke for a night, but decided it was too soon for a stop. For the next stretch, we chose to drive the Skyline Parkway through the Shenandoah National Park and caught sunset here. H still loves some of the pictures he got of this sunset, as it helps us remember the beauty! What’s more, he even saw a mama bear and her cub! We have a fridge magnet commemorating this event! :p I refused to get out of the car though, lest the bear runs directly at us while with her cubs! I am reminded enough number of times about how I missed the sight!
For the next part, our original plan was to stop at Baltimore, MD and head home past Boston, MA. H then observed that we get enough travel deals through Southwest (we both are becoming pros at finding good deals, planning itineraries and packing for travel) to get to Maryland, and that we should do it some other time! So we drove through the rest of Virginia, a little bit of West Virginia, a lot Maryland, and some Delaware, to get to Philadelphia, PA.
We had a quirky boutique hotel in downtown Philly. We walked to all the attractions: The Liberty Bell, took a tour of the Independence Hall, visited Ben Franklin’s grave, Betsy Ross’ house and made our final stop at the Penn Museum. Being suckers for Egyptian archaeology, we both loved it. One more thing I would have loved to catch in PA, is the town of Hershey’s. A friend created the image of a quaint little village with Kisses for lamp shades, and I didn’t want to erase the picture in my head and still haven’t checked out pictures of it online. So I added this to my bucket-list for some other time.
By this time, the two of us were ready to see other known faces, what with enough fights along the way. We stopped to meet family and friends in New Jersey for the night, and half of the next day.
So what was next? Home, it was! That’s the story of my moving to the New England area, in October 2015.