If you don’t know already, my husband and I thoroughly enjoy road trips. In 2015, we’ve made it a point to get out and about as much as possible. We were tired of the same old same old. We do occasionally visit the same place twice, but we try not to stick to the worn out trip to the beach or the movies. No. We try to aim for a little more creativity.
Some of my favorite trips this year have been:
This past week we decided to take a somewhat impromptu trip up north. Currently I work part time. Only 3 days per week. I’m not at all complaining either. Having 4 days off per week, we’ve been able to spend more time getting out and enjoying life together. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Unless that world would be a stay-at-home-work-online-Jenn. I’ll take that in a heart beat.
When I visualize Northern New England, the thing that comes to mind first (after the presence of my best friend) is seafood. Primarily lobster. We spent our honeymoon on the coast enjoying lobster and clam chowder. My mouth waters thinking of it! NNE is known for it’s cooler weather, beaches and boardwalks. In August, the temperature was about 15 degrees cooler than our home in Pittsburgh. We were cruising with the windows down in 75 degrees of salty cool breezes.
It was lovely! Altogether our road trip cost us under $250!!
Here’s what we did:
After dropping off our beagle with my parents, we left Pittsburgh at 6pm. I used the Tollsmart app to calculate what tolls would be if we took the shorter route. It was only $1.50, so we went for it! I had a cooler packed for our Sunday dinner. Which consisted of deli sandwiches, bottled water and snack foods. I spent about $20 on this, but it lasted for the duration of the trip.
We arrived at our friends’ house in a small town in Massachusetts around 3am. We stayed for free in the guest room, but I brought a bag of Pittsburgh goodies to share with them. **Note to self, always bring trinkets from whatever city I currently live in.** I brought craft sodas from Grandpa Joe’s and a bag of caramel popcorn from the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company. Things I enjoy myself. This cost about $12 altogether, which makes me sound like a cheapskate, I know. I need to find more local goods to add to the bag for next time.
We slept like big burly brown bears in winter.
We were up and out by noon. Much later than I’d hoped. But we were off to Salem Massachusetts with my closest friend. And any time spent with someone so far from me, was worth it. We splurged $14 on lunch at Dunkin Donuts.
When we arrived in Salem, I didn’t really have much of a plan. Well scratch that. I did. I just occasionally get flustered playing tour guide. I forget things in my effort to show people a good time. But we did have a good time, thankfully.
First we visited Count Orlock’s Nightmare Gallery. A menagerie of horror and sci-fi movie memorabilia. Unfortunately, photos are strictly prohibited. So I don’t have much to show for it. But believe me, I tried! I tried walking around and snapping photos without opening my phone case. Most of the shots were waist level and indiscernible. The displays were pretty interesting. Life size models of iconic characters like Nosferatu, Wolfman, The Phantom from Phantom at the Opera, and the clown from It. Most of them towered above me in darkened rooms.
Count Orlock’s cost $8 per person for about 4 big rooms of things to see. Each exhibit had a plaque with information about the monster and the movie it came from. One of my favorite things on exhibit was the life size Alfred Hitchcock and also the wall of life masks. One of which was Hitchcock as well. We walked away with $2 magnet souvenir to add to the fridge. I think I’d go again, if only to try to take better stealth photos! They do hold special events that could make more a really entertaining evening!
Next we walked over the Salem Witch Memorial and Old Burying Point Cemetery. I was intent on finding noteworthy headstones, but had a hard go of deciphering the map. We browsed a few of the shops and museums without going the full admission route. The Salem Wax Museum has a shop and an area where you can make a headstone rubbing for free. And the Salem Witch Village has a larger shop worth exploring as well.
When we made it to the cemetery, I did end up finding the grave of a Mayflower pilgrim. This just blows my mind. I’m not a huge history buff, but pilgrims are something you hear about every Thanksgiving here in the states. And seeing one’s grave and the age and wear on it, just made history so very real.
The cemetery was solemn and busy. There was a steady stream of tourists eyeing the monuments. Dirt paths lining popular graves. I feel like I could go back and spend so much longer hunting more famous grave sites. I even thought of taking a grave rubbing, but I would hate to be “that” person. The one deemed disrespectful. So I snapped photos and kept my distance.
The Salem Witch Memorial is right next to the cemetery and honors those hung during the Salem Witch Trials. This area was a whole new level of eerie. Many of the stones were strewn with roses and coins. Like their loved ones had just recently been paying their condolences.
After that, we found a random boat tour for $5. Waited for the boat captain to no avail.
Then drove over to the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. This is a free national park right on the harbor. Boasting a tall-ship, the Friendship, as well as a small beach and educational monuments.
We arrived too late to tour the Friendship. So we sat near the beach listening to the waves and watching the locals play in the water with their dogs. I could’ve stayed there all day, but dinner time was upon us.
We ate at In A Pig’s Eye in Salem. It’s a nice old style tavern with a healthy amount of barbeque. I got a fantastic sandwich that I coated in the house BBQ sauce.
Any restaurant that serves my drink in a mason jar is automatically deemed cool by my standards.
We over spent here. It cost us about $40. Mostly because our eyes were bigger than our stomach’s. But we each got a big sandwich and side dish, a drink and shared an appetizer. My tip: order water with lemon and skip the appetizer. You’ll have plenty!
By the time dinner was finished, we were pretty well exhausted. We headed back to base to spend the rest of evening with our friends.
We drove off to Gloucester area early the next morning for a Groupon deal I had snagged. A whale watching tour for 2 for $39. Total. No tax. I love a good deal. I’d never been on the ocean before, other than attempting to float while wading at Daytona Beach. Neither had Bryan. We were like two kids on Christmas.
Al Guaron Tours took us out on the water on our lovely ship, The Starfish. We got there before the suggested arrival time and there were still people ahead of us in line. At first I was bummed that we were sitting on the side of the boat instead of at the bow. But it turned out well. It was beautiful weather until we go further out. After spotting our first whale it started to rain. Our co-tourists huddled like sardines in the galley. We sat outside with just a few other people, but were under the awning enough to avoid most of the pelting raindrops. Being out there alone also gave us opportunity to see things that others didn’t. We spotted a Menke Whale on our own.
I packed binoculars, water, snacks, sunscreen, and a sweatshirt for our whale watching tour. I used every single thing. Binoculars are good to have, not only to watch for wildlife, but also to watch fishermen in action. We watched two fishermen haul in a tuna that was bigger than the both of them! The only thing I’d bring in addition to what we brought would be a poncho. Even without the rain, there is occasionally a splash or drizzle that makes it up into the seating area.
We were able to spot a fair share of gulls, 1 humpback whale, 1 tuna, and 2 menke whales. All this while lightning traced the sky in the backdrop. Absolutely serene.
Surprisingly neither of us got sea sick, so we hit up a nearby lobster shack for dinner. Markey’s was the first place with an open parking spot. They had an indoor area to eat but also a wrap around porch that made you feel like you were on a dock. It overlooked the marshy grass and waters. I felt like we were in The Lord of The Rings.
The portions were huge, so I went with just a crab roll. My husband had a huge plate of fried goodness. Scallops, clams, haddock and fries. I have never tasted such perfectly cooked scallops! Altogether, dinner cost us $35.
We hit the road for base camp and spent the rest of the evening chatting it up with our friends and their kids.
We aimed to leave by 10 am but Bryan got the idea to wash our clothes. He didn’t think about the drying part. God bless him. So come 12 we still weren’t ready. I borrowed some hangers and hung our necessities to dry in the back seat.
I was not quite the happy camper to drive home in my pajamas… But we survived and I learned a new thing: clothes dry fairly fast with the windows down on a hot day. We won’t do that again unless I make a contraption that can dry multiple garments at once.
Our gas came to a whopping $80 for the whole trip there and back. With enough gas to get me to work the next two days.
So altogether we spent $57 on food $89 on entertainment and $83 on transportation for a grand total of $229. I’m sure there’s something I forgot in there. But still, not too shabby for a trip across several states, a good time with good friends and a chance to experience some firsts! I’ll call this trip a huge success 🙂
If you’d like to see more photos of our trip, here’s the album: