by Julianna Squicciarini
Our trip is now finished, and I find myself looking back on the whole thing introspectively, giving our experience much thought. We traveled roughly 3200 miles in the last 12 days, visiting or passing through 13 states, counting North Carolina.
That’s a lot of states.
We also viewed Canada from a distance at Niagara Falls, which doesn’t quite count, but is still a cool checkmark on the list.
We went from big cities to small farms, and pretty much everything in between, it feels like. We drove through bad areas, we walked in good ones. We toured attractions and found holes-in-the-wall. We took pictures, we made movies, we laughed until we cried.
It was a really great trip, and a fabulous bonding time.
Just for grins, I made up a short list of things we did that, perhaps, if our parents or other wiser/older people had been with us, we would not have done (because we would have known better). Obviously, we have learned from our mistakes, and we did live through all these, so no need to be horrified at our naiveté. It’s just for laughs.
- Our first hotel was a Holiday Inn Express in center-city Philadelphia. We searched for hotels in the area on our smartphones, picked it at random, drove over and parked our car, and asked for a room. It turned out to be by far our most expensive night spent anywhere. That first hotel stay cost us more than four nights would have at our last hotel.
- While staying at a pretty slick hotel in the Boston area, all three of us walked through the hotel lobby in our pajamas to grab a few things from our car.
- Because our rinky-dink room in Smithtown smelled like a cigarette, we habitually left the door (which opened on the great outdoors & parking lot) wide open, to let the fresh air waft through the stink and let us breathe.
- When our Uncle Fred offered to book our hotel room for us in Rochester, we were more than happy to have that taken care of for us. When we arrived with our credit card, no figures were stated, and the card was run – we had to look up rates that night to figure out how much the plush room had just cost us.
- We spotted an Amish man at a gas station (of all places!), and very nearly agreed to follow him and his buggy to wherever he lived, for a glimpse at his ascetic life.
- Recognizing the misstep of picking random hotels without knowing their rates, we booked the second hotel from our room in Philadelphia…with the hotel phone. Since the second stop was in NY, we were chagrined to see four long-distance phone calls on our bill the next morning.
- We brought a car to New York City.
- Having brought a car, we found a reputable-looking hallway of a parking garage (reputable being a relative term) and surrendered our keys to a foreigner in a white dress shirt and bow tie. While we did carry our bags and wallets with us while we walked the streets, I was highly doubtful as to whether or not I’d see my Macbook or luggage again. For the record, everything was there when we returned, and the parking place was a lot more on the up-and-up than it had at first seemed.
I can see my mom and grandfather burying their faces in their hands, wondering how we survived the North. But as you can see, we did, and things worked out ok. Not listed here are all the things we *didn’t* do – like giving a ride to the questionable character who asked us for one, or driving until midnight to get to our next stop, or eating donuts for breakfast every morning, or being caught in the web of tourism and paying far too much for knickknacks.
I am so glad that the three of us traveled together, drove together, and stayed together. Very, very rarely were any of us every alone, and that only for necessity and a few moments. Usually we were at least within line of sight. Never once do I remember feeling scared, or panicked, or like something was terribly wrong, or that something bad was going to happen. Baruch HaShem for taking care of us so thoroughly, and bringing us back home with a firmer bond than every before, and many memories, which will live forever (if not in our minds, than on our hard drives <wink>).