Category: Road Trips

So we rolled into Savannah at a half decent time, about 5:45 which isn’t bad considering we again hit multiple episodes of dead stop traffic on I-95.  Cindy booked us a room at a Clarion.  It said it was newly renovated and it definitely was.  The lobby and public areas looked really nice.  The room looked pretty overhauled as well, except for the smell.

The second you entered the room it just felt moist with a distinct mildew smell.  Otherwise the room seemed ok although Cindy found a stray pube in the bathtub and a few gross spots on the shower curtain.  At this point I could care less, it was our last night on the road as long as the bed and tv worked, great.  Oh wait, the tv didn’t work either, oh well.

We were only in the room briefly before heading back out to ride and sight see around the historic Savannah area.  We parked around the largest park in Savannah called Forsyth Park, it looked like a great spot to roll around in.  We immediately were accosted by a group of kids that wanted to know about the wheels as well as “ride” them.  Cindy and I took turns letting about 6 or 7 kids get on the wheels while we held them and the wheel upright.

The park was very beautiful with huge oak trees covered in hanging moss.  Once again we found ourselves inadvertently riding in sections of the path that were marked as pedestrians only.  We rerouted ourselves to the outer portion of the park where there didn’t seem to be the same restriction.

We also ventured a little out of the park down some of the nearby streets.  Cindy really enjoyed the old architecture.  Everywhere you looked there was something worth seeing.

After the ride Cindy wanted to go park near the waterfront and walk around.  I was without a doubt lacking enthusiasm about the prospect.  I told Cindy I was pretty burned out at this point by the frustrations of the trip.  However I knew Cindy really wanted to see this stuff so I did my best to just mellow out.

As we walked to the waterfront I felt my mood lightening.  The area was just very cool with a mix of brand new high end hotels with 150 year old brick buildings that creates quite an interesting landscape.  There were a number of street performers , all of which seemed good in their own way as they hoped their performance would inspire onlookers to throw a buck in their tip jars.

We enjoyed a great dinner in the Boar’s Head Grill and Tavern which was in one of those very old buildings.  Seeing the old structure inside, repurposed for dining was just very interesting to me.  Before the food arrived I passed the time just looking around between sips (gulps) of my Miller Lite.  The beer helped me chill out further.

It was getting a little late and we planned to set an alarm to push out early this morning for Naples.  We returned to our damp room and did our best to get a pseudo-solid night’s sleep.

So we woke up as planned and got everything packed up, figuring we could load the car and then take advantage of the free continental breakfast that starts at 6AM.  There was one problem, it didn’t start at 6, it started at 7.  Every other hotel we stayed at on the trip had their breakfast service start at 6 so we made a faulty assumption it would be the same this time.

Well we weren’t going to twiddle our thumbs for an hour so we decided to just grab breakfast along with our coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  As we sat at our table there was a weird situation where some woman stood at the front door and was saying negative things about one of the employees, including something about not patronizing the location as long as that employee was there.  After the disgruntled woman left Cindy heard the DD staff saying something about that woman being a prostitute, wow.

We have been in hammer down mode for today’s drive, sacrificing MPG for speed.  We now sit about 90 minutes from home base.  It can’t come soon enough.  Even though there have been many memorable, important, and cool aspects of the trip, overall, the trip was the worst Cindy and I ever have taken.  We went into it knowing going this route during summer could be problematic, congested, and expensive, I just didn’t think it would be to the degree it turned out to be.

I ALWAYS take at least one or two days after returning from a road trip to get life back in order but due to work responsibilities that will not be the case this time.  I will be back in the office bright and early tomorrow morning.  Another adventure is in the books.

Today is the three year anniversary of my mom’s passing.  It’s ironic we finally spread her ashes so close to the sad anniversary in our lives.  Hopefully she is happy, wherever that may be.

As the title says, yesterday was an absolutely miserable day of driving.  Sure I have had longer days of driving like those 900+ miles days across Texas but yesterday was still the worst by far.  So what made it so horrible you may ask? Traffic, almost non-stop, miserable, stop and go traffic that put our arrival in Richmond some four hours later than was predicted at the beginning of the day.

It was just crazy, you would sit through an hour of gridlock, get rolling for a few miles and run into another mess.  We hit heavy traffic in Worcester as we left, and then gridlock past NYC, the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and then all along the Baltimore, Washington area.  At one point Cindy asked a toll worker if it was always this bad.  She said Friday’s in the summer are always bad due to people trying to get to the shore on weekends.

I just can’t believe that 95 has not been expanded over the years to increase it’s capacity.  It seems like the most minor thing can throw traffic into gridlock like a vehicle by the side of the road looked at by rubber neckers.  The phantom road work closures drive me insane as well.  Lanes of traffic are closed to supposed road work yet nothing is being done.  No workers are even present, yet a lane is closed.

During the drive yesterday both Cindy and I were sort of losing our minds.  The infinite brake lights as far as you can see just creates a sense of hopelessness.  I found myself yelling at other vehicles on the road random things like “the road is full, go home!” or calling random drivers jerks, idiots or assholes for no real reason other than they were part of the quagmire that was driving me insane.  We recorded a brief video in the middle of the madness I will post later.

I had another issue to handle while Cindy was driving.  All of a sudden my phone stopped using cellular data.  I couldn’t do anything data related.  I first turned my phone off and on to see if that cleared it up.  Nope.  I then looked at my cellular data under settings and saw it was turned off and unable to be turned on.  I then jumped to the usage screen and saw the phone supposedly had used 51.5GB of DATA!  WTF???

This made no sense, other than using it as a hotspot for my laptop to write these blog entries, check my email, and FB feed a little, I did nothing else that would gobble data.  I then thought maybe it was Cindy using Netflix on the iPad while we were driving that inflated the number but even so, it would be impossible to consume that much data.

So I spent a good 20 minutes on the phone with ATT.  They confirmed that despite what my phone is showing, my data usage between the two devices was less than 7 GB.  They had no explanation for why my phone showed such a big number but they issued some sort of reset command that allowed me to once again turn on cellular data, despite the data usage number being off the charts.  I told the guy on the phone I don’t want to get some sort of monster bill this month.  He assured me I won’t and made a note in my account documenting our interaction.

So our late ETA erased our plans to get out to sight see the Richmond area on our wheels.  Instead we ordered pizza and collapsed in the room while watching Batman begins.  We stayed at an Aloft hotel, which we have stayed at before.  It’s an extremely hipster kind of place which is clean although there was ample screaming in the hallway until after 11.

After a good night’s sleep Cindy thought maybe we could ride a little this morning but one look out the window scuttled our plans once again.  It was raining steadily.  So instead we said f it, we packed up and got out on the road early to hopefully get us into Savannah Georgia at a reasonable time.  I expected the drive to be pretty clog free but I was sorely mistaken, again.  We once again hit two or three, dead stop, extended traffic jams that threw nearly an hour onto our eta.

We tacked on some more time when we stopped at South of the Border for the second time this trip for lunch.  I am crossing my fingers that my lunch, which was filled with food poisoning potential, (potato salad, coleslaw, tuna salad) stays down.  I just have a feeling that pristine food prep is not practiced at SOB.

If things go as planned we should roll into our last hotel of the trip before 6PM, hopefully giving us some time to ride and sight see a little bit.  Tomorrow I want to set an alarm and get on the road as early as possible so we can push into Naples as early as possible.  My plate at home and work is going to be quite full so I want to start chopping away at it as quickly as possible.

So we arrived at Worcester MA rather late, somewhere around 7:30.  Cindy booked a Hampton’s Inn which was only a year and a half old and just beautiful inside.  The rooms still smelled like new construction.  The place had every convenience you could want and it was immaculately clean.  To think we paid less for this room than the shithole we stayed at night one is pretty incredible.

We walked to a nearby restaurant called The Fix which was inside of an old renovated factory building.  I had a very tasty veggie burger and Cindy had her second burger in as many days.  She enjoyed it as well.  Although in the moment you are consuming the food, it tastes good, overall I am very much looking forward to eating my normal cleaner diet.  Existing on restaurant/fast food most of the time would be miserable.  I don’t know how so much of the US population does it so much.

We both got a solid’s nice sleep in the luxurious accommodations.  We enjoyed our best free continental breakfast of the trip.  Not only were the food choices impressive, the staff was right there picking up any crumbs the second they hit the table.  The dining area was beautiful as well with pop up power outlets on the top of some of the tables.  It was the type of place you would want to spend more time at but alas, that was not an option.

Our Dunking Donuts stop in the morning was different.  It was cool inside and featured a huge salt water fish tank, the first time I ever saw such a thing inside a coffee establishment.  I stared at the tank while Cindy finished up in the bathroom.

I then saw on a wall that they sold “nitro coffee”.  You may think that just means coffee with extra caffeine but you would be incorrect.  Instead they actually infuse their iced coffee with nitrogen which somehow allows it to be served extra cold without using much ice, neato.

Cindy fell in love with some ridiculously sized DD drink container, it was big enough to be a small fishbowl.  She bought it and said she would use it to make sure she drinks that amount of water daily.  I will believe it when I see it.

So the drive today which is supposed to end up in Richmond Virginia did not look bad at all on paper.  The GPS initially said we could expect to arrive around 5PM.  Well after an absolutely MISERABLE driving day thus far, our current ETA now sits at 7:45 PM, and climbing.

I don’t know if I can adequately verbalize just how f’ing aggravating it is driving through the I-95 corridor.  It is truly maddening and I have no idea how people that live in this region deal with this bullshit day in and day out.  What is the worst is twice today, the humungous delays were caused by lane closures for road work.  However once we got to the closed lanes, there was absolutely no work going on.  It almost felt like the road crews just wake up and say “hey, let’s fck with people today” and close lanes unnecessarily.  Cindy shot a Facebook Live video while we were in the middle of one of our delays that may have shown a small amount of the level of aggravation I was feeling.

Of course the nonstop toll raping continued throughout the ordeal.  With as much money as commuters hand out in tolls I would think much, much better road conditions should exist.  I wonder where it all goes….

So as I look upon this trip, there have been some definitive great moments and if the trip only involved getting to Rehoboth things would have been fine.  However, the traffic, tolls, and parking experiences since Rehoboth have been absolutely miserable.  I can tell you with great assuredness I will never do a road trip up the northeast corridor the rest of my breathing days. It f’ing sucks.

So we stayed last night in a funny named town called Orono.  Cindy found a place to stay named the Black Bear Inn.  It had a rustic style but a very dated décor with moave carpet, lots of wallpaper and even a working phone behind the toilet.  It was big and clean so that was good enough for me.

We went out to dinner in Orono which evidently is a college town (Univ of Maine).  There were a lot of small bars and eateries.  I drank a couple craft beers and both Cindy and I enjoyed our dinners quite a bit.  We both got a pretty solid night of sleep which was a good thing since we had an active day planned today.

We took advantage of the free continental breakfast but sort of wish we didn’t.  The coffee and orange juice tasted very odd and we left 75% of a muffin that was absolutely tasteless.  Oh well, overall I still liked the place and it was one of the least expensive rooms of the trip.

We wanted to get up and out this morning as we were heading to Acadia National Park and most importantly Cadillac Mountain, the recommendation of my gym buddy who grew up in New Hampshire.  The reason we drove all the way to Orono was to minimize the drive to the park. In retrospect we were glad we did.  Originally we planned to stay in Portland which would have been a 3 1/2 hour drive to the park.  From Orono is was more like an hour and a half.  You will see why that was so important as the story progresses.

The drive in was scenic.  We took route 3 which was under heavy construction.  It’s a two lane road with one lane totally ripped up  in certain sections.  For a period of over a half mile we were basically off roading, something the low profiled Ioniq is not designed to do in the least.  My buddy Joe, who lives in Maine told us on Facebook that this was literally THE busiest time of the year to visit the park which didn’t make us happy.  But still, I figured it’s Maine, how crowded can it really be?  The answer was, very.

We picked up our $25 park pass which Joe also warned us to make sure we got else risk a $130 fine from the park ranger system.  I surely was not going to give them a reason to fine me, again.  The drive in the park itself up to the top of Cadillac Mountain was very pretty.  We saw a LOT of bikers trying to grind it out up the steep, steep roadways.  It looked pretty miserable.

As we went up we caught some brief beautiful glimpses of what awaited us up top, we were anxious to get there.  As we approached the top we saw numerous signs warning cars to not park on the shoulder.  As we got closer I realized why that was such a problem, parking was at a premium.  We actually got a bit lucky and came upon a car that was just backing out as we approached.  Others were not so fortunate and had to just slog around the lot being parking spot mongers, a role I despise.

Once we got parked and headed onto the granite structures we got our first full look at the amazing view where you see the Atlantic Ocean wrap around you.  It ranked right up there with some of the most beautiful spots in nature I have ever visited like the Grand Canyon and Ireland.

Cindy was like a kid in a candy shop.  She loved ascending and descending the rock structures.  She was consistently 50-75 feet ahead of me.  It’s very cool how there is such an immense area up top you can explore.  Other than a few roped off vegetation areas, you could go almost anywhere.

We stopped at the visitor center and grabbed a few items including some blueberry soda that my stepmom, who was just in Maine, told us about.  She said it was some of the best soda she ever had, she was right. Cindy and I both enjoyed it as we continued to climb around.

At one point Cindy said she saw a little girl picking berries from an evergreen looking bush on the ground and eating them.  She was concerned the kid was going to get poisoned and her dad had wandered far away.  It turned out she was actually harvesting wild blueberries albeit the plant looks different than any blueberry bush I ever saw.  The little girl actually directed us to some of the bushes and we picked a few to sample.  The berries were very small but damn, they tasted like blueberries, crazy.

So we got our fill of the beautiful views and we had a mental clock on us as we only had limited time available at the park as we had to start pushing back south this afternoon due to our tight schedule.  Cindy had wanted to see another area of the park called Jordan’s Pond which supposedly had trails that would be good for EUC riding.  When we were in the visitor shop up top a park employee warned us that parking down there is very difficult as you get later in the day. (It was close to noon)  Wow, she wasn’t kidding.

So as we descended the mountain and approached Jordan’s Pond we ran into a lot of brake lights.  There was a grumpy looking older woman park ranger stopping traffic.  Evidently the lots were full and she was only allowing vehicles in once one left.  A lot of people gave up after sitting there 15 minutes and we were close to doing the same.  We caught an unexpected lucky break when the woman actually waved us through.  We found exactly one open spot in the lower lot and felt very fortunate to have grabbed it.

So when I looked at the map I saw a trail that was along the lake.  I assumed that was what we were supposed to be riding on.  We geared up and headed down a steep hill to the bank of the lake.  We quickly discovered this was not a trail to be riding on.  It was narrow, somewhat treacherous, and filled with park visitors.  We headed back up to the car and regrouped.  We decided to ride to the upper lot where another visitor center/restaurant was located.  Through some luck we got pointed in the direction of the carriage trails which are wide, packed gravel roads that are used heavily by bikers.  That was what I was looking for.

I was having a great time cruising the scenic trails.  Cindy was not.  She was feeling unsure of herself riding on the surface.  We still put in maybe a couple miles of trail riding which was cool.  We were asked about the wheels a ton, just like we have been pretty much anywhere we rode on the trip.  People are just fascinated by them.  When I get back I plan to get eucarmy.com stickers made that I can stick on the wheels to make it very easy to tell people where to get more info from.

As we were making our way back to the car on a path more designed for walking than wheels I had to step off the wheel when I hit a high lipped root or stone while going very slow.  I tried to grab the wheel to keep it upright but I had the seat on it so the handle was not accessible.  As a result the wheel dropped to it’s side as the tire spun rapidly, adding a few more battle scars to the exterior.  Mechanically the wheel seemed fine as I rode it back to the car.

We pulled out of Acadia National Park knowing we could have easily spent two full days there seeing all the natural beauty.  As we stopped for lunch on the way out we talked about how miserable it would have been if we stuck with our original Portland plan.  The three and a half hour drive would have meant we would have arrived at the park right at the worst possible time.  We likely would have spent almost our entire time there trying to find a f’ing place to park.

So we are now doing a pretty strong push back south, having reached the turnaround point in our journey.  We have a room booked in Worcester, MA, instead of staying in Maine like we originally planned.  Putting in the extra time now will set up our last three days of travel to be more enjoyable with a little time to relax and breathe.

 

 

 So after the crazy and frustrating day of trying to drive around and park in Washington DC we were looking forward to getting up to Connecticut which is slightly less metropolitan.  Of course in order to get there we had to go through the outskirts of NYC which was a traffic mess as well.  Cindy actually drove us through the last part of the day, including the NYC part.  She handled it well.

The drive from Rehoboth to Washington DC to Connecticut had a couple common themes, traffic, parking and tolls, lots and lots, and lots of tolls.  We paid an obscene amount of money for the privilege of driving on clogged, shitty roads.  We are pretty sure we spent around $60 on tolls alone yesterday, plus another $15-$20 to park in DC, for 50 minutes.  I found it very, very annoying.

So there was one bright spot, Cindy found a nice and affordable place to stay in Fairfield, Connecticut.  It had a very hipster feel even though it had modern colonial styling.  The room was clean and comfortable.  Within walking distance was a diner where we scored a late night supper.  I then crashed in the room and played Hearthstone till almost midnight, it just felt like a good way to unplug from what was a very stressful day in many ways.

We woke up this morning to glorious weather with temps in the low 60’s with low humidity.  It felt fantastic.  Although we didn’t have time to do any formal EUC riding I did hop on the Msuper and zip around the hilly parking lot for a few minutes which was fun.

So I did the driving into Boston.  I am not sure why either of us thought driving into large metropolitan areas would be a good idea for this trip.  There are few things that annoy me more than trying to navigate a vehicle through city traffic.

So in an effort to avoid the parking fiasco we had in Washington DC, Cindy was doing research on parking in Boston and the research did not look promising.  Parking in the city seemed to be problematic once again.  Cindy found some parking app where you “reserve” your parking ahead of time.  I told her to go ahead and book something.

So to get to this garage we literally made no less than a dozen turns onto various congested one way streets.  It felt like we were doing a death spiral.  So finally we thought we were close to our reserved parking garage.  The app had built in GPS support which you were supposed to use to direct you to the spot.  Well the problem was in a large city, big buildings can make GPS problematic and it was for us.  The directions seemed to be lagging and would change wildly all of a sudden.

Well we saw a big P for parking sign.  I was a few feet past the entrance when Cindy barked out that this was it!  I slammed on the brakes and Cindy jumped out, stopping the car behind me so I could back up and swing into the garage.  We pulled in and told the Hispanic attendant we had reservations.  Cindy showed him her reservation on the phone and all appeared to be well.  We unloaded our EUCs and headed out into the streets of Boston.

I expected Cindy to be very conservative riding around the city but I was surprised it didn’t take long until she was up on the Msuper carefully riding around countless obstacles and human beings.  Sure she got off and pushed it more than I did but overall she did much better than I expected.

We made our way to Boston Commons, Boston’s version of Central Park.  We figured that would be a great spot to zip around on the wheels, and it was.  There was one problem.  About a half hour into wheeling around I spotted a sign that said no skateboards or bikes! That seemed pretty stupid and I wasn’t sure if it only applied to the inner, more narrow paths where the sign was posted or everywhere.  We still rode around the park some more but tried to stay more to the outside border where there was more room.  Worst case a cop tells us we need to stop and that didn’t happen.

Evidently Boston is another town where EUC usage is as rare as a Yankees fan.  Everyone was looking at Cindy and I rolling by in disbelief.  I heard countless, “that’s cool’s”, “look at that’s”, and “what is that’s” as we zipped around.  I told Cindy that really, an experienced rider on an EUC has less impact than a cyclist.  The amount of space used is the same as a person walking and an experienced rider can go at walking speed, or slower.  I was able to weave my way through people with relative ease, even on the big Monster.

We also went over to the Faneuil Hall area, a popular shopping/dining area that Cindy was at once before.  Shopping while on an EUC isn’t very practical so I told Cindy to just go in and do her thing as I didn’t really care much about the stores.  I sat outside and guarded the wheels while I took in more of the Boston scenery.

We had our parking spot till 2:45.  We were paranoid about having problems getting back to the garage so we allocated an hour to do so.  Instead we were back in 10 minutes.  We spent the time enjoying some ice cream from a nearby store while we chatted to more interested bystanders about the wheels.

So when we got back to the entrance I had the first inkling that things may not be right.  Cindy’s parking app said we were supposed to be parked at 275 Washington Street.  We parked at a garage at 75 Devonshire around the corner.  I pointed this out to Cindy but she speculated that maybe the Washington address was just another entrance to the same garage.

Cindy was happy at first when she saw the attendant parked her car right up front.  Her happiness turned to anger when she saw her car was flush against the wall behind it although it looked like there was a towel or something wedged in between.  She was sure the back of the car would be damaged but when they pulled it forward we saw there were also two big rubber traffic cones back there that provided additional padding, the car was fine.

So now all we had to do was show the ticket we were given and we should be good to go, right? Wrong.  The attendant was confused that he did not see our reservation on his list.  As soon as I heard this I knew we for sure parked in the wrong garage.  I also knew that we now had the pleasure of being charged for parking, twice.  In total we spent almost $60 on the parking but what the hell, I’ll just throw it into the basket with all the ridiculous toll charges.

Speaking of tolls.  In Massachusetts they still toll the fck out of you but they do it by the disgusting toll by plate system.  Basically if you do not have an EZ Pass they charge you triple the rate and they charge you often.  At least a half dozen times we ran underneath trusses with license plate cameras which will result in bills being mailed to the house in a few weeks.  If I were my dad, I would throw the bills in the trash and dare them to come to Florida to collect their $20. I will not be surprised that if we rack up over $200 in parking and toll charges by the time we get home.

So despite the shitty traffic and latest parking adventures, overall Cindy and I had fun.  I really love being able to sightsee and travel around these areas on a single wheel.  Until you do it yourself it’s hard to understand why it’s so much fun.

We are now well into Maine and plan to crash in a town called Orono near Bangor.  Staying there will put us closer to Cadillac Mountain which along with Rehoboth is one of the feature stops of the trip.  Maine is soooo different from most of the congested northeast.  We are looking forward to crisp air, breathtaking views and more one wheel cruising.  After tomorrow we begin a relatively high speed descent back down to Florida with a few scenic stops along the way.

So on Sunday I got a FB message from my friend Cheryl that she just happened to be arriving in Dewey Beach for a short vacation on Monday afternoon.  It was quite the coincidence but we decided to take advantage of it.  I had not seen Cheryl in many years, the last time when her and her ex-husband came down for a visit.  We decided to meet at the Dewey Beach Grottos.  It was my second Grottos patronage of the day but since I only get to do it once a decade or so, I didn’t feel badly about it.

As I mentioned previously, Cheryl was a former co-worker of mine when I worked for Entre/AmeriData/GE Capital ITS.  She has had a lot of changes in her life lately.  Not only is she recently divorced, she also scrapped her IT career and decided to start selling real estate full time, something she finds much more enjoyment in.  I always knew Cheryl had a decorators eye and she restored and flipped one investment property herself. Cheryl’s friend, daughter, and daughter’s friend also joined us which was cool.

I wasted no time ordering a Big Beer, one of my favorite items at Grotto’s outside of their pizza.  I consumed many victory and defeat big beers during my time playing volleyball tournaments in Rehoboth with my volleyball gang from PA.  I was happy to hear they had Miller Lite on tap.  I consumed two of the monster mugs during dinner.

So even though we had not seen each other forever and rarely get to talk, Cheryl and I had little problems just picking up and talking about stuff.  She is one of those rare people in my life that I can talk to easily for prolonged periods of time without significant effort on my part.  It just flows.  I really enjoyed getting together and felt very lucky that our paths just happened to cross at the exact right time.  Hopefully it isn’t another decade or so before I see her next time.

Unfortunately my sleep last night was not nearly as solid as the night before.  The AC system was evidently on a preprogrammed schedule that had the temp cranked down to 64 degrees.  I awoke about 4AM, freezing.  After I got up to turn off the air I really never fell back to sleep.

We grabbed our included breakfast.  While I was there I saw some head shaking gluttony going on.  There was a significantly obese man at the self serve counter.  I was behind him, waiting to get to the cereal.  Only after I realized I had been standing there for a couple minutes did I bother to see what the hold up was.  This guy had loaded up a standard sized paper plate with 6-8 bagel halves and 8-10 donuts.  The plate was stacked at least 7-8 inches high with wall to wall baked goods.  The man quickly left the dining area with his massive plate, presumably to devour it in his room.

So as we were finishing up our modest breakfast and throwing out our trash I was astonished when I saw the same man, at the same counter, loading up the same plate with the same amount of shit. I couldn’t believe it, it was something to see.  I hope he gets what he always wanted for Christmas, insulin shots.

So we pulled out for Washington DC before 7:30.  The skies were still very foreboding and we drove through some rain in the beginning portions of the drive.  The trip to DC was a pretty short two and a half hour drive that had some frustrating traffic as we approached.  It was only a preview of the incredibly annoying experience to come.

Our first step was Arlington Cemetery where Cindy’s step father is buried.  I missed a turn that tacked another 15-20 minutes onto our arrival time.  We finally got parked and made it into the visitor center.  There are shuttles that will run you out to the section of the cemetery you are visiting which is cool.   Cindy also had an app that uses GPS to take you right to the grave site you are looking for.

The visual inside Arlington is pretty shocking with perfectly aligned rows of gravestones as far as you can see in every direction.  As we walked across the graves of others I found myself feeling suddenly emotional.  I just felt a great sense of loss.  We arrived at Cindy’s stepfather’s grave which faces the Pentagon.  It was very emotional for Cindy which in turn made me more sad as well.  She called her mom to let her know we were there.  She took a few pictures for the family and we headed out after spending a bit more time.

There were funerals going on all around us.  ON average there is something like 30 funerals a day at Arlington.  Supposedly there were 27 taking place today.  We hitched a ride back to the visitor center and then bought tickets to ride the tour tram which takes you around the 650 acre grounds.  Cindy and I really only had one other thing we wanted to see there, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The ceremony was really something to see.  We got there to see the actual changing of the guard that happens once every 30 minutes during the summer.  The robotic precision of every movement the soldiers performed was so fascinating to watch.  Each patrol back and forth is exactly 21 steps, every time.  The ground the soldiers patrol has deep wear marks from countless exact steps placed over the years.  Cindy shot video of the entire changing ceremony which we will post later.

So our plan was to next head into Washington DC to check out a few of the monument sites.  It seemed like it shouldn’t be a big deal, certainly Washington must have clearly marked and easily accessible parking for the thousands of visitors that flock to the area annually.  Uh, no.

So we got to the monument area easily enough and started looking for signage to tell us where to park.  There was none.  WTF, how can this be?  There appeared to be no easily accessible parking.  From driving around there appeared to be two options, try to find streetside parking or parking in a garage in a building far away from the memorials.

Cindy and I both got incredibly frustrated as there appeared to be no nearby parking.  We did find one small streetside space that I squeezed into with Cindy’s help only to notice that it said only “special permit” vehicles could park there.  We then went into one garage and wound up turning around because it was a valet only deal.  We wanted easy access to the car so we had to do an awkward three point turn in tight quarters to get out of there.

In addition to being annoyed as hell with the parking accommodations or lack there of, we were both starving at this point.  We circled and circled and wound up eventually parking in the basement of another building in a spot we probably were not supposed to park in.  All of the time we wasted trying to find a place pretty much eliminated any chance of us doing any more sight seeing as we needed to get into Connecticut by tonight.  Instead we just parked, walked up to street level, ate lunch and left immediately.

We were so frustrated we sort of turned it into humor.  I guess it’s our bad for not doing any homework about the parking situation in DC.  How dumb of me to think they would make it relatively easy.  To put a nice cherry on top of our Washington DC experience, traffic getting out of there was an absolute quagmire.  Neither of us have any desire to revisit the area using a personal vehicle in the future.

We are now on the Jersey Turnpike trying to make up time on our trek to Fairfield Connecticut.  We are hoping this rather miserable day of travel will set us up for a fun next couple days in Boston and Maine where we get to see an entirely different way of life and scenery foreign to us.  Even though we are still relatively early in the trip it already seems like we have jammed a huge amount of things into a small segment of time.  It’s a feeling I expect to grow.

 

On our way into Rehoboth we went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, something I have seen a number of times but new to Cindy.  I was a bit shocked when they asked for a $15 toll to cross the span but I guess inflation has kicked in since the last time I was here.

We stopped mid-span at the visitor center.  I was surprised when I saw this sign posted multiple places.  Evidently at the end of the summer they are beginning a five year project to construct an additional tunnel.  In the process they will be eliminating the mid-span visitor center, permanently, leaving only the fishing dock intact.  I was a bit saddened by the news but an employee inside said it was necessary to increase capacity to accommodate the roughly 4 million vehicles a year that travel on the bridge.

The tail part of the drive into Rehoboth seemed to drag on, we arrived at our hotel about 6:45.  After our terrible lodging experience in Charleston, Cindy was concerned the EconoLodge that we reserved for two nights in Rehoboth would be shitty as well.  She saw a couple online reviews that used the same “disgusting” adjective Cindy used so frequently to describe the Creekside Lands Inn.

When we went into the lobby the clerk confirmed our room as two queen beds with smoking.  Cindy immediately freaked out and said we wanted non-smoking rooms.  When we reexamined the printed out confirmation slip it did clearly say SMOKING.  The woman said it isn’t that unusual when you book rooms through third party sites.  They flash a low rate and in very unnoticeable text they mention it’s a smoking rate.  Evidently this was another example of that practice which seems moronic to me.  If a bunch of people get mislead about what their room is it’s only going to piss them off and make them very unlikely to use your service again.

So staying in a smoking room was not an option.  The problem was they had no other non-smoking rooms available except for ONE suite.  Well we had little choice in the matter since the error was technically ours and not theirs.  We agreed to the extra $30-$40 per night charge.  We hoped the upgrade would make the odds of the room being nicer more in our favor.  Our gamble did seem to pay off.  Sure the room looked like it hadn’t been updated since 1989 but at least it was clean and everything works.  We were quite glad to not have shitty accommodations for our only two night stay of the trip.

So we had been in contact with Todd as we approached.  He had arrived a few hours earlier.  We agreed to meet up at the Rusty Rudder for dinner, the spot we hoped to spread my mom’s ashes at.  There have been a number of things that have changed since I was last in the area and one of them is how you park.  They have this system where you pay with an app which is just stupid.  I miss the good old days where you throw a few quarters in a meter and you are good to go.

The Rusty Rudder, which I likely have not patronized in over 20 years was much as I remembered it but maybe slightly bigger.  We sat on a covered portion of the deck.  It was the first time I saw Todd and Caroline since my Dad’s 70th birthday party in January.  I had not seen Mindy and her daughter McKenna since my sister Meghan’s wedding which was something like three years ago.

We all enjoyed a couple drinks and a nice dinner.  We decided we would try to do mom’s ashes now as the weather forecast for Monday was pretty awful with strong storms predicted to roll in most of the day.  I contacted my sister and quickly got her up on a Skype connection so she could be a remote part of the process.  Unfortunately the audio of our connection wasn’t great, she had a hard time hearing us.

It was dark so we decided to walk out towards the end of the fishing/boat pier.  Cindy handed me the water soluble bag of mom’s remains while she read the same touching poem she did at her original memorial service in Naples.  After she finished we said goodbye to mom one last time as I released the bag into the dark water below where it quickly vanished from site.  Of course it brought tears to our eyes and we did one last group hug.  I was glad and relieved that FINALLY her remains were dispersed in an appropriate place instead of sitting in the office.  Mom loved the beach, sun, and water all of her life.  For her to be a part of all three things now feels right.  I can only hope somewhere she knows, and is happy.

We decided to meet back up in Rehoboth on the boardwalk.  Todd was staying closer to the beach than we were so they met us as we were in the midst of Cindy playing a few games of skill.  We originally hoped to play some mini-golf at Ryan’s which is on the roof of a building but they had closed for the night shortly before Todd and the kids arrived.

It was very interesting for me to see how much things have changed in the last 15 years, roughly the last time I recall being in the Rehoboth area.  Thankfully the feel of my favorite childhood vacation spot remained but there certainly have been a lot of changes along the way.  There have been entire new shopping districts created, roadways reworked, condos/hotels erected and of course the irritating new parking system enacted.

So since golfing was out the kids played a bit in Funland and we said we wanted to ride the Haunted Mansion, the backbone ride of Funland which has been around for 38 years, meaning I rode it during my prime childhood years.  I needed to go put money in the parking meter to extend our time.  Unfortunately it was a long, long walk back to the car.  I bet it took me close to 30 minutes before I got back.  By the time I did everyone was in the long line for the Haunted Mansion.

Standing in line gave me plenty of time to reminisce.  It just seemed so weird looking around at what was one the core highlight experiences of my childhood.  Funland was a bit different than it was in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  They used to have a TON of arcade games in the covered areas of the building that complimented the rides and games of skill.  The arcade games are entirely gone, replaced with mostly kiddie rides.  That was the great thing about the boardwalk, there were three or four arcades you could choose from.  Last night confirmed that the arcade I knew as a kid is officially dead, killed by the high end gaming consoles of today.

So as I Cindy and I got on the ride I was curious if anything had significantly changed.  The answer I came back with was “very little”.  The ride is nearly identical to what I remember as a kid and that isn’t a bad thing.  It was fun to once again worry that the skeleton that was holding a hose shooting water across our path would stop just in time or not to keep us dry.  All the corny silliness was more or less intact which I appreciated.  Although I knew the ride so well that nothing scared me, Cindy was not so lucky.  She screamed and jumped more than once.

So after the ride Cindy and I were really beat.  We had been on the road for roughly 12 hours and both were running out of gas.  We told Todd and the gang we were packing it in for the night but we would get ahold of them the next morning to maybe hook up for lunch at Grotto’s.  After taking showers I enjoyed my best night of sleep in several days, pretty much sleeping straight through the night until the sun came up.

When we woke up Cindy immediately flipped on the weather channel.  The outlook was not good.  It wasn’t if it was going to rain hard or not, that was a certainty. It was a matter of how long it would take to get here.  I told Cindy I wanted to get moving so we have some time to eat and then ride the wheels around the boardwalk, one of the highlight rides I imagined on the trip.  The skies looked foreboding but nothing was falling.  After eating breakfast we threw the wheels in the Ioniq and headed for the beach.

At first Cindy was very hesitant riding up on the boardwalk, there were a LOT of people up there walking, running, and riding bikes, all likely with the same idea as us, enjoy some time outside before the storms blow in.  In addition to all of the human obstacles, riding one direction went into a massive headwind which made riding more challenging.  As a result early on Cindy was stepping off the wheel a lot and walking around some stuff however after we rode around for awhile she was doing much better, S’ing back and forth around people with relative ease.  She always underestimates her ability on the wheel and gets mad at me when I express more confidence in her riding skills than she does herself.  I really enjoyed riding the boardwalk area and if it was solely my decision I would still be up there right now, in the rain, lol.

So we got off the wheels and went in some stores on Rehoboth Ave.  T-shirt creation/shopping was another highlight of my childhood memories here.  I loved getting t-shirts made with those cartoonish muscle car images on them.  The process seemed magical as the shirt store worker transformed a plain t-shirt into something cool in a matter of minutes.  I couldn’t find any cool car decals but I did have an Eagles shirt with a Punisher logo made which is pretty sweet.

So we contacted Todd and let him know the mini-golf was open and we could get in a round hopefully before the storms started.  He said they would walk up so we could give it a go.  It started to rain around hole four or five but never hard enough to make us quit.  We went into high speed Putt Putt mode and finished 18 holes in probably less than 25 minutes.  Despite being rushed it was still fun to get a round in.  Cindy beat me.

We then walked to Grotto’s which was a few doors down.  It’s been a decade and a half since I last had Grotto’s pizza and I missed it.  It’s some of my favorite pizza on the planet.  Since it was lunch I did not indulge in any big beers but I may add that to my to do list for this evening.  Todd and Mindy both had already checked out of their hotel and had to work tomorrow.  They planned to make a pit stop on their way home at the Tanger Outlets.  We told them it was great to see everyone and encouraged them to make a Florida trip sometime in the winter.

Ironically, my friend and former co-worker Cheryl just happened to arrive in Dewey in the last hour or two.  I have not seen Cheryl in eons and she has never met Cindy.  We hope to hook up for some more Grotto’s with big beers this evening before we shove off for Washington DC early tomorrow morning.

This brief return to Rehoboth has been filled with a variety of feelings.  Finally departing with mom’s remains was something I really wanted to do because I have felt guilty for a long time about not honoring her wishes sooner.  Although I think she would have been ok with that dispersion happening in the Gulf of Mexico, doing it in Rehoboth certainly is even more special as it held many great memories and happy moments for her as well.

Of course to try to fully engage and enjoy in the area much more time would be required.  That is a luxury we just don’t have right now.  I am glad to at least been able to reconnect with an area that was borderline sacred to me at one point and time.  I’m not sure when I’ll be back again….

 

So the drive to Charleston was uneventful.  The Ioniq has proven to be quite the adept and comfortable long range cruiser.  The great gas mileage, comfortable seats with more legroom than the Prius, and tech like Sirius XM and intelligent cruise control makes the miles pass by easily.  We did almost 500 miles yesterday and it was not a big deal.

We pulled into our motel, The Creekside Lands Inn with the hope it would be half decent.  However as soon as I saw it was a place where the rooms have exterior facing doors I knew it was likely to have problems.  During my various road trips over the last decade or more, a hotels/motels with exterior facing doors are usually shitty, almost without exception.

The lobby didn’t seem awful but certainly was nothing impressive.  The clerk said our room was by the pool which can be a good or bad thing.  In our case it was the latter.  So I am not sure how many seconds it took from when we entered the room until Cindy first uttered the word “disgusting” but it wasn’t long.  It was a word she relied heavily on the rest of the night.

The place looked like it was an old, shitty, place that they tried to refresh with some poorly executed facelift items.  For example they had a newer granite countertop and sink but the bathroom had a dilapidated toilet right next to it with a toilet seat that was so old the finish was peeling off.  The tub had a rust spot on the bottom of it and the faucet in there was not attached to the wall, it was just hanging off the pipe.  The door to the bathroom was stained on both sides extensively by who knows what.  When you looked at the edge of the door  you realized that half of the guts of the door were missing for some reason.  Closing the door completely required you to lean into it with your bodyweight.

However the most egregious thing of all was revealed when you looked up, and saw daylight.  The ceiling of the bathroom was comprised of large wood “tiles”.  Evidently years of bathroom moisture had warped the wood resulting in a couple inch gap that gave you a clear view of cinderblock and daylight.

The chair and ottoman in the room were old, stained, dirty and gross.  We refused to sit on it.  Although the sheets/pillows on the bed seemed pretty clean, the bed sheet cover looked to be in similar condition to the chair.  The word “disgusting” rolled from Cindy’s mouth like she had terets as she surveyed our accommodations.   If the visuals weren’t bad enough the room stank big time.  Evidently the large gap in the bathroom let the fresh, marshy air to flow into the space unabated.

I tried to keep a more funny/positive attitude about the place.  I have stayed in shitty places before during road trips so it wasn’t that huge of a deal.  We decided to go take a quick ride on the wheels on a nearby bike/running path Cindy had read about.  We both agreed anything to get us out of the room was a good move.

After we got back we tried to come up with a game plan.  Cindy wanted to see some of Charleston and I didn’t want her wish to not come true since we were right there.  The issue was it was already something like 6:30 and we had plans to try to get on the road early the next day for the long push to Rehoboth.

We wound up walking across the street to an Italian restaurant.  We enjoyed a nice meal out on the deck.  Our waitress was nice and gave us some tips on what to do/where to park if we go into Charleston.  We took her advice and went to grab the car.  As we prepared to leave we saw the motel had filled up quite a bit and the pool area was filled with crazy kids, a preview of what was waiting for us upon our return.

The drive into Charleston was not long, 15-20 minutes max.  There was ample free street parking.  As we drove in Cindy really liked the classic southern architecture that was everywhere you looked.  We parked near the Battery, a waterfront historical area that is a famous tourist attraction.

At first Cindy wanted to walk but then changed her mind and agreed the wheels would be the best way to take in as much of the views in the limited timeframe we had.  We got there shortly after sunset so the crowds were starting to disperse but the colors over the water still looked beautiful.

As we rode around we got a ton of looks and questions about what the hell we were riding.  The ride had some challenging terrain with a lot of broken up sidewalk, high curbs and even cobblestones.  Cindy did a good job handling the challenges.

I expected more congestion but we had mostly smooth sailing on the wheels, many times cruising down the middle of empty one way streets that carved between the beautiful architecture all around us.

Although I was originally concerned about spending too much time there, once we started riding it was just fun.  I would have stayed as long as Cindy wanted.  She actually was the one to say she was ready to go because she was getting fatigued from the riding.  The newly installed trolley handle on the Msuper definitely came in handy for the times Cindy decided to walk instead of ride.  I’m glad it worked out as planned.

When we got back to the smelly room it was pretty much a zoo outside.  The parking lot was almost entirely full and there were a lot of people outside of their rooms.  Of course the most crazy and loud spot was the pool where tons of kids were carrying on.

We headed into the room, hoping the loud AC unit fan would somewhat insulate us from the noise.  Cindy refused to take a shower in the “disgusting” bathroom.  I was ok with venturing in there.  Besides the rust spot on the floor of the tub the rest of the space was not awful although it did take a loooong time to get hot water flowing.  Other than that the shower was ok.

The sleep experience in the room as you can guess was less than ideal.  We had the tv on to block some noise and lull us to sleep however it stopped working for who knows why.  We did our best to avoid contact with the “disgusting” bed cover as much as possible.  The mattress had little to no support, I almost felt like I was laying in a hammock.  We also had a steady stream of noise from the pool which thankfully subsided around 11PM.  Somehow I did actually manage to fall asleep for a period of time although I spent the last few hours of the night restlessly.

We got up before 6 eager to get the f out.  Cindy actually was brave enough to try out the shower this time. I took another one as well to wash off whatever may have adhered itself to me during the night.  We decided to skip the complimentary breakfast that is provided, convinced it would be shitty as well.  We instead grabbed breakfast at a nearby Dunkin Donuts along with coffee.  If you are traveling into the Charleston area I would strongly advise you avoid The Creekside Lands Inn.  It’s a dump, like a beat up 74 Vega with a new steering wheel cover on it.

We are in the midst of the North Carolina segment of the drive.  We stopped at South of the Border, one of the biggest tourist traps every imagined.  It is unapologetic in it’s corny approach and it just works. Cindy and I spent maybe an hour walking around.  She loved the silliness that is at every turn in the complex.  I have been there close to double digit times but it always manages to make me smile.

We are heading to Rehoboth via a route that takes us across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, another site Cindy has never seen before. It’s been a number of years since I crossed it so it will be cool for me too.

At some point this evening we should be meeting up with Todd and my niece.  It’s her birthday today and she requested a game of miniature golf with us to celebrate.  It’s a request we can certainly grant.

 

On Friday afternoon I got out of the office around 3 allowing me some much needed time to wrap up prep at home for the road trip.  Thanks to a second day without significant rain I got back out on the tractor and mowed some additional parts of the yard that dried up a little bit.  It was far from dry however, when I was done I had to hose down the tractor as it was covered in enough mud to make a 4 wheeler proud.

We got our clothes packed and started the preliminary loading of the car.  Ali stopped by close to 7:30 to pick up Sadie and Elsa as she and Shugs are going to be our dog sitters for the week.  It was very hard, especially for Cindy, to say bye to Elsa but we both know she is in good hands and will have fun with Sadie and Shugs two dogs, Latte, and Ferdie.

Shortly after Ali left, Katie, who will be our chicken caretaker showed up for a refresher course.  We actually have a modified set up for Katie while we are gone.  Instead of dragging out the rubber mats into the mucky yard and hosing them off we have the floor of the coop covered in paper that can be simply rolled up and thrown out everyday.  It will hopefully make the job a little more streamlined for Katie.

The chickens enjoyed their last day of freedom.  Since Wednesday we have let them roam the entire backyard to get them out of the muddy mess in most of their dedicated yard.  It’s funny how quickly the chickens reverted back to their old hang out spots.  Almost immediately a couple of them dug holes in the yard to lay in, one of the annoying habits we could do without.  With as much of a mess as the yard is a couple chicken holes mean very little at this point.

So we didn’t fall asleep until after 11 which was a little late with a 5:30 alarm.  When my eyes opened this morning I felt like I could easily lay in bed another hour or two.  Instead I limped out of bed and got moving.  After I ate my Pop Tart power breakfast I headed out to the coop to get the clean up process started which Cindy joined me in.

It was pretty dark outside still, much darker than the chickens are accustomed to.  All of the birds were still perched and their automatic chicken door was still in the down position.  I gave the hens an early wake up call, gently picking each one off the perch and placing them on the ground.  The birds all headed outside into the dimly lit yard, you could tell they were a bit disoriented.

Clean up with the paper isn’t bad but I definitely prefer the mat hose off technique as it allows you to clean the floor under the mats as well.  The high water levels have caused fire ants to seek higher ground, in this case the platform the shed is built on.  The ants have created some sort of colony in between the flooring of the shed and the plywood platform.  Around the chicken door there are spots where the ants are spilling up top.  It’s difficult to treat the infestation with normal things like Amdro because it can be poisonous to animals if consumed in large enough portions.  For now I have been just spraying the exposed ants with the same vinegar solution we use to clean the perch.

We both took quick showers after cleaning the coop and then finished loading up the Ioniq for it’s first long road trip.  We got out on the road close to 7:30 which wasn’t bad.  As we backed out of the driveway I still felt some trepidation about heading out but I was confident that we crossed our t’s and dotted the i’s.

I drove all morning and Cindy is now behind the wheel as we push east across Florida in the northern part of the state.  Our day one destination is Charleston, South Carolina.  If we can avoid any major delays we should roll into town between 5 and 6pm, a long day of driving but not awful compared to some of our previous road trips.

We are hoping to explore the town a little bit on a single wheel before pushing out relatively early tomorrow for the push to Rehoboth Beach.  I don’t recall if I mentioned this in the blog but the Rehoboth stop is being done for multiple reasons.  Sure I wanted to show Cindy the town I used to look forward to spending two weeks of vacation at many summers as a kid and later as a young adult playing in volleyball tournaments.  I have so many positive, fun, and lasting memories that took place there.

There is also a somber aspect to the stop.  My mom had always said she wanted her ashes spread in the ocean.  After she passed away I originally had planned to do just that in the Gulf of Mexico.  However my brother had thought it would be more appropriate for it to be done in the Rehoboth area and hopefully have all three of us involved.

Well this desire resulted in no spreading of ashes occurring for the last three years because of the reality of myself, my brother, and sister living in three different corners of the country and our lives that have their own complications for various reasons.   I planned this action unilaterally but made my siblings aware of it once it was finalized.  I really had no expectation of either of them actually being there although they were of course welcome to come, I just wanted to let them know that I planned to finally do what needed to get done.

Todd is actually going to come down to meet up with us with his girlfriend, her daughter, and my niece.  Torrin was originally going to try to make it too but it would have been a big mess for her to make it happen so she isn’t coming which is totally understandable, I never thought it was realistic to expect her to make it and I thought it was cool that she was seriously considering making the cross country trek.  We are going to try to tie her in via Skype when we honor mom’s wishes.

I will be glad to have this part of the journey behind me.  I hope to get the sad stuff out of the way early so we can move on to the Grotto’s Big Beers portion of the stop.

Have you ever been in a car with someone the changes the radio station incessantly?  It’s not annoying, at all.  Did I mention the Ioniq has the ability for 18 preset stations?

Last night when I got home I hit the ground running, ripping into my mental “must get done before we leave” list.  I was out mowing grass until after 7:30 and did full weeding and bill paying as well.  I even had time to affix a trolley handle to the Msuper to make it easier for Cindy to push during the trip.  I had broken the built in one crashing during backwards practice.

Today will be one long sprint checking off list items and doing our best to make sure things are all buttoned up before we shove off tomorrow morning.  As has been the case with most road trips I hope to blog along the way to maximize retention of content and minimize how much I need to spit out once we return.

This is going to be a very different type of trip than we have ever done before.