Ok we have been away for 14 days now. We have visited;

  • New York – drove through at night on our way to the hotel. Could see the Rockefeller Centre and Empire State Building at night                         
  • New Jersey – stayed here twice
  • Connecticut – drove through here to get to Rhode Island. Had a delicious ‘Nathan’s hotdog’. We were going to visit Gillette Castle State Park but it was closed when we were in the state
  • Rhode Island – walked around the bay by Fort Adams as it was shut due to weather. Saw the Mansions of Newport which were very impressive
  • Massachusetts – stopped in Lexington and Salem, two very quaint very historical places which we enjoyed. Parking and traffic proved a nightmare in Boston but again some very historical buildings full of architectural wonder
  • Maine – arrived here too late and everything was shut but I imagine it looks very pretty in the daytime. Reminded me of Reykjavik, Iceland
  • New Hampshire – stayed here on our way to Vermont. Walked to Rainbow Falls getting lost in the wilderness
  • Vermont – Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream Factory. A major hit
  • Pennsylvania – saw the NFL draft in  Philadelphia as well as the National Constitution Centre, Independence Hall and wandered round this amazing place! Camped at Cherry Springs State Park under the most beautiful sky. Shame about the temperature 
  • Maryland – went shopping at a mall here to pick up some bargains
  • Washington DC – what can I say about here!? WOW. The best place I have ever visited 
  • Virginia – visited the grave of JFK and his family at Arlington 
  • North Carolina – camped in the Great Smoky Mountains. Absolute stunning scenery 
  • South Carolina – visited the old town of Charleston and ‘Rainbow Row’
  • Georgia – spent two days in Atlanta visiting the World of Coca Cola, the aquarium and the zoo. Three fantastic places to see. Saw the Braves vs Mets baseball game before it got rained off. A great experience
  • Alabama – stopped at Cheaha State Park to visit the highest point in Alabama. You could see for miles and miles. Also went hiking through Red Mountain Park near Birmingham. 

We have driven 3547 miles in our very reliable Hyundai Accent. We have encountered boiling hot sunshine, torrential rain, lightning and the freezing cold of a state park in the middle of nowhere. We have camped, stayed in a couple of nice hotels and also stayed in cheap motels which were damp and dingy. We have been sunburnt but are now tanned. We have walked for 70 miles with the most being 13 miles round Washington DC. We have seen baby pandas, beluga whales and whale sharks, animals we have never seen before. We have seen our first ever baseball game. 

When I hear from people back home they ask “is this trip everything you thought it would be?” The simple answer is yes. We don’t wake up to an alarm, we can dl whatever we want when we want. We have an itinerary but it already changed on day one. We have seen more places than we anticipated but also didn’t see some that we had scheduled because better or more interesting places came up. So far this trip has combined two of my favourite things….travel and writing. Throw in an endless supply of wine and I actually think I would be in heaven! 

I set this blog up, with some help, the day before we flew out to New York to begin this epic adventure. It had taken months of saving and planning. I had previously had a one way ticket booked to go travelling but never went and had planned a second trip so it was definitely third time lucky this time around!

We probably average roughly 250-300 miles a day and whilst that’s a lot of driving, every road we have driven on has been different. Whether it’s the bumpy road services along the highways with massive food courts along the side, the windy roads through the smoky mountains, the viewpoints we stop at on the more scenic routes where the views stretch for miles, or roads like we are driving along now where the trees are so green, the sky so blue and the sun so warm. The scenery out here is just breathtaking in places. 

The highlights so far have got to be the whole of Washington DC but especially seeing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Philadelphia was incredible and was topped off by the fact that the NFL draft was happening right when we were there, even if it meant we couldn’t see the ‘Rocky Steps.’ Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains was another highlight as we had finally got a comfortable nights sleep in the wilderness. To be honest the walks we have done through all the state parks have been beautiful, be it Rainbow Falls in New Hampshire, the highest point in Alabama at Cheaha State Park or trekking through Red Mountain Park near Birmingham Alabama, like we did last night. 

I always thought I was a bit of an ‘outdoorsy’ person, but I had become far too accustomed of a work, dinner, wine, sleep, repeat lifestyle so this trip came just at the right time. I already feel a bit fitter, my clothes are looser, and I have a slight tan so that always makes me feel better! Whilst a lot of my friends back home are either engaged, pregnant or already have children, saving up for or already have a house, I’m off exploring the world (well just USA at the moment) with my partner in crime 😊 and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else right now. I think that’s enough of a recap for now! 

So after we left Cheaha State Park yesterday afternoon and headed to Red Mountain Park just outside Birmingham, Alabama. We had two hours until the park ranger closed the gates so we got trekking. We had no idea where we were going or what the trails led to so we followed in the direction of everyone else to begin with before we went a bit off the beaten track to find this little gem.A treehouse in the middle of the park with a view that (as most places here) stretched for miles! You had to cross a wooden rope bridge to get to the treehouse and I only crossed when Nathan was off it for fear of him treating it like a swing 😂. 

We took the “most difficult” route back to the car park which involved more rocks, stones, steep up hills and downhills and a walk probably designed for walking boots instead of trainers. Still, it was a nice park to walk round finished off with the sound of a woodpecker pecking away at a tree. 

We had to stop at a Walmart on our way to the hotel as we were running low on water. We also picked up some grapes, snapple (which I had been looking for since we got here), root beer and wine. We arrived at the hotel that evening to the check in assistant telling us that they’re fully booked and that there’s no reservation under my name. I showed her the email handed over my ID and low and behold she managed to find it. That was a frustrating few minutes! Best bit about the hotel…they did a self laundry service. Nathan, now a pro at this, decided to our laundry. First, we left the detergent in the car. Second we didn’t have enough change. Third, when he took the dollars down to the desk to change for coins, he handed over $3 only got $2 back. Fourth, he forgot to take the clothes off he was wearing so ran back to the room in his boxers! Thankfully there was no one around! Meanwhile, I was watching The Avengers after I had mastered the art of using the coffee machine thing to make a cup of tea!

We managed to wake up half an hour before breakfast finished so quickly got changed and headed down for waffles. We also stole a load of tea bags, creamer and sugar so now I can have tea wherever we go! We fancied something a bit healthier for dinner today so set about going to the Olive Garden on our way to Natchez Trace. 

It was so busy! Yes it’s a Sunday but there must have been about 20 people waiting for a table. We were happy enough to sit at the bar so went straight in and ordered! They provided salad and warm breadsticks whilst you waited for your main. I had the ‘Tour of Italy’ which was basically small portions of chicken parmigiana, lasagne and pasta alfredo whilst Nathan had just chicken parmigiana. Mine was fried chicken and his was grilled so we swapped 😊. All washed down with a Coke and raspberry lemonade. 

Whilst sitting there I thought I would check how far away from the campsite we were. Imagine my shock when it turned out we were 229 miles away! 3 and a half hours away! Turns out that we were headed to the Natchez Trace visitor centre not the campsite….nothing like driving 2 hours north, away from somewhere only to have to drive 3.5 hours back southwest!

We live and we learn….it’s all part of the adventure is it not?

Until later….