Welcome to our last night on the road, of Our Big Adventure, 2016. Today we covered 343 miles, as we traveled through the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and into Pennsylvania, making this a four state day, but as we hit Pennsylvania on the way out, our last 3 new states. For those keeping track, our total for the trip is 25 states, and 4 countries – Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, and the United States. Those are all the numbers I’m going to give you today, because a “by the numbers” blog will, I’m sure, happen next week. Tonight I want to concentrate on this day on the road, and our last night sleeping not in someplace we own!
So, in 62 days on the road, this was just the 3rd day where rain has been a part of just about the whole day. I don’t know about you, but Susie and I are rather flabbergasted with our weather luck! We think back on all the special places we’ve been, all the wonderful views we’ve had, and how less special those views would have been had the weather been against us! So one day at the beginning of our travels in Pennsylvania, one day in Texas when the hammers of Hell fell on us, and, of course, the day we returned to Pennsylvania, were our only total rain days of the last 62! Amazing and let’s face it, it obviously shows that someone upstairs was looking out for us, and wanted to make this trip as special for us as it was!
As we started today in Cookeville, Virginia, Interstate 81 was very busy, and what with showers, and if not showers, ponding on the roadway, was not the nicest morning we have had on the road. We’d had breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express this morning, so our day really just consisted on driving on the Interstate. The crazy drivers continued, and frankly we are amazed at the numbers of people who seem totally oblivious to the weather conditions, and continue to drive like it’s dry and sunny. One truck driver appeared to have paid the price for this kind of behavior, as traffic on the Interstate came to a halt, and we crawled till we passed this accident on the center divider. As I said yesterday, I fear that the folks driving tractor trailers are not the professionals they once were!
As we got into Pennsylvania, we started seeing names we recognized and towns that we’d visited with the kids when they were small. Every fall, right around Billy’s birthday (November 3rd), we’d take a weekend trip down to Amish Country. We probably did it for 12 or more years in a row, staying in places like the Red Caboose Motel, or the Mill Stream Motor Lodge, and riding the Strasburg Railroad every year, and enjoying the “country”. Well, as we were speeding along Interstate 78 this afternoon, what pops up but a place we took the kids back in those days, Roadside America. It’s probably the worlds biggest Lionel train layout, and when we passed that this afternoon, we knew we were almost home!
Speaking about being almost home, you may wonder why we are staying in a Homewood Suites in Allentown, PA tonight, a mere 150 miles from our home on Long Island. Well, there are several answers to that question. #1, we’d looked at the weather, and realized it was going to be rainy into the night, and had no desire to do the drive in that kind of weather. #2, had we pushed right through, we would have hit the New York Metro Area right in the middle of a Friday rush hour, meaning that the optimistic GPS ETA of 6:30, would have probably been closer to 9 PM. #3, we really don’t want the trip to end. The truth is really a combination of all those answers.
So, late this afternoon, after checking in, we had our last Sailor Jerry and Cokes of the trip. Soon, we will go out for our last dinner of the trip (no, we will not go to Cracker Barrel again), tonight I will take my last shower of the trip, we will spend our last night in a king size bed on the trip (oh God…how will we return to our queen size beds!!!), Susie will take her last shower of the trip in the morning, we will have our last “free breakfast” of the trip, and tomorrow we will head off in the Sonata for the last 3-4 hours of our Adventure as we motor our way, on the very last day of Our Big Adventure home!
Before I go today, I want to try and capture some of what we are feeling tonight. We started talking about this trip probably 5 years ago. We started gathering information close to two years ago. Back in March, when we realized that we needed to make reservations for the National Parks NOW, the trip became real. Between then, and when we left on August 21st, we continued to make plans and reservations. Then suddenly it was the first week in August, and we now had to start packing and making decisions of what to take and what not to take. Then there was our last weekend on Long Island, when Krissi joined us and we partied with our friends Pat and Steve for one last time, had to get the car ready and then pack it. Suddenly, it was the day we’d said we were going to leave, Sunday August 21st, 2016! We left Mineola, dropped Krissi off in Astoria, and before we knew it, we were on Interstate 80 in New Jersey heading west to Our Adventure! That was Day 1, and today is Day 62, and to think back on all we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, the great experiences we’ve had, and the memories we will cherish for a lifetime.
Are we sad as I write this tonight at a hotel in Pennsylvania? You bet we are. We have so loved every day, have gotten such a kick out of driving the Sonata, with our New York license plates (OCNJ4US), in places like Las Vegas, or Yellowstone, or on Route 66, or last weekend in Galveston with Kenny and Chris in the back seat! Have so loved telling people what we have come to call, “Our Trip Story”, when they inquire what we are doing in Moab, Utah, or Corpus Christi, Texas, and now that’s all behind us. We are in Pennsylvania, early tomorrow will be in New Jersey, and shortly after noon, we should return to the state of New York, where there will be nothing special about a red Hyundai Sonata with NY license plates! Sad, but welcome back to real life, from a 2 month fantasy ride through these United States!
See you tomorrow, when we will no longer be singing, On The Road Again. We will be singing, Home, Home on the Range, but there won’t be any deer or antelope playing!
PS – Another first today…take out boxes! Never before have we done that on the trip, but they will spend the night in the Homewood Suites fridge, and next week who knows…they may be lunch or a dinner!