Musings from home after my 2 week road trip

I traveled 4400 miles in 15 days, and crossed state lines 21 times. Only two of those states were new to me – New Jersey and West Virginia. I think I’ve been in 44 of the lower 48 states now.

My time on the road, driving, was about 80 hours. I slept on 2 couches and a day bed for free, 3 hotels, and 9 airbnb’s. I spent $2200, about half of that for lodging, around $400 for gas, the rest for food and miscellaneous. Not bad, really, I had budgeted $3000.

I feel overstuffed with travel, kind of like that overstuffed feeling you get after a Thanksgiving feast. You look forward to the meal, enjoy it immensely, and afterwards think you might not ever want to eat again. That’s kind of how I feel about travel right now. Stuffed. Not only did I take this trip, I spent two months in Chattanooga and two months in Carson City (for work) this year. I looked forward to it, enjoyed it, but right now, I don’t want to make any more travel plans!

The best food I ate was that prepared by my kids. The rest of the time I struggled to find anything that was really good. I ate in the car on the road for lunch quite a bit – leftover pizza, cookies, and apples. The apples I picked in Massachusetts saved my life, I think. I got a really bad pizza in Niagara Falls. I’ve learned to really dislike eating out. Yesterday at home was lovely. Oatmeal for breakfast, omelette with the eggs and veggies I was given in New York for lunch, and a delicious butternut squash soup made by my husband for dinner.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live other places, and staying in airbnb’s gives a tiny taste of that. They were mostly great, but a couple of the beds were like marshmallows. My favorite, I think, was the one near Goshen, NY with the fabulous patio.

Most places have keurig coffee makers.I really dislike that kind of coffee. I did bring my French Press and supplies, but water heated in the microwave for coffee just isn’t the same. I was glad for coffee shops.

In this not quite post pandemic world, masks are still a thing. In some places, all the signs were down, in others, masks are required. I pretty much wore my mask when I went inside anywhere. Why not? Even though I’ve been vaccinated, it certainly doesn’t hurt me or anyone else to wear a mask, and it could make a difference for someone.

I didn’t do anything “touristy”. Even when I went to Niagara Falls, I only paid for parking, and spent time in the public areas. I didn’t go to museums or other attractions, although I sometimes enjoy doing so. Sleeping in a different place every night and having those experiences was really what I wanted out of this trip, after seeing my kids of course!

So now, I will nest at home. I will enjoy cooking, crocheting, playing with the grandkids, embracing the uncertainty of life as it unfolds. I will start working full time again, after the first of the year. I plan to keep writing here, just not as often.

And, no doubt, at some point, I will be on the road again.

Road Trip Day 15 – 800 miles across 4 states to home

I didn’t plan to drive nearly 800 miles in a day, but that is what I did. I write this from home, where I slept last night. I have been writing this blog in the evenings, but last night I was pretty exhausted. This morning, I am sitting in my happy place, drinking coffee.

I didn’t leave the Secret Lodge Bed and Breakfast until 9:30 am, because I wanted to have breakfast! and it was satisfying, as was my stay there. The view is unbelievable.

The previous couple of days I had been looking around for a place to stop on my last night – I was thinking Baton Rouge area. But I had nothing, so decided to just drive until I got tired, and get a hotel. I set the google map to home, and headed south.

The weather was clear, the road was primarily straight, and with minimal stops for gas and bathroom, (I ate my leftover Mellow Mushroom pizza in the car as I drove) I found myself crossing the Mississippi in Baton Rouge at 5:30. I had two more hours of daylight, I felt good, and I kept going. By then, I was sure I would drive all the way. There were no sights I wanted to see except home and husband.

I drove straight towards a beautiful sunset, made even more so with the reflections off the water in the Atchafalaya Basin. No pictures except the images in my mind. I broke my rule about driving after dark, knowing that the rest of the way home was familiar territory on Interstate 10 to Houston. I entered Texas around 8 pm, and it was only 2 1/2 hours til home. I was sustained by apples from Massachusetts and cookies from Chattanooga.

I broke all records, mine anyway, on this drive. I hardly stopped except for necessities. The only other time I had driven a long way without stopping for a real sleep was when I drove my oldest daughter to Chicago to go to college, circa 2005. That distance is 1100 miles, and on the way back, I drove all night, stopping at rest areas for short naps. My youngest daughter was with me in the back seat, but way too young to drive. That was really just stupid. This time, I knew I would be home by 10:30, or I would have stopped.

The worse part of the drive was through the city. Had it been daytime, I would have taken more northern roads to avoid it, but it felt safer to be on the interstate after dark.

It was wonderful to be greeted by my loving husband, and sleep in my own bed. I have no pictures from the road yesterday, so here are some flowers blooming in my yard.

Road trip Day 14 – Through Tennessee, a corner of Georgia, sleeping in Alabama tonight.

I enjoyed the loft in Elizabethton, but the bed was like sleeping in a marshmallow. I packed and left early, found a coffee shop down the street, and hit the road. The mountains of Tennessee are really beautiful, but I didn’t stop to take pictures because I wanted to get to Chattanooga by lunchtime.

I did take a short detour and went to an antique store in Sweetwater. I bought a little figurine, but it is in my car and I didn’t take a picture of it. I liked these two displays:

I spent two months in Chattanooga earlier this year, for a contract job, and really enjoyed the old part of the city, the restaurants, and the parks. I would love to return for an extended period. It’s not the same, just passing through, but I went to my favorite haunt, Niedlov’s Bakery, and got some cookies. Being a Monday, and a holiday to boot, the place I wanted to get Italian food was closed, so I got a Mellow Mushroom pizza, knowing that it would be good, and I would have leftovers.

Then I got here. I am at a bed and breakfast called The Secret Lodge.It was built in 1965 and was considered a mansion at the time, with a rooftop pool. It is perched on top of a mountain in northern Alabama, and has the most gorgeous views. I’m just gonna put a bunch of pictures here.

I’ve got my pizza, a complementary glass of wine, and a gorgeous view. Perfect!

Road Trip Day 13 – South through Virginia to Tennessee

It was a misty morning in the little corner of West Virginia where I spent the night. I had decided to get on the road as early as possible, so packed my gear and lugged it down the twenty steps. I could hear a creek, so took a quick walk, but couldn’t get close to it because of the foliage, but I did see cows.

I grabbed a cup of coffee and an apricot bearclaw at this coffee shop down the road in Winchester, VA.

It was a beautiful drive, too misty to see much, but it gradually cleared and I enjoyed my drive through the Appalachians very much. I stayed on the interstate, not stopping much, and did manage a couple of pictures.

I’m in Elizabethton, TN tonight, staying in a studio loft in an old building next to the Doe River, which is a branch of the Watauga River. I can see the river and the covered bridge that the town is famous for, from my window. I took a little walk through town to get some food (disappointing) and walked through the bridge.

I’m really loving going to new places and seeing new sights, but I am also so ready to be home again.

Road Trip Day 12 – Five states to West Virginia

After enjoying morning coffee and a sunrise on the fabulous patio of my airbnb in Chester, NY, I got on the road and made a deliberate detour to New Jersey, because it is a state I’ve never been to. I took back roads and went through Port Jervis, NY, where I had to stop and take a picture of this restaurant:

The little piece of rural New Jersey, was really beautiful and I did manage to get a few pictures:

Still on the backroads, I entered Pennsylvania and stopped for a bit here:

I knew I’d be driving all night if I didn’t quit stopping every few miles, so got back on the interstate. I drove through a corner of Maryland, then got to West Virginia, and took the back roads again for a bit, and had to listen to John Denver sing Country Roads (take me home)!

The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are astounding, but the roads were narrow so I didn’t stop until I arrived at another wonderful airbnb in Bunker Hill. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get some pictures.