We left Clifden Thursday morning with our sights set on tiny Achill Island on Ireland’s west coast. It was slated as a short drive (less than two hours), but we planned to take our time. Our first stop—just twenty minutes or so from the inn—was at Connemara National Park. On any other day, we would have trekked to the top of the park’s famous (and fog-covered) Diamond Hill. But two days before a marathon is not the time to take on an unknown hike (any hike, really). (more…)
After our week-long stay in Maine and a weekend stop in Portsmouth for our friends’ wedding, we’ve made our way to a friend’s house in the mountains of central Virginia. In a happy scheduling coincidence, our friend (who travels frequently) happens to be at the house for the first week of our planned three-week stay. It’s been nice catching up with him over shared meals and late night card games, and it will be nice to find a rhythm of our own once he’s on the road again. We arrived late Sunday night and have spent the week becoming familiar with the area and our new temporary home. The house is set back about a mile down a gravel road, with few neighbors to encounter and many acres of woods to explore. Each morning, I’ve taken my coffee outside and listened to the land come alive from my perch on the wooden swing. We’ve napped in hammocks and walked along winding paths. We’ve witnessed deer grazing in the front yard, turkey vultures and coyotes scavenging along the main road, and countless birds and butterflies and bats and other things with wings. We’ve also managed to keep our fitness routine somewhat intact, with some creative adjustments. When the weather’s been nice, we’ve brought our workouts to the back yard, and when it was raining, I set up my yoga mat on the covered front porch. We’ve explored sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked to a remote waterfall swimming hole. Today, we ventured to the next county in search of a safe running route and ended up finding a converted rail trail that was perfect for today’s training run. (We’re running a 10K here in Virginia on Saturday, and it’s been a little tough keeping up our mileage on the road.) We’re now back at the house, enjoying a quiet afternoon and watching storm clouds roll in from the west. I think it’s going to be a good night to hunker down on the mountain. -J
After driving 620 miles today (mostly in Florida…), we have finally arrived at our home for the night, a chain hotel right off the highway in Savannah, Georgia. We’re a stone’s throw from South Carolina, which will be the 14th state we’ll hit on this trip and where we head early tomorrow morning. But first things first! Tonight we sleep…in a bed! We’ve been camping for the last four nights, so this plush, king-sized mattress is a welcome change. We need a good night’s sleep to prepare for tomorrow’s monster drive: 15 or so hours up the scenic I-95 corridor. If things go as planned, we’ll be sleeping somewhere north of New York City tomorrow night. By the end of the day, we’ll be closing in on the 4,000 mile mark for the trip…and we’ll be ready for another night of rest before hauling back to New Hampshire to meet up with friends visiting from California and participate in a charity trivia event. Fun times are definitely ahead, but right now…it’s time for lights out! -J
Since leaving New Hampshire two weeks ago, we’ve kept a small notebook in the car with pieces of information about our trip: gas purchases, mileage, expenses, lists of things to bring on the next trip, strange signs seen along the roadside, vanity plates…the list goes on.
The last page in our mini road journal includes a list of states and provinces labeled “The License Plate Game.” The License Plate Game consists of writing down all unique states and provinces from license plates we see on the trip. The goal is to get all 50 states and Washington, D.C. before we get home; provinces are just a bonus. It’s not a competitive game as much as it is a team effort to complete the list, in part because it helps stave off boredom on the road and in part because it forces us to be aware of the little details around us. We found two of the tough stragglers (Alaska and Montana) parked on side streets as we wandered around Key West yesterday.
In the 13 states we traveled through to get to Key West (NH, MA, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, WV, VA, TN, NC, GA, and FL), we recorded 44 different states plus Washington, D.C. and three provinces.
As we prepare to start the 30-hour, ~1,700 mile trip from Sugarloaf Key to New Hampshire, we have just six states left: HI, WY, ID, NM, UT, and ND.
We’ll be on the lookout for these last few states as we head back to the Northeast over the next three days. If we don’t see them on this trip, we’ll just have to continue the quest when we drive out west later this summer!
P.S. In case you’ve wondered what it’s like to drive hundreds of miles through southern Georgia or northern Florida, take a peek at this…and then rewind and watch it 600 more times.
Greetings from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains! We arrived at our hotel in Virginia tonight and made short order of the dinner we had packed from home: quinoa mac & cheese and veggie burgers…with celebratory champagne, of course. We covered 585 miles today, cruising through 9 states and spending the better part of 10 hours in the car. We split the driving into two-hour shifts and passed the time listening to music, chatting, and playing a made-up game of Vanity Plate Mad Libs. (Side note: People are strange.) We enjoyed warm breezes, sunny skies, and low traffic throughout the drive.
The scenery for most of the day was standard-issue Northeastern U.S. and nothing either of us hadn’t seen before, from the Mass Turnpike and George Washington Bridge to the farmlands of Pennsylvania. That was until we were about 15 miles from the hotel, when these mountains surprised us, lurking in the fog around a highway bend. A shadowy ridgeline stretching as far as we could see rose quietly above the flat, rolling plains around it. We couldn’t make out many details since we arrived after sunset, but we have a full day of exploring the mountains planned for tomorrow. -J&M