Sunday, July 10, 2011

1 Amazing Journey...Priceless...

24 days, 9,092 miles, 26 states, and 1 amazing journey (of fun, adventure, and self-discovery) later we are home - to Brevard that is! Before I re-cap the highlights, let me explore the last day of our trip.

We started out this morning in Maryland, moved quickly into Virginia, and had a drive-through breakfast. We drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and through the underwater tunnels. The Chesapeake Bay was beautiful - very blue with early morning boaters and a mist that was just beginning to lift. From Virginia we travelled into North Carolina without event and finally made it home just a little after 7pm.

All during the drive today, I kept thinking "what am I going to write about"...once in familiar territory, I did not take any pictures and the day was rather uneventful. But, I have a million (maybe a million and one) wonderful memories to relish and to share.

Someone asked during our Route 66 leg of the trip what our 3 favorite "things" could anyone pick just 3?!  I sorted through pictures, souvenirs, and memories and came up with a few of my favorite things (in no particular order):

Seligman...who couldn't love it...The Snow Cap, Lilo's, and the way the whole town embraces their Route 66 heritage.

The Cadillac and Bug Ranches. How could you not love being able to spray paint graffiti to your heart's content?

The Launching Pad/Gemini Giant. One of the most recongizable icons on The Mother Road. We had heard (or read) that The Launching Pad was closed, but it was only for the winter. A burger and fries and a few photos later; I was inducted into Route 66 mania!

Ted Drewe's. Who couldn't resist the festive atmosphere of hundreds of people, classic cars, great neon, and Concrete! Mike's Apple Pie Concrete wins the "Best Food of The Trip" award!

Hackberry's General Store. A smorgasbord of junk and a photographer's dream come true. This place was great for the many photo ops it offered including two "ladies of the evening" in the ladies room (where else would you expect them to be).

The Blue Whale. Catoosa, Oklahoma...a sleepy little town where probably not much ever happened, unless you were in kid there in the 1970's and then you could swim in the pond that was home to the Blue Whale!

Neon. Neon, neon everywhere! It wouldn't be Route 66 without it!

The Oregon Coast. So very different from the Southern Atlantic Coastline I am use to...craggy rocks, rough waves, and fog magic...

Finger Lake Wineries. Believe it or not some of these wineries produced wine that was too sweet for even favorite taste of the tours...Cranberry Frost!

The wonderful people we met along the way. Connie at the Wagon Wheel, Gary Turner, George Chicago, both the old and new owners of The Blue Swallow, Laurel at the Afton Station, and most of all Mike's Aunt Mona and Uncle Jim.

And my favorite part of the journey was my travelling companion...I would have never taken this trip without him and if I did, I would  not have enjoyed it nearly as much! Thank you Mike!

I could put "The End" here...but, I think it is just the beginning of many new journeys, many new adventures, many new friends, many new memories. So, I will steal a line from Mike and just say "Ciao"!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Please Come to Boston....

The west-to-east leg of our journey ended last night in Boston. Once again, it was an anti-climatic sign...nothing to say "job well done"...just pictures at the approximate spot where Highway 20 ends.

After a night in a very nice motel and a quick breakfast this morning it was out of Massachusetts and into New York, Rhode Island, Connecticutt, New Jersey, Deleware, and Maryland where we are staying the night before beginning the last day of what has been an amazing journey!

The highlight of today's adventures was the ferry ride from Cape May, New Jersey to Lewes, Deleware. The 80 minute ride was sort of a mini-cruise that included pictures on deck; wind-blown hair and all.

I know there will be adventures tomorrow as there has been everyday of this incredible trip. While I will be glad to get home, I am already thinking about our next Big Adventure.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wining and Dining

It was a late start this morning which might have been a good thing since we were doing more wineries. It was a great day weatherwise...a little overcast, a breeze, and just right temperatures. We decided to do a few wineries on Seneca Lake today since we did Cayuga Lake yesterday.

When we got to our first winery, it was already lunchtime.  We headed out to the patio for a great view and paninis.  Service was very slow...the 10 minutes we were told it would take to have our sandwiches ready turned into almost thirty!

We did a total of 5 wineries today - 3 were at Three Brothers. Bagg Dare was the most unique place you could imagine. The wine we tasted there was too sweet for even me, but the atmosphere was great.

After our wine-tasting tour, we headed back to the motel for a nap. After napping it was dinner time (see why I called this blog wining and dining?!). We headed out to the Lake and a placed called Cascades. It must have been our day for bad service; 10 minutes into our arrival and still no service. I was really concerned when our salads arrived - iceberg lettuce, two cherry tomatoes, and three slices of cucumbers! All was forgiven when our food was probably the best meal I have had this entire trip!

Of course no evening on the Fingerlakes is complete without ice cream. Tonight we passed on Tom Thumb's and instead went to Dee Dee's. What Dee Dee's lacked in view they made up for in cuteness. It was then back to the motel to get thing packed up for an early start towards Boston in the morning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

History in the Making...

Today Mike and I explored Auburn. We started the day with breakfast at the Auburn first real diner experience! It was interesting to read the framed article about how the diner was saved and restored by Steve Bianco. A neat piece of Auburn History and a great breakfast.

After breakfast we headed to the Auburn Theological Seminary to tour Willard Chapel. Pictures will not do justice to the magnificant Tiffany glasswork in the small chapel. Two daughters consigned with the Tiffany Glass Company to build the chapel to honor their parents. As we were finishing the tour, the sun beamed through two of the was breath-taking.

It was going to be hard to beat the beauty of Willard Chapel, but we thought we would try by taking a self-guided tour of the mansions on State Street. Among these stately houses (hmmm, wonder if that is how State Street got its name?) was the home of William Henry Seward - Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln.

From grand to austure...we drove further down State Street to the home of Harriet Tubman.  It was a simple white house with no signs of grandure except for the purple clematis climbing up a post on the porch.  After taking pictures of her home, we headed out to Fort Hill Cemetary to find her place of burial. Her resting place was as simple as the place she lived.  A plain headstone with a few tokens to prove this great lady has not been totally forgotten.

Lunch was another diner experience at the Green Shutter...quick sandwiches before we were off to tour several local wineries surrounding Lake Cayuga. The Buttonwood Grove, The Thirsty Owl, Cayuga Ridge Estate, and Bet the Farm were our choices for today. The surprise of the day for me was the Cranberry Frost!

After a great dinner on the patio at Curly's, we took a drive around the lake for a sunset and an ice cream...a great nightly ritual.  It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

Mike calls Auburn his "spiritual place" and I understand why. There is such history here, great man-made beauty, and natural wonders that can't be rivaled. While there is no familial connection for me with Auburn, there is a heart connection that is growing stronger by the day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New York State of Mind...Upstate, That Is!

This morning we left Erie, Pennsylvania and headed towards New York. It was a short drive to the New York stateline. I told Mike that whenever anyone says "New York" I automatically think of skyscrapers, cabbies blowing their horns, busy streets,  and people too harried to smile. What I saw instead were old ivy-covered barns, vineyards everywhere, white farm houses with clothes hanging on a line blowing in the breeze, and a Menonite couple in their buggy. It was idyllic, peaceful, was beautiful!

Driving though this serene countryside made the time fly and soon we were in Seneca Falls. A stop to take pictures and we were on our way to Auburn. Mike took me on a quick tour that included a couple of his favorite diners, the house where his mother was born, his grandparent's homes (and the middle of the street where one use to stand), the town of Skaneateles, and of course the Finger Lakes.

We found a quaint little motel called Sleepy Hollow - the yellow and white exterior beckoned us. It was check-in, change clothes, and off to dinner at the Oak & Vine. After a meal of great food, great wine, and great service; Mike finished the tour with a drive around Lake Owasco for the sunset and a stop at Tom Thumb's for ice cream and more great scenery.

Back at the Sleepy Hollow, we realized that we were the only was a little creepy...kind of like one of those horror movies where the couple ends up being chased by a guy with an ax. I like adventure (and we have had many), but that would be one that I could pass on...we will see! If we make it to the morning, we plan on a visit to the Owasco Lake Park, more site-seeing, and lunch at one of Mike's diners.