dreaming of summer: let’s go for a RIDE


above: Hershey Park / Hershey, PA

2013 Summer Roadtrip Recap: Picturing Thrills and Chills

We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning!  Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Months have gone by and summer seems both a distant memory and a longed-for mirage on the other side of this bitterly cold winter. We thought it’d be fun to do some more roadtrip recaps, to capture more of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, and other images from Summer 2013. 

Before and during our big road trip the girls and I enjoyed rides that are faster, louder, steeper, twistier, and a heck of a lot more thrilling than driving around in the B Bus!


Last summer we spent more time than we usually do at amusement parks. I took lots of pictures while they went on LOTS of rides! These are some of our favorite old-time carnival-inspired amusement park photos, from Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire, Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, and a few other tourist spots.IMG_0988

Our favorite ride at Canobie Lake Park: Da Vinci’s Dream. Always best at sunset.IMG_0987 IMG_0991






Old-timey Over the Rainbow.IMG_4663


PHB, GHB, & LHB all contributed to this post


nyc: final 2013 stop for the B bus

We didn’t actually drive the B bus to NY, but it was our last big family adventure of the year — a now-annual holiday visit with many cousins in and around Manhattan and Westchester. Festive meals, busy museum visits, Central Park and the city itself, watching the Pats game, fun movies, plus the New York City Ballet’s gorgeous Nutcracker! Also extra special to see GAP who lives all the way in Oregon!

Lincoln Center



Metropolitan Museum




Heading home on the GO bus – looking back from the Bronx


the B is for… the RED SOX!


Minutes away from the first pitch of Game 1 of the ALCS at Fenway and we are inspired to post some of our best ‘B’ photos. (Or at least some of the ones I can find, since we are mid-transition to our new iMac and the photo stream is sort of out of control right now). There is more excitement in Red Sox Nation now than in any other time since we started blogging. We’re hoping that Sox-tober will get even more exciting in the coming days. Go Sox!!


At Fenway in August

road13 Ohio Turnpike


Seneca Falls, NY

FerryB4 Saco, Maine


the mighty Mississippi


meet the new B (remnants of the 2007 B still stuck to the car)


misty morning in maggie valley


Summer Roadtrip Recap: Maggie Valley, NC

We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning!  Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Now that we’re home, we want to recap some of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, in both words and images, and not necessarily in chronological order.

Maggie Valley is in the heart of the Smokies about an hour west of Asheville, and close to the Oconaluftee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It also boasts the added attraction of Tom’s Stand, a magical mountaintop home on Bear Stump Gap where we were fortunate enough to have a beautiful visit with dear friends I hadn’t seen in literally decades.


The girls were meeting Jane for the first time, and we got to sleep in her incredible art-filled log house, surrounded by flowers, horses, cattle, hummingbirds, friendly Jay Jay the Jack Russell guard dog and — perhaps in the middle of the night — a roving bear or two.

IMG_0604 IMG_0609

The road to the house was shrouded in mist when we headed up off the highway in Maggie Valley near the pancake house, past the family’s Cataloochee Ranch. mail.google

The curving dirt road simply disappeared into the clouds in front of our eyes.

The Odyssey doesn’t have 4WD and this driver was modestly freaked out by the fog-shrouded drop-off at the edge of the steep road. So the B Bus had to spend the night at the ranch.  And Jane picked us up in her intrepid Subaru for our overnight in the clouds. When we pulled up at the big hand-hewn log house with its elven guest cottage across the lawn, LHB’s reaction was priceless: “She lives in a fairy house!”


And so it proved.  The cottage kept appearing and disappearing into and out of the mist like something from Brigadoon.


In spite of the rain that obscured the views, our visit was a joyful highlight of the trip, an evening of wonderful conversation and catching up with Jane, who was one of Emmy’s dearest friends back in NYC days, and son Ames, last seen by me sometime before either of us learned to read. The girls marveled at Jane’s multi-textured rooms brimming with art, photographs, ceramics, and curious objects. LHB took many photographs, including some of these.




When we awoke the next morning steady rain had set in, and we still couldn’t see over to the driveway.


IMG_0626We said goodbye to the hummingbirds and headed down to see the ranch and meet some of the other residents, including cows, horses, turkeys, and the staff and dudes (guests) at the ranch.



LHB hopped in and out of the car to take these great livestock and landscape photos.


We left a quahog from the Cape for Jane’s garden pond — a little piece of New England for her beautiful haven in the Smokies.


It was tempting to stay longer and we could have spent at least a week exploring these beautiful mountains, but we had to pull ourselves away from Cataloochee, bound for Chattanooga!


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parked in the driveway


3,601 miles since our Massachusetts to the Mississippi adventure began, the B Bus is home again tonight. We can’t believe we were only away two weeks — the weeds out in front of the house, along with leggy sunflowers and out-of-control hostas, are giving everything a very Jurassic Park look (this an especially apt comment by friend and neighbor ATC). But in spite of epic amounts of weeding (and laundry) to be done, we are happy to be home. It was an unforgettable road trip loaded with wonderful experiences, places, people, and creatures.  But we’re all a little travel-weary, and glad to have a week to settle in at home before school starts.

I learned a lot from being on the road with GHB and LHB. They are genuine road warriors now, accomplished at navigating everything from Google maps to strange towns, new situations and unfamiliar food choices. It was a great way to mark our milestone birthdays together. We hope to post some more of our stories and pictures in the coming days, but for now we’re enjoying the chance to stop and rest!



Cumberland, MD

sleep in a wigwam: signs along the road

Some of my favorite tourist signs and spots as seen through the windshield of the B bus this week and last.

Cave City, KY


Cherokee, NC

Bryson City, NC

Cave City, KY

Lebanon, PA

rest area on the Music Highway outside Nashville

Muscle Shoals, AL

across alabama but still on the banks of the tennessee

We are poised to see the mighty Mississippi tomorrow, which will be the westernmost point on our journey. Today we hit our southernmost points during our drive along “blue highway” 72 across most of northern Alabama. For 8 miles right outside Chattanooga we were actually in Georgia, and then we were also in the northeast corner of Mississippi for a while this afternoon before turning north to stop for the night at Pickwick Landing State Park right over the state line in Tennessee, and also along the Tennessee River.

It rained for most of our driving time and at one point we veered off of 72; my course correction involved traveling south down AL 101 and over the WPA Wheeler Dam built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1936. It was deserted and eerie in the pouring rain – like stepping back in time.

More history at Shiloh, TN where we arrived at the national park battlefield site close to closing time and saw the giant flag lowered.

More eerily deserted landscape, this one memorializing one of the US Civil War’s most infamously bloody battles with soldiers from both sides buried in mass graves.

Without intending to, we’ve developed a Civil War thread for this trip, in part perhaps because we hear this may be part of 5th grade social studies.

Sort of an anticlimactic and quiet day of driving and roadside vistas after coming down out of the Smokies and the thrilling visit to the Tennessee Aquarium yesterday. We’re still on the river, here tonight at the Pickwick Landing Inn in Pickwick Dam.
More off-interstate driving tomorrow, and we will see the big big river!

Highway 22 southeast of Shiloh.


crossing the hudson



Today we will leave Hershey, PA and cross two more of America’s major rivers: the Chesapeake and the Potomac. LHB snapped this on Sunday (with a little instagram magic). The mighty Hudson is so wide where 287 crosses via the Tappan Zee Bridge. We all get excited about crossings. Even familiar ones like the Sagamore Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal can be cause for a flurry of out-the-moving-car-window photography in the back seats. And then we get to see what’s on the other side!


from the top of the ferris wheel


posted by GHB

Hershey Park sure does look exciting from way up high! Me and PHB went on a ride to look above Hershey park, the ferris wheel!!! This is a picture i took from almost the top of the ride. Sadly PHB’s fear of heights got the better of her and she mostly stared at the bottom of the car. LHB sat this one out viewing from the bottom. I thought it was awesome to see the park from above. Later in the ride all the lights turned on. Sadly the lights on the ferris wheel seemed to be broken and were pretty disappointing.


PHB snapped this picture of a ride called the Flying Falcons, while we were riding.  The base turns around, the cars spin, all the groups of cars spin, and you go up and down the post. Just like the Comet, this is one of the rides that I had to coax LHB to go on. PHB calls me the Thrill Seeker.


The third ride we went on was the Comet, a roller coaster that went on many steep hills. Like a lot of rides LHB had to be persuaded to get on. But after, she ended up liking 95% of them. The line was long but it was worth it — the coaster goes up then down a steep hill then loops around, goes up another BIG hill but not as steep as the first one, then it goes on a series of smaller hills that are really bumpy. It looped around, one more big hill, then takes you back. PHB luckily snapped this picture of us as we were going up one of the larger hills. We are in the 3rd row from the bottom!


This is a picture of a ride called the Lightning Racers, from the top of the ferris wheel.  I went on this roller coaster 3 times, including once after dark, with the lights on! LHB went on it twice with me, both times during the day.  The cool thing about this ride is that there are two cars and two side by side tracks, like twins, ha ha! It’s basically a race between the two cars – one is red and one is green. The red one turns you on your side a lot and the green one has a lot more hills. In my opinion, the green one is programmed to win the race every time.

skeeballHershey Park was so awesome.  I’m glad I got to go there! On our way out of the park we picked up some skeeball prizes. LHB and I got small stuffed giraffes, and PHB got a stuffed Hershey Kiss!  After that we took the shuttle bus back to the Hershey Lodge and collapsed.


lightning racer