After three very long and wonderful, family-filled weeks, we are back in Florida for a brief moment. Much of October was spent preparing ourselves for The Mini-Trip within our Big Ol’ Trip where we met up with both of our families after seven months of being apart from them. It was very mushy and lovey and cute but I’ll spare you all of those little details. So, here’s the story; my big sister is a citizen of Germany where she and her husband and their dear, sweet, precious baby live. Every couple of years we do everything in our power to either get over there to see her or get her over here to see us. Well, the time had finally come again and she was coming back to the States for a visit!
Plans were made and flights were booked in August which, if your current living situation is like ours, planning for those things can be a bit difficult. Trying to plan out where you will be two months in advance is nothing short of impossible if you don’t have any solid plans or timelines for when you will be in the next state. We figured we would set our departure in Florida and just make a mad dash down the east coast in order to be there in time for our flights. As it turns out, it didn’t take us very long to travel down the coast and we ended up in Florida three weeks before our flight out. I guess that’s better than missing our flight though!
Once our three week stint in Florida was completed, we hopped on a plane (JetBlue is bae, by the way) and flew back up the coast to where we would be meeting up with my family.
There was a good hour of time between when the plane landed and when we actually got to where my family was waiting where I didn’t stop smiling. Being able to be with my sisters again as well as getting to meet my niece/ goddaughter for the first time had me more excited than I have ever been. And let me tell you, my niece is the cutest damn baby in the world.
We spent a week visiting with my family in Connecticut, passing the baby around to aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even GREAT grandparents. Everything had been planned to my mother’s specifications, meaning we were having breakfast with one family member, lunch with a different family member, and dinner with friends of my parents. It was exhausting but I will admit, the woman is efficient with her time.
During our small slivers of downtime we took to exploring. We visited a few of the places my parents hung around when they were kids, including a fishing dock and a very calm beach that was covered in little treasures that we collected as we walked up and down the shores. I also took some time to myself to wander around my old hometown and get some photos. It was the first time in maybe sixteen years that I was able to see the fall foliage and I enjoyed every minute of it. I also may or may not have taken a few hundred pictures of it. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as fall in New England, although I may be a little biased.
It also just so happened that we ended up in New England for Halloween, giving us the perfect excuse to go to the Halloween-iest Halloween town in America.
My mom had been talking about this day for months. Seeing as we are among the “witchy types” of folk, having the opportunity to spend the most sacred of days in the most spooky of places was a dream come true. It definitely lived up to our expectations, too! Everywhere you looked there were people dressed to the nines in creepy attire. You couldn’t go five minutes without seeing a witch or some sort of clever pop culture reference (we had encounters with Rick and Morty, Bob Ross’, and Pennywise). Seeing as the town is practically in a constant state of supernatural wonder, it felt like we had walked right in to Halloween Town.
After a few quick pictures with the Bewitched in Salem statue on Essex Street, we did what any tourist would do and got in line for the Witch Trial Museum! It was honestly a bit underwhelming and definitely outdated but if you don’t know Salem’s history and you weren’t forced to read The Crucible in high school then it’s definitely worth a visit. Though I think if you’re going there on Halloween your money would be better spent enjoying one of the various ghost tours that the city has available.
Outside of that, we spent a lot of time just roaming the city and taking in all that it had to offer. At one point we also found ourselves in yet another historical cemetery that housed the victims of the Witch Trials as well as a memorial for them. My mother and I were like kids in a candy store as we ran from metaphysical store to metaphysical store and tried to locate some of Salem’s famous witches. There was something fun and exciting to see around every corner; from street performers to interactive Halloween displays.
There were a few times that we actually ran into religious zealots who were protesting Halloween and Salem but, to our amusement, they were being met by all kinds of unique characters who were ready to knock them down a few notches. My favorites had been the Satanic Temple members handing out pamphlets in front of them and an Indiana Jones who held a sign behind them saying “Sorry there guys are being so rude and offensive”. It was my first time really being around the really crazy religious types so it was nice to see them get what was coming to them. I mean, who do they think they were really getting through to? You can’t talk down on Halloween and Salem on Halloween in Salem. No one is going to take you seriously.
The entire day was amazing and we enjoyed it to it’s fullest, staying out well into the night. We spent that night near the city and left early the next morning to our second Massachusetts destination.
Man, I am getting so good at spelling Massachusetts without needing to look it up. So, as per our German tourists’ requests, we found ourselves in Boston again on our way back to Connecticut. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was so thrilled to be back. Boston was quick to become one of my favorite places after our first visit, despite the fact that I had gotten sick there. Eli and I quickly became the family tour guides as we ushered everyone around the Freedom Trail and showed them all of our favorite spots that we had discovered in the not-so-distant past. It was also very satisfying for me to prove to my family that I am able to navigate effectively without getting lost. Sometimes.
We took brief looks at the historic buildings that litter the city and spent some time enjoying Faneuil Hall, the Boston Commons, the Granary Burial Grounds, and Quincy Market. It was pretty fun to watch our German companions enjoy all of the history and beauty of the city and after seeing how many pictures and videos they were taking, I felt slightly better about my own very obvious displays of tourist-y behavior. They clearly enjoyed themselves which was very exciting to see.
Once we completed our grand tour of Boston, we made our way back to Connecticut where we made some final family visits and celebrated my dad’s 50th birthday with all of our old family friends and family members. Shortly after, we embarked on our next flight back to the land of dry, dreary, and drunk.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Boy, did it feel weird to be home. I think as soon as we got off of the plane the dry desert air had already chapped my lips. I wish I was exaggerating but once we had finished the Mini- Trip and gone back to Florida it only took a day to get my lips unchapped. Another perk from the dryness was the obligatory bloody nose that plagued Eli during our stay. Very fun. Don’t miss the desert.
As soon as we landed we were greeted by our good friends Nick and John who picked us up from the airport and joined us in stuffing our faces with the west coast fast food necessity In-n-Out. Oh, how I have missed that place. We then spent the night with them and a few other friends playing video games and drinking and catching up. It was a perfect welcome back and it felt like we had never really left. We also took some time to catch up with Eli’s family before we had to go back to Las Vegas.
Once back in the city, we made sure to show our Germans a good time and give them the (almost) full Las Vegas experience, which included a trip to Bass Pro Shop, the best of the local cuisine (In-n-Out, Wetzels Pretzels, the Cracked Egg Cafe, and Johnny Rockets), and various trips down to The Strip. We made sure they got to see the Fremont Street Experience music and light show, which the baby really enjoyed, and showed them around a few of the casinos where they got to lose money at blackjack and some of the crazy interior designs of the hotels. My favorite experience though was taking my big sister on the New York New York roller coaster and watching her panic as we ascended to the first drop in the ride. I will never ever forget it. We also did one of the most American things possible and celebrated Thanksgiving early so that the Germans could get the full American November experience. I can’t really complain though, the food was absolutely incredible and I got to spend time with my grandparents, who I have missed dearly.
Tragedy struck us midway through our Las Vegas stay though as a cold slowly took us all out on by one. Eli caught it first while we were frequenting airports. I was stricken down next, followed by my mom, my brother-in-law, the baby (the night before their 12+ hour flight home), my sister, my dad, and my uncle. We tried our best to prevent it as those who had been infected were isolated and those who hadn’t yet gotten it inhaled vitamin C but it was to no avail. It was a nasty illness but luckily it only lasted a few days.
At one point, Eli’s brother arrived in Nevada for some visiting so there were a few days that Eli and I were apart. He spent time with his family going shooting out in the desert and watching movies with his brother while I stayed with my sister and her family until they left. The last night that they were here was utter chaos and panic once the baby started showing signs of the cold that had been floating around the house. It was a very sad time for everyone and early the next morning we all fought back tears as we made our way to the airport. As usual, saying goodbye to my big sister was like pulling my own heart out. We were all bawling by the time we had to say our goodbyes. It sucked. Here’s a little tip, try not to live on a different continent from your favorite people. It’s really hard to deal with.
Once they had left, I made my way out to Eli to spend the remainder of my Nevada time with him and his family as well as our friends. As per the usual, we brushed up on our shooting skills out in the desert and I’m proud to say that I’m a good shot! I hit some pretty tiny targets from a pretty far distance. We also spent some time getting absolutely schooled in billiards by Eli’s grandpa and brother. I thought it was pretty fun but Eli got a little salty by the end after losing nine consecutive games. Practice will ensue, I’m sure, so that we have a fighting chance at the next family get-together. Other than that, there were a lot of very enjoyable family meals and movies. To top off The Mini-Trip, we spent our final day with friends and went to see the new Justice League movie (which was awesome. I love the Flash that much more now that he has been portrayed by Ezra Miller). Goodbyes were passed around the group shortly after, we wished Eli’s brother safe travels and we boarded a plane back to our van-house.
For those of you who don’t know, Frontier Airlines is trash and can’t be trusted. We took a five hour red-eye flight back to Florida and it was filled with crying babies, extremely uncomfortable seats, and miniature versions of your typical leg room and tray tables. -1/10, would not recommend. We battled between comfort and sleep and landed early the next morning in Florida. A coworker of Eli’s was kind enough to pick us up from the airport and bring us back to his house to sleep and shower and play with his cats, which made up for the crappy flight. The week of Thanksgiving was spent in Florida catching up on some missed work and dealing with an ant infestation that had taken place in the van while we were away. Thanksgiving itself was spent relaxing, catching up on blog posts, and watching Batman Beyond. The next day we were off again, back on the road towards more grand adventures. As of right now, we are three quarters of the way done with the trip! Now, we make our way across the southern portion of America. Despite our very tiring Mini-Trip, van ants, and a bad flight, we are now well rested, ant free, and more ready than ever to keep driving so everything is fine!