Driving along the interstate highways and toll roads through Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania proved to be long and boring. This is not to say that these states don’t have beautiful scenic drives and rolling hills to admire. I spent four years in central Ohio while attending Kenyon College, so I know how gorgeous this piece of American real estate can be. Unfortunately we were in a hurry, and were determined to get to NYC less than 24 hours after leaving Chicago. Since we didn’t leave Chicago until 6 PM, we wound up driving most of the night on the huge interstate to make up for lost time.
This crazy all-night drive was punctuated by few memorable moments, one of which involved grilling BBQ chicken at a rest stop outside Cleveland at midnight. At 6 in the morning we pulled off into another rest stop for a couple hours of sleep before driving through the seemingly endless countryside of Pennsylvania. We experienced several episodes of sticker shock as we paid various tolls crossing into New York, before finally making it to Queens where we dropped of Zephyr at a kennel for the weekend. Driving through Queens to my aunt’s house on Long Island with the teardrop was certainly an experience. Trailers are not allowed on the Parkways in New York, and so we had to resort to long, crowded roads that were in poor condition. By the time we arrived at my aunt’s house my knuckles ached from clenching the steering wheel as I maneuvered through those crazy New York streets!
Most of New York is a blur. We spent three jam-packed days there; all were full of family and friends and merriment. One of my favorite days was spent cavorting around Manhattan on my new bike Gertie, with Andrew and my old pal Tom. Manhattan has great bike paths along the Hudson River and through Central Park, and so we spent several hours exploring the city by bicycle. We also checked out the High Line, an elevated walking path and park that was built where an old railroad track used to be. Unfortunately we forgot to bring our camera that day, but I highly recommend that if you’re visiting New York go and see it! It’s an excellent example of how we can reuse and re-imagine urban spaces. After we parted ways with Tom we headed across the Brooklyn Bridge to meet my family for dinner. It was a long uphill ride to the top, and we had to dodge tourists on foot the whole way, but the exhilarating downhill wind whipping my face, and the views of Manhattan as we coasted into Brooklyn were well worth the effort.
The dinner in Brooklyn ended with a bang, literally. As we all sat outside on the back patio enjoying each other’s company on the night before my twin sister’s wedding, a thunderclap rattled us just as a huge downpour forced us to huddle under umbrellas as we sipped port and shared desserts. It was a fun way to end the evening, and we were all grateful the rain came when it did: the next day was a beautiful one for my sister’s wedding in a park at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. After the wedding Andrew and I were lucky enough to have a hotel room in Brooklyn and while we enjoyed the huge bed and luxurious shower, we were a bit “homesick”. Even while staying at my aunt’s house we slept in our trailer (in her driveway), because the teardrop really has become our sacred space and cozy little home away from home.
We left New York very early on a Tuesday morning and headed up towards Maine to see my sister’s current hometown of Portland and spend some more time with my mom and step dad before they flew home to Australia. While I will always profess my love for New York, we could tell we were really going to enjoy Maine and the surrounding states. As we drove farther north we learned to gauge the relative happiness of state residents by the demeanor of the tollbooth agents. In New York you’re lucky if they say “Hello” at all, in Connecticut they said “Good morning!” and by the time we reached Maine they were asking us where we were camping, why we were in town, and if it was our first visit. We ascertained that Mainers must be very happy indeed, and we drove on, excited to spend some quality time in “Vacationland.”