Sarasota, FL

Our first day in Sarasota, we rested pretty much all day. We were so tired. We saw little salamanders around outside. 

That evening we saw Funny People at a theater down the street. As we were entering the theater, we saw about 20 janitors, in uniform, marching and singing in formation. They were filming something or rehearsing something. Josh thought they were preparing for the opening of GI Joe. Some were really into it and some were miserable looking. I had to go back outside to get my ID (rated R movie, I look 12) and was ambushed by their marching through the doors and had to run out of the way. Haha. I wish we had pictures. 

I don't understand why they made a movie called "Funny People", had a cast of actors who are great in comedies, and made the movie so serious? It wasn't a comedy. After the movie we went to a pizza place and got half pepperoni half bacon :)

When we got back we went for a swim in the pool. I love that yard. It is screened in so you are outside with no bugs and the water was perfect temperature. The pool was a lot deeper than I remember it being when I was 15. 


Travel Day: SC to FL

That morning Jackie's mom made us breakfast and gave us ice for the cooler :) Ants had made a home in the doors of the car and her parents helped us spray it out. It ended up being fine, a couple of times I discovered an ant and threw it out the window. It was so great seeing the Benoits, I used to basically live at their house growing up and I've really missed them since they moved away. Jackie is one of my best friends and it was great hanging out with her again after so long. I don't know, I am really grateful for all they did for us. It was sad to leave for the road.

We switched from Harry Potter 6 to 7. We didn't finish 6 but I was really eager to get to 7. I am mentioning audiobooks because that is how the majority of the hours of the trip are spent, with occasional stops for food or a bathroom. Josh blasts the AC and I am freezing so I have a blanket. Generally Josh drives and I manage getting stuff from coolers, finding the snacks, and keeping the car somewhat tidy. 

Something unique about the trip between South Carolina and Florida was the billboards. Seriously, there were two main ones. One was a series from an anti-choice organization showing fetuses and cheesy messages.. and the other was for vasectomies. I'm not kidding.

We also saw a sticker on a man's back window promoting his type of woman. 

Somewhere (no idea where!) in Florida, the gps cable completely stopped working. We started having trouble a few days before, but resorted to holding it at odd angles to work. The gps died completely. I called Kathleen for some type of map help but we didn't even know where we were to begin with. After about 15 nervous minutes, we drove up to a super Walmart and found a replacement cable for only like $20. We were way too excited to find this Walmart.

We got to my grandma Sue and Gerry's a little before their bedtime. We had this interesting dish of tomatos, potatos, mushrooms, and sausage. I had never had it before but I liked it.

Charleston, SC

We slept in and woke up just as Jackie was getting out of work. Her mom made us something we haven't seen up north- fried steaks! They were so good. With white gravy. 

They showed us around the marketplace in downtown Charleston. We saw the famous Rainbow Row on the way. 

I couldn't get them all in one picture, but it is pretty cool looking.

Down at the marketplace, Jackie, Josh, and I were dropped off to do some shopping. I got my routine magnet and postcards that I've been grabbing at every stop, and Josh got a small-scale model of a monument (Rainbow Row) like he did at our stops. Jackie got a Japanese fan. There were a lot of baskets being weaved for sale, and pineapple-themed goods. Jackie told us that pineapples were a symbol in the South of welcome. Outside were several horse drawn carriages and fountains. 

We drove around with Jackie's mom and aunt. They showed us the bridge that was made under budget with only one guy dying while making it, and also saw her dad's military school and where they were married. It was really pretty. 

When we got home, we played with Jackie's sister's 6 ferrets. 

That night they made one of my old Jackie's house favorites: nachos! Their nachos are amazing. You don't understand. It is like velvetta cheese and taco beef and I don't know. They grilled some hotdogs and hamburgers too. So good. 


Travel Day: VA to SC

That morning, Sue Ann was preparing the house for an open house that afternoon. Her and her husband were frantically cleaning and we helped a little. We packed and headed off to Walmart.

My brilliant scheme was to make a couple pre-made little meals to ease the cost of dining out all the time. We bought cold cut turkey, cheese, bread, and ice. In the Walmart parking lot, we made sandwiches, stocked the cooler, prepared snack baggies of Cheez-its, pistachios, cereal, etc. The sandwiches ended up being gross. The sandwich bag opened a little in the cooler and my bread was soggy.

Along the way, we saw signs everywhere for South of the Border. For over 100 miles down I-95.  
At one point, it was raining and lightening out really badly and Josh decided that would be a prime opportunity to pump gas! We still had like a quarter of a tank left. Water, lightening, and gasoline were just too many elements.. I was trying to get Josh not to do it. I called my dad and just asked, "Is it safe to pump gas in a lightening storm?" and he said "no" so that got Josh back in the car. 

We got to about half of Harry Potter 6 on audiobook. The majority of our drives, we listen to it. It passes the time really well and we each don't like the other's music so it is a good compromise.

That drive was the first time I drove! Josh insisted on driving the entire time, but when we were in North Carolina at some point he asked if we could switch. I drove the remaining 3 hours to Jackie's. 

We got there late in the day and had dinner. It felt so good to eat real food. I had no idea what time it was.. we ended up chatting until 2 am catching each other up on misc. things or telling ridiculous stories of when we were younger. 


Virginia Beach

My car needed an oil change in 200 miles so we just took it into Jiffy Lube. I had never been there before.. they inspected my car and offered me all these services. I was a sucker and got a bunch. They weren't expensive though. My car battery was all gross with battery acid so I let them clean it for $6, for example. They physically showed me my air filter and it looked like it came with the car 10 years ago, so I let them replace that too. My coolant was low and we are driving to Florida and then all the way west.. so that got filled up. Then they did random services I didn't ask for. They vacuumed the drivers side, evened out the tire pressure, etc. And all of this took 15 minutes. 

After running errands we talked to Josh's aunt Sue Ann for a while. She's selling her house and moving to Tennessee. The house is gorgeous. There are several places to hang out on their downstairs deck, upstairs deck, and in the house. It's very throughly decorated with a beach theme. 

The beach was literally only about another house's distance away. We set up a beach chair. Josh sat in it and broke it. This was extremely familiar and we realized that Josh had previously broken the beach chair, we put it in my trunk, and forgot about it. 

It was a hot day and the water was nice. It wasn't painfully cold like Gloucester. We swam around for a long time, went on the shore and built sandcastles, and swam in the ocean again. 

Hosing off, we were greeted by their two jumping chocolate labs.

When we got back, we cleaned the car and did laundry. A couple of Josh's cousins had come down to see him. There was Amy and her two year old son Bryce, David and his wife and baby and friend. Everyone but Amy and Bryce left and the rest of us had dinner. Then we all watched Knowing, which was a really weird movie, and went to sleep. 

Washington D.C. day 2

We woke up the next morning early and rode the metro with all these well-dressed business people. This time we had two huge advantages: a map and cool weather. Instead of wandering around aimlessly in the heat, we were comfortable and found everything fine.

Our first stop was the White House. I thought it was really small but then realized there were more wings and such and it isn't just that main building you see in pictures.

Josh wanted to go geocaching.. it is this thing where you enter coordinates you find on this website onto a portable gps and go "treasure hunting". He was hunting for specific statues and views for pictures, usually we are wandering around in the woods for a container full of toys. Behind the White House, a couple of squirrels were trying to mate and a woman came up to me saying, "They make great pets you know! I keep a black squirrel as a pet. I bottle fed him from when he was a baby. I have a farm and all sorts of animals but my favorite is the squirrel! He has such a great personality!"

From the White House, Josh's geocaching took us to a path with a kind of hidden memorial for the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I thought that was kind of cool, since I am William Ellery's great great great etc. granddaughter.

Further down we stopped and got snacks at this stand and sat and ate. These ducklings hung around close to us most of the time. A sign said something along the lines of, "Please do not feed the wildlife. Artificial food webs are destructive to the environment." But someone was clearly feeding them since they were so people-friendly. 

The Vietnam Memorial was nearby. I saw someone siting up on someone else's shoulders to shade the name on a piece of paper. From there we walked to the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, World War ll Memorial, and the Washington Monument. It was exhausting and a huge walk. My shoes were a little small on me and my feet had gone numb and I was limping. Definitely worth it, but so tiring. Josh was taking pictures constantly. 

We ate at the Holocaust Museum and went to a couple of exhibits there. We saw one that was targeted at children. It was about a Jewish boy who had his rights gradually taken away, until he was moved to a ghetto and then a concentration camp. You go room to room reenacting his life and he has diary pages with short blurbs of what is going on. There were videos too. It was depressing.

Downstairs was an exhibit on propaganda that was cool. It showed tactics Hitler used to gain power. And then while he was in power, there were all these anti-semitic products on the shelves. There was a children's board game where the object is to "drive the Jew out of the country". It was sick. 

Our plan had included taking the metro across the area to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, but we were so tired from hours of walking like that. It really was a massive area that we covered. Plus it was about 2 pm and it takes about an hour and a half to take the metro and bus back to where we were staying, and a 4 hour drive to Virginia Beach. 

We hit D.C. rush hour. By word of mouth and reading a lot, I knew it was bad. I had no idea how bad. We were on I-95 for 2 hours and went 24 miles. We got off the highway to get gas and couldn't get back on! I felt like Pizza Hut and we gps'ed the nearest one. We were stuck in long traffic lights for a long time and finally arrived.... we couldn't find it and then Josh noticed "Mattress Hut". It was clearly an old Pizza Hut building.

So we went to Chilis nearby instead. When we got back on the highway, it was still a nightmare. After it finally cleared, there was a car accident. Then after that, there was road work. We left for Virginia Beach at 3:30, we got there at 11. Josh's aunt Sue Ann was really welcoming. She showed us around her big, cool, beach house and we fell asleep pretty quickly.

(More pictures here.)


Washington D.C.

We were SO tired from NYC and ended up leaving the motel at 9 am. The drive to our motel in Virginia was 4 hours but it took an extra hour from traffic and stopping. At one point we went off a random exit on the highway in Maryland and literally all the turns were "Government Property No Trespassing" and it was deep in the middle of nowhere. The tolls seriously robbed us.. it was $16 total. I had a huge stash of change and ones that were completely wiped out from that.

When we got to the hotel, the lady had us fill out this paper and looked at our IDs. She informed us that we had to be 21 to have reservations and that there was a problem since we got the reservation through Expedia. She called her manager and he said it was okay and to just let us stay. Then she told me that I didn't look 20, but about 9 or 10. Okay.. I used to work with kids.. I am not 9 or 10 looking. Maybe 12-14, give me some puberty credit.. but wow. 

The room was really nice though- it had a kitchen! Somehow it was the cheapest we could find. 

Our bus left at 3, we got into downtown D.C. at 4:30! We took the metro also and I fell asleep. I woke up to some girls being like "What that little girl staring at!" My head flopped over from waking up but my eyes were still shut, and then they were like "Ahahahaha she's asleep!" and I opened my eyes to like 5 girls around the seats behind me, still staring at me and talking about me. When we got into town we asked someone which way the White House was and started wandering for it. We were by the Capital Building and nowhere near it. There were people running toward the Washington Monument and playing softball outside. At one point we saw several cops on motorcycles stop traffic, then a limo and several SUVs with tinted windows and police lights fly by. We are choosing to believe that it was Obama cruising by. 

Everything closed around us except for the Air and Space Museum so we poked around there for a bit. 

We also walked to the Capital Building. We were sitting on a bench resting, and suddenly Josh goes, "AH! Somebody is throwing nuts at me!!" And I thought he was completely crazy but we looked up and there was a squirrel dropping partially eaten acorns out of the tree!

We took the metro back and overheard a man basically stalking this woman, and she was playfully shutting him down. He'd be like "So can you give me your number?" and she'd be like "I could I just choose not to" and then they got on our bus and he was like "Everything happens for a reason" and she was like "Oh ya? Then why are you talking to me?" I don't know. It was entertaining. 

Good thing we have another day in D.C. tomorrow!



We woke up at 4 am this morning for this trip. The drive wasn't bad at all, a little over 4 hours. It took a while to find the ferry in New Jersey that would take us to New York City. When we got there we just followed the Empire State Building. 

Josh and I decided to go to the 86th floor of the observatory. Josh majors in architecture and its his favorite building. There were so many lines. It was worth it though, the views were amazing. 

We woke up at 4 am this morning for this trip. The drive wasn't bad at all, a little over 4 hours. It took a while to find the ferry in New Jersey that would take us to New York City. When we got there we just followed the Empire State Building. 

Josh and I decided to go to the 86th floor of the observatory. Josh majors in architecture and its his favorite building. There were so many lines. It was worth it though, the views were amazing. 

This bird was perched up on the 86th floor with us! He seemed very people friendly and we figured out why when we saw some tourists feeding bread to other birds up there. 

After that we ate at the first reasonably-priced, reasonably-clean looking place to eat that we could find.. a random pizzeria. Then we took the subway to around where the Statue of Liberty ferries are. The lines were bad there too but not as bad. It was HOT out. We were dying of heat out there. We got on the ferry and when we pulled up to the statue I was so thrown off. This is stupid, but I used to always envision it as small, like slightly taller than a person. Like the Man at the Wheel statue. It is massive.

Do you see those tiny dots at the bottom? Those are people!

I felt satisfied with the good views of the statue from the boat and asked Josh if he wanted to just stay on the boat and go to Ellis Island since we didn't have tickets to go on the monument or crown or anything. He wanted to go on the island. I literally said "I hope it rains" because it was so hot and humid.. and not even 30 seconds later it started down pouring. Everyone freaked out and the people who were at the statue ran for the nearest shops, the ones who were just getting off our ferry were huddled under the loading/unlocking dock's roof. I hate Josh.. lol.. he somehow got me to go out in the pouring rain. I put my camera and wallet in plastic bags. 

We got soaked. Completely drenched. It was fun watching everyone evade the rain. It felt so good to have the rain cool us off but it had that wet dog feeling after. :/ I really was thankful to get back and take that shower. The statue was really cool close up too, I'm glad we went out and saw it. 

I think I fell asleep between Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Ellis Island was cool too. It had luggage the immigrants used back in the day and all these stats and individual stories. There was a huge empty room on the second floor where immigrants waited to get on the island. I can't word it right, but I was entertained at waiting in lines with people from all different countries (we might have been the only Americans on the ferry!)... and then going to Ellis Island. 

After that we wanted to check out Ground Zero.

There wasn't much to see, its a big pile of construction. We ended up at the World Financial Center which seemed like an extremely cool place to work. Then we finally met up with Evynne and her friend Christy and went to this cafe. It had really good food and really good vibes. 

By the time Josh and I walked back to the ferry we were exhausted. He was sweet and got the car from deep in the parking lot while I stood around outside. I have no idea how we are pulling off a day in D.C. tomorrow. It is midnight. 



I can't believe I did everything I wanted to do today. Rachel came over and was my "motivational buddy" (sat in my room and her presence encouraged me to do stuff). My entire room is clean and my stuff is all packed. I tried to pack light even given the amount of time. The duffel bag I brought to Washington held all my clothes I wanted to bring, with sweatshirts and jeans in a small trash bag. My blue blanket is also somewhere in the mix. And then just one box for school supplies, beads to make jewelry, and random little things. Everything fits in the car comfortably too! I was surprised. We filled the car up with gas, had to clean it out again, I made a bank account online, put everything in the car.. just.. so many things. I said goodbye to Kathleen, Troy, Rachel, Kate, and Mandarin. Josh's mom made us an amazing dinner which included her heavenly chicken wings.

Tomorrow we're waking up at 4 am (in 4 hrs..) and parking the car in New Jersey and taking a ferry into NYC! 


Almost ready!

The other day Josh and I did a very difficult task: We cleaned the car! Here are a couple lovely "before" pictures:

It was so gross. I had basically lived out of it when I did all those summer classes and all my books, clothes, etc. were still there. We threw out all the trash, put everything else in the trunk (still need to clean that..), vacuumed, and even bought a $1 sponge at the car wash to scrub the dashboard. I thought it would be difficult to persuade my mom to let me take one of the coolers.. we have like 3 in the basement.. so I offered to pick her up various things at BJs first :). The cooler was nasty so Josh and I took it outside and washed it with the hose outside. We went to Walgreens and got blue and pink matching fans that squirt water and other random things. I'm a fan of the $1 forks/knives/spoons set.

We picked up Kate and the three of us headed up to BJs. I got two cases of frappuchinos, pack of water bottles, gatorades for Josh, and granola bars. We went to Market Basket too and picked up random snack food. Now my car is full of food.. 

Today Josh booked his plane ticket and I booked hotels for New York and Washington. At first Josh did the NY one, but in the confirmation email it said "Rate: AARP or Senior Citizen ID required. Show it at check in" or something so I had to cancel it and am not letting him book anything anymore.. lol. 

Tomorrow is our last day in Gloucester for a while. Still need to make hard copies of ALL of our epic planning and notes we've been taking, transfer an audiobook to an ipod, clean my room, and pack! I'm so excited to go on this trip. The other day Josh and I went for a ride around Essex/Ipswitch listening to Harry Potter 6 on audiobook.