How to try to plan a road trip.

It may seem daunting to try and plot out a roughly 10,000-mile trip, and I suppose it was, but there’s really nothing earth-shattering about what I did.  I estimated how long it would take us to drive between cities in which we were staying with friends/family, and once the dates in those cities were hammered down, I planned the routes between them.

It turns out I was not great at estimating; I had to insert an extra day in the Chicago-to-Seattle and San Diego-to-Austin itineraries because I wanted to see everything between those pairs of cities, and for some reason, the major landmarks are not arranged along a straight line between them.  I decided that averaging any more than 7.5-8 hours a day may provoke a mutiny attempt from the passenger’s seat, so I used that constraint to decide where to stay each night along a predetermined route.  This is how we ended up planning stays in the burgeoning metropolises (correct plural?  I don’t know.) of Custer, SD; Livingston, MT; and Artesia, NM.

I regrettably had to leave out certain landmarks/parks/fun roads, for the sake of time.  That includes the Grand Canyon, among other places.  I know, this is where everybody is screaming at their computer/tablet/phone, “WHAAAAT?!? YOU CAN’T GO ON A ROAD TRIP WITHOUT THE GRAND CANYON!!  THAT’S THE ONLY PLACE PEOPLE ACTUALLY GO ON ROAD TRIPS!”  I know, it seemed weird to me, too.  It turns out it’s just not on the way to anywhere (it’s basically an out-and-back from Flagstaff), so I axed it.  We’ll take another vacation one of these days to see all the holes in the ground out there.

Now being two days into the trip, I must admit there are times when I wonder what we were thinking.  I love driving, but it really is a lot of driving.  Fortunately, I tricked somebody into riding shotgun with me for the rest of eternity, so I think it’ll be ok.

from the road

Day 2: The Northeast

We left Poughkeepsie this morning and headed for Vermont, by way of Albany, NY.

The New York Capitol Building looks like a huge and imposing public library, don’t you think?

NY State capitol


Of course, we also hit Montpelier for Vermont. (There was a group of what appeared to be dancers/theater kids in tight tank-tops in front of the gold-domed building today.)

VT State capitol

In Vermont, we drove on a very curvy road (Rt. 232), two miles of which we had to keep our eyes peeled for dangerous moose crossing.

Perhaps more importantly, we hit up….

IMG_0138Got any ideas yet?

Cabot Creamery signThe Cabot Creamery outside Cabot, Vermont!

Cabot CreameryThere may not be any cellphone service at Cabot, but there are tons of cheese curds! We went on a brief tour where we could see cheese curds being pressed into 42-pound packages. We even watched a special video about cheese-making at Cabot in a viewing room full of awards:

Cabot Creamery video


Now, we’re in White River Junction, VT for two nights. It’s a mini reunion for Harrison’s college friends, one of whom is getting married tomorrow. In the mean time, Yeguang/”Shaq” nomnom-ed some chicken wings:

eating chicken wingsIt rained all day, which made for poor visibility on the road and generally cold, wet weather. Let’s hope it clears up for the wedding tomorrow!





from the road

First day on the road!

Hello from Poughkeepsie, NY!

Wedding Victory Tour is happening! It’s happening! I was in a state of shock this morning after we packed the car and hit the road. We thought up WVT a year and a half ago (on the plane back from two friends’ wedding); it’s hard to believe that we’re actually doing it now!

road trip packing, wedding victory tour


For the first hour, I kept saying things like, “Wow, this is actually going to be a very long trip.”

It wasn’t until we got out of the car in Annapolis to photograph the state capitol (We’re aiming to get all 50 at some point in our lives.) that I actually got excited.

Maryland state capitol


But wait, there’s more! We hit not one, but THREE capitols today. We drove up the Delmarva peninsula and ticked off Delaware’s Legislative Hall:

Delaware state capitol, wedding victory tour

And finally, we stopped in Trenton to get the state hall:

New Jersey state capitol, wedding victory tour

I have to be honest, guys. I wasn’t very impressed with New Jersey’s capitol. While it looked cool from the outside, inside, the security guards were way too brusque (rude) for my liking. Lame.

Also, after a disappointing dearth of 17-year-cicadas in Richmond, we did see and hear them in New Jersey today.

I spent most of the day in the car jabbering away, fiddling with the satellite radio, falling asleep with my mouth open (post-lunch sleepies), knitting, and staving off (to the best of my ability) job-related anxiety. Tomorrow, we’re back on the road, headed for Vermont!



Urban camping

While we’re in Canada and the Northeast next week on WVT, we’re going to fulfill Harrison’s dream of roughing it in the wilderness a few campgrounds. This meant that we had to buy sleeping bags, an air mattress, and a tent. After significant neurotic (on my part) research and advice from Twitter, we went with the REI Camp Dome 2.

We had planned to go on a trial-run camping trip in Virginia, but several elements (namely, torrential downpours and the un-timely arrival of our sleeping bags) conspired against us. With our June 12th departure date fast upon us, we decided to go with the next-best option: urban camping in my mom’s living room.

The tent fortunately came with instructions printed right on the bag, ha!

REI Camp Dome tent in bag


[Insert phallic joke about the long tent pole.]


long tent pole

Hey, this is looking right-ish!

half-assembled Camp Dome 2 tentTotal set-up time on the first try? Ten minutes. Let’s see if we can get it down to five!

assembled REI camp dome 2 tent

Note the candlesticks in their natural habitat.

Oh look! Some urban “wild” life: my mom!


Bodger was very curious and eager to climb inside the tent.


Our queen air mattress just barely fits in the two-person tent (though not entirely inflated).

M & H in Camp Dome 2 Tent

After feeling sufficiently satisfied with ourselves and our tent construction, we broke camp and foraged for dinner at Avenue 805.

Camping, we are ready for you!

Don’t worry: we’ve made other preparations in addition to buying and assembling our tent. We don’t have it down to a streamlined and efficient process yet, but I think we’ll be okay “roughing it” for a few days. (And my parents did a pretty bang-up job taking me on fun camping trips in my childhood, so this isn’t my first go-round with using the woods as my toilet.) At the very least, I know (1) not to light a fire or use a gas stove inside the tent, (2) to store food in the car so as not to be attacked by bears, (3) use a footprint under the tent so as not to become soaked overnight. 

Any other helpful tidbits of camping advice? Do share in the comments!






Wanted: Wedding Victory Playlist Suggestions

Wedding chalk decorations

We received a copy of our official marriage license today, so as Father-in-Law says, we’ve “done it now.”

WVT kicks off in just over a week. We leave next Wednesday, June 12th, for a wedding in New Hampshire. What better way to kick off a wedding victory tour?

Harrison has been planning furiously: making extensive route maps and deciding which destinations we’ll hit along the way.

While we’re driving roughly 10,000 miles, we’re going to need some good music. Unfortunately, our current selection is mostly limited to burned CDs of alternative pop-punk from our high school days. And while I do love Something Corporate, I’m pretty sure a new marriage can only endure so much New Found Glory, Yellowcard, and Fallout Boy.

Thus, let’s continue with the crowdsourcing of this wedding victory tour! I am asking you, our friends and family and Internet creepers, to suggest music for our very long journey.

Do you have a favorite song for roadtripping?

How about some lyrics that really speak to you on the open road?

What about that album that really brings you back to middle school/high school/college/summer 2003?

These are all perfect suggestions for our Wedding Victory Tour Playlist, and we want to hear them!

Really! We are going to need a lot of music for this trip. Please use this form to suggest a song or album for us to add to play with the windows down (or maybe up) on the open road. Make sure to tell us why this musical selection is a particularly good addition to our WVT playlist.

Even better, tell us who you are and leave your phone number or email address. (No worries–only we’ll see this form!) I’ll do my best to contact you when we listen to one of your suggestions!

You’re probably a music buff and are just bursting with suggestions. Well, lucky you, you can resubmit the form as many times as you want with new stuff.

Thanks so much in advance. We can’t wait to hear from you!

If the embedded form doesn’t work on the WVT site, access just the suggestion form here.