Saturday, June 8, 1996

Nova Scotia to Virginia and Back Again in 5 Days

This story is about a road trip that my friend Sue and I took back in June, 1996.  We both worked at the same law firm when a unique opportunity for an all-expenses-paid road trip presented itself.

The lawyer that I worked for had a real estate agent that was looking for someone who could drive a car down to Reston, Virginia.  The real estate agent's husband was working in Reston and had flown down there, and but now he needed his car so they were looking for someone who would be willing to drive it there and she would pay all the expenses.  I was extremely excited about this, as it was an opportunity to go on a road trip for free.  I asked Sue if she would be interested in going with me, the plan being that one of us would drive my car and the other drive the real estate agent's car to Reston, then we return home in my car.  She jumped at the chance as well, and we both got approval to take two vacation days.  The plan was to leave on Friday night after work on June 7th and hit the road, and be back in time for work on Wednesday, June 12th.  It didn't quite go as planned....we got delayed at the border which put us behind schedule, we got lost too many times to count, and I lost my purse and had a meltdown which also put us behind schedule.  So we had to call and request another day off.  We got it, but they weren't too happy about it.

The first delay at the border was not having proper papers to bring the car into the United States.  We had no idea we needed this, nor did the real estate agent I guess.  Anyway, they weren't letting us go any further without the papers so we had to wait while the real estate agent and her husband took care of the documents via fax machine.  While we were waiting, I recall a couple of hunters getting stopped for having an illegal black bear in their truck.  They were Canadians hunting in the USA, and I guess they didn't have the proper permits for bring the bear back into Canada.  Anyway, after a 2-3 hour delay, we were finally on our way.

Somewhere around Pennsylvania, we got separated from each other.  Panic started to set in.  We didn't have cell phones or GPS's back then.  So I didn't know what else to do but stop and sit there, hoping she would come along.  After 15 minutes or so, there was still no sign of her.  Apparently when we got separated she decided to park too, and wait for me to come along.  So here are each of us sitting waiting for the other and no one is moving. lol  Finally she decided to drive, knowing that I was in the lead at some point and should be ahead of her.  After a short distance she saw me parked up ahead and we were reunited.  Phew!  Nerves were shot there for a bit.  So onward we go.

At some point along the way we decided to stay at a cheap hotel.  I can't remember where exactly it was, but we found this little motel and we got $20 off the price because the TV was broken.  I think the total cost was around $50.00 for the night.  Sue said I was talking in my sleep and at one point I sat straight up in bed and barked at her about the temperature in the room. lol

One memory that is burned in my brain from this trip is a song that was being played on every country station we listened to, no matter what state:  David Lee Murphy's "Dust on the Bottle."

I remember driving through Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and so wished we had time to stop there.  I would have loved to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield Museum and Amish Country.  As we were driving through here, we passed an Amish man driving a horse and cart down the road - that was pretty cool.  The Amish have a market where they sell crafts, furniture and farm goods, and there are supposed to be some interesting sights there.  Someday I would love to take this trip again and see all the sights I missed the first time.

So we finally make it Reston, and following the directions I had on a piece of paper found the man's house.  He lived in a neighbourhood where every street had a bunch of townhouses that all looked the same.  Anyway, we delivered the car, he gave us a few extra bucks for gas, and then we were on our way.  We now planned to do some sight-seeing, and one of the places I really wanted to go was Washington DC.  So we left, and after driving for about 15 minutes I realized I forgot my purse at the man's house.  Then I realized the directions back to his house were in the damn purse!!!!  Like I said, everything in this neighbourhood looked the same so we were having major difficulties finding it again.  Sue was trying to give me suggestions and help me find the place but I was having a complete meltdown and kept shouting at her and being a total asshole. lol  Finally, we did find the place and got my purse back.  Now we can start being tourists since the "job" was complete.

Monday, June 10, 1996

First stop, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.  The U.S. Capitol Building was built in 1793.

Washington DC is a beautiful city with beautiful architecture, monuments and statues.  The one below is a memorial to President James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States.  He was elected in 1880 and assassinated in 1881 after serving only four months of his term, by a disgruntled office-seeker named Charles Guiteau.

The statues below are Civil War battle statues.  They have incredible detail.  The one pictured below is of an Artillery group.  The statue was completed in 1912.

Same statue, different angle.  The Reflecting Pool is in the background.

This next statue is a cavalry group depicting a colour squad consisting of seven Cavalrymen charging into battle. This statue was completed in 1916.

The next statue is of Ulysses S. Grant on his war horse Cincinnati. Grant is flanked, on either side, by Union Artillery and Cavalry groups in action (as seen in the above close-up pics).  Grant was the 18th President of the United States.  Before his presidency, he was a career soldier and fought a series of battles during the Civil War, and was promoted to Major General.  He died of throat cancer at age 63.  The memorial was begun in 1902 but not completed until 1921.

Close-up view of the statue of Ulysses S. Grant.

Below is a statue of General Robert E. Lee, an American career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War.

This isn't a very good picture but the only one I have of the Washington Monument. It was built in 1848 (completed in 1885) to commemorate the first American president, General George Washington.

The military jogging through the park.

Had to pose for a pic with some sailors in their nice uniforms! lol

One cannot go to Washington DC without paying a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The White House was built between 1792 and 1800.  It is the oldest public building in Washington DC and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800.  It was burned by the British in 1814 during The War of 1812 and rebuilt.

Some demonstrators across the street from the White House.

The north entrance of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Closer view of the Treasury Department.  The statue is of Albert Gallatin, the fourth Secretary of the Treasury.

Below is the Supreme Court building.

 U.S. Botanical Gardens.

National Gallery of Art.

Crestar Bank Building (now Suntrust).

So after "quick" tour around DC which we did on foot, our feet were full of blisters so we headed back to the car.  Next we planned to visit Arlington National Cemetery, but we were pretty concerned about our feet.  We had blisters on top of blisters.  We did hear that there were shuttles that take you around the cemetery so that sounded promising.

Below is the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.  It was dedicated on May 15, 1920.

Rows and rows of grave markers for fallen soldiers.

Below is the grave-site of President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline and two of their children.  The eternal flame was lit during his funeral on Nov. 25, 1963 and has remained lit ever since.  On May 23, 1994, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was buried next to President Kennedy.

Even though we took the shuttle, we still did some walking around the cemetery.  Our feet were blistered beyond belief.  We had to take our shoes off to relieve the pain.  However we learned an embarrassing lesson from this.  Two cemetery workers balled Sue out severely for having bare feet at JFK's grave saying she was being disrespectful.  For some reason they didn't see me (thank God) but I got my shoes on in a hurry despite excruciating pain.  We certainly did not mean to be disrespectful, we were just trying to alleviate our blistered and swollen feet.  Below is a pic of me, just before Sue got balled out.

After sight-seeing we hit the road for home, and the plan was to drive all night.  At the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border, I think we  took an exit to get something to eat, and then couldn't find our way back to the highway.  We ended up in a little town called Bordertown.  We pulled up to a store to ask for directions, but there were a couple of seedy characters in the parking lot and neither of us wanted to get out of the car.  Then, one of them came over to the car and I put the window down just a crack so I could talk to him.  He gave us directions and we were on our way again.

We next stopped at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.  It was about 6:30 in the morning, June 11.  We both needed coffee desperately.

Here is Sue sitting in my Dodge Stratus at the beach.

Yay, coffee!

 It was a beautiful morning so we walked down to the beach so we could sit on the sand and drink our coffees there.

A couple of police on horses were patrolling the beach.  What an awesome job they have!

We got some breakfast at McDonalds, then hit the road again.  We took the I-95 all the way to Woodstock, NB - I'm not sure why we didn't take the Airline Route (State Route 9) in Maine which is shorter.  I'm guessing I missed a turn or something because I was tired.

This was taken in Northern Maine:

Once we got to Woodstock, New Brunswick we stayed in a motel there and made it home the next day, June 12.

This was an awesome trip, with a great friend, and great memories!