East Coast Road Trip Adventure

2500 Miles.  14 Days.  12 States.  7 People.  1 Minivan.

Our Mission:  Hit the historical highlights.  Get to Maine.  Have fun/not kill each other.

I’m not sure how many of you have heard of the Enneagram, there’s been a recent resurgence in this ancient study of human characteristics/personalities, but for those that are aware it should not catch you by surprise that I am a 1 with a 2 wing.  The book “Road Back to You” describes 1 with a 2 wing as follows: “Ones with a Two wing are more extroverted, warm, helpful and empathetic on the high side of Two, but they can be more critical and controlling on the low side of Two.  They are effective in problem solving for both individuals and groups.  They are generous in their response to church, education, community, government and home life.  Ones with a Two wing talk too much and try to accomplish too many tasks in a day.

I mean.  I feel violated.  Can I really be that textbook?!?   I have tried to tell myself to shut up my whole life, to no avail, and now there is a book that has read me dead to rights.

Being in 12 states in 14 days, seeing Constitutional Hall and the Liberty Bell in Phyilly, touring Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in NYC, being underwhelmed by Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts but delighted by the beautiful seaside town, before navigating Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s home, the North Church, Faneuil Hall, and Boston Harbor, all part of a means to an end of getting to Bar Harbor, Maine and experiencing Acadia National Park.   Yawn.   I don’t know what they’re talking about trying to accomplish too many tasks.

Now let’s be real for a moment.  As incredible as the trip was, I had 4 children in a minivan on extended road trips multiple times in two weeks.   That went ABOUT as well as anyone could have expected.  Small confined space, siblings in close proximity, with nary an understanding of volume control.  Dagmara enjoyed the freedom of not having to worry about it, and put earbuds in and enjoyed her music and book.   Kevin and I did our best to breathe through the loud outbursts of joy, at least they were having fun, and saved our ‘settle downs’ for when that fine line between fun and fighting was crossed.

I found this little gem in a tourist trap in Maine, and it was a total game changer.  The kids had exhausted of the I-spy, ABC game, password, and all manner of other car games we employed to keep the peace on the way north, but this pack comes with several hundred fun conversation starters.  Some silly enough to excite the kids, like “If you could a develop brand new candy bar, what would you put in it and what would you call it?”, with others that truly made everyone think, and was exciting for mom and dad to hear the answers they came up with, like “If there was one problem you see in the world today, that could be gone by the time you become an adult, what would that be and why?”    Search it on Amazon, find it in a tourist trap, but get this fun little pack into your car/home and enjoy all the interesting facts you can discover about your kids, while keeping them distracted, and somewhat orderly in small confined spaces!

Philly.  It was kinda a last minute add.   Our original plan was to drive to DC, but with summer travel plans keeping several friends busy, and the mass exodus that has taken a large chunk of friends out of the area, we decided to forgo DC and visit Philly for the first time.    Maybe it was the 7hr stretch it took to get there, with kids excited to be outta the car, or all the one way streets making navigation a challenge…. but Philly may be a one and done visit for me.  The tour of Constitutional Hall and hearing the stories of the very first continental congress, and the transition of power from George Washington to John Adams, was my highlight.   It’s crazy to think about how prior to that transition, almost all previous power transitions were an act of war or some overthrow of power on a sitting monarchy.  No one, in that era, had ever witnessed a peaceful transition of power, the curator shared with us so it was a big deal and really one of the first indicators that our young democracy could work.   Seeing how small the room was, where congress originally met, where there were only representatives from a handful of recognized states, and how quickly it grew.  They shared how embattled congress was even in those early years, as they argued about many of the rights we’re still arguing about today.   Much of it was lost on the kids, whom I’d hoped would really enjoy seeing history come to life in front of them, but I’m holding onto hope that as I put the pictures into the books, and we can relive the memories of being there, as spark of the excitement that I have with translate to them.

We spent only one night in Philly, before pressing on to NYC.   Knowing we’d give up our car for good once we checked into our hotel, we started at Liberty National Park.  They have free parking (unheard of near NYC) if you’re taking the ferry to Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty.   I highly recommend this as an activity with littles.   Pro-tip…. GET THE AUDIO TOUR FOR YOUR KIDS.   We skipped this step at Ellis Island, and it was a huge mistake once we discovered how enthralled it kept the kids when we DID pick them up for the Statue of Liberty tour.  As you might expect, without the audio tour, they just ran from exhibit to exhibit, not pausing long enough to really understand any of the history they were experiencing.   With the audio tour, they were SILENT, they were engaged listening to what the ‘electronic device’ was teaching, they were excited about following the path the tour laid out, like a scavenger hunt from exhibit to exhibit.  Kevin and I just kept staring at each other, enjoying the peace, thanking the genius inventor of this contraption/idea.

After our tour we checked into our hotel and met Kevin’s brother, Uncle Jon and Aunt Alexa, for a pool party/rooftop pizza picnic.   Was the perfect way to end the day, relaxing pool side away from the crowds, while still getting to enjoy the beauty/charm of the NYC skyline, and we finished the day out with exhausted kids in Time Square before heading back to our hotel.

Day 2 in NYC was biking Central Park.  I got 3 tandems, so the 3 youngest were attached to an adult, AJ & Selah in seats, and Logan peddling with Dad, and Caleb got to navigate his own.  Other than the 3 blocks it took to get from the rental to Central Park, which weren’t THAT bad, other than locals being ticked at the ‘tourists’ on the sidewalk, it was perfect.  The bike paths through Central park are wide, no cars, limited pedestrians, and was a wonderful way to see the entire park.   Having an activity planned made it much less stressful navigating the city, and I was SUPER thankful I opted not to do the big red double-decker buses, as I realized they spent much of their time stuck in traffic with the terrible fumes of exhaust surrounding them.   After 3 days packed with activity, the kids were exhausted and Dagmara stayed in with them, which gave Kevin and I a night out on the town with Jon and Alexa.   Jon treated us to a ‘proper’ NYC dining experience, at a Michelin rated restaurant, it was unreal…. so so so delicious.  Not gonna lie, I kinda felt like a big deal…. and may or may not have been scanning the place for celeb’s.  Such a  fun treat, dressing up and acting like an adult in NYC, and not a tourist mom trying to protect her brood, and keep them from touching ALL. THE. THINGS.

We left NYC bright and early so we could beat the traffic and make it to Groton, CT by 9am so we could treat our nephew Brody, who is in Sub School with the US Navy, to breakfast.  Found a fabulous little roadside diner, which the kids thought was SUPER fun sitting at the bar.  He only had leave for 3hrs before checks on base, so we played at a local park before dropping him off, and continuing on to Plymouth Rock.

Apparently the locals refer to ‘Plymouth Rock’ as “Plymouth Pebble”, and with good reason.  However, its location along Cape Cod, in an adorable sea side town more than makes up for it’s underwhelming presentation.   We enjoyed some ice cream, and walked the coast line, before making our way to Marshfield, MA, the home of Kevin’s Uncle Buck and Aunt Jane.   Uncle Buck is a Harbormaster, and was kind enough to give us a tour of the Harbormaster’s Police Boat, which the boys thought was pretty incredible.  They treated us to dinner and a second helping of ice cream for the day (kids thought they were in heaven) and a breathtaking sunset along one of the little inlet/tributaries they lived on.

Soooooo…… We’re only on day 4 of our trip…. Yes you read that right.  Day 1: Philly.  Day 2: Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Pizza/Pool Party.  Day 3: Biking Central Park & Dinner with Jon & Alexa.  Day 4:  Breakfast with Brody, Plymouth Rock, Harbormaster Tour & Dinner with Uncle Buck and Aunt Jane.   Which means, you’re gonna have to come back for Part 2 tomorrow or this weekend, as I gotta move on with my day!   🙂  Hope you enjoyed this post, even an ounce as much as we enjoyed experiencing it!  Next up, Freedom Trail and down town Boston, Maine, and Acadia National Park, and then the trip home visiting fun friends!


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