November 13, 2012

We woke up early because Paul and Stacy had to go to work and we had a long day of driving ahead of us.

We drove for 7 hours with two stops: gas and lunch. We listened to a podcast about Francis Garnier, a french naval officer who explored the Mekong River from its mouth in Vietnam up into China. It really helped the time go by quickly.
No pictures except when we hit 9,999.9 miles on our trip odometer. After that it rolled over to 0.0, which I didn’t catch in time.

9999.9 miles

We were very happy to finally get to Chandler’s parent place. His mom made us an amazing meal of enchiladas. Then we slept.

The Happy Hovans and the Jazzy Engels

November 11 – 12, 2012

We got to Philly around 9pm and has no problem parking, thanks to Liz having a spot ready for us. Buddy was excited to share a Philly cheese steak with Chan and cheese pizza with me, which were awesome (relying on Chan’s report on the cheese steak). We spent the night in their 4 year old daughter’s room. Midnight tea party anyone? Thanks for letting us use your room Izzy.

The next day, we slept in, had a late breakfast and enjoyed Izzy’s antics.


Because we needed to get to Paul and Stacy’s place before dark, we didn’t have a lot of time for sight seeing. So, Buddy and Liz gave us two options: Rocky statue or some other important historically significant thing.


Somehow we happened upon a dam. Notice that Chandler made sure include it in our photo.


We left Philly around 1:30 to head to Tunkhannock, PA where Paul and Stacy live. We were greeted with delicious pizza and the Wii game Just Dance 4.



The next day we went to Marsha’s for breakfast and then the boys went 4 wheeling while Stacy and I just hung out talking and watching TV.




We spent the night relaxing and watching movies.


November 9 – 10, 2012

We woke up to another cold morning and a ways to drive. Today we were headed to visit Chandler’s cousin. Mag and her husband and their five children live in a wonderful rural area of northern Virginia.

We stayed on the blue ridge parkway as much as we could which was nice, except that we encountered some dreaded snow. This is the first snow we have seen since the Yukon territory.


That horrible white stuff

We were treated to an excellent, healthy home cooked meal that night courtesy of Mag’s sister in-law Susan. The next morning, Mag’s husband made everyone breakfast and then sent everyone outside to play on a sunny and warm day. The game the kids invented involved drop kicking a soccer ball at cones and mini army men set up on top of a stone wall along the driveway.

Midday, we were shown the area, so we went to a winery to sample some delicious local wine.



Mag, you're on the blog!

After a bottle and cheese plate, we headed back to the house to blow bubbles.


First bubble game


Setting bubbles free

The girls made a concoction of ultra concentrated dish soap and bubble soap. We must have spent an hour blowing bubbles. It started out with just blowing bubbles, to trying to pass bubbles around to trying to set them free. We had a good time and had the cleanest hands on the planet.

Soon, it was time to head off to our next stop, Philadelphia. My girlfriend from AK moved there with her family to attend grad school.


November 7 – 8, 2012

Guess what we did today? Drove!!

We crossed into Georgia and immediately stopped at an information/ rest area. Chandler has been enjoying a little too much sweet tea.


Chan chugging

He picked up some Atlanta magazine and we found there is a coca-cola tasting room and a “Gone with the Wind” restaurant with three blocks of each other.

Following the GPS, we went straight to downtown Atlanta. Parking in any city is pretty much not an option with the trailer unless there is a big parking lot. Downtown turned into a fiasco with many wrong turns and cursing. Unfortunately, we had to skip both attractions and just kept driving.

When we got to North Carolina, we were suddenly out of the South and into Appalachia. There were “mountains” and quaint little houses and it just felt like the east coast. Chandler did not share my same feeling having grown up in Vermont.

We found a free place to camp in the middle of nowhere in a National Forest.


Road out of camping spot

The next day was also spent driving. This time we spent most of the day on a lovely scenic highway, the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road runs along the Blue Ridge in the Appalachian Mountains. It was a nice change of pace from the interstate.

The only problem was the road was periodically closed due to snow or construction. It was fun find to ways around the closures on little back roads.


Road closed

We spent the night in a empty parking lot overlooking a field off the parkway, and enjoyed a killer sunset.



Cold front

November 6, 2012

The morning started off with a classic breakfast of grits for Chandler and an omelette for me in a cafe in the French Quarter, followed by a farmer’s market near a university. I bought some kale. The rain from the night before was absent, but the skies were overcast and the temperature had dropped into the 40s.


Collard greens, okra and a bunch of other fresh veggies

Next we headed out of town to Mississippi, the first state we would pass through without spending the night. Since the interstate is boring, we took the scenic route which for a while was right along the coast. I was surprised to see beaches and lighthouses and other normal coastal things like surf shops and palm trees.


Down by da beach in Biloxi


Bird and lighthouse

Also on the beach:


After seeing my new favorite building, we crossed into Alabama.  Welcoming us to Mobile Bay was the USS Alabama. It was getting dark at this point, so unfortunately we didn’t stop.


USS Alabama

We tried to camp at a campground on an island, but it was an RV oriented spot with a pathetic tent camping area. We opted to continue driving. We ended up meeting some of Alabama’s smartest citizens when we got our oil changed.

After driving in the dark for a few hours, we stopped to spend the night in yet another Wally World parking lot. We listened to the news coverage of the voting results on a small radio in the back of the truck, but fell asleep before the election was called. It got into the low thirties that night. I thought the south was supposed to bet HOT! Must be a cold front…