Vermont

Our main stop in Vermont was Stowe because we had been to Killington for snowboarding lessons  (during the winter)in the past. We figured we would get some reset and explore the town this time around. So, we booked two nights at the Stowehoff Inn & Resort. The inn itself is located about 10-15 minutes away from Main Street, and it is tucked away  nestled in a beautifully lush valley where the Green Mountains were clearly visible from our hotel room. It was country-style inn and the king-sized bed had a canopy over the bed, which was also high up from the ground I had to hop on and off it. It was so comfortable nonetheless.

We have been noticing more and more Europeans and Canadians who travel in the New England region more and more! We have been hearing German, French, and Italian in various locations across our travels. In Maine we even had a couple from the U.K. approach¬†us to inquire what Cherrystones were because they were unfamiliar with them. To tell you the truth, I had no idea what they were so I was happy that Michael quickly responded to them directly (they’re clams, if you didn’t know either).

Before we checked into our hotel the first day, we decided to walk around Main Street and check out the Visitor’s Center for ideas about what we were going to do these next few days in Vermont. We came across some neat brochures about tours to taste Cabot Cheese and, of course, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. After the Visitor’s Center, we decided to have a late lunch/early dinner. It was about 3pm when we were seated at The Whip, the restaurant in the Green Mountain Inn. We were the only ones seated indoors, so we really felt like the restaurant belonged to us! It seemed to be a more upscale restaurant and more popular for dinner reservations, but we surely wanted a sit-down place to eat as we had passed a few mini cafe and sandwich shops.¬†The¬†lunch menu at The Whip had some good options. Michael got the half sandwich and soup: Green Mountain Club and the black bean and bacon soup while I selected the pecan-crusted salmon with roasted vegetables, and mashed potatoes. I forgot to take pictures because we were so exhausted at that point. Oh and we also got some cool frozen drinks: Frozen Banana Mudslide and I got the Mango Mojito. Both drinks were deliciously refreshing, and when we got to our meals, they were excellent! For dessert Michael really wanted to try the restaurant’s signature dish: Sac de Bon Bon for Two, which was chocolate mousse stuffed in a chocolate-shaped bag. It was placed over a pool of refreshing strawberry chocolate sauce with whipped cream!

The next day Michael wanted to head to Cabot for a cheese tour and tasting after we did laundry at the laundromat behind the Stowe Post Office. After that, we drove about an hour to the Cabot Visitors Center. Tickets were $2 per person for the tour which included a short video about the history of the company and its transition and growth throughout the years.  Then, we had an opportunity to see cheese-making at its finest as we were in the factory where we saw them make the cheese from the milk that was gathered from its farmers.

Our favorite cheese was the Adirondack Blend of cheese we sampled, so we ended up getting a block of that for the road. We discovered that cheese does not ever go bad. The way to preserve it is to wrap it in plastic wrap and not to put them in ziplock plastic bags because mold could form from the air in the bag. I was happy to learn that we could store cheese practically forever!

After our Cabot Experience, we headed to Ben & Jerry’s which was about 20 minutes away. We had gone there for a tour the last time we visited Vermont, but Michael really loves his ice cream. So he really wanted to make it a point we hit this place before leaving the state. We ended up waiting an hour before there was an available tour. That place was jam-packed with people of all ages! I mean who doesn’t like ice cream? Michael couldn’t wait until the tour to get a taste of ice cream, so we decided to wait in the long line for the scoop shop to get our very own ice cream. There were some SNL favorite flavors and we both got a few of those to try them.

It was 5:30pm, and by that time a group of people gathered in front of the beginning of the tour area. Our first stop was the MOOvie theatre where we watched a video about the history of the company and its growth/origins. It was updated a bit from the last time we had gone there. So that was nice to see…

When we got to the flavor room, we had the chance to sample strawberry cheesecake! It was really good.

After Ben & Jerry’s we headed back to the downtown area, where I wanted to check out Art on Park, which occurs every Thursday from June to August on Park Street in Stowe where local artists, craftsmen, and vendors set up tents with their offerings for sale. It was neat to see all of the locals, and their talents in creating really cool products. I ended up finding an elegant headband that I think I’m planning on wearing on my wedding day (depending on what the hairstylist recommends, of course). It matches pretty well with my dress, and I figured I would never come across it again in our travels, so why not? We started off at the bottom of Park Street and walked up to Main, where there was a cool BBQ stand. They were barbecuing from an old Volkswagen Bug it was a CarBQ!

We decided to get Chinese takeout because I was craving for some semi-comfort food, so we brought it back to our hotel. The next morning, we checked of our hotel. Our next stop is CT for two nights to visit our friends, Luke and Amy. On our way to CT, we stopped at the Green Mountain Coffee Visitors Center in Waterbury, VT. I love coffee so I really wanted to hit this place up! To our wonderful surprise we discovered a neat and convenient french coffee press we could use to brew coffee for our trip! I was so happy because we had been without freshly brewed coffee for a month now. We would have to rely on hotels or local coffee shops to feed my caffeine addiction. My problem is that I’m quite allergic to many things in this world, and I need my allergy medicine. BUT, when I take that, I get very drowsy, so I also depend on my coffee to keep me awake! ūüôā It’s a vicious cycle, but this portable french press surely should solve my problem.

After CT, we are heading to northern NJ for some camping, and then we are are off to New York to watch the U.S. Open in Flushing…can’t wait!

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Sss…spiders & snake

Yesterday seemed like one of the longest days ever. Why you might ask?

Well…it started off with us taking down our tent at the Campton Campground in New Hampshire. We were very much looking forward to our two nights in Stowe, VT that evening since we would be at a hotel. So we woke up at 7:30am and started packing up our stuff in the car. During that time, we must have killed between 50-100 daddy long leg spiders that had been taking shelter in our tent for the 3 nights we had been there. I had two buggers crawling on me! And I must have screamed so loudly, so Michael ended up doing most of the heavy lifting=putting the tent away while I supervised and kept a lookout for more critters.

After a long battle with these spiders, a bee was attacking Michael before we got into our car. We decided to make a pit-stop at Dunkin’ Donuts to get some breakfast and coffee before our 2 hour drive to Stowe. After we got our meals, I hopped into the drivers seat and was ready to drive. I went to put a straw in my Thermos cup and lifted the cup up. I SCREAMED and bolted out of the car because I was really scared to find a snake coiled up in my cup-holder. It took a while before Michael realized it was a snake. He didn’t know why I was freaking out, and I really truly thought he had planted a rubber snake in my¬†holder because he was not flinching at all!

Michael stayed calm and decided we needed to get this guy out of our car before continuing on in our journey. He poked the spider with a straw and tried to lure him into my blender bottle, but I ended up stopping him before he could because I wanted to get a picture of it. That snake was so quick to sliver away into the dashboard before Michael could get a hold of it. We both looked at each other, and he was very mad at me for a short period of time. There we were, standing in the parking lot of the Dunkin’ Donuts. I was so scared to go into my car, and bystanders were confused as to why our doors were wide open and we were standing there. We explained that a snake got into the car and it got lost in the dashboard.

We tried numerous things: turning up the A/C and opening up the vents in the car, banging on the dashboard, opening up the hatch of the car to see if it got into the engine portion, and checking the floor constantly. We stayed there for about a half hour before we decided to just start driving to VT with the snake in the car. Michael took the initiative to drive because he knew that if I was behind the wheel and the snake came crawling out, I would surely get us into a major accident. I agreed with him.

Throughout this time, we were researching ways to get a snake out of a car dashboard online. We ended up leaving all the vents open, and just turning the heat and A/C off and opening our windows. The drive felt like an eternity, as I was extremely uneasy with there being a snake in the car.

Randomly after about a half hour or forty minutes into the drive, the snake pokes his head out of the top air vent in the car. It was looking straight at us! So, Michael pulls over on the side of the highway, and I get out. He proceeds to get his knife from the car and opens up the plastic vent cover because the snake pulled its head back underneath before we could get to it.

We ended up driving to a Walgreens and then Michael took the vent cover off, and we found him inside. I wanted to overcome my fear by attempting to get the snake out using my chopstick skills. Unfortunately, the snake was way to fast for me, and we lost it underneath the dashboard again! Michael was very mad again because he just wanted to slice it in half with his knife, but now we needed to wait for it to come out again.

After Michael drove for about 15 minutes, the snake poked its head out once again! This time, we were ready. Michael pulls over to the side of the highway, and I bolt of the car. He sits in the passenger side seat and takes his knife out. He ends up chopping off the snake’s head, and then used the chopsticks to grab the body, since it was wedged in the vent system, and throws it out onto the grassy area. It was still moving a lot after its head got cut off. I was just so happy and relieved the snake was out of the car. At the same time, we did feel guilty that we had to kill it. We did some further research as to what kind of snake it was. And, here is the link to the Northern Red-Bellied Snake, which is found throughout the state of New Hampshire. Thank goodness they are not endangered or anything!

At that time, I was so mentally exhausted…and we for sure decided to invest in a bottle of wine for the evening and just relax. Wednesday, August 20th was a day to be remembered and seemed like that really didn’t happen, but it did! The events of this day are worthy for its own blog post.

New Hampshire

After exploring family-friendly Maine, we were off to New Hampshire where we are camping at Campton Campground, part of the White Mountain National Forest.  When we arrived to our campsite we noticed that these sites were quite larger and more spread apart than we were accustomed to experiencing. This allowed for more privacy and less noise from the kids screaming and playing around. The  hot showers at this site were $2.50 (in quarters) for 5-6 minutes. So we knew we needed to get some change from the campsite host or another location.

The first evening we took a left and drove down a bit to find Waterville Valley, along a nice creek, which was about 15 minutes away. It has a Town Square which had its own grocery store, hotel, realty businesses, and various attractions, such as a small pond with boat rentals, tennis courts, an ice rink, ski/snowboarding school, and more! It is such a cute little area with hiking and biking trails leading from the center with its own information booth and post office on site.

We decided to get some Kashi bars for our upcoming hike and then take advantage of the public internet. Also, Michael and I got some ice cream at Pig Pens. He got “Muddy Sneakers” and I got a scoop of “Malt Crunch” and a scoop of “Brownie Batter” = yum! Then we were off to bed where we ended up watching “The Amazing Spiderman 2” on Michael’s laptop.

The next morning we slept in. Our first stop was along the creek because Michael wanted to fly fish a bit in the morning. ¬†We also explored a few different hiking trails along the road to see which one we wanted to do the next day. Then, we headed into Town Square to explore the area. We came across the Mad River hiking trail, and then got some lunch. After that we walked around and headed back to the campsite for a nice run along the road. We had turkey sandwiches for dinner and then watched “Need for Speed” on Michael’s laptop.

We woke up at 8:30am the following morning and ate yogurt and fruit for breakfast and headed to The Sandwich Mountain Trail to Noon Peak, which had a beautiful overlook. It was a very steep hike up to the peak, and we were very happy to get to the overlook to have some lunch and take some pictures. At Noon Peak we could spot Mt. Washington to the Southwest. We realized that our compasses were contradicting each other because one was saying it was West and the other East. We ran into a couple at the top of the peak who also found their compass to agree with mine, but we soon realized there must have been something at the top of the peak because Michael’s compass was on his phone. We had full service at the peak and the phone’s compass also used GPS so we knew his was the most accurate one.

After the hike we wanted to put our mini Frisbee in the cache located at the parking lot of the beginning of the trail, but we were unable to locate the container. By the way, there was no cell phone service whatsoever at the base of the trail or at our campsite, so we drove back to Waterville Valley, where there is full service and free wi-fi! ūüôā

We located another cache overlooking the clay courts and placed our frisbee there. New Hampshire has been checked off our list. From the cache, we took a travel bug and are planning on bringing it over to China in December because its mission was to hit all seven continents before returning back to the state of Florida. The cache has been all over the east coast and took a mini loop over to the northern coast but has not left the continent yet. So, we figured it would be pretty cool to bring it along with us in our journey.

Tomorrow we are headed to Stowe Vermont, which is about a two and a half hour drive from Campton, NH. Stowe is the only place we reserved a hotel for two nights during the 2nd leg of the trip, so we are looking forward to getting to sleep on a real bed and also being able to do some strength training at the fitness center. I feel like my muscles, especially my arms, are not getting enough at all, so I’m looking forward to working out again.

Mainely Maine

Michael and I kicked off our trip to Maine on Tuesday, August 12th after getting some much-needed rest at home. Our first stop was Portland, and we stayed at the Fireside Inn & Suites. Down the road from the hotel, there was a mall, the Maine Mall, where we decided to explore the evening we arrived. We ended up getting some hiking pants for Michael at Eddie Bauer and went on a search for mine. Because I am rather short, I needed to get a pair of petite or “short” pants. We must have checked three or four places, but had no luck. So we drove a bit further to a Cabela’s, which is rather similar to a Bass Pro Shops. It was very large, and I finally found a pair I was happy with.

Famous Dave’s Feast for Two

After finding the water resistant pants, we were famished so we stopped at a Famous Dave’s¬†for some good ole BBQ. We got the Feast for Two and selected the BBQ Pulled Pork vs. Beef Brisket and were delighted with all of the food! We ended up saving half of the feast for later meals while camping in Southwest Harbor.

The next day we drove about 3 hours to get to our campsite, Smuggler’s Den in Southwest Harbor, ME. On our way there we headed to an L.L. Bean Outlet, and it was my first time going to one. It was HUGE! It had sections with all sorts of useful items for our camping portions of the trip. And, we decided to invest in a larger 4-person tent so Michael could stand up in it! It was called the King Pine Dome 4. It was perfect because it had an outdoor screened-in portion so we could put our chairs there in case it rained outside. It was just high enough for Michael to stand and not feel confined. He also decided to get a hatchet to chop firewood. So we were very happy with our purchases.

The first night we got there it rained into the next morning. That evening we wanted to explore the Southwest Harbor area to see if we could find food. We came across the Quietside Cafe and thought it looked really cute. We ended up getting the seafood pizza which had lobster, crab meat, and shrimp sauteed in garlic. It was so yummy! And we topped it off with some blueberry pie with blueberry ice cream.

I noticed there was a bus that came through the campground area and inquired within the campground office to see how it worked. I discovered it was a free bus that went all over the area, including downtown Bar Harbor and through Acadia National Park. So I convinced Michael to take it with me downtown. It took a half an hour to get down there. And, the bus was actually very crowded so we had to stand the entire time.

As we got up there, the sun peaked through the clouds, and it was beginning to look like a beautiful day! We were very fortunate that it cleared up…just in time too! We ended up heading to the small shops and got our moose magnet. We also placed our Frisbee in a cache which was along the rock wall facing Bar Harbor Isle. It took us a while to locate the cache because it was so well-hidden behind the rocks, but we finally got it! After we got back from Bar Harbor, we decided to check out Echo Lake because there was a trail leading from our campsite directly to the lake. We went for a light trail jog, and it was about 2.5 miles round-trip. It was so nice to see the serene lake, and then take some pictures.

The next day we decided to hike up to Cadillac Mountain. We did the South Ridge Trail, which was 7.2 miles round-trip. It was a different landscape because we were not used to hiking with mostly roots and rock underneath us. But it was actually really neat to go through the woods and then come to an open area on top of the mountain. It was a beautiful day with clear skies. We got to relax a bit and eat our packed lunches: two hard-boiled eggs, some sunflower seeds and two pink lady apples. Yum! We just laid on the mountain for about a half hour and headed back down. We were exhausted after that hike so we slept pretty well afterwards.

The last day we were there, we decided to head back into the downtown area. We got to sleep in a bit so we were well-rested to explore the town again. We wanted to see the sand bar when it was low-tide so we got there just in time. It was so cool to see and there were so many people just wandering on the other island. When we got there it was already too late to get to the other island, but we ended up walking across the bar a bit and took some pictures. Before we knew it the tide already started coming in, so Michael piggy-backed me across the the water because he had his waterproof hiking shoes on and I had on my sneakers. We then discovered the Shore Path, which is similar to the cliff walk in Newport, RI, only without the cement boundaries.

After we got back, we decided to head to Beal’s Lobster Pier where we had our lobster dinner with a baked potato and a corn and crab chowder! It was pretty fresh because we got to select our own lobsters to get steamed…yummy! That was a nice way to end our trip to Maine. The next morning, Sunday, August 17th we packed our belongings into the MINI, and were were off to the White Mountains in New Hampshire for three nights.

Leg 2: Beginnings

Michael and I were fortunate enough to head back home for a week to catch up with family and friends before embarking on our second leg of our U.S. road trip of a lifetime.

We stayed in NY for about five days where my parents fattened us up by making breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday! They also brought us to the city so we could pick up our passports with Chinese visas in them for our December honeymoon trip. With these in our possession, we are now able to travel into Canada if we needed to. This would give us more freedom too, if we decided to take a random trip to the Caribbean or somewhere else. During our time at home, our family and friends organized a wedding shower for us:) It was so nice to catch up with everyone!

More about the second leg of our trip: This part of the trip involves a lot more camping than the first one. Our plan is to head to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Adirondacks in NY, and camping in NJ before we head back to NY in time for the U.S. Open at Corona Park in Queens.

To prepare for this leg, we thought it would be in our best interest to invest in a pair of good hiking pants for the both of us because the weather in the Northeast region of the States tends to be quite cooler. And we will be outdoors for the majority of the trip doing some hiking and being one with nature.

In addition, we purchased two sleeping pads rather than getting another air mattress. We opted to go with the self-inflating sleeping pads because the previous two air mattresses we purchased have let us down, leaving us with sleeping on the ground. We also got two new sleeping bags, which could be combined by zipping them together to create a two-person sleeping bag.

We sure are excited to be back on the road! Our first stop: MAINE, for five nights, one night in Portland at the Fireside Inn & Suites and four nights camping in Bar Harbor.

CT

On our way from NY to MA, we made a pit-stop in CT, where we completed a 5K obstacle race with our friends in Hartford. It was the ROC Race, and it was so much fun! The weather was amazing, and the night before we all showed our creative sides by designing our own race shirts.

During our time in CT, we were super busy…

When driving from NY to South Windsor, CT, where Luke and Amy lives (they let us crash the night along with four other friends: Becca, Mark, Chris, and Priscilla), we stopped at Wadsworth Falls State Park. It was sort of on the way, and we placed our frisbee in a cache in the park. The water seemed to be a bit dried up, but it was still a very pretty park to explore a bit.

After our stop at the state park, we headed to Luke and Amy’s house to hang out, have dinner, design our shirts, and crash for the night.

The next morning (Saturday, August 10th), we all woke up at 7am. Luke and Amy made breakfast for us: eggs and oatmeal before the race. We were assigned a 10AM start time for the race, and it took us about 15 minutes to get to the stadium where the race was held.

After the race, were starving, so we headed to Riverview Pizza for some lunch before we packed to get to our campsite in eastern CT at Hopeville Pond State Park. It was a Saturday afternoon and the pizza place only employed one person, a jack-of-all-trades to cook, take orders, cash, and serve all of the customers. It took the eight of us 1.5 hours to get our food served to us. We headed to Luke and Amy’s to pack up our belongings for camping. Then we drove about an hour to our site.

 

It was a bunch of our friends’ first times camping, so it was fun to experience it together. After registering and checking in at the office, we proceeded to our site, CN-01. The lady at the office gave us directions so we drove down the road to find a nice large pond with picnic tables and some grills. It definitely did not look like a campsite because there were no other tents or campers set up around, and there were day-picnickers that flooded the tables near the pond.

We all decided to drive back to the main campground area in search of our site. Finally, Michael and Amy found the right location and found out it was not a drive-up site. So, we needed to park at the lot and bring our stuff to set up. Fortunate enough we got there early, before 4pm so we had enough time to do everything.

It was a fun night of telling stories and playing some games. Then, we all packed up early the next morning and were off to Fall River, MA.

The Learning Leg

After two nights in Delaware, we decided to head directly to New York (to my parents’ house) because we were in need of some R&R. ¬†We have intentions of cleaning out Michael’s truck to limit some of the items we are bringing for the next leg of the trip as well as transferring a bunch of our items to my MINI for the second leg of the trip, which will cover Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Challenge 1: It was definitely a learning process for us, as we were unsure as to what items were needed for our trip. We definitely ended up over-packing, so it was sometimes difficult for us to locate items we needed throughout the days. In addition to the excessive items we had in the truck, we also did not have a solid plan of attack when moving from one state to the next. Often times we found ourselves staying up until 1AM or 2AM in attempts to search for¬†things to do and places to stay at our next location. Towards the end, we got better at selecting our hotel or campsite options. We have learned that for every state or two that we visit, we need to allocate¬†some time for us to just do nothing: sort of like traveling is our so-called “work” time with a much-needed 2-day weekend “break” every week or so. Moving forward we will spend more time planning and booking most of our campsites and hotels more in advance.

In addition to finding the time to do nothing, we also have learned a lot more about each other during these past few weeks of traveling on our own. Because we previously interacted a lot less throughout the day, we felt time was insufficient. Now we see each other 24/7! We sort of think of this as our mid to late twenties crisis or mini retirement before moving full-force into our busy lives. It’s funny how time just flies by so quickly. There are so many things we were planning on getting accomplished: studying, relaxing, exploring, taking photos, updating family and friends back home, learning, planning a wedding, and more!

Challenge 2: At times we have realized it has become a challenge to balance all of these things at once. We need to come up with a better solution to managing our busy lives and communicating with everyone at the same time. It’s difficult because we are on a semi-vacation, but we are also “plugged-in” at the same time. So we constantly need to have access to internet and our phones need to be turned on at all times. We do not have the leisure to “escape” yet. We believe the third leg of our trip (to start in September) will give us a chance to really be able to travel further west. That will be a whole new perspective.¬†Throughout the first leg of the trip, Michael did not feel as though we were far from home and really traveling. I actually felt like we were in different places, but it’s interesting because camping in different states does not give us a lot of time for exploration within city limits (unless we drive, park and explore). We should figure out a way to be one with nature and also be able to travel in urbanized areas.

Challenge 3: We found it really difficult to keep track the days of the week and which state we were currently in (even though we only hit eight states, including Illinois). So we are thinking that maybe we should put post-it notes in the car of the city/state and day of the week/date it is in the car (similar to a makeshift calendar).

Overall thoughts: Because the first leg of our Journey Across All 50 has come to an end, we wanted to express some of our feelings and thoughts aside from describing all of the sights we have seen, food we have tasted, and things we have done. Without the support from our family and friends, this trip would not be possible. And, we wanted to send out love to everyone who has been following along in our journey.

Delaware

Next on the list: Delaware! Because we had been staying in various hotels along the way, we opted to camp for the remainder of the first leg of our trip, which includes, the states of Delaware and New Jersey.¬†In Delaware, we selected Trap Pond State Park mainly due to the availability of laundry facilities and its close proximity to a pond to fulfill Michael’s passion for fly-fishing.¬†We later discovered that the state park was the first in Delaware! This was a strange coincidence because the state of Delaware is also known as “The First State”.

The drive from Baltimore to Delaware was pretty interesting, annoying and scary all at the same time (since I ended up driving the entire way). Along the way, we passed a couple of small towns with lots of corn fields and availability of fresh produce for sale. Traffic congestion contaminated two-lane roads which randomly merged into one-lane ones. Within certain gas stations, there were restaurants and were often one-stop locations for commuters and locals alike. Civilization was approximately 15 minutes away from our campsite, which is located in Laurel, DE.

We arrived on the afternoon of Friday, August 1st and decided to do a walk-in registration for a campsite for two nights, which cost us exactly $60 including an out-of-state park fee. This campsite was the first where we stayed that was right on a pond.

Realization: Where there is water, there is life!

Tiny frogs flooded the area where our site was located, as Michael made the surprising discovery as he moved our metal fire pit from one location to another. Dozens of tiny like frogs went hopping everywhere! They were so cute: I wanted to keep one or two for the nights we were camping, but Michael didn’t let me (mainly since we had no idea what their diet consisted of and also, it would have been a bit mean and selfish to them). Throughout the evening we kept seeing various frogs all over the site. Larger ones crept out as the evening progressed and all of them blended in so well that it took us a while to figure out they were right in front of us.

We were fortunate enough to be camping for the first time while rain was fairly likely in the forecast (at 80%). Therefore we had the chance to practice our survival skills. Well, mostly our innovative skills at putting up the large tarp to cover our abode for the next two nights. It took some teamwork to figure out and calculate the proper angles to make the tarp tight at the four outlaying grommets. But, we were quite successful and happy to start the cooking process following our set up as we were starving!

During our ride over to Delaware, we stopped at a local Giant supermarket (which had the Stop and Shop symbol), so that’s how we knew it was a grocery store! We picked up some ground turkey, steak, yogurt fruits and vegetables to put in our cooler for the next few nights. For dinner, we ate left-over chicken that I had cooked a few nights ago. Michael cooked the beef and made turkey burgers for us to consume the following nights.

After dinner, I was rather keen on getting our laundry done. We had so much clothes that needed to get washed, and I did not want to spend the next day doing this chore. So I rounded up the quarters we had (from the truck and from my wallet). We had enough! It was $2.00 to wash and $1.50 to dry and since we had a lot of clothes, it took two rounds of drying!

While the laundry was going, we decided to take a nice walk around the site to scope out the area. A few steps away, we located a small floating dock and walked on it. We saw a few small fish jump out of the water and across the pond we saw a place where it looked as if they had some boat rental offerings. We were excited to possibly explore those options the following day. We then walked a bit further and found a small playground for children along with locating the dumpster area (very important).

After that, I decided to take a nice, much-needed shower. At that point, it was raining a bit harder. And we were surely glad we had put the tarp up properly because we set up our little table with chairs underneath it for some relaxation time. Michael started the fire for our s’mores later that evening (which were oh so delicious). We got the good stuff this time: Jet-puffed marshmallows and Honey Maids graham crackers, with Hershey Symphony chocolates with toffee and almonds (yum). Definitely a nice after-dinner snack.

We headed off to bed and watched Monsters University on Michael’s laptop because we ended up catching the last 10 minutes of the movie at the Hyatt in Baltimore and Michael wanted to watch the entire movie. It was actually pretty cute.

Rain beat on the overhead tarp and tent throughout the evening, and it sounded like drums beating sporadically with a nice soothing rhythm. It was surprisingly fairly comforting to hear, and I awoke to the sound of the pattering raindrops yet again. I made breakfast (eggs, hash, and turkey bacon). Then, we drove about 20 minutes to a local Starbucks to get some free wifi for Michael to catch up on West Virginia and Maryland blog posts:) I ended up booking the next campsite at Wharton State Forrest in New Jersey for the next few nights which would conclude the first leg of our 50 state journey!

After a few hours at Starbucks, we were getting a bit cold and decided to head back to our campsite to cook dinner and hang out. We had to make a few pit stops: first to get two 8lb bags of ice for $0.99 each at Popeye’s, then to get some extra bug spray, fire starter sticks and a frisbee for us to play with. Once we arrived back at our site, we were starving and Michael started heating up the steak and mushrooms for dinner. I made the salad for us with a raspberry vinaigrette.

After dinner, Michael started cutting up firewood and putting all the pieces teepee style in the fire pit. Shortly after, we realized that we needed to hide our tiny frisbee at a geocache location in Delaware! We spotted a few on the iPhone app Michael had, and went on a search for one. It took us to this trail, called Cypress Tree Trail. At that point it was already 6:30pm. I was a bit nervous going on this trail because there was a “tick alert” sign right at the start of the trail, and I was wearing capri-like pants, and he had on shorts. We both had short-sleeved t-shirts, so we were not properly covered. But the show had to go on. ¬†Michael said the cache should be within half a mile from where we started.

Fast forward to 1.5 miles later, we had still yet to make this discovery. Primary reason: we were unclear about which trail the cache was on. After passing bridges across streams and crossing different trails, we decided to head back to the truck before it got dark. We turned this search into a cardio session because we pretty much jogged the trails to prevent ourselves from being followed by bugs and tiny frogs everywhere. It was so funny because it seemed like there was no other hikers on the trail in the woods. We were the only ones to brave the woods.

The following morning, we decided to drive around the town of Laurel to find a cache we could stash the frisbee. Along the way to New Jersey, we came across a few cache locations, and one was right off the road! Michael got out of the truck, and leaped across a bed of water to get to this cache. We did it! Finally, yay! Delaware was complete. We were off to lunch in Dover, DE.

Be sure to stay updated on our route and states we have traveled to on the “Our Plan” page of the website.

Maryland

¬†We were off to Maryland and our one stop was Baltimore. It was about a three hour drive from where we were staying in West Virginia. I drove the way there and wanted to drive straight to our hotel but Christina wanted to stop at the Maryland Welcome Center once we got into Maryland. We took a 10 minute pit stop and were back on our way. When we got to Baltimore it was very busy. It definitely gave you that ‚Äúbig city‚ÄĚ feel.

We got to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency, and went on search for dinner. Where we were staying was just a block away from the inner harbor and all of the shops and attractions. We found a restaurant, J Pauls, right next to our hotel and decided what they had looked pretty good. For dinner we tried the Maryland Crab dip, and I had the ribs and crab cake while Christina had just the crab cakes. All of the food the had was really good. We also go to sit outside right by the harbor. While we were sitting and having dinner we noticed a lot of people running along the harbor pathway. We decided to go for a run that night to check out the harbor and see some of the sights.

After dinner we headed back to our room to relax for a couple minutes and change into our work-out clothes. We found a pathway that connected our hotel to the harbor pathway so we didn’t have to cross the busy street in front of the hotel. This ended up being a nice little feature that we used throughout our stay in Baltimore. We hit the harbor and started our run. Both of us were a bit full after dinner and we were a bit sluggish on our run. The harbor pathway went for just over a mile and took us by all sorts of different shops and restaurants. There were a lot of people on the pathway which actually made it difficult to run because we had to keep weaving in and out of people. After about 2.5 miles we decided to head back to the hotel and call it a night.

The next morning we had some yogurt and fruit that we had previously purchased for breakfast. Today we were going to be doing something that I was very excited about. We were headed to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. It was just a few block away from our hotel. The National Aquarium is regarded as one of the best in the country. There were numerous exhibits ranging from rain forests, to ocean reefs, and the Australian outback. Two of the exhibits were open air where you were in a room with animals that were not in cages. There were birds flying around, monkeys swinging from trees, and turtles crawling on the ground. It was really a great experience. They also had a dolphin exhibit where aquarium team members interact with the dolphins throughout the day. Since this is technically not a show there are no set times for when they will interact with the dolphins. Fortunately, just a few minutes after Christina and I got there they started working with the dolphins and we got to see some really neat tricks and we were quite close to them.

There was a small cafeteria in the aquarium that served some pretty decent food. Christina and I split a salad and fish and chips. As we were eating the fish we thought it was a little mean that we were at an aquarium and eating fish. That thought only lasted about a second as we continued eating the tasty fried fish.

We checked out a few more exhibits after lunch and also checked out a 4D film, ‚ÄúThe Great Salmon Run‚ÄĚ. It was about the Alaskan Salmon run that happens every spring and the bears that rely on these salmon runs to survive. It was one of those films where they blow bubbles, splash you with water, and have those sticks that back your feet during the film. I think Christina only got scared once so that was good.

The aquarium took up most of our day but we did have a couple things that we still wanted to do. After the aquarium we decided to head back to the hotel to put on some sneakers, our boat shoes and walking all day just weren’t cutting it. Before we made our way back to the hotel we had one thing to do. We had to plant our geocache. We found a cache that was located close to the aquarium, left our frisbee, and headed back to the hotel.

We changed our shoes and were on our way to check out some of the local shops and find dinner. Our first stop for dinner was ‚ÄúDicks Last Resort‚ÄĚ. They had a floating outdoor seating area that we were thinking about trying. It was a bit warm out that day so we ended up using the indoor seating. When we were seated at our table we were given our menus. A few minutes later Christina pointed out there was no food on the menu it was just drinks. The food was on chalkboards throughout the restaurant. There wasn‚Äôt a big selection of food and we weren‚Äôt really feeling this place. They also had napkins all over the floor and we decided we would go look for food elsewhere. We walked a couple more blocks to ‚ÄúLittle Italy‚ÄĚ. We found Isabellas, a small, and I mean small, pizza shop. They had three tables inside and luckily we were able to grab one when we went it. We ordered a pizza and salad and they were great. It was brick oven pizza and it was cooked perfectly with a crispy exterior to the crust and a nice chewy inside.

We left Isabella’s and kept walking around the city. We stayed along the inner harbor and checked out some more shops. Christina wanted a new pair of flip flops and we needed to find a souvenir from Maryland. After visiting a few more shops we called it a night and headed back to the hotel.

The next morning we headed out about 11am after using the hotel gym for for a bit. Our next stop is Delaware where we will be doing some camping.

West Virginia : Short But Sweet

We left Louisville and headed to West Virginia. We were making two stops in West Virginia, one in Charleston and the other in Davis. The way our stops worked in West Virginia we didn’t have much time at either location, but we did have fun regardless.

We had about a 3 hour drive from Louisville to Charleston. I drove the way there since Christina had drove the last time. When we got to Charleston it was about 5pm and we were only there for the night so we decided not to do too much. When we got to the hotel, Holiday Inn Express, they had cookies and coffee waiting for the guests which was a nice touch. We checked into our room and decided to work out in the gym for a little bit. After our work out we decided we would head to the mall that was about 2 blocks away so we could find something to eat. ¬†Christina also wanted to stop in a Sephora to get her free birthday gift, which ends up being some small makeup thing that she doesn’t use. We had our dinner at a small wrap shop and headed back to the hotel to call it an early night.

We woke up early for breakfast. Holiday Inn’s do¬†a pretty good job with breakfast. They had biscuits and gravy, sausage, pancakes, pastries, cinnamon rolls, eggs, and cereals. ¬†It was a good start to our morning and we were off to Davis, WV.

In Davis we were going to Blackwater Falls State Park. It was another 3 hour drive from Charleston. ¬†This time Christina took the wheel. We made it to the State Park Lodge that we were staying in around 1pm and went to see if we could check in early. Unfortunately we couldn’t, our room wasn’t ready yet. So we figured we would go for a hike, which we planned on doing anyway. We hiked down to where the falls were next to the lodge and then hiked to “Balanced Rock” where Christina tested her rock climbing skills. ¬†After our hike we got cleaned up and headed to dinner. We decided to have dinner at the lodge where they had a buffet, it was actually their only option, with fried chicken, mac and cheese, soups, salad, and desserts. A lot of the food you could tell was pre-made and the lodge just heats it up but over all it was good. After dinner we had one more thing to accomplish before going to bed, a game of ping-pong. The lodge had a table there so we were able to play a few games before calling it a night. ¬†Christina won most of them. ¬†I did win one (due a distraction).

The best part about the lodge was where it was located. It was right on the edge of a canyon where you had an incredible view of the surrounding mountains and river. There was an overlook at the lodge that hung over the canyon so you could really see everything.West Virginia was a pretty short stay and we didn’t get to do too much while we were there but we had a good time hiking and the views from the lodge we stayed at made the whole trip worth it. Now, on our way to Baltimore.