Saturday, July 11, 2015

Our 2015 Great Eastern Adventure!

Our vacation started three weeks ago today. Originally we were planning to try to travel to the D.C. area since we didn't make it last year. I've always wanted to go, but Mr. not so much. A couple of days before we were to leave, he tossed out the idea of heading east. We met for lunch and both showed up with scribbled notes of where we'd like to go and what we'd like to do.

After work, I went crazy online searching for things to do in each state and we ended up with a pretty awesome assortment of things to do and see! I mapped it all out and printed an itinerary, one for us, and one for our guys (who were staying home and taking care of the house and our fur girl). We only skipped a few things on the list, and the only one I regret skipping was the Amish homestead and farm tour. That just means I need to make another trip to PA to do that-right?!?

Our first day was the most driving heavy day. We knew it was going to be a long one when we started, so we strapped in for the adventure! The first stop was at the covered bridge at Jacks Mountain. I was expecting to have a big wide space to park and get out and take pictures, but that wasn't the case. We got a few shots, but they were from the car.

The second stop was Sach's Covered Bridge, just a few miles away. It was a walk over bridge only, and since we were in an unfamiliar area, and we couldn't see the bridge from where we had to park, Mr hiked over to it and snapped some pics while I waited in the car. It wasn't a far walk, but he said the bridge wasn't as nice as the one at Jacks Mountain. He talked to another couple who were there and they said that the reason this one was a place to visit is because it is rumored to be haunted. That didn't really mean anything to us either way, so we moved on to our next stop Gettysburg.

We drove through the park, soaking in all of the history of the area and trying to comprehend what it must have been like. The area was really packed with tourists, and finding a hotel was almost impossible. We drove out of town a few miles and found one called the Western that had rooms available, so we stopped there for the night. It was a decent place-not the worst I've ever stayed in, and very far from the best. I'd give it 1 1/2-2 stars. After driving all day and finding out everything else in town was booked, it was a place to rest for the night.

The next morning, we took off for New Freedom, PA for a trip on the Steam into History Train. The train was gorgeous!! We had a beautiful day, with big puffy clouds, and the pics we took of the train came out great! There was a motor coach tour that took up one whole car and a birthday party that took up another car. We ended up in the worst (for comfort) car-the one with bench seats. I was bummed about that, but what could we do. Mr was very anxious to ride the train-he wouldn't admit it, but I could tell he was worried we'd miss it.

 This woman rode her bike this close to our train for the whole trip down. Sometimes, the bike trail crossed to the other side and she kept had to speed up her pedaling to get in front and cross.

The next few pics are of some traveling performers. They were great!!

It was a 2 1/2 hour ride. I think it would have been better as just a one hour ride, but the way the track is, it wouldn't work to do that. They took us down the hill backwards at the start, and it was narrated with tons of history and stories to go along with the ride. The ride back was coming back up the hill-seeing the same sights, with a singing trio who were awesome, but they had 3 cars to sing for, so it wasn't long and they were on to the next car.

The next stop was at the Plain & Fancy Restaurant in Bird in Hand, PA. We were supposed to visit and tour an Amish homestead and farm in East Lancaster first, but we were both starving, so we decided to eat first. The restaurant was very Americanized. As we were walking up, we heard pop music coming from speakers outside of the restaurant! We were expecting more of an Amish feel to the place. The food was amazing!!! We opted to order our own meal, rather than the family-style option, where you would share the meal at a huge table with whomever was seated there.

We each ordered a platter where we chose two types of meats and two sides. We got different things so we could share and taste as many different things as possible. The fried chicken was the best I've ever had! There was so much food!!! We didn't even make a dent in what they brought!!! It was very well worth it-I'd recommend it and I'd like to go back-just don't go expecting an Amish experience. Amish food-yes, experience-no.

As we were heading out of town we passed easily 25-30 Amish buggies traveling up and down the main strip of road. Some had young families in them and some had just an older husband and wife. I was surprised, because it was Sunday, so I expected (from things I've read in the past), that they would be at home. doing the bare minimum of chores, and eating a meal that they prepared the day before, so they could keep the Sabbath. I guess times have changed since I read that.

Look how close!!!

The next stop was Valley Forge Historical Park, and then on to the Liberty Bell and Independence Park. We were surprised at how tight security was at the Liberty Bell. Mr was carrying a pocket knife so he had to wait outside, and only I was able to go in to see it. He was talking with one of the security guards, and they told him about a window he could go to and look in at the bell, so he was able to at least see it with his own eyes. He couldn't tour Independence Park either because of his knife.
As I was waiting to enter Independence Park, a guy with a green BOSTON shirt came up behind me. He was pulling a little carry-on suitcase on wheels. He started talking to me right away. He told me he was in between flights and was rushing to see as much of the area before his next flight. We got through the security check-point and I wandered away. I noticed him kind of near me at a few different places, but didn't think much of it. After all, he did pass the security check-point-right?!?

I left the park and crossed the street to where Mr was waiting for me,and we started walking down the sidewalk to the parking structure to get back in our car and move on to our next location, and I noticed the Boston shirt guy, was right behind me again...I leaned in closer to Mr, and the guy ended up turning off. I don't know if it was just a coincidence that we were travelling the same path, and his story was on the up and up, or not. I have no idea how far the airport is from the Liberty Bell...I'm just glad nothing happened. I'm choosing to believe he was a nice guy, who really was between flights, and we just happened to cross paths 3 or 4 times in a very short amount of time.

Our next stop was supposed to be the Eastern State Penitentiary. We got stuck in traffic and got there at closing time, so we had to pass that adventure up. I was actually kind of glad to get out of the city and out of the traffic! After we left the area, a friend from work commented on my check-in on Facebook and reminded us of the Art Institute "Rocky" stairs!! What a bummer-we missed it!!!

We ended up stopping in New Brunswick, NJ for the night. We stayed at a Clarion Hotel. It was an improvement from our first night. I'd give it 2 stars. We were traveling with a lot of luggage. We packed for the whole week, not planning to stop and do laundry, so we both had big bags for our clothes. Then we had a ginormous toiletries bag-I'd rather be prepared with what we might need, rather than not having something when we need it. Plus pillows, plus my fan. I can't sleep without my fan.

So after checking in, Mr grabbed a luggage cart and brought it out to the car, and we loaded it up! The manager was having a hard time with his computer, so he told us to go ahead up to our room on the second floor and he'd call Mr down to sign the credit card slip once he rebooted. We took the elevator to the second floor, and it was a deserted banquet area. We went to one end and it went to another banquet/ kitchen area. The next place we checked was stairs, and then we came across another set of stairs-no rooms! So, we took the elevator down and the guy at the desk told us we had to go down the stairs to the rooms...he said it was a really old building with a crazy layout. so we rode up again and started hauling our bags to the room. The manager came up and helped us carry our stuff to the room-apologizing for the confusion. It was another ok room-2 stars is my rating. It was clean, and inexpensive-maybe because of the oldness??

The next day found us heading toward the Great Paterson Falls in Paterson New Jersey. With the quickness of our plans changing, I didn't take a lot of time to research each and every detail of each stop along the route of our adventure-so imagine our surprise when our GPS took us to a city to visit a waterfall!! It was right in the middle of a city! We parked at the museum-which happened to be closed on Mondays, and walked a couple of blocks to the falls. It was really pretty and refreshing to see it in the middle of the concrete and brick of the city.

The museum was closed, so we aren't sure of the significance of this train engine that was sitting outside.

Our next stop was in East Haddam CT, at the Gillette Castle. Still totally relying on the GPS, we were surprised again when we pulled up to a car ferry on the Connecticut River! One more fun attraction on our Great Eastern Adventure! What a FUN place!! The ferry ride just added to the charm, and the castle, it was AMAZING!!! It was the home of William Gillette, and American actor, who was most famous for his role as Sherlock Holmes. It was built in 1914 and he had many odd contraptions built-in throughout. The craftsmanship is amazing! The attention to detail is amazing! The view on the river is amazing! A little off the beaten path, but well worth the trip. We were the only car on the ferry ride back.

The next stop was Mystic Seaport in Mystic CT. I was very disappointed to see that the area we were hoping to walk through, was closed off and required an entry fee. I was hoping to walk around the seaport area and just take time to wander-not having time to fully research didn't help us! We decided to skip the fee and the seaport, but found our way to Mystic Pizza. If you aren't in your mid forties or older, you might not have a clue as to why we wanted to stop at Mystic Pizza. It was a quick drive-by for a photo, kind of thing, not time for dinner, and still more land to cover!

We kept on going, and ended up stopping for the night in Seekonk, MA at a Knights Inn. It was the best hotel so far on our travels-still with a decent price, and there was a Friendly's Restaurant next door. So once we got settled in our room, we walked over for dinner. I had a huge salad that was very good. I was impressed to see that it was all Romaine lettuce and it was all GREEN, none of the yellow, bitter stuff, so many of my local restaurants use for the majority of their salads. We even got sundaes to go, and enjoyed them in our room with our feet up and the air conditioner cranking.

Tuesday, we went to Plymouth MA. I had planned on going to Boston, but Mr isn't a fan of big cities and he was very much against going to Boston, He went there a few years ago for something for work and while he enjoyed the sites, he was worried about us driving there. So, I rerouted us to Plymouth, since my main goal was whale watching on Stellwagen Bank, and tours left from Plymouth as well as Boston.

When we arrived, we found a metered parking spot right away. The only was a four hour limit, and we were an hour early for a 3 hour tour. Plus we wanted time to tour the Mayflower II and Plimouth Plantation. When I bought the tickets for the Whale Watching, the woman selling them to me said if we ran back to the car about ten minutes before the boat left the dock and put more change in, we should be all set. So, Mr ran back, and when they started boarding, I walked up, gave the guy my ticket and got on the boat. Mr, ran back and got on just in the nick of time.

Until we heard an announcement from a boat a little further away, explaining that they ran out of tickets for the individual tours and the Pilgrim Belle was going on a 75 minute sightseeing excursion,and if you were on Captain John's, boat, but bought passage for sight seeing, you needed to switch boats. Guess what!?!? We were on the Pilgrim Belle, but needed to be on Captain John's! We ran up the steep gangplank and ran to the Captain John. As we were boarding, one of the workers told another worker-"here's our missing two". I was so happy they waited for us!! I would have been so bummed had we missed it!!

This whale watching adventure was the high-point of the trip for both of us. It was so amazing-I highly recommend it! If you get a chance to do it, DO IT!! I also very highly recommend Captain John's out of Plymouth. The boat was very clean, with a fantastic crew! I can't say enough good about this trip.

My first ever lobster roll-YUMMM!!! Mr played it safe and went with a ham and cheese-boy did he miss out!!!

Our whale watching excursion ended up taking 4 hours, so we were an hour late getting back to the car and the meter. Fortunately, we didn't get a ticket, and so far, nothing has come in the mail since we've been home!

We were supposed to go to Minute Man Park that same day and then on to Old Sturbridge Village the next day. We were so tired that we decided to skip the Park and head toward Sturbridge. We stopped for the night in Sturbridge at the first hotel that we came to. It was a Super 8, nothing fancy from the outside, not super cheap,but not too expensive either.

Boy, were we surprised when we opened the door to the room!!!

When he was checking us in for the night, Mr was told they had just completed a renovation, and they hoped he liked what they did with the room! It was gorgeous!! The most beautiful room I've ever stayed in!! I could have lived there-LOL! That old saying "You can't judge a book by its cover" is certainly true!

We slept very well that night and when we woke up, we decided to skip the Village. We figured it was like what we have in Michigan (Greenfield Village), and we've been to that a bunch of times. So we headed toward our next destination-two antique shops that I'd read about for years on a bog friend's blog. The first one, Queen Anne's was closed and we didn't have enough time on our schedule to sit around and wait for it to open, so we went on to the Collinsville Antique Center in New Hartford, CT.

We both enjoyed our time walking around the mall and seeing what might be different from antique malls in our home state. It was a good stop to stretch our legs too!

Look at the beautiful scenery!! We took lots of pics of scenery on our trip-hills, mountains, farmland, bridges, historic homes, buildings, signs, tunnels,  you name it! We ended up with almost 4,000 pictures between our phones and camera, and I'm still sorting through them!!

The next stop was quite breathtaking-High Point State Park, in Sussex, NJ. The camera can't capture the beauty and serenity of this place, you have to see it with your own eyes.

We planned ahead of time for Mr to hike the trails for at least an hour, maybe half the day while we were at the park because their trails connected with the Appalachian Trail, and for a hiker, that's a pretty big deal to hike on the A.T.. For me, not so much. Originally, I had planned to sit in the car and read a book on my Kindle app while he was hiking, but I found a couple of antique shops in the area, so I decided to check them out. According to the info I found online they were both supposed to be open, but after arriving at the first one and finding it closed, I looked up the second one and found that it too was closed, so I went back to the park and waited. It was such a beautiful day and the view so spectacular, I didn't mind one bit.

While we were on our trip, I had been "checking in" and posting pictures of our adventures on facebook. I wasn't worried about someone seeing that we were gone and breaking in, because our guys were at home, and considering their size and their constantly changing schedules, someone was almost always at home. One of my dear friends from long ago, saw my posts and we were able to squeak in a quick visit over lunch in our next stopping area-Adamstown, PA.

We were heading to that area because I've seen lots of posts and pictures from blog and FB friends of great treasure hunting adventures, and it was another one of those, "if I ever get to that area, I'm going to Adamstown!" ind of thing. We hit it just right too, it was one of their Antique Extravaganza weekends. All of the shops had big sales and one even had a bunch of vendors with tents set up in their parking lot. The following day would have been even better to have been in the area, because there was a big fairgrounds type area just outside of town that was going to have hundreds more dealers set up.

We shopped the parking lot sale, and a couple of shops, and then we met up with my friend. We actually worked together in California, way back when Mr and I first got married, he was in the Navy, and stationed at a Naval Hospital in Longbeach. We lived in Hawaiian Gardens, and I worked at Lenscrafters in Lakewood at the mall. She was my general manager, and my friend. We've kept in touch over the years, but we hadn't seen each other face to face in over 25 years!!

Another saying that came true on our trip-you know the one about good friends being apart, can pick up where they left off?? Yep! We blabbed and laughed and reminisced-it was so fun and so nice-I'm still smiling in my heart just thinking about it!! How cool is it that we travelled within a half an hour of her home and were able to connect!?!?

After lunch, we hit more shops and we literally shopped til we dropped! It was so much fun!! I kept thinking how much fun Auntie would have had there! I texted her and told her that we need to take a road trip some day, because I can't wait to go back!! I've seen posts and comments where people complain about high prices in Adamstown. I found the opposite. The prices on what I was looking for were great! Of course, you're going to have a wide range of prices anywhere, and if you find something you really want, that you've been looking for, you might be willing to pay anything just to have it. I didn't buy anything that was super expensive, in fact, when I got home and checked out online prices, I got some smokin hot deals!!

There was a section of "sexy/sex" comic books and trashy novels that was under lock and key in the same area as these phones. I didn't notice the girls on the dials right away, I was just drooling over the pink phone!!

My grandma had this set when I was growing up. She actually had smaller round glasses that when she and grandpa were having cocktails in the bigger ones, my cousins and I got Shirley Temple's in the smaller glasses.

I fell in love with this tablecloth-but it was way out of my price range.

If only...I had more corners in my house!!! I'm addicted to corner cabinets!!

An interesting way to display vintage Christmas items.

 Do you think this design is original to this enamel top table? Or do you think someone redid it?

I picked up little bits here and there, but my best find was at the tent sale. I got a Pyrex pink scroll for $5!! I bought a few things from the same dealer, and was really super bummed to find out she had a big box of Pyrex that she forgot at home, but was planning to bring the next day-after we were gone!! :(

The next stop was supposed to be the Strasburg Railroad, but since we'd been on the road so long, and we'd already done one railroad thing, we decided to skip in and press on. Our GPS took us on a weird route that had us driving through an enormous state park area, and we stopped when we saw some signs for Dingman Falls. It was time to stretch our legs, and we always enjoy waterfalls!!

We went to Hershey, PA next and did the whole touristy thing...toured the factory,  and bought candy and shirts. It was cute. We skipped the amusement park. For some reason, neither of us really cares about roller coasters or rides anymore. It wasn't really a true factory tour, it was more of a cartoon-ized version that you rode through while cows sang an upbeat, catchy tune. I was hoping to see actual machines pumping out the candy, and actual workers working-but I guess that would give away too many secrets.

Made out of licorice!!

See the street lights??

Our next stop was Pittsburgh, PA and the Duquesne Incline. Very much worth the trip!!

The views were spectacular!! I did the touristy thing and squished a couple of pennies in the machines that were in the gift area at the top-one of them has a Heinz ketchup bottle on it!

The last stop before heading home was at Tony Packo's in Toledo, OH. It's a famous hot dog place that was recommended to us by one of Mr's coworkers who happens to live in Toledo. We got there around 2:30, so it wasn't really a meal time, and neither of us were hungry, so we ordered a dog to split. It was really good! It was a fun place, with signed hot dog buns all over the walls-signed by all kinds of famous people.

We got home just in time to help our youngest pick his car up from the repair shop, do some laundry, and go to bed. The next morning, we took off for a week in the my parent's house-that's another story!!

We had a blast on our trip. It was very eclectic, and even if we'd had months to plan it, I don't think we could have come up with a more fun trip. We both really enjoyed ourselves. We also visited Valley Forge, and a few other places along the way that I haven't even found the pictures for yet!

There was a crazy/hectic moment or two when we ended up on the George Washington Bridge and were thrust into New York City! LOL! We thought we planned to be about 10-20 miles outside of the city (Mr doesn't like cities so we tried to avoid it). We weren't there long, and I was extremely tempted to drive around to see all of the sights, but the short amount of time we did spend, was enough to stress Mr out!

I'd like to go back, but fly in and let someone else (like a tour company) take me to the places I want to see.


  1. I loved your post about your trip. I did the Captain John Whale Watch in June and it was awesome. I want to do another one. I missed out on the antiques...I need to add that to my next trip. It looks like you had a nice time and accomplished a lot in a short time. Thanks for the post, I'm now adding stuff to my to do list!

    1. Hi Beth! The antiquing was AMAZING!! So many new things to see that we don't usually find in Michigan, and the prices weren't nearly as bad as some had warned me about. So many shops along the main strip. It was hop in car and hop back out-they were all really close together. Have FUN!!!

  2. My husband and I are planning a trip to the East Coast this August. We plan to drive as far as Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor Maine and then mosey our way back home. I plan on seriously checking out Captain Johns Whale Watching for one of our stops on our way back to Michigan! Thanks for posting that!

    1. Hi Jeanette, Here is a link to their fb page you can see from their posts just how much they love the animals, and how they always find them for people to see. Hope you have a great trip!!!

  3. Oh beautiful, for spacious skies..... Love all the wonderful photos & tales. & I thot I was the only one who carries pillows & a fan on car trips. Thank you!