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Recalling the Highlights

September 24, 2010 14 comments

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very difficult to name the highlights of this roadtrip…I’ve done far too much, seen too many spectacular places, and met up with a great deal of friends along the way.  But in an effort to capture some of the more memorable moments, I put together a couple of slideshows.

At first I was going to create one slideshow, then I realized it would be way too long with all the pictures I have (even after culling the unremarkable ones).  So I created two slideshows – one showing all the people I got together with along the way, and then one showcasing some of the amazing scenes I came across in the US and Canada.  After all, it was the combination of people and places that made Joesroadtrip a trip for a lifetime.

The first slideshow here is entitled “Joesroadtrip.com – The People.”  All the friends and family I spent time with along the way are here.  I used two songs to go along with the pictures.  The first is “Alive” by Pete Yorn, and the second song “Someday” by No More Kings.  Both songs have a good, positive energy that I think captures the spirit of the roadtrip.

The second slideshow is, you guessed it, called “Joesroadtrip.com – The Places.”  Although I saw many amazing sights on this road, there where some places that stood out a bit more than the others, and I tried to focus on those here.  The song accompanying the pictures is called “Hoppipola” by the Icelandic Band Sigur Ros. Just a great song that is fitting of an adventure, I think.

Hope you enjoy the videos.  Although it took more work than I anticipated, I had a lot of fun putting these together.  I feel so lucky to have experienced all of this in one summer.

All the best.

joe

P.S.  I failed to mention two people who helped me get these slideshows made.  Thanks Brendan and Nichole for letting me use your Mac for who knows how many hours!

Wrapping it up

September 21, 2010 7 comments

The completed journey. The black line starts in Georgia and marks the start of the trip. The red line marks the return trip home from Alaska

And there it is – the entire trip.  I began the trip on May 30, and it ended 112 days later on September 18.  Take a look at my original plan here.  I was pretty close to matching that.

On left: odometer just before heading out. On right: odometer at the end of the trip

The traveled a total of 25,821 miles.  To offer some perspective, note that the circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles.  Another way to think of it is that’s almost five roundtrips from NYC to LA.  I’m proud that I was able to travel that distance without A) going crazy, and B) getting sick of driving.

You might recall I put up some trip stats back when I was in the state of Washington, before heading north into Canada.  Now that the roadtrip is over, I figure it’s time to see what’s different and what has stayed the same since late July.

Total miles: 25, 821

Total gas expenditures: ~$2,933

Most expensive gas (US): $4.59/gal – Big Sur, CA

Most expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$7.60/gal – Swift River, Yukon Territory

Least expensive gas (US): $2.43 – Newport News, VA

Least expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$3.64/gal – Calgary, Alberta

States traveled through: 39

Largest rest areas: Kansas

Nicest rest areas: Illinois/Kansas

Not-so-nice rest areas: California (takes the cake in the US), and Northern Canada (not much out there)

National Parks visited: US – 12, Canada – 2

Pulled over: 3 times.  One for speeding and rolling through a stop sign.  Two other times for a busted headlight.

Tickets received: 1.  $100 fine courtesy a cop in Guernsey, Wyoming

Tickets received in my 2005 cross-country trip: 3 – Virginia, California, and you guessed it…Wyoming

State that has it out for me, but I still like the place nonetheless: Wyoming

Total paid in tolls: $148.15

Most expensive toll: $11 – Verrazano Bridge, NYC

Total number of oil changes: 8.  In order:

– Gulfbreeze, FL

– Endwell, NY

– Mishiwaka, IN

– Midland, TX

– Hillsboro, OR

– Palmer, AK

– Westminster, CO

– Gaithersburg, MD

Total vehicle maintenance costs: $1,386.70

Largest single expenditure related to the car: $606.35 (oil change + new tires in Hillsboro, OR)

Money spent on washing the car: ~$65

Replaced windshields: 1 (fully covered by insurance, thankfully)

Replaced headlight bulbs: 3

AAA usage: 1 – battery jump

Flat tires: 0

Hotel/Motel/B&B stays: 7 (two for free – thanks Rachel and John)

Cheapest attraction/excursion: $4 – Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC

Most expensive attraction/excursion: $77.33 – Wildlife boat tour in Alaska

Planetariums visited: 1 – Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill (check it out…it’s amazing)

Darkest sky/most stars ever seen: Big Bend National Park, TX

Hidden gem in the middle of nowhere: Cosmosphere space museum – Hutchinson, KS

Camera accessories lost: 2 (lens cap and LCD cover).  No worries, purchased replacements

Ferry rides: 3 (2 in the state of Washington, 1 going from VT to NY)

Most expensive ferry: $17.50 – Lake Champlain ferry

Showers taken at truck stops: 4 (thank you, Flying J)

Haircuts: 5

Close bear encounters: 1 – Anchorage, AK

Friends that would readily abandon me in a bear attack: 1 (hahah… just playing, Matt)

Website hits, to date: 17,173

Some searches that brought people to this site: monumental walley; tempereate rainforest picture long ways; joe in carlsbad texas; 69 dreams; experience in taiwan; owners name + 14 lighthouse rd campobell; how did the religions spread; unique canadian flag; alaska and mara and andrew; day 26 break up

Friends I visited with/hiked with/ate with, etc: too many to count

Friends/friends of friends/family homes I’ve stayed in: 32

And once again, the important stats are the ones listed last. Thanks to all those who helped make this such a memorable trip. Not only did you let me “couchsurf,” but the mere fact of being able to hang out and spend time with all you guys is what was important to me.  And also thanks to the many who offered a place to stay, but we didn’t get the chance to link up because of timing or other logistics.  I’m very grateful.

This trip was one I won’t ever forget.  I got to see so many spectacular places and meet up with so many friendly people.  Just like I realized after my roadtrip in 2005, I gained a further appreciation for how beautiful this country is (as is Canada), and that the people living here is what helps make it so beautiful.  And like I commented back in 2005, nothing mushy happened like “finding myself” or any New Agey BS, but there’s some things I came to realize while being out on the road, and the biggest realization was how amazing it is to share these spectacular places with others.  Sometimes on the trip I’d find myself in a national park, or at a lake, or staring at mountains, and I’d wish I had a friend there to share the experience with.  Not that I was bummed to be there on my own, but there’s far too much beauty in this country to just enjoy it by yourself for an extended time.  Many have asked me, “Would you do it again?”  And I think the answer is “No.”  Others have to see what I’ve been able to see, so maybe if I can show off some of these places to a friend I would go, but to enjoy them all by myself once again might be a bit too selfish.  It’s a double-edged sword, though…someone would have to travel with me for an extended length of time – that might be a bit tough.  Maybe we decide to meet up at key locations so everybody keeps their sanity.

Others have asked me, “What was the highlight of the trip?”  I can never answer that question.  There were far too many “highlights” in my book.  Some just off the top of my head – seeing a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, being at the St. Louis Gateway Arch on the Fourth of July, pulling up to the “Welcome to Alaska” sign at the Canada/AK border, taking pictures of the Milky Way in Big Bend National Park, meeting my nephews in Texas and Oregon, hiking Mt. Marathon in Alaska, visiting Crater Lake for the third time in my life, hanging with my friends in Maryland, seeing Oregon Trail wagon ruts in Wyoming, hiking the Angels Landing Trail at Zion National Park, watching the first rays of the morning sun hit the US….the list goes on and on.  I can never identify something as the “highlight” since I’ve experienced way too much to narrow it down. I’m pretty thrilled that’s the case.  Even before I set out on this trip and was in the planning phase, I didn’t expect I’d have such vivid memories when the trip ended.

Although it’s a little sad the trip is over, I now have new adventures in the works.  In less than a week I fly to Asia for a little personal trip.  I’ll be visiting Nepal and hanging with Lucky Monk, and then from there I head to Japan to meet up with a friend I made during my last trip to Asia.  I’ll be back in about a month, but then a few months later, in January, is my tentative leave date for my Peace Corps assignment.  I’m grateful I had the chance to explore a lot of the country before I leave it for two years.  I think my experience seeing miles and miles of the US will help make me a good ambassador, not to mention helping me appreciate what we have here while I work in the developing world.  So one adventure is over and done with…but many more to look forward to in the coming months.

Thanks to everybody out there who followed the website.  I didn’t expect so many people to be intereted in the journey, and it was a pleasure to share my time on the road with all of you.  Thanks to all of those who commented and gave me suggestions of things to see…some of the best finds across the country are not the ones in books or on a map, but the ones people share with you in casual conversation.

It’s been a thrill to be on the road for the entire summer.  When I left my job at the end of May, I had a strong feeling that it was the right choice, and it’s only been further confirmed here at the end of the trip.  This roadtrip has been long in the works.  In fact, in my old job in Bethesda, I made a rough route in GoogleMaps of what I planned to see.  I printed it out and hung it in my cubicle as an ‘escape’ from the daily drudgery (lesson learned, GoogleMaps only allows about 25 or so destinations in one route).  To go from that rough plan on a printout to adding 26,000 miles on my vehicle was, indeed, living a dream.

Speaking of my car, I owe much of my positive experience on the road to having a reliable vehicle that never gave me any grief, despite the fact we covered about two years’ worth of driving in just a matter of months.  The only money I spent on the vehicle during this trip was for regular wear-and-tear items, in addition to regular maintenance.  I was an advocate for Mazda before this trip, and I’ll remain that way for the rest of my life.  This week will be my last few days with the car as I’m selling it to my sister.  The Mazda6 has been great to me this past four years, and I finished my last summer with the car in style.

I feel very lucky that the roadtrip was even more successful than I imagined it could be.  The stars aligned for a great experience, and I’m so very grateful I’ll have this as a memory to last me the rest of my life.

Thanks for joining me on this ride.

joe

P.S.  Stay tuned to this site over the next few days as I’ll be putting together a roadtrip slideshow to visually recap the experience.

Day 112: This is it

September 19, 2010 7 comments

Location: Endwell, NY (HOME)

Miles Driven: 236

Total Miles: 25,821

112 days.  Wow.  Originally when I set off from Atlanta the day before Memorial Day, I figured the trip would be about 90 days in total.  I’m glad I had a flexible schedule and could extend it, for no roadtrip should end in haste, especially one where I’ve been lucky to see so many incredible places and meet up with so many friends.

But let’s not talk about the end too much, I still have at least one or two more posts after this to recap the trip.  So now, let’s pick up where I left off, in New Jersey.  The prior night was Sam’s party for successfully becoming an attorney, and I woke up at his place early to get my stuff together (and play some video games) before I hit the road one last time.  Around 10AM I left Sam’s and met up with my buddy Nachiket for breakfast in Mt. Holly.  Always good to see this great friend I’ve had since grad school (2006), and he’s been pretty helpful getting me prepped for the upcoming trip to Nepal.  We had a good breakfast (I ate way too much) at a Cracker Barrel.  By the way, their fried apples are amazing.  Thanks again, Nachiket!

From there, I headed towards Philly to meet a friend I hadn’t seen since some point in 2009, I think.  I made plans to meet up with Jen at a Starbucks near her home in downtown Philly.  I had never been to that section of Philly; in fact, I’ve been to few places in Philly.  But it turned out she lives in a very historic area.  I was surprised to see the “Betsy Ross House” a block away from where I parked my car, and directly across the street from the Starbucks.

After catching up a bit, Jen and I went to walk around some of the nearby historic sites.  I had only seen these places in the movie “National Treasure” before, so needless to say it was great to experience them up close.

Ben Franklin's grave

Independence Hall

Tomb for unknown soldiers who fought in the Revolution

After a good bit of walking we meandered back towards my car. Glad I got to meet up with Jen.  When I return from Peace Corps, I think I’m going to hire Jen as my physics tutor if I decide to go study astronomy.

I left Philly on a course direct for home. I only had about three hours to go, total.  My final arrival time was pushed back a bit, as I encountered some traffic and needed to stop for a nap.  I then realized that was probably the last nap ever I’d take in the Mazda.  Ahh, it’s been so comfortable for me.  It wasn’t too long before I saw some signs pointing me home…

I’ve always enjoyed the drive through Pennsylvania, and it was especially nice this time as I had good weather and the leaves were starting to change on the trees.

The drive went by fairly quickly.  Before I knew it, I crossed the PA/NY border and was soon in Binghamton.  Only 15 minutes later I’d arrive at my home where I’ll stay through the end of the year.

Home sweet home

And with that, I pulled into the driveway.  Definitely a mix of emotions putting the car in park, but it’s certainly a comforting feeling to be home.

What a ride.

joe

Day 111: Don’t you dare put “esquire” after your name

September 19, 2010 2 comments

Location: Haddonfield, NJ

Miles Driven: ~150

Total Miles: ~25,356

I left Matt’s apartment around 10AM to get started with the driving for the day.  I needed gas, so I had another reminder of life near DC again after paying $3.09/gallon.  I used the last of my Exxon gift cards – once again, I owe a big thanks to my friends in Owego for those.

My plan for the day was to make it up to Sam’s area in NJ, but first I’d stop in Baltimore to see some people.

Baltimore

My first stop was to visit my buddy Jon who attends Johns Hopkins University.  The timing worked out well, as I arrived a little before his afternoon class, so he showed me around the beautiful campus.

 

We took our turns posing for photographs, Asian-style.

It was great to walk around a college campus once again, especially one that looked so nice. Hard to believe you could have a campus looking like this right inside a big city like Baltimore.

Jon took me to the Physics and Astronomy building, and there I got a good look at the Hastings refractor, a large telescope used back in the late 1800s.

And for some perspective on how big this thing is…

And we walked to another section of the campus…

Then Jon had to get going to class, so it was time for me to head out.  Great to hang out with my old officemate, and I’m excited to see where this future doctor is going to wind up in the next few years.  Best of luck with your senior year, buddy.

My next stop was an area of Baltimore called Hunt Valley.  There, I met up with my cousin Devin, and we realized it’s been more years than we could remember since we last saw each other…probably at least eight or so years, if not longer.  He has since caught up to me in the height department.

We grabbed some bbq lunch at a local place called Andy Nelson’s.  I highly recommend this to anyone in the Baltimore area.  Great food.  And be sure to try the cornbread.

my pulled pork sandwich with slaw topping

Great time hanging with Devin…I should see my cousins more often.  Good luck in B-more, man.

And with that, I was back on the road headed towards NJ.  It was an easy drive (pretty much anything under 5 hours I view as “easy”).  Got to Sam’s house, and a few hours later we were off to his celebratory dinner.  Sam is now a full-fledged attorney (I know…hide your groans), and definitely worked his ass of to get to this point.  He has earned that “esquire” suffix to his name, though I told him I’d punch him if he ever introduced himself that way. 

For the celebration, we had a private room set up at the nearby Seasons 52 restaurant, and we all enjoyed a great meal with lots of good stories shared.

Rachel, Sam, and his dad

Rachel ordered some specialized M&Ms for the occasion.  Brilliant idea:

As much as I wanted to preserve those M&Ms, I made sure to take the above photo so they would be remembered forever after I devoured my little baggie.

Just a great party.  Here are some more photos from the night:

Sam's parents

rack of "mini indulgences"

family shot

Sam and Rachel

Thumbs up for passing the bar exam

After the dinner, we headed back to Sam’s place for some dessert.  I never had a Cold Stone ice cream cake before.  Great call by Rachel, it was delicious.

What a great way to spend my last full day on the road, celebrating my best friend’s well-deserved achievement.  Couldn’t think of anything better to do.

Tomorrow, Saturday, is it…I’ll be back home in NY Saturday afternoon. 

joe

Days 108-110: Back in Bethesda (again)

September 17, 2010 2 comments

Location: Bethesda, MD

Time really flies by when there’s a limited amount of time to catch up with friends.  Here it is, Friday morning.  I’ve been here since Monday afternoon and I can’t believe how quickly the week went by.

My time here was mostly dedicated to getting together with friends, though I did accomplish a few things outside of that.  Staying with Matt, I was able to catch up on some laundry (last load of laundry for this trip).  Also, I went to my old regular place in Gaithersburg and got my oil changed.  Now that was a bit sad…I think that was oil change #7 for the trip, and definitely the last one I’ll need before I sell the car to Colleen. Crazy.  As part of the oil change, this place does a standard check on the vehicle for other issues.  I ended up replacing the transmission fluid, as it was due for that again, but everything else was in great shape.  I’m so happy with how well the Mazda6 has performed on this trip.  Over two year’s worth of driving…the near equivalent of driving the circumference of the earth (thanks for that tip, Stephen)…and no issues.

Let’s get to the photos. 

On Tuesday evening, I got together with my buddy Vincent for some pizza in Arlington.  Haven’t seen Vincent since I orginally moved out of the area back in January, so it was great to get together once again.  Vincent is someone I can commisserate with when the Washington Wizards lose…a good friend, and we’re both hoping for some redemption this year now that we have the #1 draft pick, John Wall.

hanging with Vincent at Pupatella

Early evening on Wednesday, I went with Matt and our friend Sean to Great Falls State Park (MD side).  Although it wasn’t that far from my old home here, I’ve only been there once before, but remembered our time there fondly.  We hiked the “Billy Goat Trail” which takes you across a number of boulders along the water.  The hike can be a little challenging at times, as you leap from boulder to boulder, but definitely one of the more fun hikes I’ve ever been on.  Below are some photos from our time there (some photos are courtesy Matt – thanks buddy).

Great Falls State Park

Matt taking a break from the boulder hopping

Great views from the rocks

Sean gets ready to jump

Will I make it??

Made it!

climbing up the steep rock wall

Sean makes it across the log bridge

Matt works his way across

I came pretty close to biting it and falling in the water

A nice day ends out by the water

Matt's pic - a nice shot of the moon and it's reflection rippling in the water

finishing up the hike along the dirt road

Nevermind the KState affliation. Sean is an all right guy

Great hike!  Last hike for this roadtrip is in the books, and it was a lot of fun out there.

That evening I headed over to my friend Christelle’s house to hang out.  Thanks to Christelle for cooking up some plantains and sweet potatoes for me.  Share that recipe some time, Christelle.

Thursday was a very lazy day for me.  Having completed the majority of my to-dos for the week, I spent the day inside playing Starcraft II on Matt’s computer.  Awesome game, by the way. I figure it’s been a while since I spent a day just playing video games, and given that it was raining outside, it worked out well.  The only other thing I accomplished that afternoon was getting some laundry done, as well as doing some pull-ups on Matt’s pull-up bar.  A productive day.

That night I went to my friend Bea’s house for dinner.  Her husband Mike cooked up some authentic Chinese food and I had a great meal.  I also got to spend time playing with Bea’s cute daughter, Haile.  Thanks for a great time, Bea and Mike!

hot rice pudding for dessert. very tasty

A bunch of us met up that night at a bar in Rockville and I got to see some faces I haven’t seen in a long time.  Ashley (who you may recall from a prior visit to Maryland, as well as my return to Atlanta), was in town, too.

Matt enjoys an egg roll

Stephen enthralled by Ashley's story

Not sure what is going on here

hanging with Amelia and Mike

good buddies

group shot

me and Ash

As always, I had a great time back in Maryland.  Went by way too fast.  This probably will be my last visit to the area for a long time, and I’m grateful I had so many friends around to visit with.

On Friday, I make my way north towards New Jersey, where a party is being held for my buddy Sam for passing the bar exam.  Along the way, I’ll visit a friend and a cousin in Baltimore.  This is the penultimate drive of the trip…the next drive after this one will be the drive home.

joe

Days 106-107

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Location: Bethesda, MD

Miles Driven: ~200

Total Miles: 25,206

 

In what will probably be viewed as unsurprising, I decided to stay one more day down in Newport News.  I think that was the best option given A) Added time for Chris and I to hang out, and B) Chris and I were up til 3AM on Saturday.  It was a rainy day, and we didn’t have anything planned other than to watch the Giants home-opener.

After a tease by Comcast (Chris’ TV said the game would be on, but instead it showed Atlanta/Pittsburgh), we all headed down to a local bar to catch the second half of what turned out to be a dominating win by the Giants.

Let's go G-Men!

Went back to his place to relax, and Chris’ fiancee Sundae prepared a great dinner of Mexican tortas.  Muy bien!

in football poses (I think) celebrating the win

We certainly didn’t do a whole lot that day, but I was beat around 10PM.  Left there around 8AM this morning (Monday), and got on the road towards Washington, D.C.  Glad I had the chance to hang with a good buddy from home one last time before I ship out in January.

When I hit the road, I knew I would make at least one stop along I-95N, and that’s the Stonewall Jackson Shrine not far from Spotsylvania, Virginia.  Many times before I had been driving on I-95 and told myself “ahh, I’ll check it out the next time.”  I think this was as a good a time as any (and probably my last chance) to check it out, so I took the exit off of 95 and drove the five miles down to the shrine.  I didn’t know anything about the place, so I was pretty curious after having seen this sign on so many past trips.

It turns out this shrine area was dedicated to the memory of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson because it is the site of his death.  The site is the old Fairfield Plantation, and it is here where Jackson was brought after being shot (mistakenly by his own men) near Chancellorsville.  At the time, the site was no longer a functioning plantation, but a huge camp with Union prisoners and scores of Confederate wounded.

Jackson was here for about a week before pneumonia took its toll

It wasn’t an elaborate shrine by any means, but the place was still quite a solemn memorial to one of the finest officers in the entire Civil War.  Recognized for his brilliance on the battlefield by both Confederate and Union soldiers alike, many viewed Jackson as irreplaceable, and his death was a shocking blow to the Confederate cause.

The Stonewall Jackson shrine was not that far south of Fredericksburg, the site of two major battles during the course of the Civil War.  Having never seen it in person, I figured a visit to the battlefield would be in order, especially appropriate after the visit to Stonewall Jackson’s shrine. So I headed north to Fredericksburg, and soon was at the battlefield visitor center. 

For those who might not know, the battle of Fredericksburg took place in December of 1862, and was an overwhelming victory for the Confederates.  One of those situations (all too common in the Civil War) where soldiers (Union) made repeated attempts to attack a fortified position on top of a hill (Marye’s Heights), and were ultimately decimated…surprise, surprise.

In this region of Virginia, four major Civil War engagements took place – the battles of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and The Wilderness.  I learned at the Fredericksburg visitor center that the total casualties of these four battles (on both Confederate and Union sides) outnumbered the combined casualties of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, Mexican-American War, and all of the wars with native americans.  Unreal.

I first checked out some of the exhibits in the visitor center before heading out on the grounds, and found a nice display with information on the commanders at Fredericksburg:

Ever wonder where the term 'sideburns' comes from? Look no further than the man here at the bottom

After checking out some of the exhibits, I headed outside and went on the walking trail which highlighted some areas of the battle.

The Sunken Road, and the stone wall Confederate soldiers used as cover. Marye's Heights to the right

Remarkable

Brompton House on top of Marye's Heights

Minus some trees, this is the view the Confederates had from the heights during the battle

At the top of Marye’s Heights was a national cemetary.  Originally built as the final resting place for Confederate and Union soldiers who fell here, the cemetary also holds the remains of about 300 other military servicepeople up through the 1940s.   I read on the displays there are over 15,000 people buried in the cemetary, but fewer than 3,000 have been identified.  Sad.

A fitting description of the Confederate advantage at Fredericksburg

After a slow walk through the cemetary, it was time to go.  Glad I came here.  I had read about the terrible losses the Union suffered trying to take a fortified hill, but I didn’t get the full picture until I saw the landscape those soldiers encountered.  How awful.

I continued to plug away and head north towards Bethesda.  I had only about an hour’s worth of driving to go, and once I neared DC I realized that hour could turn closer to two…there was quite a bit of traffic on I-495.  No worries, though.  I made it to my buddy Matt’s place in the early afternoon.  I caught a nap, got some exercise, and then went out with him for a dinner of delicious Vietnamese pho:

Been too long since my last bowl of pho

Great to be back hanging with another old buddy.  I’ll be sticking around here in Maryland for the next several days.  The plan is to check out some local sights, as well as visit with other friends and former co-workers in the area one last time.  Great to be back.

Kind of weird – my home in NY is just five hours drive away now. 

joe

Day 105: I missed the water

September 12, 2010 6 comments

Location: Newport News, VA

Miles Driven: 334

Total Miles: 25,006

 

I left Cary after 10AM and began to head east towards the North Carolinian coast.  I was headed towards the Outer Banks area (a place I had visited for the first time back in June), but I was going to a northern section of the Outer Banks to a city called Duck.

good weather heading out to the coast

It was after 4PM when I met up with friends Frances and Gary at their beach house.  From their deck were some outstanding views of the ocean:

It was hard to not just lounge on the deck for the next several hours and listen to/watch the ocean.  The cool breeze from the water made the air much more comfortable than I had found back in Raleigh.

A little after 5PM, we all went to dinner at a local cafe.  More outstanding food.

Crab bisque soup. Never had crab bisque soup before. Sooo good

My entree: southern scallops. very tasty

After dinner, we headed to the other side of the land to go walk by Albemarle Sound.  There was a boardwalk right above the water and our timing worked out well…sunset was slowly approaching.

Great views by the Sound.

Relaxing by the water

We returned to the house along the beach, and I was able to snap a few more pictures of the water before I got back on the road.

kids dwarfed by the Atlantic Ocean

Some real nice homes by the water

Thanks again to my friends in the Outer Banks for a nice break in the driving (and for the delicious dinner).  I was very glad to be back by some water again.  The last time I was near any major bodies of water was back in Alaska.

I got back in the car and headed north toward Newport News, revisiting my buddy Chris I saw here back in early June.  Chris and I hung out in his backyard for several hours, sitting by a fire.  Chris was suprised it was my first legit “campfire” for this whole trip.

No worries, this fire was under control

Chris by the fire

Great to hang out with a good friend once more.  This is probably the last time I’ll get to hang out with Chris before heading overseas in January, so I’m lucky to have this chance again.  Big excitement for Chris coming up…he has a baby on the way this coming December.  At the very least, I should be able to see some pictures before I head out.

Come Sunday, I’ll head north to Maryland where I’ll spend a stretch of a few days visiting with some friends one last time in the area I used to live.  Most of the drives from this point forward should be fairly quick (in the neighborhood of three hours or less).  No, I’m not sick of driving, but a few less hours in the car would probably do my legs and lower back a favor.

joe

P.S. In other news, you’ll notice above I just barely surpassed the 25,000 mile mark with today’s driving.  Before I set out on the trip, that was a higher estimate of the ground I’d cover (good call, Melissa).  Crazy