Monday, March 25, 2013

Home Afar

Destination: Spring Break
Total Miles: 2,114
Total Cost: $330

Ok...ok. So you are all wondering a few things:

The light at the end of the tunnel
1. Spring Break? A "destination?"  Yes. It was shorter to put than "anywhere within a couple hours of the Eastern Shore of Maryland" or "anywhere but here" (both of which sounded awkward).
2. Total Miles...the totals from the other posts do NOT add up to 2114. Let me be clear in stating that the "Total Miles" from each day's trip were added using Google Maps and thus not a complete representation of exactly where I drove. And did not fully account for the occasional got-turned-around-in-traffic moments (Philly and Norfolk, I'm looking at you!!!). This "Total Miles" is Mr. Darcy's summation and an accurate count of the mileage covered.

3. Total Cost. I will be the first to admit that this does NOT include the cost of gifts that I bought. That total would be closer to $700. I like to buy things for other people. Do not judge. :) The total cost also does not include every meal I ate or lodging...HUGE shout-out to my relatives and friends.

Highlights from the trip would include visiting with friends and family, walking around Philadelphia while reminiscing about the history of my country, seeing an Amish horse and buggy, eating delicious foods, Noah from Sight and Sound Theater (probably one my favorite parts of the trip), discovering the Longwood Gardens, riding the Cape Mays-Lewes Ferry with Mr. Darcy, and just driving around (crossing over 90,000 miles!!!) and meeting new people. And of course, one of my favorite parts about traveling: coming home.

Which reminds me of one of the verses from The Road Goes Ever Ever On:

The Road goes ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wondering have gone
Turn at last to home afar...

All the same, I am working very hard to not go through Travel Withdrawal. The past week was exactly what I needed: a break. Sleeping an average of 7-8 hours a night for the first time in...months...I've already had people commenting on how rested and refreshed I look now. But now it is time to buckle back down for the remainder of the semester.

And it's time to start planning my next big trip: Colorado!

So. The conclusion of my Spring Break? yes.

The conclusion of my travels? Not a chance!!!
Saturday Email 3/23/13
Independence Hall
Mr. Darcy at 2nd 

Sight and Sound Theater

The Eastern Shore of Maryland

Jiggity Jog

March 22, 2013

Destination: Norfolk, VA
Total Miles: 225
Total Cost: $10 (this was only for lunch...I had filled up the day before)

Friday was just a traveling day...wait. I did NOT just say that.

Friday was more than "just a traveling day." Friday was a lovely day that included leaving my family in Maryland, visiting with a friend from nursing school for lunch, meeting up with my cousin Andrew and his girlfriend, driving across and thru' The Bridge-Tunnel again, going Mexican for supper with my friends, Laurie and Matt, and watching some March Madness while eating cake with Laurie and my Little Man, Nate (Matt went to the in-laws to watch more games).

I had a blast catching up with everyone. As always!

My friend from nursing school, Loren, works in Salisbury, MD. We enjoyed a lunch get-together at Panera Bread. I am so thankful for Facebook and the ability to keep up with friends from college and high school! Loren and I hadn't seen each other in person in over four years, and we had fun discussing current events in our lives and comparing jobs.

My cousin and his girlfriend joined us for lunch, and I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew's girlfriend, Stephanie. We all talked and discussed a variety of topics before it was time to hit the road again.

Heading south is usually not much of a problem. the Bay Bridge-Tunnel is, as always, huge. (secret: I have to work hard on not focusing on the fact that I am driving over and thru' a lot of water. I enjoy the drive, but I do not like all the water. But as it is necessary to cross the water to get to the Eastern Shore...)

Traffic coming off the bridge was not ideal. After turning around a few times because other drivers would not let me off my exit, I finally made it to Laurie and Matt's. Just in time for supper! We tossed around a few ideas and eventually settled on Mexican. My burrito was huge (which reminds me! I left my leftovers...again! Along with my sunglasses...) but delicious.

Being a self-proclaimed Cake Connoisseur, Laurie voted for Sassie's for dessert. We all got to-go cakes...including Nate. Mine was a chocolate with lemon mousse covered in a chocolate gold. Laurie got the Red Velvet...equally delicious options! We splurged on our cake while watching some college basketball. I love March Madness!

March 23, 2013

Destination: Travelers Rest
Total Miles: 448 miles
Total Cost: $30ish

Saturday's adventure continued the journey home...with one more major stop.

Breakfast with the Bates.

(That would have been the title if the post had been it's own day and not the last leg of the journey.)

Approximately 25 minutes from Matt, Laurie and Nate's domicile, my high school friend, Sarah,  resides in Chesapeake, VA. Sarah and I were debate partners in high school, winning some debates and having more fun than was probably allowed. After graduating, she headed to Florida to attend Clearwater while I stayed in Greenville to attend the nursing program at Bob Jones. Eventually, Sarah and her husband, Andrew, moved to the Virginia Beach area for additional school and ministry opportunities.

All that to say: Sarah and I haven't seen each other much since high school graduation.

Breakfast turned into an all-morning affair. :) Between getting caught up on each other's lives, spending time with her adorable baby, discussing our former classmates, and just talking, I did not head back out on the road until after one.

It was worth it.

Back on the road, it was time to head down my least favorite road-58. About the only thing of note that happened on this long and very boring road was being passed twice by a car that had a backseat full of kids that waved at me as they passed by. Something worth a smile.

After finally reaching I-85, the remainder of the drive was smooth and enjoyable, including the passing of cities of awesomeness: Charlotte, Greensboro, and Durham.


Being as that I am attempting to watch the Duke-Creighton game, I will finish here and post a final end-of-trip note that will include the running total miles (according to Mr. Darcy) and other notable moments.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Friends, Family, and a Venus Fly Trap

Destination: Longwood Gardens, PA
Total Miles: 143
Total Cost: $50 (ish)

Having almost sufficiently satisfied my cravings to drive as much as possible, and having put an additional 1,000+ miles on Mr. Darcy in the past 7 days, I opted to meet up with some friends at Longwood Gardens for the day.

Remember that snow that was supposed to come?! It came. This morning.

To give you the abbreviated experience of what transpired this morning, I must start with my leaving my aunt and uncle's in Galena.

It was theoretically going to snow this morning. Imagine my Southern dismay when I arose early in the morning to see not even a drop of precipitation falling. No problem though, I'll fix myself a cup of Caramel Cappuccino and head to the Gardens for a rendezvous time of 10:00 am.

By the time I was leaving the subdivision, I started seeing little white specks falling softly to the earth. By the time I reached Middleton, the flecks had turned into flakes and were falling steadily. But by the time I had almost reached I-95, the flakes falling steadily had turned into gigantic puffs rapidly descending from the sky. The stoplight just before I pulled on to the interstate turned red, and just while I was sitting there the snow began to accumulate on my vehicle.

"Keep calm," I told myself, pulling on to I-95.

Then visibility dropped...I could barely see a quarter mile in front of the vehicle.

"Remain calm. No one knows that."
"1. Both hands on the steering wheel...check.
2. Stay calm...almost check.
3. Go slow...yeah right! Everyone is still flying past me! Crazy people...
4. Repeat step 2...fine. Check.
5. Let off the gas when going over bridges...WAIT! Was that a bridge? Oh snap...
6. Repeat step 2. Sigh.
7. Do NOT break if you slide. Turn your steering wheel...UMMM...which way am I supposed to turn? Towards where I slide? Away?
8. Just hope you don't slide."

By the time this exchange with myself was finished, it was my exit and just as suddenly as the heavy puffs had started, they stopped. Much to the relief of my blood pressure! :)

The Longwood Gardens are located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania...also near Brandywine (which made me glance about for Hobbits).

The gardens were beautiful! I had a marvelous time catching up with my friends, Josh and Meredith, and enjoyed seeing their lovely children. Josh had been several times, and they had a membership that allowed me to go for free. With Josh acting as our tour guide, we journeyed through the conservatory and grounds.

Inside the conservatory were rooms full of plants from around the USA and the world...a bonsai exhibit, a rose room (LOVE!), the green wall, the Orchid Extravaganza, and other various rooms too lovely to describe.

All too soon, it was time for lunch. Applebee's provided a delicious lunch and a good time of fellowship...wish they lived closer so we could visit more often!

After we parted ways, I headed back to the gardens (I was branded with a stamp that gave me free passage back into the gardens). Roaming about the grounds, I found a huge meadow, the back of the DuPont house (which I then promptly toured), and many other wondrous places.

Because of the cold (it never got above 40F), I wandered in to the Cafe...and left empty-handed! They did not sell hot chocolate!

The Garden Shop was a fun way to end my visit. I curbed my desire to spend a bunch of money, and settled on a couple of gifts...including a Venus FlyTrap for the Little People! Hopefully, it will survive the ride home and live many days eating flies and such!

Still longing for a good warm drink, I looked up closest coffee shops. For some odd reason, the closest my app showed was a good 5 miles away...which was no problem, but odd considering I passed at least two other coffee shops and several Dunkin' Donuts. But I was determined to try the one that showed up on my app because everything happens for a reason.

I was the only customer at the Bishop's Coffee Co., and I ended up having a very random but pleasant chat with the guy making drinks. He was reading a book, and after sharing book recommendations, we discussed places to eat in Philadelphia, when to visit Washington D.C. (he says during the Cherry Blossom Festival is the best time), places I had visited this trip, his recommendation to visit Longwood during the Christmas Season, and the NCAA tournament. The mocha was excellent (just bordered on the edge of caffeine overload for my hypocaffeinated blood), and the chocolate cookie was good. I hung out there, enjoying my drink, and watching the St. Mary's vs. Memphis game (bit of a nail-biter at the end!).

After the game finished, I headed towards my other uncle and aunt's, Kevin and Kelley's, for supper. The ride back was splendorous, and I enjoyed reveling in God's creative design.

Supper and the Maryland vs. Denver game were on the menu, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. I love my family, even the extended ones I do not get to see as much as, and wish they all lived closer (though, it might be Rush family overload...they are all different, yet so much like my mom that it is easy to find the family resemblance!). Yet, I am so thankful for the time off I have and am able to spend with them.
Poppies...or Peonies...or Posies...

Dried Hydrangea 

The Meadow
Me and the Awesomely Cut Hedges

Flowers Waiting To Bloom
-Near the Meadow-

Happiness Is...

Destination: Philadelphia, PA
Total Miles: (driving) 145
Total Cost: $16

March 20, 2013

Tonight at my aunt and uncle's church we sang a song called "Happiness is the Lord." It's a great song and very happy...and applicable! The last verse of the song says:

Happiness is to be forgiven
Living a life that's worth the livin'
Taking a trip that leads to heaven
Happiness is the Lord

You know the saying: 'All roads lead home?' I think that someday we will find that all roads were leading us Home to heaven.

In the meantime, my paraphrase of this is that 'happiness is taking a trip.' ;)

Today's trip included several historic spots and a revisit to a city I needed to become better acquainted with after a few months sabbatical.

Remember that trip back in August? When the LPs didn't want to walk anywhere? Well, today I hit the streets of Philadelphia with a vengeance. I'm not sure (and neither do I want to know!) how many miles I walked today...I know of at least 3 (to and from lunch). Just know that there were a lot more.

Started out by parking in the underground visitor's parking garage. They offer a fair price, and I don't have to worry as much about my car getting sideswiped. Do not worry though! Mr. Darcy had an adventure at the end of the day and pictures to prove it!

I stopped in the Visitor's Center to get a free ticket into Independence Hall (they're always just have to get a tour time).

Next, I stopped at the Liberty Bell. Lots of signs to read and clips to watch. I enjoyed finding out about the history of the most famous bell in the world. Seeing it...well, it was more fun when I had the LPs.

After meandering about for a while waiting for my tour time, I headed through security and on to the tour. First stop was a pre-tour view of original prints of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States of America.

The tour part actually takes you inside the Hall where you can see several rooms, the most important, of course, being the Assembly Room where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Ben. Rush
(Quick back of my mom's relatives, Benjamin Rush, signed the Declaration...he was a famous doctor and activist during and after the war).

Not Benjamin Rush
The second floor contains some basic rooms with various items...including a huge original painting by Benjamin West. I was conversing with the tour's Park Ranger and asked about the painting and artist. He was surprised when I told him I was familiar with West's paintings. The university I graduated from undergrad, Bob Jones University, has a collection of West's works.

After the tour, I meandered about some more, stopping for hot chocolate at a shop nearby (Cosi? I think...the hot chocolate wasn't good enough to remember the name). Then I decided it was lunch time.

Lunch required a mile plus walk through the city...much of which reminded me of Boston. Lots of history smack in the middle of a bustling modern city. I opted to go to Geno's for lunch, having heard of their legendary Philly Cheesesteaks (in fact, I think they were the ones to create the first). The man was very polite when I told him it was my first time there...even gave me a free pen! My sandwich? Wiz widout. (Being interpreted: Cheese whiz and without onions.)

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering about the city, stopping at museums, historic landmarks such as Penn's Landing and Christ's Church, and (of course) Starbucks.

I feel like there was more I did, but for now, I will leave you with pictures...tomorrow should be another fun day filled with adventures and visiting with friends!

So...almost forgot! Mr. Darcy's grand adventure today!!! While I was walking around, I came across the Second Bank of the United States building which has since been converted into a museum of paintings (and which I spent over an hour reading my way through...nerdy history side of me). Behind the building was a cobblestone street that was a dead end...clearly a street...clearly had no "No Parking" signs or "No Driving" signs...and the chain that blocked it from the main road was definitely laying off to one side. So...I said to myself, perhaps when I am done and leaving the city, I will drive around here and see if it is still open. And perhaps...if there is no traffic and crazy park rangers, I will park my car in front of the building and take some pictures.

And that is exactly what I did.

Love my classy car...

Independence Hall
Independence Hall
Lampost Moment in Washington Square

Statue of "The Signer"
Penn's Landing
Penn's Landing

At Penn's Landing
At Penn's Landing

At Penn's Landing 

In front of Ind. Hall


First Amendment and Ind. Hall
Betsy Ross Upholstery Shop