Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Road Trip 2013 -- Boston to Austin, (Leg 1, DC)

I figured it was about time to blog about my road trip from MA to TX, so here goes!

I've dreamed about taking a cross country road trip pretty much from the moment I was issued my driver's license. Despite being a terrible driver with little patience for traffic, my wanderlust was always deeper than my dislike of being behind a wheel and I dreamed about the day I would point myself outward bound with home behind me and adventure in front and drive off onto the endless winding roads of my home country.

Our friends dressed up as gender-bended Avengers

My move to Texas came up sooner than I expected--as moves of this sort are wont to do--and so my first cross country road trip was a little different than I'd hoped. I'd be traveling with the love of my life, which was a plus, but we had to be in Austin in time for him to get back to work, which put a time restraint on things. Also, little did I know that he had a very important reason for wanting to get to Austin before our anniversary that week... but more on that in a later post (unless you're already following me on Facebook and Instagram and saw the news)! Instead of leisurely sightseeing, we'd be making our way as quickly as possible. I picked two stops for half day excursions and let our GPS decide the routes between, getting us from MA to TX in just four days.

After an amazing weekend of saying goodbye to friends and family (and Finn, who cannot join us until we're in our own apartment), we set out to our first stop: Washington DC. The year my 8th grade class was supposed to visit our nation's capitol was the year the towers fell, and due to a bunch of unfortunate circumstances, by the time we'd re-planned the class trip a year later I was unable to go. So making Washington DC our first stop was a must.

Tappan Zee Bridge

We stayed with my high school friend, Matt (whose job and reason for living near DC is top secret so clearly I've assumed he is James Bond), and it was nice to catch up over homemade fried chicken his girlfriend had made us. Traffic and a long goodbye brunch unfortunately got us there at 10pm, far too late to see any sights and both Matt and his girlfriend had to work the next day, so our visit was brief. The next morning it was up early and into the city for a whirlwind sightseeing.

"What do you want to see?" Cory asked me as we stared at a map after exiting the pristine Metro. Our plan of eating breakfast en route was foiled by signs warning us food on the Metro was a fineable offense. "Well, we're on the mall, let's see..." I said, my gloved finger sliding across the National Mall map. I hadn't made a plan, I had assumed everything would be much closer together than it actually was. I basically had to pick one thing and make it quick. Since we could view the capitol building from where we stood, I landed on the furthest landmark: the white house. I figured a trip to the capitol wouldn't be complete without seeing where the president hung out.

I was a little sad that we couldn't get closer. I guess the White House is one of those things that just looks bigger on TV. The most we could do was take a picture, so we did. I giggled at the bee hive visible from the famous front lawn, and we exited through a sculpture garden with some interesting art, which ended up being my favorite picture spot in DC. One of my favorite artists, Louise Bourgeoise, had her spider sculpture there. There was also a huge sculpture that looked exactly like... uh... well to be discreet I guess I'll just say some "lady parts." I loved the sculpture garden and took the most pictures here. Time was running out, so set out to find food. I suggested we get to the Smithsonian Natural History building, because museum food was typically delicious, and we could check out some museum stops.

The food was only okay, and the price was ridiculous. Nearly $40 for us to have glorified fast food. However, it fueled us for the rest of the day, and that was enough. We gave ourselves and hour at the museum, and then it was off again, with our next stop being Nashville. I wished we'd taken advantage of the long line of food trucks on either side of the street outside of the Metro, we would have saved a bundle and probably been more satisfied.

Mediocre, over-priced me

I'm glad we chose to quickly tour the Natural History Museum. It was pretty fun, and I would have liked to spend more time there. I guess I'll just have to come back to DC someday!

The Hope Diamond.
(Full disclosure: I could not stop humming the Mary Kate & Ashley Mystery Agency song)

Sometime before we turned in for the night--the Super 8 Motels we stayed at along the way were all under $60 per night--we made one more food stop. Cracker Barrels were everywhere, and while it wasn't my favorite chain restaurant by far, Cory had never been to one and had always wanted to try. So, we followed the signs to the restaurant.

And got lost. Twice. And turned in the opposite direction. Twice. Sometime during all this we decided that Tennessee road signs must just be purposely misleading, and in cahoots with our GPS lady to be the MOST confusing. By the time we finally got to Cracker Barrel we were RAVENOUS. Cory got his go-to homestyle meal (chicken fried steak) and I ordered a fried chicken from the "lighter fare" menu. After a day of running around and traveling, it was great to sit down to some comfort food--even if I had to fight with my inner foodie about eating at a chain.

Kisses in traffic are the best kind.

Travel Tips (aka DON'T MAKE MY MISTAKES)
-If you only have a half day in a city, plan in advance. Know how long it takes to get where you're going from where you arrive, and know the things you MUST see. Had I planned ahead, I definitely would have woken up earlier and spent more time sightseeing and touring the museum. I probably would have had time to figure out a better lunch spot, too.

-Take advantage of food trucks! This was my biggest regret from DC--the food from those trucks looked AMAZING and would have been 1/4 of the cost of the meal we had in the museum.

-Super 8 Motels are a great value for the price. They are conveniently EVERYWHERE, have big rooms, and breakfast is included. On the off chance it was $45 per PERSON, I hid in the car while Cory booked the room. However, they never asked how many people were staying in the room, so maybe we weren't being so sneaky afterall.

-There's no shame in chain food. When you've been driving for 10 hours, sometimes you need greasy chicken fried steak more than you need to indulge in a fancy dinner.

-Even if you're moving to a state with a mild winter, NOVEMBER IS STILL COLD EVERYWHERE ELSE. My one set of winter things was buried too far in my over-packed car to retrieve, so I ended up having to buy gloves from a souvenir shop in DC.

Part II, coming soon!


  1. Ooooh such excitement!

    and omg as soon as I saw the hope diamond I started thinking of the MK&Ashley detective agency song too!

  2. Whoa whoa whoa...are you ENGAGED???? If so, huge, huge congratulations!!

    1. Hehe ;) Scroll down on my Facebook page and you'll see! (so, duh, yes, but I'm waiting a bit to tell the story until I'm all caught up!)

  3. Glad to hear that you are enjoying your travels during your move! Congratulations again on your engagement!!

  4. Gender Bender Avengers. Awesome. Haha love the sad face in the last pic. Damn he has a big sad face!