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Another Road Trip

Well, it has been a bit since I’ve posted, but today I decided to get off my butt and post some of the photos. Basically, I had 15 days to do a road trip. Oh boy. I planned to head out to Denver, Vegas, etc. Go West young man!  (and family.)  But then I found out that my inlaws had to see New York and Washington DC. Ok, East it is then. The plan was to do Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Niagara Falls, Chicago, and St Louis.  In DC and NYC the hotels were very expensive, so I decided to  camp. Inlaws had never camped before, and Fall might bring colder temps. What could go wrong?

En route to DC: Thanks to an early morning departure, we were able to see the sun rising on the road.

En route to DC: Thanks to an early morning departure, we were able to see the sun rising on the road.

En route to DC: In a scene that would be repeated many time, we munch on Ramen.

En route to DC: In a scene that would be repeated many time, we munch on Ramen.

En route to DC: we check out a spider.

En route to DC: we check out a spider.

The first problem was that I was concerned that there might not be enough room for all of the gear along with the two extra passengers. I ended up buying a virtually unused cargo topper for the minivan off of Craigslist with the intention of selling it after the trip was over. I was still half concerned that I wouldn’t even need it and would thus end up wasting space and money. But I we got the box on Friday evening, brought it home (can’t park it in the garage), and began to load the van as much as possible. Our departure was scheduled for “as early as possible.”

DC: Breakfast in the campground.

DC: Breakfast in the campground.

DC: we brought the hammock as an afterthought, but this was the only time we used it.

DC: we brought the hammock as an afterthought, but this was the only time we used it.

DC: Excited, just off the metro. With kids, the excitement dies down a lot at the end of the day.

DC: Excited, just off the metro. With kids, the excitement dies down a lot at the end of the day.

On Saturday, I think it was around 5AM that we finally hit the road and started for DC. I would have loved to have used back roads, but we were on a bit of a time crunch so we had to stick to the interstate system. But overall the trip up to DC was still very scenic and nice, especially given the fall time of year. Not a whole lot to say about the drive, other than that we tried to stop every couple of hours and stretch out legs. We arrived at the DC campground (Pohick Bay Campground) and set up our tent in the dark.

DC: Nice family shot.

DC: Nice family shot.

DC: Obama

DC: Obama

DC: The White House, but not the "white house".

DC: The White House, but not the “white house”.

The next day we checked in  to the campsite, then drove to a metro station to catch a ride towards the Smithsonian stops. This ended up costing us about $20 a person. Rather expensive. We walked to the White House, arriving just in time to see the road shut down and the motocade carrying the President. The inlaws were quite happy. However, I then discovered that the “white house” the inlaws really wanted to see was the Capitol building. Bummer. So we saw the White House visitors’ center across the street then went towards the Natural History Museum.  However, people were tired and somewhat cranky as a result of the wrong white house. And so we didn’t spend much time there. But for the record, I thought the  museum was pretty cool. The exhibits were in glass cabinets, and you could get pretty much inches away from the animals inside. Really lets you appreciate the size of some of the animals. We then left the museum, took the train back, then our car, and went back to the campground.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

DC: Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

On Monday, we decided to do Arlington National Cemetery. We drove there, parked the car, and walked around a bit, saw the changing of the guard, then walked out towards the metro station. One thing is that I wasn’t sure how long I could actually park my car at Arlington, and #2 we thought the metro station was way down the road and everyone panicked. So I got the car, picked everyone up, then drove past the metro stop about 100 feet from where I picked everyone up. Oh well. We drove to a parking garage near the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. This would mean extra parking fees, and also the waste of metro tickets. Bummer, I kept all this to myself and everyone was happier just taking the car.

We passed through the security present everywhere and saw the museum. I liked it, the ladies maybe not as much. My father in law didnd’t really understand much I would imagine and I tried to explain about the exhibits now and then.  I think he liked it though. We left that museum, walked to the Capitol, saw that and then went into the Botanic Garden. We really liked this. It wasn’t huge, was all indoors, but it felt that you were walking through the jungle. Really sweet. There is also rooms of sorts for other garden zones such as the desert, ancient plants, orchids, etc. There was also a very nice outdoor garden. It was great. We left the parking garage and drove around aimlessly for a little bit. Just as I was thinking how crazy it would be if we wound up right back where we started from (the Mall) I looked over and realized we were now looking at the North side of the White House.

6 Monday, DC: Probably endless hours go into polishing and shining everything.

6 Monday, DC: Probably endless hours go into polishing and shining everything.

6 Monday, DC: Changing of the guard.

6 Monday, DC: Changing of the guard.

6 Monday, DC:, Looking at the Washington Monument from Arlington Cemetery.

6 Monday, DC:, Looking at the Washington Monument from Arlington Cemetery.

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6 Monday, DC: The Capitol, or "white house."

6 Monday, DC: The Capitol, or “white house.”

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6 Monday, DC: Inside the Botanic Garden Orchid section.

6 Monday, DC: Inside the Botanic Garden Orchid section.

6 Monday, DC: The Botanic Garden.

6 Monday, DC: The Botanic Garden.

On Tuesday, we left our campsite after an hour or so of packing it all up and drove out to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum’s satelite location, Udvar Hazy Center.  This is a huge hangar like building at the Washington Dulles Airport housing all sort of aircraft, such as the Space Shuttle Discovery. They had airplanes on the ground, hanging from the ceiling and pretty much everywhere. Plus, you really didn’t have to know much about the planes to enjoy them. I think everyone liked this museum.

7 Tuesday, DC/Boston:  AIRPLANES!

7 Tuesday, DC/NYC: AIRPLANES!

7 Tuesday, DC/Boston: The Space Shuttle

7 Tuesday, DC/NYC: The Space Shuttle

7 Tuesday, DC/Boston:  We were also able to sit in a Cessna 152

7 Tuesday, DC/Boston: We were also able to sit in a Cessna 152

7 Tuesday, DC/Boston:  Getting close to Boston.

7 Tuesday, DC/NYC: Getting close to NYC.

After that we continued on to NYC to our campsite at the Floyd Bennett airfield, which was NCY’s original airport dating back to the very first days of aviation. Now there are a bunch of things going on, such as a campground, training areas for the NYCPD, recreation areas, etc. We had a bit of challenge finding the campground in the dark, and then had to carry all of our stuff out to the tent sites a short walk into a group  of trees. It was quite windy but the trees helped a lot. With our tent set up, we called it a night.

8 Wednesday, NYC: Our lovely campsite at Floyd Bennett Field

8 Wednesday, NYC: Our lovely campsite at Floyd Bennett Field

8 Wednesday, NYC: Driving in NYC.

8 Wednesday, NYC: Driving in NYC.

8 Wednesday, NYC: The Skyline.

8 Wednesday, NYC: The Skyline.

8 Wednesday, NYC: Lady Liberty

8 Wednesday, NYC: Lady Liberty

On Wednesday we met up with my cousin and went to see the Statue of Liberty along with Ellis Island. This was another “must see” location for the inlaws. It was pretty cool. Afterwards, we drove down to a Chinese chain restaurant  that we like. After our experiences in DC and driving, namely that you might as well drive and park once you have 5 people. However, with the tools and super high costs of parking in NYC, I think it would have been cheaper to take the subway. But it worked out. We returned to the campsite and hit the sacks.

9 Thursday, NYC: Inside Hangar B at Floyd Bennett Field. It was pretty cool and run by some friendly old guys who seemed happy to show us the airplanes.

9 Thursday, NYC: Inside Hangar B at Floyd Bennett Field. It was pretty cool and run by some friendly old guys who seemed happy to show us the airplanes.

9 Thursday, NYC: These $3 gliders gave us a good bit of fun.

9 Thursday, NYC: These $3 gliders gave us a good bit of fun.

9 Thursday, NYC: Everyone got on the fun throughout the day.

9 Thursday, NYC: Everyone got on the fun throughout the day.

9 Thursday, NYC: A walk on the beach near the airfield.

9 Thursday, NYC: A walk on the beach near the airfield.

9 Thursday, NYC: The backside of Hangar B, as seen from the beach. Hurricane Sandy damage is still visible at this place, the Statue of liberty and other places.

9 Thursday, NYC: The backside of Hangar B, as seen from the beach. Hurricane Sandy damage is still visible at this place, the Statue of liberty and other places.

9 Thursday, NYC: Just a photo shoot.

9 Thursday, NYC: Just a photo shoot.

9 Thursday, NYC:

9 Thursday, NYC:

9 Thursday, NYC: Cooking the dogs. They were delicious.

9 Thursday, NYC: Cooking the dogs. They were delicious.

9 Thursday, NYC: Lot of fun hanging out with family around the fire.

9 Thursday, NYC: Lot of fun hanging out with family around the fire.

9 Thursday, NYC: "Pete" the raccoon. 1, or possibly more raccoons,  kept making a circle, probing our defenses and trying to grab our dogs.

9 Thursday, NYC: “Pete” the raccoon. 1, or possibly more raccoons, kept making a circle, probing our defenses and trying to grab our dogs.

For Thursday, we thought about going to the 9-11 Museum, but decided that the expense was such that we would have to leave it for a another time. Instead we got a memory card or two for the camera at a Best Buy down the road. We walked around a nearby marina for a bit to look at all the boats,  and went back to the campground. We tried to fly a kite but the wind was so strong the kite didn’t fly very well. We instead threw little foam gliders around. With the high wind theses little gliders were blown down the old runway way to where Katherine and the inlaws waited to catch them. We went for a walk around the beach a bit, then met my cousins who came down to our campsite. We spent a bunch of hours together, roasting hotdogs, cooking smores, and talking. It started getting cold so we burned all of our store bought wood, and raided a big pile of chopped up pallets  in the campsites next to us. FYI, we were the only campers there. In fact, we used the fire site at the campsite next to us. We said goodbye around midnight I think. Good fun.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: Another glamour shot.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: Another glamour shot.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: One of the scenic towns along the way.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: One of the scenic towns along the way.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: It was hard to  capture the colors we saw. They were amazing but most of our photos of the colors didn't come out so well.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: It was hard to capture the colors we saw. They were amazing but most of our photos of the colors didn’t come out so well.

On Friday we drove up towards Boston. We tried to get off the interstate a while and also saw the Groton navy base. There we were able to tour the first nuclear powered submarine. Can’t imagine spending 6 months living in the little bunks they have. It was pretty cool. We also really enjoyed seeing all of the sweet little houses in the scenic towns.  To round it out, we arrived at our Boston campsite in the dark as well. For some reason, I was in no mood to fight with the tent and spend all the time to set it up. I really wanted to just sleep out next to the fire. Good thing we did set up the tent since the next day had a lot of rain.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON:  Groton Naval Base to see the first Nuclear Powered Sub.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: Groton Naval Base to see the first Nuclear Powered Sub.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON:  Groton Naval Base.

10 Friday, NYC/BOSTON: Groton Naval Base.

Inside the sub.

Inside the sub.

Saturday’s light showed us in a lovely wooded campgrounds. We drove to Boston and saw the USS Constitution. It was pretty nice and it is probably in dry dock right now until 2018 I believe. We also saw the museum next door and learned about the port’s history, especially during WWII. We ultimately headed back to our campsite since it was a bit cold, build a big roaring fire and burned up all three bundles of wood. This was the inlaws’ favorite campsite due to the beauty of the trees.  One week on the road. Overall pretty good time so far. Moving pretty fast sadly, but trying to hit as much as possible.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: This was probably the most beautiful of the campgrounds we stayed at.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: This was probably the most beautiful of the campgrounds we stayed at.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: At the campsite.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: At the campsite.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: USS Constitution.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: USS Constitution.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: USS Constitution. Crazy how big this boat is compared to our boat. In fact, they had row boats longer than ours.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: USS Constitution. Crazy how big this boat is compared to our boat. In fact, they had row boats longer than ours.

11 Saturday, BOSTON: After a long rainy day, we built the biggest fire we could

11 Saturday, BOSTON: After a long rainy day, we built the biggest fire we could

Sunday not much happened except for an all day drive towards Niagara Falls. It was pretty sweeet. Then we drove a bit longer until we came to a motel near Cleveland. We stayed for the night, then set off for Chicago. Nearly all day of driving on Monday as well until we got to Chicago. The cool thing we saw was the motorhome museum in Elkhart, IN. It was actually pretty cool, as you could actually  get inside of some of the old campers and RV’s inside. I think everyone liked it, and the guy gave us a family deal instead of gouging us.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: Due to the rain and cloudy skies, it was a bit tough to capture the brilliance of everything.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: Due to the rain and cloudy skies, it was a bit tough to capture the brilliance of everything.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: Some rapids just above the falls.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: Some rapids just above the falls.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: The falls.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: The falls.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: We even got a rainbow.

12 Monday, BOSTON/ NIAGARA: We even got a rainbow.

On Tuesday, we left our hotel, met a cousin and saw the Shedd Aquarium together. We continued on to see the Navy Pier by ourselves before meeting up with our cousin again for dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant in China town. It was the best day for my mother in law on the whole trip so I was very happy that she liked it.

13 Monday, En route Chicago: You could even go inside some of the units.

13 Monday, En route Chicago: You could even go inside some of the units.

On Wednesday we actually checked out a boat. Never know when we might chuck the current boat and get something bigger. We might have tried to see another museum, but honestly, I was a bit  short on cash and was going to hold onto what little bit I had left!

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Clouds and dreary days greeted us.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Clouds and dreary days greeted us.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  Near the Shedd Aquarium.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Near the Shedd Aquarium.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  Meeting up with our cousin, Chicago.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Meeting up with our cousin, Chicago.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  There were some big fish in the aquarium.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: There were some big fish in the aquarium.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  And they had blue fish.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: And they had blue fish.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  Waiting for the  show to begin.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Waiting for the show to begin.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  The Dolphin aquarium show.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: The Dolphin aquarium show.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Sharks!

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Sharks!

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  Navy Pier.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Navy Pier.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  Visit big, crowded cities, you are going to pay for parking. I don't even know how much I spent this trip.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Visit big, crowded cities, you are going to pay for parking. I don’t even know how much I spent this trip.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO:  Tommy at an authentic Chinese restaurant.

14 Tuesday, CHICAGO: Tommy at an authentic Chinese restaurant.

 

Thursday we drove on to St Louis, where we saw the Arch. Due to construction I got lost a bit, even with the GPS system. I have always hated St Louis roads with their construction and merging all over the place. We didn’t go to the top this time. And that’s all. We wound up in our own beds on Thursday night.

16 Thursday, on the way home: St Louis.

16 Thursday, on the way home: St Louis.

A couple of random thoughts about the trip. The cargo roof box was great. It was a bit unerving to look up and see it wiggling a lot through the sunroof, but it it held just fine. It held all of our camping stuff. However, we also added a hitch cargo setup as well so that we did not have to pack up everything just so.  The only pain was having to remove it once we got into cities so that we could fit in parking garages. At least we found an outdoor lot at the Arch.

Also, DC drivers are the rudest I’ve ever encountered. Consistently cutting me off when I signaled and giving no quarter. On the other hand, NYC drivers were surprisingly nice and accommodating. So thanks to NYC!.

 

 

 

 

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