After driving more than a thousand miles, we finally made it to the East Coast, and I am settled into my new home in Princeton! Wahoo! Sorry I haven’t been very active on the blog or my social media sites. These past couple weeks have been a crazy whirlwind, and I’m having a hard time sorting through it all to even know where to start!
I think what I will do is talk a bit about our road trip, just because I am quite proud of our navigation and driving skills. (When I say we, I am referring to myself and my friend who road with me out here. We took turns driving the lovely van pictured below.) Then, I will end this post with our day trip to Washington, D.C., and what we were all able to see in just one day. We also visited New York City, but I will do a separate post on that (because we saw A LOT in our time there). I feel like I should apologize as well, for the quality of some photos. I became very lazy about getting the DSLR camera out and many of these are just from my phone! Sorry! (And the majority of the DLSR pics were taken by my friend because, again, I was lazy.)
The van pictured above contained (just about) everything my husband and I own, plus my two lovely passengers who road with me out here. Impressive, right? Haha. I never thought I would enjoy driving a minivan, but this was actually a very comfortable ride! (It’s not actually mine, unfortunately. We had rented it from Hertz.)
We didn’t have anything planned ahead of time for our road trip. We just plugged in the address in the GPS on my phone and drove until we couldn’t anymore. I wish I could say our road trip was incredibly exciting and we saw so many cool things. However, the route from Central Wisconsin to New Jersey is not all that exciting. It’s just a lot of highway and tolls. I think the most exciting thing we saw was a car on fire near Chicago (no one was hurt, thank goodness!). Chicago was also the only area that had much for traffic, too (so, that was good!). Oh, and we ate A LOT of junk food. Haha. But that’s a requirement for a road trip!
We took a pit stop in Indiana by Notre Dame’s campus for dinner (which is a beauuuutiful campus) and then drove to just outside of Cleveland, Ohio to spend the night. That was close to a 12 hour day in the van, with only a brief stop in Indiana!
The next day we woke up bright and early. We had originally planned on driving to Washington, D.C. that day. However, it was pouring and rather chilly…and everything we planned on doing in D.C. required us to be outside. So, after a couple hours of driving we changed plans and decided to head straight to where my husband was staying in New Jersey. He was very surprised!
We spent the next day wandering around by Princeton’s campus, doing a little shopping and trying out some of the restaurants in the area. (I’ll do an actual post on Princeton sometime, but I didn’t get many pictures this day.) I’m really excited to do some more exploring this weekend! It’s a very pretty and interesting area.
Washington, D.C. in a Day
After a bit of deliberation we decided that driving to Washington, D.C. from Princeton would be our best alternative for the next day. It really wasn’t too bad of a drive. It took us about 4 hours to get there (because an accident near Baltimore had us switch our route) and about 3 hours to get back to Princeton. Traffic wasn’t bad at all (but we had missed rush hour). It didn’t take me long to find a parking ramp (and if I would’ve been any good at parallel parking, we would’ve had a parking spot even sooner!).
The picture above is when we had to drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I am absolutely terrified of heights. So, having to drive across this bridge nearly made me pee my pants. Fortunately, the only reason we had to take this bridge was because traffic was so backed up by Baltimore. We were able to drive by Baltimore on our way back and miss this bridge all together. Phew!
We only spent one day in D.C. So, we decided to try to see as many of the monuments as we could in our time frame. Our first stop was the White House. We were all a bit surprised actually, as to how small it appeared. (It looks much bigger on TV, everyone. Haha.)
After the White House, we moved to the Washington Monument. We didn’t have tickets (or time) to tour the inside of the monument. We were there around one in the afternoon, and tickets were sold out for the day. So, if you want to tour the inside…it appears you should get there early or reserve them in advance.
I didn’t feel as though I was missing out not touring the inside. There were many wonderful views from where the monument is located. (Even if the Capitol is currently under construction and the reflecting pool is currently drained.)
Our next stop was the Lincoln Memorial. We didn’t stick around here too long, because it was very busy the day we were there (the weather was gorgeous). But we did manage to snap some pictures of Abe (who I might add, was bigger than I thought).
We found our way to the monuments by asking park rangers and by buying a little tourist map (which a bird proceeded to poop on several seconds after we opened it up. Haha.). However, I have discovered a neat app for the National Mall and Memorial Parks. It’s free and will give you all the information you ever wanted to know about what’s going on around the monuments and how to get to them. Click here to check it out, and save yourself $3 on a tourist map. I plan to use this for my next visit.
Our next stop was Arlington National Cemetery. We wandered through these hallowed grounds for quite a long time. This was a very emotional stop, and I find myself having a hard time adequately describing what it was like to wander through the gravesites of such brave people in our nation’s history. It’s something that words and pictures don’t seem to do justice.
Below, are pictures of JFK’s gravesite and the eternal flame. We were also lucky enough to witness The Changing of the Guards Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s incredible to think the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and in any weather. (Click here to learn more about the ceremony.)
We ended our walking journey by passing by the Korean War Memorial and then walking over to the Jefferson Memorial (which felt like a very long walk at the end of our day). After the Jefferson Memorial we were too tired to walk to the Capitol Building, so, we took a cab instead. It cost about $7, if I remember right.
We ended our day by hanging out by the White House, because the President was getting ready to leave. However, it apparently takes him a very long time to leave. Haha. We only stuck around for a half hour, before heading to the nearest McDonalds for dinner (we were soooo healthy this trip). While we were in McDonalds, we heard the motorcade go by. (Of course!)
If you have any questions about Washington, D.C. or have any suggestions of what I should see the next time I go back…please let me know in the comments! I will most definitely be going back when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. I will also be taking the time to go through the Smithsonian and other various museums, but I am still looking for more recommendations of what to see and tour.
I will also be publishing my recap of our whirlwind trip to New York next week. So, stay tuned!
Washington, D.C. Photo Gallery