Greetings from Connecticut! We made it to our new apartment yesterday afternoon, and despite working until midnight to clean and unpack (after dinner and exploring New Haven of course), I still woke up at 6:00 a.m. My body just refuses to sleep late. The benefit is that it’s the perfect chance to update our blog before the day begins! We covered over 1,100 miles since Tuesday and saw nine states. That makes for a long of great stories, but I’ll give a short version and a long version (with more details and pictures showing us still alive among the Yankees!)
We left Charlie’s parent’s house in Dadeville, AL, on Tuesday morning to head to a friend’s home in Spartanburg, SC. After a good visit, we woke up early to make the eight hour drive to Washington, DC. We had some company for most of the trip in terms of our new friend, Lee, who dumped rain and cloudy weather on us everywhere we went. He’s real sweet and cozy like that. Luckily, the rain held off most of Thursday when we visited some of the Smithsonian Museums (American History and Air/Space). We heard some uber-travel-I’ve-been-everywhere-just-ask couple mention on the metro that they took eight hours to see the American History museum the day before, and we thought they were insane. However, when we finished the first little section of exhibits and realized it was an hour and a half later, we saw we needed to pick up the pace! I really loved seeing the inaugural dresses of the first ladies, while we both loved an exhibit called “Within These Walls.” It featured an actual home from Massachusetts and told the stories of the people who had lived there through the generations.
Next, we had lunch at Good Stuff Eatery (best burgers, fries and milkshake!) and ran into Spike from Top Chef who owns the place. Then we met up with my sweet friend Susie who lives in DC now. We hadn’t seen each other in five years, so she and I got in a good visit while Charlie explored the air/space museum. Next was making the trek to the Washington Monument, WWII memorial, Lincoln memorial, and Vietnam memorial. The rain was picking up at this point and we had a “fun” lightning-illuminated walk back to the metro after this (note to DC city planners: install a metro station at a halfway point b/t Lincoln memorial and the national mall!).
Friday morning we woke up early again (a familiar pattern at this point), and hit the road for Connecticut. After Charlie navigated DC traffic in the rush hour, we cruised through Maryland (gorgeous), Delaware (short and weird), New Jersey (honorary fist-pump on the NJ turnpike) and New York (note: don’t make a wrong turn in the Bronx…just saying). Then….the skies parted and we entered the most beautiful road in Connecticut. Suddenly everything just felt rich (literally and figuratively..don’t ask about gas prices). The homes are beautiful, old colonials and everything is just gorgeous. We made our way to our new apartment and got everything inside before heading to Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven (famous from the Food Network). After losing most of the roof of my mouth from being unable to wait for the delicious slices to cool, we headed to Libby’s Italian Bakery for cannolis and eclairs. Then it was home to completely unpack, do laundry, say “Are we really in CT??” approximately 65 times and fall into bed. There you have it — you’re all caught up!
Long Version (details, pictures, details)
A few notes on the story above: The metro in DC rocks! I was nervous about navigating it, but it was so easy and made getting around DC a breeze. It was also fun to see what type of people got off at stops like the Pentagon. We got off at Smithsonian Station, which is right on the national mall. You go up the escalator and are greeted with the Capitol in the distance before turning around and seeing the Washington Monument. That was our first “Wait…is this really us? Are we really here??” moment. It hit us that we were actually doing this thing we had talked about for months (years, really). Seeing things we’d only read about was now officially going to be a way of life! (below: me with Mamie Eisenhower’s inaugural dress and Charlie trying to figure out what a blackout “kit” is — would have been in the MA home; the Lincoln monument and standing at the WWII memorial with the Washington monument in the background.)
We saw the actual airplane the Wright brothers built, which was incredible. The walk through the national mall to the Lincoln memorial was surreal as well. Reading the Gettysburg address and then looking back at a huge statue of Abraham Lincoln will make you appreciate the incredibly hard work that previous generations have done to move our country in a good direction. We then walked through the Vietnam memorial, and Charlie made the neat observation that it was fitting that we walk it in the rain. I didn’t realize this, but all the names are listed in the order in which they were killed. It was a powerful experience to read the names that could have easily been people our parents’ knew and know what they gave up during such a tumultuous time in our nation’s past. We missed going to the Arlington because the lightening had picked up by then, but it is definitely something we want to do on our return trip (along with the museum of Natural History). We got back to our hotel about 7:30 p.m. and were soaking wet with tired legs, so we had a low-key night and were in the car by 7:30 the next morning.
The whole drive on Friday was full of more “Wait..are we really here, doing this?” moments. Stopping for a Coke in Delaware was definitely a strange experience. We stood outside the car for a minute, looking around, saying “You know…just the Duffields…grabbing a Coke in Delaware…no biggie!” We navigated the New Jersey turnpike, including it’s odd service stations that are not so much exits, but more like food courts on the side of the road with full-service gas stations attached. We made it to NYC fine, but making it through was a different story. Somehow we got on the wrong level of the George Washington bridge and ended up the wrong way on an interstate in the Bronx. We quickly turned around, but then had trouble finding our way to the next point in our directions. This is where it helps to be OCD and have printed three sets of varying directions to the same place. By piecing together different steps from each set of directions, whispering a prayer, and going with the flow of traffic, we found our way out of the city, through New Rochelle and onto the Merritt Parkway into Connecticut. It was such a good feeling to pass exit signs for New Haven and finally come up on our stop in Hamden (about 3 miles north). We were home!