Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dash Through New England (and more) - The Final Chapter

At this time one year ago, Ranch Boss and I were on our way home from a quick visit to New England and New York.  We hit 8 states on the 5 day adventure, and I was SO excited to share our trip on my blog.  In fact, I ended the second of three planned posts like this:

"Stay tuned...we've still got 2 more days to go!"

And you haven't heard about it since.  Being that I just returned home this week from another east coast trip that's totally worth telling about, the left side of my brain is determined this post still has to happen before I can ramble about the next one.

It's a good thing that "better late than never" is one of my life themes, so here I am a year later, almost like it's on purpose. Sure am glad I saved all those wrinkled up maps and tour books; with their help, I'll tell this little story.  So here goes.  If you need a refresher on the places we've already visited on Days 1-3, here ya go: 
Part 1 and Part 2  


We woke up in the village of Hyannis on Cape Cod on our 4th morning.
Check out this seashore - literally picture perfect. I might add that something monumental
happened on this day: I drank my first cup of coffee EVER. Ranch Boss, who has long
dreamed of the day he would share a morning cup of coffee with his wife, was ecstatic.
And I feel like a grown-up now. :)


Up close, the sandy beach was even better. 
So many perfect seashells in one place.


And it's true...the houses on Cape Cod {one of my favorite American architectural styles} 
look like this in real life.


Being on the east coast makes you feel as if you've stepped into a history book. After leaving Cape Cod, we made the short drive to Newport, Rhode Island and found ourselves looking right at this beautiful old building - the 1739 Old Colony House. The Declaration of Independence was first read from the balcony of this building, 
also the nation's second oldest capitol.


Even the windows are cool.
{Some old window in some old building in Newport, Rhode Island}

What we were about to witness next was the part of the trip that kept Ranch Boss hanging on the previous 3 days when he would have preferred to ship me back home and travel in peace at a MUCH slower pace...

THE NEWPORT MANSIONS

Newport began attracting the nation's wealthiest citizens during the 1800s when they recognized its promise as an ideal vacation spot. Magnificent mansions were built, and today many can be toured. 

These mansions inspired our trip in the first place, and they were better in person than we could have imagined. Add this tour to your bucket list...it is that impressive.


Entry doors of the first house we toured - Rosecliff.
In the early 1900s, the woman who owned this house was known for throwing the best parties in the neighborhood. Her party budget for the 8 weeks of summer vacation spent here was equal to about $3 million today. Can you even imagine being on her guest list??


Just your average ocean view...


The Marble House (seen here from the back yard) - a simple summer cottage - was given to Alva Vanderbilt by her husband William for her 39th birthday.


Marble House from the front.


This is one TINY end of The Breakers, the grandest of all the Newport mansions.
It is 70 rooms of pure awesomeness.

Given more time, we could've spent a few days in Newport, but we managed to cram 5 mansion tours into the afternoon, and hit the road for NYC, traveling across the coastal areas of Massachusetts and Connecticut along the way.


We rolled into the Big Apple late at night, settled into our "slightly-larger-than-a-shoebox" hotel room, and tried to narrow down the list of must-sees for the next day before nodding off. We were amazed to think this view from our window is just a typical view for millions of people. What we see when we look out our windows at home is so incredibly different.


I kicked off the morning of our 5th day with a run in Central Park. 
Sunshine, crunchy fall leaves underfoot...bigger and more beautiful that I could have imagined.
Someone pinch me. :)

After breakfast and coffee (YES...coffee again!), we started wandering the streets and realized in oh, 5 minutes or so, that we weren't going to be able to cover as much ground as we'd hoped. NYC really is that big...people weren't exaggerating. So we followed what I believe is the best advice we were given about the city, and hopped on a double decker bus for a city tour. Those double decker buses are the best thing ever - you ride as long as you like, then get off and walk around whenever you want - and catch the next bus to pick up the tour right where you left off. We saw all the sights we hoped to, and caught the subway back to our starting point, just so we could say we did that, too. :)


This is my fav pic from NYC. 
How on earth people function properly in this sort of chaos is beyond me. 
I stepped out onto the street to snap this, and should probably be thankful that I wasn't run over by one of the many forms of transportation. 
Picture, for a moment, the sounds that match this view. Craziness, right here.


These guys were gracious enough to take our picture at Times Square - 
hopefully they're better cops than they are photographers though. 
I only asked them to re-take the picture twice before deciding that a picture WITH them might be a much better idea.


I also learned who NOT to take a picture with. New York City isn't Disneyland, my friends, and if you stop to take a picture with them (yes...they are on every street corner), expect to pay, or else run away while they chase you down screaming for a tip. Who knew?!?


Safely back on the bus and out of the reach of crazed people in costumes, we saw some cool stuff - like the Rink at Rockefeller Center.


Our final stop -the 911 Memorial.
By far the most sobering part of the trip. 
The emotion that comes with visiting this place in person isn't something you can even prepare for.  And as you stand there, you wish that every American could experience this place. Just an incredibly beautiful tribute to the thousands of precious lives lost on one unspeakably sad day in history.


Just beyond the memorial stands the new World Trade Center - the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere - a symbol of what can rise after destruction. It represents strength and hope to many. What a perfect way to end our NYC tour. 

And just like that...we were back in our car, driving out of the city and on our way to the airport. The dash through New England (and more) was as full a time as it could have been. Was all that a dream, or did it actually happen?



There's one tree at our place that was late in changing color last year, and I noticed it the morning after our return. It was a little tiny reminder of the beauty we had seen on the east coast. And also a reminder that no matter how much we love to visit other places, there is nothing quite as wonderful as coming back home.

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