Live Blogging: 4 Trips, 5 Months 10/15/17

Three months and one trip down, three trips and two months to go.

So, here's what is going on:

In August I began a new job that provided me with a lot of vacation time for the rest of the year but very minimal vacation time for next year. In an effort to make the most of it, I'm planning four trips in five months (now, three) with updates weekly on how the planning process is going. I've also included the planning I'm doing for a trip to California that will take place in the spring of next year. I invite you to follow along, offer suggestions, and learn from both my experiences and mistakes.

For Trip #1 (October leaf looking):

Last week at this time, my husband and I were headed home after spending the long holiday weekend leaf looking. We flew up to Boston beginning our adventures in Massachusetts and worked our way down to North Carolina. Of course, before the exploring could get started, we needed to stock up on meat, bread, and cheese from Little Italy in downtown Boston. (We may have grabbed a slice of Boston cream pie and some bolognese sauce as well, but who can resist?) After that, we headed to National at the Boston-Logan airport to pick up our fancy premier car, a Chrysler 300C. It was really a beauty of a car – heated seats, leather seats, remote start, back up camera, Yes, it's fair to say we liked it. :)

I won't share our whole trip (because then what would I blog about later?), but our first major stop was in NYC. Yes, we did a bit of hiking and leaf-looking between Boston and NYC, but NYC was where we chose to overnight ourselves. Rather than call it an early night, despite my feeling sick, we opted to check out a local jazz lounge, Mezzrow. We had second row seats and enough liquid to gain a few pounds (not all alcohol). Then, we collapsed in bed, exhausted at around 2am.

Totals for day one –

350+ miles driven
4 states (NJ, NY, CT, MA) down
4 hours behind us
more bread, cheese, and salami consumed than is acceptable
Also, the luggage somehow managed to get heavier?

Day two was the most confusing of all of the days. We began in NYC, again shopping at the bodegas to get stocked up on food, and taking advantage of our proximity to Chinatown for a delicious breakfast. Then, we were off. This time, the only planned stop between us and DC was in Philadelphia where I checked "try a philly cheesesteak in Philly" off my bucket list. Personal opinion? Not worth it. But to each his (or her) own.

The drive felt long and I slept through most of it. The leaves I was hoping to see? They were still green. But DC made up for it.

Our hotel was the Willard Intercontinental. We had $100 to spend on drinks and food + free breakfast. To say we splurged is an understatement. I felt very presidential sleeping in a classy room dressed up in red, white, and blue. And incredibly opinionated at the bar where I was forced to hold my tongue as my husband and I listened to others politic. ARG. I guess now you know how we were able to drink so much? ;)

Totals for day two –

a late start
300+ miles
5 hours in the car
4 states (NY, NJ, PA, MD), 1 territory (DC)
SICK of bread, cheese, and salami
tired of being in the car
surprisingly little gas consumed by our newest rental, a 2018 Hybrid Ford Fusion

By day three, we were exhausted and we were about to begin the longest trek of the four day roadtrip – DC to Little Switzerland (or just north of Asheville, NC). Being just over nine hours end-to-end, without considering the Blue Ridge Parkway in between, we knew the day would be rough. We began our travels in Shenandoah National Park traveling along Skyland Drive. What we expected to be about a two hour drive ended up filling our day. By the time we reached sundown, we still had another six hours of driving to do to get to our hotel. As tired as we were, that was a rough drive from 7pm until 1am. Unsurprisingly, we collapsed into our bed again, for the final night.

Totals for day three –

exhausted (Is this drive worth it any more?)
BEAUTIFUL FOLIAGE! Seriously, we saw none better. Who would have thought?
approx. 14 hours in the car
at least 700 miles (I quit keeping track)
1 territory (DC), 2 states (VA, NC)
SO DONE with bread, cheese, and salami (When can we have Boston bolognese sauce from Little Italy?)
sad we missed so much of the Blue Ridge Parkway
also sad I lost the earrings I wore during my wedding and a few of my favorite hair accessories :(

Day four was another completely unplanned day. My husband declared we were NOT driving back up to Virginia to see the pieces of Blue Ridge Parkway that we had missed. So, we opted instead to drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains, the goal being to actually see the GSM. Except no. We didn't make it. Who knew the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway was so long? Before the end of the day, we had seen an elk, though, so that's something! I was so not looking forward to returning to work the next day. (More sleep please?)

Totals for day four –

at least 7 hours drive time
500 miles or more
THRILLED to eat at a restaurant!
not so thrilled to miss sunset

Here's what we learned –

• National is awesome! I loved being able to wander in, pick out my car, and leave. No checking in at the counter, nothing. It was so nice. :)
• DO NOT spread out. I didn't, really, but somehow I still managed to lose a (small) bag. If I had put it back into my luggage after using it, maybe I wouldn't have forgotten it?
• Also, checking into multiple hotels with early mornings and late nights will make you more prone to forgetting something. Keep your stuff together.
• No matter how well you plan, nature will throw a surprise or two at you. Or your husband will decide he randomly wants to hike. Just go with it.
• Picnics are only fun for so long. It helps to have a variety of food, but don't deprive yourself of the occasional restaurant while traveling.
• The absolute most I would recommend driving in one day is approx. 4 hours or 350-ish miles. Road trips can become overwhelming and stressful quickly especially if you have places you want to sightsee along the way.

As for the rest of the trips, I haven't accomplished much, since I've been getting caught up on sleep. I asked for my final vacation day for the year and booked flights to NYC (for trip #2). I'm currently working on hotels for New Orleans (trip #3), and watching flights for trip #4. And in the meantime, I find myself thinking "Do I really have the time and energy to plan for a big trip in December?". I have no choice but to take the time and use it for travel, if that's what I want to do, but I might choose to go somewhere I've been before instead of figuring out the logistics of somewhere new. We will see, though. It probably also depends on flight prices.

So, I guess I should get caught up on comments now, right? Hope you all had a lovely week last week, and I look forward to hearing all about it as soon as I get a nap. ;)

Have you ever been in a similar situation as me where you are stressing yourself out trying to take full advantage of something (in this case, vacation time) that you won't be able to take advantage of at a later date? Do you think my husband and I are crazy for having crammed so much driving into four days? (You are allowed to think so.) Are you shocked to learn that the trees in the south were more colorful than the trees further north?

Let's talk! One day I'll get around to responding to comments! I promise! :) <3.

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