Hello again friends and family! This week we’re actually writing you from the road – as in, we’re sitting in the cockpit going down I-95 South through Virginia, North Carolina and into South Carolina where we’ll put Bertha in park at a (hopefully) quiet Walmart. It’s a big driving week as we end our time with Jim’s family in Maryland and head to see more of his family in Florida by Friday (they really are spread out everywhere!).
It’s been another very full week since we left you last from New Jersey after a day of fun at Six Flags Great Adventure. Also, we owed you a picture of our new curtains last week and here they are! We love our home!
We spent last Monday driving to Philadelphia, PA and getting our Bertha chores done before settling in for the evening. On Tuesday, we drove Bertha through downtown Philly…not a great idea! The streets are very narrow and there was so much traffic, but Jim handled it like a pro. We actually found a bike shop in the city where Jim wanted to take his bike to get its brakes bled, so we dropped the bike at the shop and found a parking spot for Bertha just outside the city. Once she was secure, we walked into the city for a bit of exploring. We had actually been meaning to get new running shoes for a while, so our first couple of stops were to try on different shoes (a weird thing to spend our sightseeing time doing). Some of the shops were great and really helpful, but they didn’t have the sizes/colors we wanted. We both settled on the new ON Cloud shoes (thanks for the tip, Dayna!) and ended up ordering them online. Now we’re shoe twins. Anyway…a stop in Philly wouldn’t be complete without a cheesesteak, so of course we stopped to eat. Jim ordered his with the traditional Cheese Whiz, which Heather had zero interest in trying, and then piled them both high with peppers and onions – YUM! From there, we started walking toward the Liberty Bell, with a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts (don’t judge us, they’re everywhere out here!). We arrived at the Liberty Bell, looked around the outside at some historical plaques they had set up, and then walked over to enter the building where the bell is housed. Only to discover that it closes at 5:00. It was 4:56. We were soooo bummed, we had no idea it closed at 5:00 and we would have made it if not for the donut stop or the lollygagging. So instead, we just got to see it from the outside along with a few other amateur time-managing tourists. We then walked back, picked up Jim’s bike, and headed back to Bertha. We stopped to dump our tanks then found a quiet spot in a surprisingly small town in Jersey to grocery shop and sleep for the night.
Wednesday morning we woke up early with the goal of getting in Heather’s first century ride (100 miles on a bike)! After a nice hearty breakfast, we prepped the bikes and headed east on a fantastic highway right next to where we had parked. It was probably the best highway we’ve ever ridden on with a huge, well-maintained shoulder and not too much traffic. The highway goes directly to Atlantic City so at 55 miles, we pulled onto the boardwalk where we could smell both the scents of fried foods and the salty ocean air. Neither of us had been to AC before, so we rode down the boardwalk a bit taking in the sights before stopping for a slice of pizza. It was a sunny and surprisingly warm day, making us wish we had swimsuits to jump in the ocean…though the water was super cold so that probably wouldn’t have happened. After refilling our water bottles, we jumped back on the highway to start the journey back. Around mile 80-something Heather was definitely starting to feel a little tired and the legs started to feel heavy. But we kept pedaling and made it back to Bertha about 7 hours later than we had started that morning, just as the sun was setting. 112 miles in the bag, we were feeling pretty good about getting that done before our race in just two weeks (for those unfamiliar, the bike leg for an Ironman triathlon is exactly 112 miles – a nice, unplanned coincidence for today’s ride)!
Thursday morning we woke up and continued the drive south into Maryland. We made it to Annapolis where we stopped to swim 2.4 miles at the local YMCA (not a coincidence this time – this is the full Ironman distance swim) before heading to Jim’s brother’s house. His brother Rylan and his wife Karen live in a beautiful gated community right on the water. We pulled Bertha into the neighborhood and promptly made a wrong turn. The streets are extremely narrow so it took about 20 minutes to turn us back around (Jim is amazing at backing up the trailer in tight spaces) and get us to Rylan and Karen’s. They got us all settled into their nice, big driveway and we headed out to have dinner at their local stomping grounds. They also have a sweet 14 month old, Johnny, who is one of the smiliest babies you’ll ever meet. After dinner, we shared a drink back at the house and let them get to bed earlier, since they still had work the next day.
Friday we got to spend the day with Rylan between his working from home. He showed us around downtown Annapolis where we toured the Naval Academy, had some delicious hot dogs and ice cream, and browsed through some of the local shops. It’s really an awesome little city full of brick buildings and even bricked streets. We’re loving the feeling of New England; it’s so different from the southwest with all the autumnal trees, the historical buildings, and seafood everywhere (we haven’t forgotten that it will start snowing here soon though!). We left downtown, picked up baby Johnny, and headed back to their local stomping grounds for dinner and to meet up with Karen. A couple of their friends, Rick and Emily, came to meet us for dinner as well before the six of us headed to the local community center for a few mean games of darts. For the first game, we randomly selected to be on the same team (newlywed luck!) and actually were in second place for most of it. But the old Scottish guy, who clearly spends a lot of time there, took the win. The night ended up getting pretty late and we headed back to Rylan and Karen’s for a nightcap…that went until 4 in the morning!
Needless to say, we slept in on Saturday morning before eventually dragging ourselves out of bed to make breakfast for our hosts and then saying our goodbyes. Our next destination was only 30 minutes away in the town of Greenbelt, MD, where Jim’s uncle Leonard and 16 year old cousin Drew live. We arrived in the afternoon and promptly headed to the local mall to get Drew a new suit jacket for his homecoming dance that evening. The remainder of the day was spent exploring their beautiful neighborhood and the three boys riding their OneWheels around the lake (it’s like a cross between a hoverboard and a skateboard). Between OneWheeling and some roughhousing, the boys were having a great time catching up. For dinner that night, Leonard cooked us up some steak sous vide style, meaning he cooked the meat in 120 degree water all day then threw it on the grill for just a minute to char it before eating. It was tender and moist and oh-so-flavorful. We sent Drew on his way to homecoming and then the three of us went down to the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival, an incredible display of hundreds of jack-o-lanterns made by the community. They set up a path that winds through the woods in the dark with the carved, candlelit pumpkins as the only light to guide the way. The whole neighborhood is like Mayberry, families growing up together where everyone knows everyone, it’s really great. Drew came home, filled us in on a homecoming full of twerking and crowd surfing, and we called it a night.
Sunday was spent doing much of the same. The three guys roughhousing (only minor injuries were inflicted thankfully), OneWheeling, and YouTubing. We did explore the local farmer’s market, where we walked away with a big bag full of fresh veggies and some freshly roasted, local coffee. We took the OneWheels (Heather on the bicycle) around the lake and over to a secluded road where we rode around for a bit, enjoying the weather and the scenery. After dinner, we settled into the man cave to watch two movies on the 80” big screen projector theater and eventually started into a new Netflix series called Stranger Things (we’re hooked now).
Yesterday, Monday, we spent the morning having breakfast with Leonard before disconnecting Bertha from her beloved shorepower and getting back on the road. We made it as far as Richmond, VA before stopping so Jim could do some work and Heather could go for a run. Our goal is to drive the 900 miles from Maryland to Panama City, FL by this Friday. Panama City is where more of Jim’s family live and it’s also the location of our full Ironman race on November 5th. We want to have some time to get acclimated to the weather and do some tapering so we’re as ready as we can be!
Thanks for reading, next time you hear from us we’ll be all settled into the Sunshine State! Happy Halloween to you all!
Total RV Trip Miles: 10,031 – WE HIT 10,000!!