If you read my blogs regularly, you probably know how much I love road trips. Last summer, my younger son and I enjoyed a great American road trip.
This year, my husband, younger son and I were on the road again – meeting up at times with my older son, who now lives in the US.
A total of 3700 miles (almost 6000 kilometers) of road, to be exact. And crossing through a whopping 18 US states. I must have been a trucker in a former life, because nothing is as invigorating as long stretches on the open road, discovering new places and exploring old favorites.
Here’s an overview of our vehicular marathon.
I have been back to visit every summer since COVID began, and this is the first time I’ve seen things (almost) back to normal.
Museums are open once again and visitors back, so it was great to visit the museums again without masks or vaccination status required. Glad the mayor finally gave up on the ridiculous rules that killed tourism in the nation’s capital.
It’s DC, so it was hot while we were back – but par for the course in summertime. Managed to squeeze in some exhibitions and to see the new Communism museum, just opened in the capital.
Here in DC we were carless and enjoyed exploring by foot -walking for miles and miles – and public transport. There’s always a lot to do in DC.
Syracuse, NY via southern Pennsylvania
We had a great time visiting college friends in beautiful southern Pennsylvania, south of Philadelphia. The rolling green hills and horse farms were a nice surprise. On a drive up to Syracuse, NY, we had the great “fun” of a breakdown of our rental car, but at least we were able to change our car for a less flashy (and more reliable) one at the sleepy Syracuse airport.
It was a hot day in Syracuse and we saw the campus of Syracuse University, where I’d last been to events years ago when I was in college nearby in western New York.
We also visited an amusing Italian-American restaurant-steakhouse: Delmonico’s. The Italian food was decidedly Italian-American, but the steaks were fantastic. And we loved the walls lined with caricatures of well-known Italian American actors and performers: from Frank Sinatra to the Sopranos. A fun dinner, including for my Italians.
My older son was out here in Columbus working over the summer, so this was a great chance to visit him and to see him in the evenings after his work day.
We did lots of walking around Ohio’s capital. This is another place I’ve visited the past two summers, and so was thrilled to finally seeing the city returning to life post-COVID. 2020 and 2021 were simply depressing.
On this visit, enjoyed seeing all three of then deer statues scattered around then Scioto River walk. Also made it for the first time to the North Market, which is a fun place to stop for lunch and people watching.
We also stopped off for a day in pretty Granville, Ohio before Denison University was in session. It was decidedly quiet in town and on campus, but also fun to visit on a warm, summer day.
Soon enough, all the students would be back swelling the numbers of this tiny college town.
Oxford, Ohio and the Indiana border
We also visited western Ohio, north of Cincinatti. The countryside here is very rural, very green with lots of farms and pretty nature. We visited the picturesque campus of Miami of Ohio – also quiet before the student population returned.
Later, my younger son asked if we could cross over to the Indiana border. He’s been to many states on our visits to the US, but never to Indiana. Since we were only a few miles away, I agreed. Not sure this corner along the Ohio-Indiana border was so exciting, but he enjoyed having the moment memorialized.
Bourbon pit stop in Kentucky
Kentucky is the home of bourbon, but we didn’t have much time to go along the well-organized bourbon trail – something we’ll definitely save tome for on a future visit.
We did stop of briefly at the Jim Beam distillery, which was close to the highway. The tours were fully booked up, but we did walk around the area and there is an impressive restaurant offering interesting bourbon-infused recipes. Seems a nice place to while away a warm afternoon, complete with rocking chairs overlooking the bucolic country scenes.
We’ll be back for more exploration, but gave us a taste of the bourbon trail.
Haven’t been back in Nashville in years, and it’s certainly grown a lot. It was great to see an old college friend and to go out for barbeque and to catch up.
One thing that hasn’t changed at all is raucous Saturday night on Broadway – with the crowds and music performances on full display. Not really our scene, but very different from what we have in Italy, and definitely a fun night out to enjoy the Nashville nightlife.
For those who don’t know, Tennessee is whiskey country. Even if I’m not a huge fan, did have an amazing whiskey sour in the hotel bar. I always do my part to act like a local. : )
New Orleans, Louisiana
This is another city I haven’t visited in years.
We stayed in the old French Quarter. I know there was a lot of rebuilding after Hurricane Katarina, but I loved seeing all the architecture and character I remember from visits years ago. It’s a very different style from other US cities and we enjoyed admiring the Creole architectural gems and the European-style squares.
Bourbon Street, always a bit cheesy, is decidedly worse today – and we escaped pretty quickly, but otherwise enjoyed our walks around the French Quarter.
It was also fun to walk along the Mississippi River, which my son and I had visited last year in Memphis.
This was my first time in the Gulf coast city of Mobile, Alabama. Since we had to be in the Florida panhandle the next morning, this was a comfortable stop-over.
The coastal town is small. There wasn’t a lot to see, but we did explore the main strip with some of its gracious southern architecture. We also found a place to sit down to enjoy some comfort food/southern fare. It’s been years since I enjoyed fried green tomatoes.
Just as well there wasn’t that much to see since, after a day of driving, we were in the mood for an evening swim at the hotel pool.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Our goals on the Florida Panhandle were modest: swim, enjoy the long stretch of white sand and relax. We did well on all counts.
My oldest, now landlocked son, grew up in Rome and is used to having the beach nearby. After a summer in Ohio, he was ready for a few summer days beachside, so he flew down to join us and we had the whole family together.
It was great to spend lazy beach days together swimming, reading and being lazy on thos soft, white sand beaches.
The water was perfect and quite warm, alternating between glossy, still water in the morning to fun waves in the afternoon. The white sand was always a perfect temperature, and never scorching beneath our feet – someting we’re not used to back home.
And those sunsets! Loved being able to enjoy those spectacular shows each evening … a truly relaxing few days.
Washington, DC and busing it to New York
The drive back to Washington was a killer. One day to pass through Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia – and finally Washington, DC. After that, I was pretty happy to drop our rental car off.
We then took the bus up to New York City. Although I have an apartment there, and we generally love returning, getting back during this COVID period was unthinkable. We’ve been through the COVID insanity in Italy, so the idea of returning to New York to “show our papers” (even the kids) to go out was not something we wanted to deal with on our vacation.
So it was good to be back with things a little bit more normal. It was time.
We did enjoy walking around New York, hanging out in our favorite “back yard”, Central Park, and spending evenings on our condominium terrace, with views over the city.
Great to be back to New York, and lots of fun to have traveled 3700 miles across my beautiful country on our crazy cross-country trip.
It’s getting back to normal work-school rhythms that’s always toughest! Happy roadtripping to all…