Anyone who has been keeping up with this site may have noticed by now that we're fans of spur-of-the-moment travels. I just simply can't resist the siren call of exploration and if I find even the slightest reason to hop in the car, you can bet I'm all over it. I'm fortunate to have my kids and husband be just as willing to venture forth with me whenever possible. It seems they've caught the travel bug as well and get just as excited as I do while discovering different parts of the country.
A couple of weeks ago, an opportunity/excuse presented itself in the form of a gallery opening over in Johnson City, TN. A shot I took in Seattle about a year ago had been selected for display and I felt compelled to be there and meet some of my fellow film photographers in the flesh that I had been chatting and sharing with for months in our online platform. I quickly mapped out a route, my husband put in for leave, and the girls hadn't started their Montessori program for the year yet, so no hoops to jump through there. We loaded up and set off for St. Louis.
I've spent the past year reminiscing to my husband about the awesomeness of the City Museum in St. Louis. If you've never visited this place, it's very difficult to describe and probably harder to grasp just what exactly it is, but I'll try. It's essentially a construction site that's also a playground filled with hidden tunnels and slides that are made out of iron or trees, you can crawl through the walls and under the floors and up in the ceiling, there's a 10 story cave system in the center of the warehouse (most of this place is contained inside of an old converted shoe factory), there's a carnival-type thing on the roof, and there are no rules and a million ways to hurt yourself. It's a kid's and young-at-heart adult's dream come true.
Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures this time around...I learned my lesson from the first visit and knew that my camera could/would be damaged and/or hold me back from all the fun, so it stayed in the hotel room. The girls were thrilled to return and my husband spent the first hour in shock by the glory that is this place (he was deployed last year and had missed out), but he came to his senses eventually to slide and shimmy his way through all the fun. If you ever find yourself in St. Louis, do NOT miss out on this experience! Anyways, I took very few pictures on this stop since we had been here before, but here's an obligatory Arch shot:
After St. Louis, we made our way to Columbus, OH for an overnight pit stop. We were lucky our hotel had an indoor pool and the girls went for a quick dip before bed that night. In the morning, we checked out and drove to the German Village for a coffee and a stroll around the neighborhood before our impending longest leg of the trip. We chose a very authentic bakery that presented a German menu we could hardly interpret and were forced to point blindly at our choice (the employees did not speak much English either). I was shocked to discover that I had managed to order a coffee with a chocolate cookie and heavy cream in it, but delighted in the sugar rush all the same. We then walked around the cobblestone streets taking in the European architecture and smiling at the flower boxes gracing the windows. It made me yearn for our next assignment and wish fervently that next year at this time, I'd be walking streets in Germany itself.
I had convinced my husband that it would be a good idea to tack on a couple of hours to our drive that day so we could explore the Amish countryside. I had really hoped to find some covered bridges and go on a buggy ride, but I was thwarted on both accounts. The buggy rides had been cancelled for the year due to construction and the covered bridges were about another hour out of the way. We stopped for lunch at a bier garten and our pony-horse was fortunate that a dog's bakery was next door, so he got a special treat (and who are we kidding...he got some burger, too).
We finally got back on track and flew through Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. There is some absolutely gorgeous country in that region. We drove through the Appalachians at sunset and it was simply breathtaking. We were on a mission for D.C., however, so we couldn't stop to drink in the view. Finally, after almost 12 hours on the road that day, we made it to our hotel in the dark and the rain, and sacked out. The next day, we took on the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Air and Space Museum, and the National Mall.
After spending a day in D.C., we drove along the coast down to Virginia Beach. We stopped at Assateague National Seashore to look at the wild ponies and play at the beach. This had the added benefit of tuckering the girls out, so we were able to drive straight through to Virginia Beach. After checking in there, we raced down to the boardwalk to catch the sunset and see the epic (sorry, it's just the right word) statue of Neptune. We then ate an extremely overpriced so-so dinner. In hindsight, we should've saved that money and rented one of the quad bikes to ride around the boardwalk and settled for fast food afterwards. Oh well. Live and learn from our mistakes!
That concluded our eastward trek and we started back west, driving through the Appalachians and into the Tri-City. The morning before the gallery opening, we took the girls on a short hike to a waterfall and did some bouldering as well (the girls are surprisingly good at climbing). We ate our packed picnic before heading into downtown Johnson City to meet and mingle with other film photographers. It was so great to meet these people that up until this point I had only chatted with through a screen! After that short visit, we started the slog back to Oklahoma.
That concludes our most recent road trip. I found myself a bit down after getting home because I realize it'll be a long time before we go anywhere again. We may venture out for Christmas to New Mexico, however, and we're saving up for a big trip out to the West Coast in the late spring. I also realized on this trip that I'm not shooting enough in general. I saw so much that I wish I had taken a picture of, and I'm not sure why I didn't. Maybe it's because we were a bit more rushed. Anyways, I plan on shooting more this fall and updating again sooner rather than later!