Man, I wish I could go on a vacation right now. I really need it. Don’t we all? I’ve been on some great vacations in my life. In honor of Fun Friday I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite vacation stories ever.
A couple of years ago my friends, Kristine and Molly, and I decided to do a road trip of New England. The plan was for us to hit every New England state within a week. Did we have a game plan? No, not really. We just wanted to drive around and see what there was to see.
So we packed up my little 1993 Saturn and set off from Molly’s house in the middle of the country in Pennsylvania.
Road trips are a lot of fun. I happen to love driving and since we had no schedule we could go wherever we wanted and stop for as long as we felt like. That first day we visited Woodstock, NY. Woodstock is very touristy and over-priced, by the way. Hippies all over the world are probably weeping in their VW busses because of it. We had a good time though, took goofy pictures and visited some really interesting stores. Then we headed on to Massachusetts.
Everything was fine our first day in Mass. We visited Plymouth Plantation, which was really cool, and Plymouth Rock, which was … a rock. I got a cool t-shirt.
The trouble began that evening.
You see, Kristine may be my best friend and we may have a lot of things in common, but we also know exactly how to drive each other crazy. When I get super tired I have a tendency to talk too much. I talk so much, in fact, that by the time I get to the end of the sentence I’ve forgotten what I said at the beginning. Kristine, on the other hand, gets really snarky. She becomes the master of the sharp comment. Most of the time this works out just fine. I start talking and not paying attention to what I’m saying and Kristine makes snide comments about everything I say that I barely hear. We have entertained poor Molly this way on several occasions.
But Boston was different.
I had half an idea what hotel we should stay in, having looked on the internet. Only that hotel was booked by the time we got there. So they sent us to another one in the same chain. Well, that hotel was in a completely skeezy part of town. There was no way I was going to stay there. But Kristine was exhausted and in a really bad mood. We got into the biggest nasty girl fight in the car in the middle of four lanes of traffic without any idea how to turn around. It’s funny in retrospect, but at the time Molly was inches away from witnessing a double homicide.
I knew the area a teensy bit though. Much to Kristine’s distress, I got back on the highway and drove all the way out to Cape Ann where my aunt and uncle live. I knew there were some nice hotels up there. Very nice. We pulled into the Bass Rocks Inn in Gloucester tired, hungry, and ready to scratch each other’s eyes out. I went into the office to ask if they had any vacancies while Molly stayed in the car with Kristine, talking her out of murdering me in my sleep. The good news was that they had a vacancy! The bad news was the price tag. But you know what? At that point I didn’t care. I took the room and went to give my friends the good news.
I love hotels, but I really love the Bass Rocks Inn in Gloucester. Our room had a balcony that looked out over Bass Rocks and the raging sea. It’s the perfect place to sit around and read a book and listen to the waves crash on the rocks. Part of the hotel is an old Victorian mansion that has been converted into rooms and a small restaurant. They make the best blueberry scones in the world. Gloucester and the neighboring town of Rockport have a million things to do. And I have family there.
Part of me wished we could stay there, but after resting for a full day we journeyed on to Bar Harbor, Maine. We had another hotel incident there, only this one involved going to about three or four different places until we found a vacancy. Fortunately, this time Kristine and I weren’t so pissed off at each other. And Project Runway was on that night.
We went on to New Hampshire the next day, visited an old estate called Castle in the Clouds, and had dinner at a truly fantastic restaurant that had canoes on the wall. I had a blueberry martini. I got very fuzzy and nearly fell in my salmon. And we stayed at a really cool little hotel in Center Harbor on Lake Winnipesauke where the rooms felt like dorm rooms and the staff was like your extended family.
There’s something amazing about a sweet hotel on a rambling road trip that makes true friends go from wanting to kill each other one minute to laughing hysterically over SpongeBob Squarepants the next. Just like there’s a whole aspect to friendship that you can only experience when you spend five hours in a car together six days in a row, enduring headaches, mood swings, and breathtaking scenery. We spend a lot of time in our lives guarding ourselves against revealing too much to the people around us, even the ones we call friends. But on a road trip, when you are far from everything you know and trapped in close quarters with your buddies, you learn more about each other than you do every day.
Thankfully Kristine and Molly are still two of my closest friends. We ended up cutting that road trip short by a day because we were just so damned tired by the end. But we met our goal. In six days we drove 2,000 miles and visited New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Without killing each other. I still don’t think I’ve recovered financially from that trip but it remains one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. And like we said at every single place we stopped and stayed, I have got to go back there someday!
So that’s my best vacation story. What’s yours?
[Incidentally, if you want to see all of the photos from that road trip and another New England trip I took with Kristine, they're on my Flickr stream here.]