Monday, July 20, 2009

2749.6 Miles Later...

The Walker clan just returned from their second vacation this year, a trip along the east coast making stops in Maryland, New York City, and Boston. We traveled a total of 2749.6 miles, were in the car for a little under 53 hours, and visited 15 individual family and friends in four states. While it was fun to see family and friends and explore some of the nation's coolest cities, it was also extremely exhausting to carry out our (once again) way too optimistic and opportunistic itenerary.

We started the trip on Monday, June 6th, at 9:00 in the evening. We discovered during our Destin trip that we travel best when Amelie is sleeping, and she sleeps best at night. So, through the night we drove. We arrived at Kelly's sister's (Kim) house at the southern tip of Pennsylvania areound 6:30 in the morning. After a quick nap, we spent the rest of the morning and day hanging out, watching the MJ memorial, and eating. Kim is in the early throes of pregnancy, so Kelly spent most of the day preparing meals that could be frozen and then easily thrown in the oven for the days that Kim was too sick to care about making dinner. Later, our brother-in-law Josh came home from work, and we spent the rest of the night talking and eating ice cream.

The next day we drove an hour and a half to meet Bobby's grandfather Pop-Pop for lunch and then later meet up with more family for dinner. Although dementia and alzheimer's are hardly laughing matters, Pop-Pop seems to pull it off with a comical grace that keeps you smiling every minute you are with him. His attempt to take us to Ruby Tuesday and instead ending up at what he called I.G. Tuesdays (T.G.I.Fridays) was a great start to our day with him. Between lunch and dinner we filled our time with visiting Mom-Mom (Bobby's grandmother) in the hospital and intense games of Rummicube. We later met up with Bobby's Aunt Diane, and cousins Samantha, Emily, and Emily's son, Cameron. Dinner became different experiences for Bobby and Kelly as he had a blast with all you can eat soft shell crab, while Kelly's turkey club from the day's lunch caught up with her half way through dinner and she ralphed in both the nearest trash can and the sink of the women's restroom. Kelly remained sick the rest of the night, but all-in-all it was a good family visitation day.

The next day was Tangy day. We haven't seen her since she moved back in with her mother, so we were excited to see how life was going for her. We picked her up from her house in South Baltimore, and took her to Baltimore's touristy Inner Harbor for lunch and sight seeing. We ate a lengthy and fun lunch on the outdoor pier of the ESPN Zone. Realizing that she had not been able to do much reading since she has been back, we took her to the huge Barnes & Noble and bought her several books that should satiate her for a while. Dinner that night was back at Kelly's sister's house, so our time with Tangy was abbreviated. However, it was good to see her, and know that things are going pretty good for her.

The next morning was an early departure in order to get to NYC at a reasonable time. My three year college roommate Matthew moved to the city to attend grad school. He lives in Queens with his wife Julie and daighter Jasper. They were excellent hosts and spent the entire weekend showing us about the city like a New Yorker and not a tourist. After arriving in the city (sidenote: don't drive through Manhattan without GPS unless you love getting lost), we quickly unloaded our stuff, refreshed ourselves, and then boarded the subway headed for the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked from Brooklyn into Manhattan which was an incredible walk and view. Maybe the the most unexpected highlight was seeing midget actor Warwick Davis and his entire family pass us on mini Segways! Luckily Bobby had the camera ready, and a pic can be seen below. After the bridge we dined at a cool little mexican/spanish place called La Esquina. Bobby had to stick with the adventurous theme and had the veal tongue tacos. While not for the feint of heart, they satisfied his curious cuisine nature. Later, while the girls watched the babies and chatted back at the apartment, Bobby and Matthew went to a show/concert in Brooklyn to see an indie band called the Japandroids. Their experience was unique as the show was being held in the backroom of a bar in a room called Cameo Gallery. The small room was definitely an intimate setting as it was probably built to hold 75 people, but had easily over a 100 New Yorkian hipsters crowded around a 8x10 ft stage with enough speakers to deafen Helen Keller. However, even though Bobby is old and cantankerous, he definitely enjoyed the whole experience and wouldn't have traded it for anything.

The following day was jam packed from the moment we awoke. After french toast from our lovely hosts we headed out to Bryant Park, where Amelie had her first carousel ride and the summer day was most evidently beautiful. After a quick bite to eat we explored St. Patrick's Cathedral, before heading over to Central Park. Our walk through Central Park took most of our time, and was one of our favorite parts of the city. Because the quality day there were throngs of people everywhere. Finding a secluded place for Amelie to eat was an adventure, and eventually we nestled near some boulders, a half naked homeless guy sleeping on a cardboard box, and a couple making out hardcore, and this was our best option! Ahh...the Big Apple. After hours in the park we headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. our time inside was brief, but we saw some great pieces. The attraction that intially lured us was the monstrous art display on the roof, which accompanied expansive vistas of the Park and downtown. After an hour or two at the Met we began the trek back to Queens for some Thai takeout with the Newtons and a restful evening (sidebar: navigating the rat tunnels dubbed New York transit was interesting with the baby and stroller, but mad props to Bobby and Kelly for handling their biz with expertise). Highlight of the night had to be while waiting for the Thai food, Matthew led Bobby to a Russian grocery a few blocks from their apartment that had hundreds of craft brew choices from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, that could be purchased individually if so desired. Bobby was instantly enamored, and consequently the half hour food run turned into something longer than an hour and more expensive than intended. But what the heck, we're on vacation!

The next day began with brunch at a Mexican joint down the street from the Newton's house called de Mole. Not only was the food scrumptious, but the juices were squeezed fresh and the arrangement of food was aesthetically mesmerizing. After food, the Walker's hit the road headed for Boston. After checking in to our awesome hotel, we walked along the waterfront to get to Quincy Market and the Fanueil hall area. We decided to eat at one of Boston's oldest restaurants, the Union Oyster House. Bobby had to start with some fresh clam chowda', and although whole lobsters were ridiculously expensive both our delicious meals had lobster in them in some form or fashion.

Day two in Boston began with a trip out to Fenway Park for the tour of the stadium. We got a thorough history from a guy that looked like Mickey from Rocky. Being the All Star break, the tour was the only way we were going to get in the stadium. Sitting atop the Green Monster in left field next to Fisk's Foul Pole was one of our favorite parts. Broken subway cars, late busses, and international cabbies tried to slow us to our next destination, the Harvard Yard tour in Cambridge. However, we made it in time to catch the college student led tour and had a good time learning the history of the college in humorous fashion. We concluded our day drifting through Boston Common and the Public Gardens, and then strolling through the magnificent homes and streets that can be found in the Beacon Hill area of Boston. A quick dinner in Quincy Market followed by gelato were the finishing touches on an exhaisting days.

The next morning found us checking out of our room, and packing the car to prepare for our trip home. After that business was concluded we left our car in parking and began the main task of the day, the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a brick path that runs through Boston marking 16 historically significant places. Investigating our nation's rich history in one of the most important towns in the American saga was fun and inspiring. We started in Boston Common and wrapped up several hours later at the USS Constitution, America's oldest commissioned naval vessel. After a full day of walking we were exhausted, which we realized was a problem when we left Boston that night. Driving through the night is tiring, driving through the night and next morning is really tiring, but driving through the night and next morning after spending the previous 10 hours walking several miles through Boston was just not smart. But somehow we did not die, and we made it Bobby's aunt and uncle's lake house in North Carolina only seventeen hours after we left Boston.
We spent most of the day recouping and resting, intertwining sleep, eating, and trip to the dock through out the day. We met Bobby's cousin for dinner that night at a barbecue restaurant that had some of the best BBQ and hush puppies we ever had. Later that night Bobby and Uncle Dalane took off on the jet skis for a little pre-dusk spin around the lake. We rested that night with talking and games, because the next morning was four hours back to Athens to end our ten day jaunt up and down the east coast.

In Maryland we stayed with Kelly's sister, Kim, and brother-in-law, Josh

Two clueless peas in a pod

Pop-Pop loved playing with Amelie, and vice versa!

Hangin' with Aunt Diane and cousins Emily and Samantha

All you can eat crabs! (Bobby ate 30)

Spending time with Tangy in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Stopping for pics on the Brooklyn Bridge

Midget movie star Warwick Davis on the Bridge!

Kelly and Amelie waiting for the carousel in Bryant Park
Group walking through iconic Central Park Mall

Kelly intertwined in the artwork on the roof of the Met

Sunday morning brunch at de Mole
One of the most tasty and aesthetically pleasing meals we've eaten

Amelie happy to finally be in Boston

Mommy and Daddy happy too!

Dinner the first night at one of Boston's oldest establishments.
Had to go for the the chowda' and lobsta' with a pint of Sam Adams

Started the next day with a Fenway Park tour

Sitting atop the Green Monster

Oldest seats left in any baseball stadium

Memorial Hall at Harvard Yard

Family pic in Boston's Public Garden

Mother/Daughter moment on a Boston Common bench

One of the first stops on Freedom Trail, the Granary Burying Ground

Vacation chaos catching up with Bobby and Amelie so a little nap in Quincy Market

Aunt Debbie loving Amelie's cuteness in NC

Amelie loves lakeside sunsets (so do her parents)