Archive for the ‘Country’ Category

Today is the first morning I’ve woken up with nothing definitive that I have to do. It’s been a whirlwind since I arrived home last week: my grandmother’s service, my nana’s 99th birthday, celebrating my cousin’s pregnancy, picking Nick up at Salem, bringing Steve to the airport, bringing my parents to the airport, bringing Nick back to Salem … People keep asking if it feels strange to be home. I don’t think I really realized I wasn’t leaving again until today, now that everything has calmed down and there isn’t anyone here who needs me. 

And it’s ok. I say I don’t have anything to do, but that’s pretty much never true. I already have plans for nearly every day this week. And I only have a month left of the leisurely life: I’ve just accepted a job, so it’s back to work on January 3. As I said before, I didn’t want to return to the corporate world unless everything fit – the job, the people, the overall package, the timing, the location – and it all seems right. I’m very excited about it; it’s a really challenging opportunity doing all facets of communications. I really can’t wait to get started!

So I need to take advantage of this next month. Ultimately, I want to move into the city, but I have to sell the house first. It’s off the market for the winter. I have a lot of decluttering to do! It’s also Christmas time, of course, so plenty to do there. And I have to pay a visit to Volvo – it wasn’t poor Aidan that broke, but the power outlet in my car. My, this month is going to fly by!

But before I delve into all my new to-do lists (Nick just showed me an article where Heidi Klum talks about all her lists – he pointed out I’m in good company), I have another list I want to share: my lessons learned. I’ve spent much time reflecting since I realized the road trip was ending. What was the point of this? Am I changed at all? Did I learn anything? Well, there were many reasons to go on the road trip – first and foremost to see the country. I think I did a pretty good job of that. I caught up with friends and family around the country. I tried to quell the ’empty-nest’ syndrome. I also was exploring my ‘what if’ – and got my answer. 

My lessons learned:

  • Never say never. I am pretty stubborn, so when I say never, I mean it. I now know I can’t say never any more (even ‘I’ll never get married again.’) Life changes too much for anything to be that definitive. You need to be flexible and go with the flow. You need to adapt to what life throws at you, and not stick with something just because you’re too stubborn to admit it might not be the best thing for you (or others) any more.
  • If you want to do something, just do it. You can do anything you set your mind to. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your situation is. Yes, there will always be obstacles, but think it through and you can get around them. And there will always be reasons not to do something, but if the good outweighs the bad, go with it. There were so many reasons NOT to go on this road trip. I’m so glad I made it happen anyway.
  • You can never have too many friends. If it weren’t for all my friends and family spread throughout the country, I couldn’t possibly have taken this trip. Thank you all – it was so good spending some time with you, although most visits were too short. Please know there’s always a bed for you in Massachusetts!
  • Your kids may leave home, but they always need you. I should’ve known that one – I always need my parents. Good thing I have four of them!
  • Life isn’t a fairy tale or a romantic comedy. Sure, if we’d yelled ‘cut’ on October 4 or 5, it would’ve had the perfect happy ending. They’re only classified romantic comedies because of when the movies end. If the cameras keep rolling after the dream kiss, reality sets in. Then they become dramas. Or tragedies.
  • Distraction can help you get over hurt, but it won’t cure it. Only time can do that. And with time comes clarity. The person you thought was Rhett may just be your Ashley.
  • Everyone has a story. And they are all fascinating. Ask questions. Get to really know someone. Even someone close to you, who you thought you knew. You may be surprised. It was wonderful exploring different places and taking pictures of everything from Mount Rushmore to the Pacific coast, but it was the conversations I had along the way that really made the trip.
  • Boston is where I want to be. At least for right now. I’ve spent too much time away from all my loved ones here. I need at least a few more years with them before I try living elsewhere again. And I love this city, from its sports teams to its history to its location on the coast.  
  • Everywhere is worth visiting. Depending on your time limitations and your interests, not everywhere is worth driving out of your way for (like the Mall of America for me), but every state has something special to see – even if it’s as simple as an old farmhouse or a Superman statue.
  • It’s nice to do some things alone, but sometimes it’s just more fun to have a partner in crime. I am very glad I took this trip by myself, but am also thankful for the times friends played tourist (or tour guide) with me.  
  • Route 66 is definitely worth its own, separate trip – just map it out first, because it’s not easy to follow. And it is easy to lose!
  • You can drive any distance if you have the right soundtrack! Good music – with a few good audio books thrown in – make time fly. And there is a song for everything. Especially country songs.
  • Think before you shut your car door. Especially if the only things around are cows. I’m just saying…
  • Plans were made to be broken. You can do your best to plan out a trip like this, but you have to be ready to take a detour every now and then, even if it puts you on a new route and disrupts your timetable. Otherwise you could miss out on some of the best parts. Remember the road less traveled…
  • 83 days is not long enough to see the entire country. I don’t know if you could ever see everything! There are so many places I missed or want to go back to because I simply didn’t have enough time. I don’t know how people make cross-country trips in a few weeks – how do you see anything??? I’m going to start making the list of places still to see on this site soon – Amy’s America will continue, just in small spurts from now on. I also plan to see more local sites. All suggestions welcome, as always. And I’ll be sure to write about it all here.

Thank you again, not only to everyone who hosted me or joined me for parts of the trip, but to everyone who joined my journey through this blog. Thank you for your travel tips, site suggestions, caring words and for taking time to read this. At many people’s suggestion, I’ve started writing the movie. Hopefully I can do this trip justice! Wish me luck…

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It is sooooooooo strange to be home. Well, not so much to be home, since I have been here every now and then during the last 83 days, but to drive home and know that I’m not leaving in the next day or two. Or 10 or 20. Weird. This is going to take some getting used to. But before I jump to the end of the trip, a bit about the last day…

My last night on the road was spent sleeping at my Aunt Robin’s in West Virginia, trying to cram into a few hours as much catching up with her, Isa and Tom, as possible. Going to bed I actually felt like the princess and the pea – the bed was so high, piled up and comfy. Robin’s done a nice job of cleaning up and decorating the house in her own way (which reminds me so much of my mother and my style). In the morning I had breakfast with Grandmama (my mom’s mom) and Ed – and then picked up the cat that I was driving north for my Aunt Kris. As I’ve mentioned, I wasn’t thrilled, but felt it was the right thing to do.

The cat wasn’t bad. It did cry the entire 10 hours (lots of traffic in Connecticut), but I just turned the music up and drowned it out. For those who don’t like country, you may accuse me of cat torture, but I can’t say I cared much. (Sorry.)

It was only a few minutes into the drive that I passed over the state line and into… Maryland. I’d actually forgotten about that state, even though there are several things I like there including the waterfront, antique shops and the Orioles’ stadium. I wasn’t there long, either, as I was soon driving over the Mason-Dixon line and into what I used to think of as the longest state in the world: Pennsylvania. It no longer seems that long, now that I’ve driven through some of the western states!

I would’ve taken a picture of the Mason-Dixon line sign, but it was pouring out. In fact, it was raining almost the entire drive. I passed many barns, trees, fields, animals, that I would have liked to photograph but the rain kept me in my car. Hmmm… am wondering if that was God’s way of protecting me from repeating yesterday’s mistake?

There were so many places I passed that I want to go back to – like  Mystic for its seaport, aquarium and pizza. It’s funny how as a teenager Connecticut seemed so far away, and now it seems like it’s just down the street.

It felt strange to drive into Rhode Island – to be so close to home. My Aunt Kris and cousin Ben met me at the mall so I could give them the cat. Can’t say I was sorry to hand it over. Nothing personal, but I have my own at home. I then went to the airport to pick my older brother, Steve, up. He’s flying in to attend our grandmother’s service. So technically he finished the road trip with me, since he was with me as I drove up to the house. (Which was rather nice because he helped me empty 83 days worth of stuff from my car, including Black Friday purchases.) I guess he was the stand-in for Aidan, since Aidan still won’t work. He just sat next to me completely blank. When I told Tina this, she wasn’t surprised and said that’s rather typical of some men.

It feels so weird to call this trip over. So I won’t – especially since it’s not the end. This is just an intermission for a bit more real life. There are so many things I didn’t get a chance to do:

  • Sleep in a haunted house.
  • Go to a rodeo. (Riding the mechanical bull doesn’t count.)
  • Shop on Rodeo Drive.

And so many places I had to skip, and people I still need to visit – especially those on the east coast.

For those wondering about this blog, this isn’t the last entry.  As long as there’s an Amy and an America to explore, there will be www.amysamerica.com. I actually started a list in the last few days of what I’ve learned on the trip. It’s not done, so I won’t share it yet, but will post it on here  in the next few days. After that, whenever I do travel again – especially those spring/summer weekend trips to make up the end of the official road trip – I will blog about it here.Who knows, I may do some local travel posts, too. Whenever I do blog, I’ll put it on Facebook as I do now, and if you don’t have Facebook, either sign up for the email reminders (on home page see top of column to the right) or just check back here every now and then… thank you very much for reading and taking this journey with me!

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I’m going home. My grandmother, Maggie’s mom, passed away and my brother Steve and I both want to be there for her. So I have postponed – not canceled – the remainder of my east coast visits and explorations to go straight back to Massachusetts (well, via West Virginia). Trish agrees we can do the Eat. Pray. Love. Charleston. tour in the spring or summer (as do all my other wonderful east coast friends), so her and the kids bid me farewell.

It was a good day for driving – overcast and drizzling off and on. I watched the temperature on the thermometer steadily drop as I drove north. 50…45…42… I drove into North Carolina, by Charlotte (looks pretty cool) and was making good time until traffic came to a standstill – right near
Mount Airy, home of Mayberry and the Andy Griffith Show.

I sat for a while, wondering what the issue was, and grew more aggravated by the minute as my stomach started to growl. I was complaining to my mom on the speakerphone when I thought I spotted a Subway sign at the next exit. She convinced me it was worth stopping for, so I veered off.

I somehow went right past the Subway, but then something else caught my eye: more cows. I heard Tara’s voice in my head, so I had to get a few pictures. I pulled over and told mom to hold on while I hopped out real quick. I snapped a few photos and ran back to the car. Only the door wouldn’t open! The car’s not supposed to be able to lock from the outside with the car on – and it didn’t seem like the lock was all the way down, yet it wouldn’t open. I had no phone, no jacket, nothing but my camera (and cows) – and mom still on speakerphone inside.

I put my face up against the window and yelled, “mom!’ She yelled back, “Amy! Is everything all right? I can’t really hear you!” I tried to yell to her to call AAA but she couldn’t understand me through the glass, so went to get Mark. I just shook my head at the cows, who were staring at me. I was cupping my face to the window, trying to yell to them again when help arrived. His name was Shane, my knight in the white Honda. He offered me his phone, and with my parents still yelling from inside my car, I called Mark’s cell. Luckily he answered the strange number.

Shane helped me explain where we were (intersection of Hwy 21 and Rena Rd.) and Mark called AAA. Once it was confirmed that they would be there in an hour, I thanked Shane and told him I’d be fine. He insisted on staying with me, explaining that he wouldn’t feel right leaving me because ‘rednecks will be stopping and trying to pick you up.’ He was right in a way – people did stop every few minutes to inquire about what was going on – and I appreciated his company. Clearly my car (with its Massachusetts plates) at the side of the road among the cows was the highlight of the day in Jonesville.

We passed time (and tried to forget the cold) chatting about everything from the Red Sox (Shane’s a huge fan – even has a Red Sox screen saver on his phone) and family to work and traveling. He recommended seeing the Biltmore Estate (dubbed America’s largest home) in Asheville when I return to North Carolina. I’ll definitely add it to my list. I’d also forgotten about the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a wonderfully scenic route. While I had a great time talking to him, my freezing body was very happy when Donny arrived – my knight in the white van. (Two knights in one day – lucky me!)

I thanked Shane and bid him farewell, then waited in Donny’s van (trying to thaw out) as he got my car door open – very quickly, I must add. (Thanks Donny!) I waved to the cows, thinking I was now all set. What I didn’t remember until I got back in the stopped traffic on the highway was that I was running on empty… I almost had to call Donny back to save me again, but luckily inched to the next exit and found a gas station. Phew!

I was so frustrated at the lost two hours (and paranoid about leaving the car) that I only stopped for gas the rest of the way. I made it to Martinsburg, West Virginia, where my grandmother, aunt and family live, by about 8:30 pm. Not bad considering…

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