On Friday night after the kids were in bed, dh and I packed, loaded up the car to the brim, reminded each other for the 50th million time to grab the chargers and went to bed. Saturday at 4 am we were going to start our great road trip. After some oversleeping and grabbing last minute things we left for vacation at 6am. The first day our drive was awesome, various trips to starbucks and then to load up on red bulls, the kids were entertained , we were signing, dh was sharing with me all about Afghanistan tent politics he has to deal with on a daily basis (same as office politics in the US if you care to know), all in all couldnt ask for better conditions.
At around 6pm we decided we were done driving. We found ourselves in Charlotte, NC, as we were pulling up in the parking lot of the restaurant it started raining. No biggie. We go inside place our orders, get about 5 bites each and out of nowhere Juliet starts to projectile vomiting all over the place. Hubby quickly sent me outside to grab her clothes and took control of the situation. Thank God he remembers my absolute aversion to someone else getting sick. I have sympathy sickness with vomitting and my stomach decides to keep you company :(
Well we clean her up, take the rest of our food to go and get searching for a hotel. At the first one we stop, we find out there is a Hornetts (they are a basketball team in case you are as clueless as I am) game and some kind of festival going on in town. That means we wont find a hotel for another 60 miles. That started to put a damper in my spirits. We were tired, it was getting dark quickly, the kids were cranky, but we treked on. We drove almost 60 miles, found a hotel that had vacancies and spent the night.
On Sunday morning we started the 2nd leg of our trip. As we drive into Virginia and the temperature stars to drop extremely quickly. I decided to look into the weather channel to see what was going on..Well come to find out a huge snowstorm is moving in very quickly right on the path of where we are suposse to go in West Virginia. I freak out. I have a horrible fear of West Virginia. The last time we drove to PA back in Dec of 04, we missed the highway we were supossed to take and decided to take another road. With my awesomeness navigation skills, I took us through the mountains of WV. Extremelly high altitudes, huge drops, snow everywhere, fog, 2 lanes of traffic with no guardrail, deer crossing. The absolute worse trip of our lives. Many barganings with GOd were made.
So this time around I checked and recked the maps many time and was 100% sure it wouldnt take us through the mountains in WV. But with this snowstorm coming in our paths, I was still scared. Well we had no choice. We had passed the highway that if we took it would have taken us all the way east to Maryland and added about 4 hrs to our trip. We had no choice but to go foward. Lets just say if I can help it, I will never set foot again in WV for as long as I can live.
We finally arrive at his moms house right outside Pittsburgh at 5pm. Dh got the suprise of his life, his dad had driven all the way from Mississippi to see him and spend time with us. We enjoyed the family and after some sitting by the fireplace to warm up (I left 80 degree weather for the current 22 degrees in PA) some much need beer we crashed for the night.
On monday we took a trip the chocolate factory. My favorite place ever. All kinds of goodies.I spent hrs admiring this beautiful castle that took over 3 months to construct. A castle made of candy. Ladies and gentleman I have found my dream home =)
More time were spent taking pictures of adorable figurines of crocs, flip flops, fried eggs, pickles, all made of chocolate. Finally after wiping the drooling of my face for the 20th time and calling dh unfair for not allowing me to purchase one of each delicious truffle on display, we hapily left with our purchases. They even support our troops. I need to go back ;)
Monday night was family reunion. Another thing dh had no clue about it. Over 60 family members showed up to meet the kids and just enjoy us. The food was delicious, the conversation was flowing and while I knew about 50 of the 60 people that showed up, the names were hard to keep track of also my glass was getting refilled all the time. I must admit I got tipsy, but I was in my best behavior dont worry.
The kids were held by their great great aunts and there was nothing else this family needed more than some family loving. I was amazed at everything. Getting 10 of my family members in the same room is a task, making sure they dont kill each other is a miracle, so to see this was really awesome. His family, as dysfunctional as they are, they are extremely close and if I ever lose my mind, and decide to move there, you will know why.
Tuesday we drove into Pittisburgh and I met up with an online friend that lives close to there. This friend I met her some 5 yrs ago through a military wive website I was a member. We instantly clicked and have chatted nonstop. I already felt like I knew her. She is just as awesome in person. We spent the morning and part of the afternoon at the Carnegie Science museum in Pittsburgh. It was me, dh the kids, her her dh and her kids. Everyone clicked and got along awesomely. I had a really good time and miss her already.
Wed we drove back into Pittsburgh to meet up with my mil, fil, and sil to go have dinner at Primanti brothers. The original at the strip district of course. In case you never heard of this little jewel of a place, I have the need to share with you. Primanti brothers is a chain of sandwich shops opened in 1933. At the time the strip district was a growing area. Lots of truck drivers in the area who made deliveries to the local area 24 hrs a day but needed to get back on the road quickly. The brothers opened this sandwich shop to cater to them aka a good sandwich that could easily be eaten with one hand. Rumor has that on opening night they realized they forgot to order their to go boxes. Not wanting to loose business, they just slapped the coslaw and fries right inside the sandwich and a staple was born. When you walk into this place you are hit with various kinds of delicious smells. Dont expect to get a menu. Their very simple menu is posted on the wall. Asides from some soup, a side of cheese fries, onion rings, and some breakfast items, all you can get are their signature subs. Their flavors range from spicy sausage to cornbeef hash, to prime steak and so forth. They only accept cash, are open 24 hrs and after you place your order, they make it right there behind the counter, the waitress drops you sandwich right in front of you. Don't expect plates or silverware. They are served on a piece of paper. I am not a huge fan of coslaw but the mixture of the bread, meat, coslaw, fries and crack they put into it are to die for. I will eat there every single time I go back to PA :)
After that the mil, fil, and sil took the kids and dh and I drove to a little town right outside of Pittsburgh called Coraopolis were we had a hotel booked. We dropped the suitcases off took showers, got dressed and decided to catch a movie before dinner. A movie theater with a starbucks inside. How awesome is that??
We watched "The adjustment Bureau". Such a good movie and not just because I am a huge Matt Damon fan. Seriously a good movie.
Then we were on to our next adventure. We drove up Mt Washington, met up with dh's cousin and his fiance and rode the incline down into the city. Its a century old cable car that gives you awesome views of the city. And it creaks so its a task trying to just enjoy the views and ignore and creaking this car makes and hope and pray in a century they have done updates.
After getting to the bottom in one piece, we walked by the river almost a mile in 39 degree weather and after reaching dangerous stages of hypotermia, we reached our destination. The Hard Rock Cafe. I had never been inside one, so that was an experience itself. There was also some live band playing and their drinks and food were extremely delicious. We had such a good time and it wasnt just because of the 4 berry margaritas I had ;)
That night dh got sick as a dog. He caught some 24 hr stomach bug. Not good. On thursday after picking up the kids from the inlaws, promising everyone we will be back before 6 yrs, I feeling fine, started to drive to VA. Dh and dd were extremely sick. Not a fun drive. Once we got to Maryland I started getting sick. I was so sure I dodged that bullet. Nope ;(. After not being able to handle being in the car anymore, we decided to stop at around 3pm at a hotel in Maryland and spend the night.
Cold sweat, hallucinating, saltine crackers and gatorade is all I remember from 3pm thursday until friday morning when we finally left to again be on the road to VA.
The trip to VA was okay. We got lost a bit outside Washington but it was fine. I made dh promise one day he will take me to explore Maryland, Washington and more of Virginia. Just by being in VA I started to feel better. There is something special about that area.
We reached Newport News, VA at around 2 pm and after many tearful hugs and kisses, I got reunited with my best friend. I have know her for over 15 yrs but havent seen her in some 6 odd years (later I will talk about her more). We spend a good 3-4 hrs a day on the phone pretty much every day but its not the same. Seeing her was awesome. She got to meet her godchildren, I got to meet mine and more than ever I believe she is still a sister from another mother.
Our time was short but we stayed up until late every night just enjoying each other. It was awesome. On Saturday we even managed to sneak away for a couple hrs and the two of us just browsed Barnes and Noble. It was wonderful but it made me even more aware how much I love her, how wonderful it would be if we lived closer and just how mcuh I enjoy her company. I now have prayed to God everynight to send us to VA. We will see if HE responds ;)
On Sunday morning we left at 5am (because only the night before did my amazing husband realized it would take 15 hrs to get home...OOPS. But we left at 5am and by the time we reached South of the Border, clothes started to come off. The temperature started to climb, the kids were being good, and we realized that even with all the sickness and insanity we would have done it all over again just the same because it was a really good trip, one that we wont ever forget :)