Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vacation Part 2

When we woke up on day 3 the weather was cold & dreary and we decided to get the heck outta there. We stopped at a few places on our way off the Outer Banks, hung around Roanoke Island for a little while. It was a good time, but hard to walk around outside because it was COLD. It's hard to remember anything else we did besides be cold. 

When we headed out, the bridge was closed, so we decided to take the scenic route down 264 and see what we found. The answer was nothing. Miles and miles and miles of NOTHING. But it was pretty, that's for sure. We saw a lot of abandoned houses, and every town we came to seemed to all have the same stores. There was something both sad and comforting about that. We talked of someday having a retreat down there, driving distance of the beach, plenty of beautiful scenery around. 

Driving by an Antiques store with lots of stuff on the porch, we decided to stop in! The older lady holding down the shop was super nice. Apparently the store has been in the family for 110 years, though it wasn't always an antique store, it just naturally evolved as their personal collection grew. Back in the day it was the "Walmarts" of the area where you could get anything from a new house to a coffin. They had a wonderfully broad collection, though a fair amount of the store wasn't for sale. It was still fun to look at, and had we had more money we would have bought a bunch of stuff. If we're ever in the area, we'll definitely stop in again! 

We made our way through and ended up staying in Rocky Mount with some hotel gift cards we received as gifts a long time ago. There wasn't much in that town for use, but we had a very comfortable bed to sleep in and some quality time in a hot tub!! We even hit up a Dollar Tree for some more road trip supplies. If you haven't noticed so far, a large part of this vacation was spent sitting in the car. Frankly, we don't always get along in the car, but there was something about not having a destination that made driving fun. 

The next morning I had breakfast at my very first Waffle House, and we set off for Virginia! At some point there was a huge back up on the highway, so we again decided to take the scenic route. We headed over towards Shenandoah National Park. On our way there, we stopped and grilled some fish at a rest area and looked over maps and pamphlets of the area. I loved our fish picnic! It was freezing cold out, and we had a gourmet meal that didn't cost us a thing. 

As we reached our evening destination, we frantically tried to find a campground. We stopped at one, and the people there seemed a little... off. We called around and finally found a KOA that had a cabin! Which was awesome, because it was snowing! We stopped off at a thrift store because I didn't manage to pack a hooded sweatshirt, and when we arrived at our cabin someone had turned on a space heater for us! Hooray! We again grilled a delicious dinner (honestly can't remember what we ate that night, but I remember it was GOOOOD, or I was starving). By night time it was almost too hot in our cabin, but I was thrilled we weren't in a tent. 

When we got up the next morning, the sun was shining and the snow was slowly disappearing. We took our time, made a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, and headed out for an Antique Mall! Which was super fun. It took us a few hours to walk through the whole thing, and frankly their definition of "antique" was stretched a little bit. I found a map of Maine from 1865 that I just had to have, but other than that everything stayed right there. 

From there, we drive up to Baltimore (hit some crazy traffic in Maryland), bought some blue crabs, and then started the drive home. I had to work Saturday at 4, so we had a little crunch on the way home. 

We tried to stop in CT to spend the night, but the hotel we chose was booked up and it was closing in on Midnight. We decided to say eff it and just head for home! Around 3:30 in the morning we pulled in our driveway, woke up my poor mother who was watching all our animals, and settled in for a little nap. 

It was definitely a whirlwind week, but we had so much fun! Most of our time was spent in the car, and I think it's a testament to our marriage that we still love each other, and still spent the next two days together. It was really nice being away from all the stress of home, not having to worry about anything except our next destination (which was often the next public restroom). It definitely inspired me to simplify things at home so I can rediscover the peace we found on the road. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Vacation, Part I

A month later and I'm finally remembering to update about our whirlwind road trip! I think it has just taken me that long to recover. This trip was not spur of the moment, we had an inkling about what we were going to do. The transition from notion to action occurred a little faster than we anticipated.

We never went on a honeymoon. I lost my job four months before our wedding, and started a new job four days after. When we had the time, we didn't have the money and taking care of our home and creatures always took priority. John got it in his head that when he was done fishing for the winter we should just jump in the car and go, for like a month. However, finding someone to care for our animals for that long is just impossible. Not to mention, he brought home six little ducklings before his last fishing trip that were growing insanely fast! So he got done fishing on a Wednesday, and we were heading out the next Monday. I managed to get Monday through Friday off from work, but just couldn't get anyone to cover my shifts on Saturday and Sunday.

Day 1 of our trip was off to a rocky start. For one, we needed money, so we had to wait until we could get to the bank and cash his check. Then there were a number of other little things that needed to get done, and it took up half the day! It was early afternoon before we were finally on the road. We stopped that night for a nice dinner in Massachusetts, and since we didn't want to just use our hotel passes for 5 or 6 hours of sleep, we decided to drive through the night to the Outer Banks, North Carolina!

Around 10pm I really had to pee, so we pulled off the highway into a town where apparently everything closes at 10pm. The gas station didn't have a public restroom, McDonald's dining room was closed (but drive thru was still open), Lowe's was closed, and WalMart had just closed. FINALLY we found a Taco Bell that was still open and had a usable restroom. I really wish I could remember the name of this town so I could never ever go there again, but alas, I will probably end up there on our very next road trip.

Around 2am I dozed off. We saw so many signs for things that looked interesting, and so many thrift shops I wanted to see! But nothing was open, and we had to take mental notes for "next time". John was a trooper, he kept on driving. Finally, around 6am, we were near Chesapeake, VA, he got tired and asked if I could drive for awhile. I was thinking, "Sure! I'll just drive us to the next Rest Area, and we'll take a snooze in the car." There were no Rest Areas. I kept on driving and we made to the Outer Banks around 9am. Trouble is, the campground we were staying at didn't have check-in until noon.

This is where Day 1 runs into Day 2. We drove to the end, checked out the ferry to Ocracoke, and decided that would be a fun idea for the next day. We walked through the "Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum", and then I got to sit in the sun with my toes in the sand for about 20 minutes. This was easily the best 20 minutes of the trip for me. Right as I was about to fall asleep on the beach, we decided it was a good idea to find our campground and take a nap. Unfortunately, when we arrived at our campground, no one else was there either. No one answered the phone when we called. Tired and cranky, and definitely hungry, we set off to find lunch and decided if we saw another campground, we'd just stop at that one.

By the time we made it to lunch, we called the campground again, they would put up a map to our tent site on the door, and we could just setting up in the morning. Finally we had definitely plans to sleep at some point!

After a very late lunch (we might as well call it earlybird special dinner), we got our tent set up, and went for a walk to check out our surroundings. Our basic plan was to use the campground as our "base camp" and go exploring a lot more the next day. We drove all over the Outer Banks on the first day, and stopped and saw a lot of things, but our sleep deprived brains didn't fully enjoy everything. I managed to choose the one campground without beach access, but we did manage to find a marshy area we could sit and watch the sunset. We stayed up grilling, having a few drinks, and managing to stay warm as the night temps were in the 40's. Turns out the campground had just opened, and the hot water wasn't on yet.

Within a few minutes of putting food on the table, we had a kitty friend coming to visit! She was quite pretty, VERY friendly, and a completely unapologetic beggar. After an appetizer from us, she went in search of larger prey, and we watched her gracefully climb a tree next to a bunch of birdhouses. And then later she came scratching at the sand next to our tent, and we hoped and prayed we weren't sleeping in a giant litter box.