A Travellerspoint blog

The Longest Leg

The next leg of our journey was the longest with just over 9 hours of car time on Tuesday, April 25. We started the day with a quick visit to Jackson, Michigan where Ryan’s friend and former co-worker from TRC, Roy, resides. After the fellow engineers caught up, Ryan and I were on the road again.

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Upon a recommendation by my sister, we immediately got hooked to the “S Town” podcast. Per it’s description: “John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.” We listened to the entire 8 chapters during our extensive day of travel (the first 5 were the best). Beware of graphic content and vulgar language if you decide to give it a try.

Our goal was to make it to Des Moines, Iowa to camp out for the night. However, our hungry stomachs had a different agenda, furthermore we were ready to get out of the car prior to reaching the capitol. We found a nice place on the Mississippi River called Front Street Brewery Pub & Eatery in a town called Davenport. After Ryan and I consumed a Reuben and fish tacos, respectively, we resumed our drive through the Hawkeye state. With daylight winding down and rainy weather persisting, Ryan and I decided to skip out on the tent and spend the night at a casino off interstate 35 instead. The room rate was reasonable, plus we were able to run on their treadmills and take a shower the following morning. Of course I had to invest some money into the slots, but unfortunately I ended up leaving $60 poorer. Must be saving my luck for Las Vegas!

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Wednesday, April 26 was another day of driving. Our next destination was a KOA campground in Salina, Kansas, right off of route 70 West. We stopped to grab some groceries at Hyvees in Kansas City along the way. I wore my New England Patriots sweatshirt in Chief country and one of the cashiers proudly showed me his Patriot socks, pronouncing that “you aren’t the only Pats fan in this neck of the woods!” Ryan and I made sandwiches for lunch and enjoyed the city’s lush scenery.

We arrived to Salina around 4:00 pm and set up our brand spanking new LLBean Vector XL 6-person tent. Talk about camping in luxury! We both had plenty of room and could easily stand up in it. We brought a bunch of camping equipment in our rooftop carrier including our LLBean sleeping bags, Thermarest sleeping pads, lanterns, a Coleman stove, and folding chairs. Ryan and I were the only people tenting and did so at the low price of $24 for the night. Our site had a picnic table and fire pit for which we purchased two bundles of firewood. After setting up camp, Ryan got to work cooking dinner (leftover quesadillas and soup) while I wrote my first blog of the trip. We lit the fire to keep us warm since the temperature ended up getting down into the 30s, brr!

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After sleeping in late, we made breakfast sandwiches and coffee then packed up our stuff. Next stop: Denver, Colorado!

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Posted by Parsons123 20:03 Comments (1)

Mainers in Michigan

Our road trip went international when Ryan and I drove through Canada on Sunday, April 23. The direct route from upstate New York to Royal Oak, Michigan via 401 West saved us several hours versus going down and back up through Pennsylvania and Ohio. It was Ryan's first time in the nation to our north and I made sure to get my passport renewed to reflect my last name change prior to leaving. The two border crossings were quick and uneventful. Hard copy directions were utilized to navigate since we opted not to add international cell phone service for only one day of travel. Snooty stopped twice along the way, once for gas and another time for lunch at Jack Astor's Bar & Grill. Poutine was a must! Om nom nom.

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We finished our first audio book, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography. It was funny and entertaining...we rated it 4 out of 5 stars on Audibles and Goodreads. Ryan and I arrived in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit, around 5:00 pm that evening. Allow me to introduce our hosts and fun friends Roderick and Diana. Roderick and Ryan were pledge brothers in the Sigma Chi fraternity at the University of Maine. Roderick is a finance guru who went on to get his Master's degree and work for Ford. Diana is a vivacious dentist from the Detroit area who attended the University of Michigan. We instantly connected the first time we met in May 2014. I must boast that Ryan and I know some of the coolest, smartest, and kick-ass people around.

The night of our arrival we took a short stroll to downtown Royal Oak. It is a hip area full of restaurants, bars, and shops. Our first stop was B Spot Burgers to eat...wait for it....burgers! With full bellies the four of us walked down to the Red Fox English Pub where they had a killer rooftop bar adorned with fire pits and patio heaters. We gleefully chatted and drank the night away.

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Monday, April 24 meant work for Diana but a day off for Roderick to hang out with Ryan and I. Roderick drove us to "The Henry Ford" where we toured the museum and Greenfield Village. We spent hours admiring cars, trains, and even the bus that Rosa Parks made famous. It was a delightful way to spend the day. Afterwards Roderick and Ryan ate Detroit-renowned pita sandwiches called shawarma. I abstained since I am not a fan of pickles, but the boys claimed they were delicious.

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We reconvened back at the house so Diana could join us for another night out on the town. This time we went to the local Blarney Stone Pub for trivia. As aforementioned on Facebook, "The Lovers" were 1 point behind in second place out of ten teams going into the final question. Of course, we decided to go big or go home. Unfortunately we went home without the victory, but we still had an incredible time! The final question was "Which 20th century U.S. President was born in Nebraska and was also the only one to have been an Eagle Scout?" Answer: Gerald Ford. Better luck next time...

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The arrival of Tuesday meant it was time to hit the road again. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Royal Oak and consider our trip to be off to a great start! Next stop: Somewhere in Iowa.

Posted by Parsons123 09:58 Comments (0)

And We're Off!

The beginning of our U.S. tour :)

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"Snooty" is loaded up and ready to rock! The odometer at the beginning of the trip reads 169580 miles. Let's go!

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My husband and faithful travel companion, Ryan, drove the first leg to Ogdensburg, New York. It took approximately 7.5 hours and we elected to travel the more scenic, northern route parallel to the Canadian border. Ryan had his doubts about my navigation taking us through the remote regions of New Hampshire, but we were both pleasantly surprised by the beautiful scenery it bestowed upon us. We drove past "The Balsams" and Lake Gloriette was still frozen. Vermont also offered gorgeous landscape and Lake Champlain delightfully greeted us into New York.

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Wind turbines were scattered thickly throughout northern New York. We were also very impressed by the magnitude of the Saint Lawrence river, which begins in Lake Ontario and flows 1,900 miles into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence/Atlantic Ocean (the largest estuary in the world!)

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We arrived in Ogdensburg around 7:15 pm on Friday, April 21. Here is where one of my best friends in the entire world resides, Dr. Natalie Jackson! For those of you who don't know, Natalie and I became friends during my second year of pharmacy school at Albany College of Pharmacy. I invited her to drink margaritas and sing karaoke with me at the local Mexican bar Bombers and the rest is history :) We were roommates thereafter and she stood beside me as a bridesmaid at Ryan and my wedding last September. This wasn't my first time visiting the Ogdensburg area but I had yet to see her new house (despite living there for 3+ years), Ryan had never been, and we were both looking forward to spending more time getting to know her long-term boyfriend, Michael. It was A BLAST! We were given the royal treatment as soon as we arrived. Michael, a chef by trade, prepared a fabulous dinner consisting of lamb, scallops, and pesto risotto. We played Cards Against Humanity and indulged in some adult beverages. Our trip was off to a wonderful start.

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That Saturday, April 22, Natalie's mom joined us for brunch which was again prepared by our chef extraordinaire, Mike. Ryan said it was "the best breakfast he's ever tasted" and I agree! I had never before experienced "kugel" but soon learned I was missing out. He added smoked salmon, a poached egg, and homemade hollandaise sauce. It was heaven on a plate. From there, we ventured off to explore the local sites. The tour-de-Ogdensburg started with a wine tasting at a local vineyard. When I say "tasting", what I really mean is that they poured each glass half-full of wine and then didn't even charge us at the end since we bought some of their merchandise. Score! Next stop was Thousand Islands. We stopped by the Dark Island Spirits Distillery and enjoyed the fabulous local spirits. Afterwards we ate delicious Wood Boat Brewery pizza and then headed back to Natalie's house for more fun and games. Michael's witty brother Bill came over and we all laughed until we cried several times. One of those occasions was when Bill announced that he had yet to visit Maine, to which Ryan and I both exclaimed in unison (and with the same disbelieving inflection), "you haven't been to Maine before?!?!?!" :)

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Sunday morning came too early and it was time to say our goodbyes and hit the road to our next stop: Royal Oak, Michigan.

Posted by Parsons123 16:45 Comments (0)

Adventure is Worthwhile

A warm welcome to my blog about a 1-month cross-country road trip extravaganza :)

Greetings!

The starting place for my husband Ryan and my cross-country road trip occurs in the easternmost state, also known as the greatest state in the USA... Maine! We depart this Friday, April 21 for what is certain to be the trip of a lifetime. I look forward to documenting this experience and hope you enjoy reading about our fun times ahead.

Words can't begin to explain how excited we are to take a full month off from work. The first question I often get asked is, "how did you both manage to get a month of vacation?" For me, it has to do with the blessing that I work as an Assistant Professor for Husson University. I am coming up on my 4th year working for the School of Pharmacy and have been diligently hoarding my vacation hours. Furthermore, this is my one window of opportunity when I don't have students at my clinical practice site at the VA Maine (in between the Class of 2017 and Class of 2018). Ryan is taking some unpaid time off to make the trip a reality. I would be remiss if I didn't state that we are both self-proclaimed workaholics. Family, friends, and colleagues know how passionate we are about our careers and the fact that we take pride in investing many hours every week into the work we do. It is safe to say that we have both been "burning the candle at both ends" and are ready for a break!

The next question I typically receive is "what are you taking for a vehicle?" The answer is my 2009 Hyundai Sonata. I just paid it off, bought new tires, got it inspected, and it gets 30+ miles to the gallon! "Snooty" has 169,000+ miles to date and I average almost 30,000 miles of driving per year. Side note - did you know that only 1 out of 4 people name their car?

"How did you plan your route?" Ryan and I are fortunate to have close contacts throughout America. We planned our route based on 9 stops with family and friends, from Connecticut to California! You will get to know all of these wonderful people throughout this blog. Prepare to be impressed! Rooms are already reserved in Las Vegas and Sonoma. We also bought a brand spankin' new LLBean 6-person tent and will be camping for several nights along the way.

"Why don't you visit _________?" 1 month seems like a long time, but it surprisingly isn't when it comes to driving all the way across the country and back! Although it would be phenomenal to see it all, we had to make choices based on our route and the amount of time. For example, we would love to see the Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, etc., but there are only so many hours in a day, and we can't spend all of them driving. When planning, I tried to keep each day to a minimum. The longest day of driving consists of almost 9 hours (8 hours, 54 minutes to be exact), while the majority are 7.5 hours or less. We also made sure to schedule extra days to visit with our friends and take a break from the road. The good news is that both Ryan and I can drive anytime, plus I have almost 50 hours worth of audio books downloaded to my phone (The Oregon Trail, Last Child in the Woods, Being Mortal, And Then There Were None, and Neil Patrick Harris - Choose Your Own Autobiography, in case you were wondering :)

"Poets and artists from Walt Whitman to Muddy Waters have long sung the praises of rolling down the highway, and no matter how times have changed we still believe there's nothing more essentially American than hitting the road and seeing the country." (Road Trip USA - Jamie Jensen). My goal has always been to visit all 50 states before age 50. Upon making this confession to my soulmate Ryan, he immediately latched onto this goal as "ours" <3 We have both seen close to 30 states each individually, but now it is our mission to see all 50 together.

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it." -Yogi Berra

Bon Voyage! Stay tuned for more posts along the way.

Xo Cassie

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Posted by Parsons123 16:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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