There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

I was going to send everyone a fun Christmas postcard using this photo but I just didn’t get the chance to get it done. SO I just want to take this opportunity to wish you a blessed New Year! 🙂

It was a bit over a month ago now that I left the heavy accents of the Northeast behind. Guess I’m starting off the new year still catching up from the last. But, I figure, better to post late than never!

My last post left off after my stay in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From there, I made tracks to Bowers Beach, Delaware, a small coastal town in the central part of the state where there’s only one blinking traffic light and the houses are on stilts (after a quick stop at the Pez Factory in Orange, Connecticut). I was blessed to have a few friendly faces visit my Delaware home base, starting with my friends you heard about earlier during my stay in Maine. Since I was within a few hours of their home in Maryland, they were able to pop over for a long holiday weekend. During this time, we took the opportunity to spend a day in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, PA

Similar to Boston, Philadelphia is jam packed with historical sights and famous sub sandwiches. Our visit included stops by the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin’s house and printing press, Independence Hall, and more. Naturally, I geeked out most at the printing press where they gave demonstrations of how the old-school presses worked and made nerdy printing jokes—both things I can appreciate being in my profession. We also chowed some famous Philly’s at Sonny’s and visited a liquid nitrogen cafe. The weekend went fast and soon my friends and their dog were headed home and I was back to work a few days.

Bright Lights in the Big (New York) City

On the final full day of my Delaware stay, I made the jaunt over to Baltimore to pick up my mom from the airport. I had finally convinced her to spend a few of those hard-earned vacation days for some east coast fun! First up on the itinerary was an intense 24 hours in New York City, New York. I know it really doesn’t sound like much time (because it isn’t), but we saw A LOT of high points. We hit the ground running after dropping Rascal and my Jeep off in Jersey City and hopping a ferry over to Manhattan. From there, we stopped by the World Trade Center Memorial. It was quite a memorable moment to stand on the grounds of an event that so wildly changed our country’s story.

From there, we walked over to Wall Street and the Charging Bull statue to get to the free Staten Island ferry. This ride not only provided a source of entertainment watching the Coast Guard continually peel off in security maneuvers around the boat, but was a relaxing moment to sail right past the Statue of Liberty. We also caught some spectacular sights of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge.

Our return to Manhattan found us ready to tackle the subway system. With little effort, we navigated our way to Central Park where a friendly bike taxi driver talked us into a tour of the park. With our schedule, this was a PERFECT fit for our desire to see park highlights and capture a lot of information about the surrounding area in a short amount of time. This was probably one of the best parts of our day!

We had just enough time after our ride to squeeze in a speedy visit to the world-renowned Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), which was having free admission during a few hours that Friday night.

Next, it was time to head to Radio City Music Hall where we had tickets for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. It was exciting to catch such a well-known, high-energy show!

Since the night was still young, we made our way to Rockefeller Center where many were ice skating and the famed tree was still surrounded in scaffolding. Wandering past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Saks 5th Ave., and Times Square took us to the front steps of our hotel after a 25,000-step day. We wrapped up the night with some famous NY Style Pizza at our hotel, where I glanced up from our table to notice the New Year’s Eve ball that many of us probably watched on TV a few nights ago.

We had a few hours the next morning before we needed to have my dog and Jeep picked up, so we grabbed breakfast at a deli and did some more walking over to Grand Central Station, the New York Library, and through Hell’s Kitchen and the theater district ultimately back to a ferry terminal on the Hudson River side of the island. Despite a bit of a scheduling mix-up and a bit more time in Jersey than we planned, we made it out of the big city unscathed.

Hershey, Pennsylvania

After our big city adventures, it was time to really put on some miles if we wanted to make it home in time for Thanksgiving. We trucked our way across Pennsylvania, only stopped to enjoy a tour and chocolates at the Hershey factory. By the time we re-emerged from the building, the cold and wind of the wintery front headed our way had set in. Crossing the Appalachians we ran into snow, cold, and wind, but made it through to Pittsburgh for the night.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

I have a feeling I’m not the only one who didn’t realize there was a National Park just south of Cincinnati the first time I passed through. Although the cold snow of winter had not subsided in Cuyahoga Valley, we still did a couple short waterfall hikes and drove most of park before continuing our journey to Michigan where we spent a few days with family before our return.

Since my return from the East, I have thoroughly enjoyed time with family and friends over the holidays (although not so much the cold weather). I made a short trek to Phoenix for one of my college best friend’s wedding. I’ll be finding myself in Whitefish, Montana for a long weekend away next week, and then will promptly follow that up with an extended stay in Hawaii. Making these treks with friends will only add to the fun!

What a blessing it has been to see a few of the many amazing landscapes in our great country this past year! I’m so thankful for the many I met along the way, and those who supported me through the miles (whether that be strangers turned friends to my many gracious family members who hosted me during my journeys, or my mom meeting me wherever I might be to keep me company for a few miles—thank you EVERYONE!) I can’t say I know what this year will hold beyond the next couple of weeks, but then again that’s exactly how I began 2016 😉

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