USA East Coast Road Trip

Lighthouse in North Carolina's Outer Banks

Road Trippin’ East Coast Style…

New York > Washington DC > Williamsburg > Kitty Hawk > Outer Banks > Beaufort > Savannah > Orlando

We arrived in New York on the East Coast after a measly 3 hours sleep the night before. Straight to the tiniest and grungiest AirBnB in the city. After the most bizarre check-in, involving chinchillas, cardboard boxes and sweating our bums off, we went out to hunt for breakfast and to explore the neighbourhood!

New York is awesome! We decided we’d try and see as much as possible, so bought ourselves a ticket to do the tourist bus! Highlights were certainly people watching at Times Square, Central Park, Wall Street and the grand lady herself, The Statue of Liberty, she did not disappoint!

New York line up

We spent an afternoon at Ground Zero which was terribly moving. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as soon as you walk onto the site the atmosphere changes and the world is immediately quieter. It’s simply beautiful what has been created in the tower’s place.

One of the evenings we treated ourselves and watched the Broadway adaptation of Matilda. I was hesitant, with an almost full child cast, I had my doubts. But holly smokes how I was proved wrong!! Those kids were incredible, so much talent at such young ages. They deserve to go far!

Finally, we went to visit the Guggenheim Museum. This has long been a dream of mine! Since high school art class learning about the architecture, I’ve since been a Frank Lloyd Wright fanboy! The Guggenheim is an awesome building. Granted, some silly exhibits that Michael was quite opinionated about and some which we didn’t really understand, but mostly very beautiful.

From New York we bussed our way to Washington DC to say “hey” to Mr Obama. Sadly he wasn’t home (I think he was in Philadelphia at the time). Oh well, while we’re there we might as well make the most of things! Washington has stacks of free museums to wander, I’m not big into museums and American history but it seemed a waste not to do some learning!

The White House - Washington DC

We went to Capitol Hill and saw behind the scenes. Sadly there wasn’t much history being made that day. I made a reluctant Michael walk around the National Portrait Gallery, but in the end I think he ended up enjoying it more than me!! We spent way too much time in the National Museum of Natural Science, but when you’re married to a Design Engineer, needs must!

Washington was ridiculously humid but we had to venture out to see the memorials. The Korean memorial was a winner for me, the looks on those men’s faces is just so real. Also the Lincoln memorial was epic. He sits so grandly on his chair looking over to Capitol Hill.

The only museum we paid for was the Newseum, and I would pay again and again. I found the Newsuem totally fascinating and so well executed. Here they have the huge antenna from the top of the World Trade Centre in all its mangled glory. We watched videos that people had taken on 9/11, and read so many accounts of the day. This place is tough going. I can remember exactly where I was when the towers came down, it’s one of the most poignant memories I have. There is also a large exhibit dedicated to terrorism, car bombing etc. Events that happened and events that were foiled. Really makes you think what assholes there are out there!

Washington was one of my favourite places in America, I’m not sure exactly why, but there was certainly something about the city that made me feel very at home. Perhaps it was the amazing AirBnB hosts we stayed with… I could go on and on about how brilliant this place was. But the jist of it is that the hosts were so interesting and welcoming. We had full use of the kitchen to cook in and… they had a kettle! My god how I miss a kettle and a good cup of tea! They just don’t seem to exist out here. It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the trip if Americans don’t even use kettles!

Capitol Hill - Washington DC

It was now time to road trip down the East Coast! We picked up car and immediately got a ticket for driving in toll lane, dammit! I was ill so Michael did the bulk of the driving down from Washington to Williamsburg, VA. We drove via Wallmart to pick up all of our fishing supplies; this was VERY important to the next part of the trip…

Urgh, our AirBnB in Williamsburg was a complete nightmare. We arrived at the time we said we would, with minimal information provided to us by the host. Only to be greeted by some lady (not the host) who said “you’re late, we’ve cancelled the booking”, oh lovely! Anyway, she invited us into their construction site of a home, with no lights on, to a very basic room upstairs. Then left us! Are we here on our own? Who else is here? What’s the deal, I thought the booking was cancelled?! So many questions…

We found her again and she said it was just her tonight, by this point we’re hearing a man’s voice from the bedroom. (We think it was the real AirBnB host). She told us we weren’t allowed to use the kitchen or washing facilities, despite it being in the profile. Everything about this place felt super dodge. Needless to say we got out of there pronto and stayed at a Motel6!

The next day was much better, we visited Colonial Williamsburg which was great, we wandered around the old town, talking to various actors all dressed up. It’s very impressive how they manage to keep in character! Also very fascinating to learn a little more American history. I’ve had a stinking cold for the last few days so we’ve been moving very slowly around the place!

Onwards to Kitty Hawk, NC and the Wright Brothers Memorial! This is where the Wright Brothers first flew. They had a full scale replica of the first plane in the museum, a nice lady gave a VERY passionate talk and demonstration around it all, moving bits and pieces. She was very intense (it was her last day at the museum). We took a wander up the hill to the monument and checked out the view over the ocean, very nice!

From Kitty Hawk we continued down the Outer Banks. We spent way too much time trying and failing to catch fish, the old boys on the pier beside had super fancy rods and were catching all sorts. Sadly none for Michael!

Michael and his family had spent a couple of years living near Beaufort, so it was mandatory that he show me the sights of his youth! We began our sightseeing trip at Somerset Plantation, home to the Aldridges’ for 2 years! Michael has spoken a lot about his time living in NC and from what I’d gathered, I thought it sounded pretty fancy. But seeing where he used to live, yeah… He’s fancy alright!! This place is epic, with its swimming pool, pier and vast perfect lawns. He certainly had a very privileged 2 years living there!! Naturally we spent a good amount of time here and managed to squeeze in a little fishing off the pier, for old times’ sake! We took a flying visit past his old schools and various other haunts. Nothing compares to Somerset Plantation though…. fancy pants.

Beaufort is a really beautiful place to hang out with its waterfront restaurants and quaint gift shops. We spent a morning swimming over to Carrot Island to find the wild horses. Lots of afternoons fishing from the pier. Probably our most successful fishing of the trip! On our final day we treated ourselves to a Jet Ski hire, and bombed about racing in the ocean! The nice rental man had been casting a net that morning and caught way more shrimp than he needed. He very kindly gave us some, and they were the best shrimpers I’ve ever tasted!

On our drive down to Georgia we stopped off at USS North Carolina, a WWII battleship. She’s epic! There is certainly something about war machines that I’m drawn to, mainly fighter jets, but this ship was pretty awesome too! We were able to go really far down into the ship, through missile rooms and all sorts. Very impressed how accessible it all was to the public. Also, how damn claustrophobic it was! Goodness, I wouldn’t like to be stuck in there for a long time.

After what felt like forever in the car, we finally made it to Orlando and to the theme park leg of the trip! We were going to do all of Disney and Universal! First up, Magic Kingdom! Honestly, it didn’t feel as magic as I was hoping for. Lots of people EVERYWHERE, lots of queuing, so much humidity. I think the way to do Magic Kingdom is certainly with young kids!

Typhoon Lagoon was recommended to us over Blizzard Beach over and over again, so we went with it. It was pretty decent, we got there early, had our watery fun and were done by lunch! We thought we might as well make a day of it so we took an Uber over to Blizzard Beach. THIS is where the fun’s at! Blizzard Beach is way more fun, the slides are so much more daring and speedy! Exactly what we wanted from a water park! About an hour into our time there a huge thunder storm closed the park. The park cleared but we stuck around in the hope it would pass over and we’d have free rein! Our gamble paid off and we had the last hour with the park pretty much completely to ourselves. #winning.

Michael at Typhoon Lagoon

Disney Hollywood was just a big let-down. There’s a ton of refurbishment going on this year. Note: Avoid Hollywood until it’s finished in 2017!!

Epcot was one of the better Disney parks we thought. Although, we did a horrible space/astronaut themed ride just after breakfast. I have never felt so disgustingly ill from a ride, ever. I spent the entire duration with a sick bag to my face. Yuck yuck yuck! Once I felt more human we managed to enjoy the rest of the park, thankfully! It was super fun and interactive. So much tasty food from around the world, we were spoilt for choice at lunch!

Animal Kingdom was a good park to end on! The park was heaving with people but we still managed to get everything done and have a brilliant time zigzagging from one side to the other! I’ve defiantly got my theme park fix this week. Hopefully this will keep us going for a while!

Universal Studios is stacks of fun!! The staff here are so much friendlier than at Disney, it makes a big difference! We spent 2 full days over the 2 parks, pure Universal goodness. Darting from one roller coaster to the next. I’ll admit, I got in a bit of a grump after doing some of the water rides… I wasn’t expecting to get QUITE so wet, and wearing denim shorts was a bad choice that morning. Sorry Michael!

We treated ourselves to a Halloween ticket! I’m so pleased we managed to get tickets to the Halloween night, I’d been hoping to take part in some Halloween festivities! We tried to have a slower morning knowing we had a long day ahead. Thankfully we got the park for opening, this seems to be the best trick! We got all the good rides done by midday, the rest by about 2pm. So we took the afternoon super easy and went to the cinema. Had the cinema to ourselves watching ‘Don’t Breathe‘ in the hope it would give us a pre-Halloween scare.

Halloween night was the best night ever! So much bloody fun. I honestly can’t remember how many times I PROPERLY screamed, it was exactly the genuine fear I was hoping for from a Halloween night! Gave Michael a lot of laughs watching me shriek and cower! The absolute highlights were The Chainsaw Masacre, Kramps Christmas and The Walking Dead. Oh boy, the fear comes back just thinking about it!

Adios America, you’ve been an experience! Onwards and further south to Mexico and the beginnings of our 8.5 weeks in Central America…

Washington Monument - Washington DC

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