Alara was four months old and I returned back to work. My in-laws were visiting from Turkey and were staying with us. It was a tremendous help since we bought a new house, had to pack and move with a newborn, and had to eventually transition Alara to daycare, which of course is expensive.
It was October 2013, fall had settled in New England which is always beautiful, particularly with the foliage. I had been working for about a month after being on maternity leave for three months, but I still had some vacation time to use up and the weather forecast was supposed to be summer-like temperatures. My in-laws would be leaving in a few weeks and with a new baby and moving into a new house, we realized we were stuck in the house for way too long. So what to do? Road trip! Alara was at the perfect age that we had a good, yet flexible, routine going. We knew her feeding and napping times, and she would generally be content as long as she was fed and had slept. She went through a stage where she absolutely hated the car seat, but after getting her used to it and adding her favorite puppy car seat strap cover buddies, she eventually grew fine with it.
Here she is ready to go with said buddies.
We decided to just pack up and go. My in-laws had never seen Washington D.C. and we had never been to the Amish Country in Lancaster, PA, so we thought visiting both places would be a good idea. We would have to drive through NYC, so we obviously had to stop there as well. Since we were taking the car, I packed as much baby stuff that I could get my hands on… formula, bottles, pacifiers, clothes, diapers, baby wipes, blankets, towels, toys, stroller, baby carrier, and the pack and play, of course. My diaper bag was about to explode and apparently I thought pharmacies did not exist anywhere else in the country.
I was so prepared for the baby that I had forgot to prepare for the trip! We didn’t have any hotel reservations or any real itinerary, just a general idea of what we wanted to see and our smart phones (don’t forget the chargers!). Thank goodness for the Orbitz and Trip Advisor apps. We took off first thing in the morning and thankfully she slept most of the way there. She woke up when we were just outside NYC and had quite a crying fit but we were able to keep her entertained enough to park the car and start our adventure.
We like parking in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC since it’s a reliable parking lot, reasonable prices and pretty close to all the tourist attractions. This is our usual “try to see everything in one day” NYC routine:
– Times Square
– Fifth Avenue (Shopping and Empire State Building)
– Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock)/Radio City Music Hall
– St. Patrick’s Cathedral
– Central Park (usually just walk through the lower part)
– One Trade Center/ 9-11 Memorial (usually take the train there)
– Battery Park
– Staten Island ferry for a free trip by the Statue of Liberty and a nice view of the city
– Brooklyn Bridge (usually walk about halfway through)
This generally consists of A LOT of walking and is obviously a very short list of what there is to see in NYC in general. I’d love to go back and see the High Line and visit the Museum of Modern Art since my favorite painting (Starry Night) is there. Alara did pretty well and enjoyed exploring that day.
Here she is enjoying Times Square with the family.
And taking a feeding break. She was so overwelmed with her surroundings, she could hardly focus on eating!
She’s not the type of baby to just randomly fall asleep when she’s tired, especially in public. Falling asleep has always been a struggle with her. Nonetheless, even with NYC being as bright and loud as it was, she did manage to fall asleep as I was walking with her, rocking her to sleep. I stayed with her in a quiet restaurant (I may have ordered a drink or two) while she was asleep in her stroller and the rest of the family was enjoying the views from the Empire State Building.
Our NYC day trip was coming to an end. We checked our handy dandy phone apps and saw that hotels in Atlantic City were dirt cheap since it was the off season. So we were off on a 2+ hour drive to AC. But first, we had to stop at the Liberty State Park in NJ to enjoy the city view.
We arrived in AC and Alara’s first hotel experience was at the Resorts Casino Hotel. While it was one of the cheapest boardwalk hotels that night, it is also the oldest casino in Atlantic City. In fact, it was the first legal casino built outside of Nevada in the U.S. when it opened in 1978. So I’d like to think that Alara’s first hotel stay was a cultured experience.
We stayed in AC briefly in the morning, but didn’t stay long since most of the boardwalk was quiet and we are not very big on gambling. We did enjoy a nice walk with beautiful summer-like weather on the boardwalk and got to put our toes in the sand.
Well, she just looks thrilled, doesn’t she?
We drove on to the Amish Country in PA, driving through Philadelphia. Now, I absolutely love Philly and could have easily spent a day there but we just didn’t have time. Looking back on this trip, I would have much rather stayed in Philly since going to AC added at least an additional hour to our trip. We did, however, stop at a Golden Corral which was pretty amazing. We first discovered this miraculous buffet when we visited Florida and had the most delicious steak tips we’ve ever tasted. We’ve never really quite enjoyed our food there as much as we did the first time, but it’s always a great time eating there. Lunch buffet runs about $8-9 per person, kids under 3 eat free and don’t forget to ask for a senior discount for grandparents! There’s really none close to us, so we always take advantage and eat there anytime we head south.
We arrived in Lancaster County and enjoyed driving through the flat, picturesque farmlands. We stopped at a local farmstand and admired the more simple lifestyle that the community had to offer.
We particularly thought this was interesting… Turks Turbens. Like, turban? First of all, it’s spelled wrong. Second of all, turbans aren’t prominent in Turkey. Oh well, never heard of this squash before, so it was interesting to see.
We didn’t end up spending too much time in the Amish country. I’d like to come back, maybe take a tour or buggy ride and learn more about their lifestyle. Perhaps when Alara is old enough to enjoy it.
I know I shouldn’t take their photo, but how could we resist? I did make sure their faces are unrecognizable in hopes to not disrespect their lifestyle.
After staying in PA for the night, we were off to Washington DC the next morning!
We had been to DC before but it was the middle of winter and there was snow was on the ground, so we were excited to see it during a warmer season. One problem with this… it was during the government shutdown! How dare the government not approve legislation appropriating funds for the next fiscal year while we were on our way to our country’s capital …Or more like poor planning on our end. Well, we couldn’t go inside the museums or anything, but we still enjoyed walking around the National Park and seeing the White House.
Lincoln Memorial in the background and National WWII Memorial off to the right.
Washington Monument that was undergoing construction due to earthquake damage, but of course the construction was on pause due to the shutdown!
And of course, the White House.
Aaaand a feeding break in front of the White House. I also changed her diaper on a park bench right in front of the house. Sorry, Mr. President!
Washington DC is such a great city and the National Mall is very walkable with everything you need to see right there. Of course, if you spend time in the museums you definitely need at least a weekend to see everything. It’s also worth the drive over the bridge to see the Arlington National Cemetery.
With that, our sightseeing for the trip had ended. We stayed at a great hotel right in downtown DC, thanks M.Babes for the hookup! That day walking around DC was hot, about mid-80s. In October! Right before giving Alara a bath that night, I was playing around with her and calling her a sweaty, stinky baby. She must have thought it was funny (and true?) because I would get a full belly laugh every time I said it. The first time she ever laughed… it was adorable!
We spent the majority of the next day driving home while taking breaks every once in a while. We’d try to stop at shopping centers to take a break and keep us entertained, then head back in the car when it was nap time for Alara. We also enjoyed a nice family dinner at a Red Lobster (closest one from us being in CT, almost 2 hours away).
Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits… YUM! The store bought version is just not the same…. sigh.