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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Roadtrip to New Hampshire (a long post but meaningful to me)

When Scot told me that his cousin Chad had passed away, it was never even a question in my mind whether or not I would attend the funeral in New Hampshire. I feel a bond with his aunt and uncle like I do with my own mom and she has a special place in my heart and always will. The only doubt I had was whether or not we should bring Ryder and how he would behave on such a long trip. After talking with Scots parents we were convinced that Ryder would bring relief and prove as a distraction onto an otherwise sad situation.

We started our road trip bright and early at 1:45am. Well, it wasn't so bright but it sure was early! Luckily Ryder didn't even awake as we loaded him into his carseat. We wanted to make as best of timing with traffic in the big cities as we could, and to keep Ryder on his schedule as much as possible too, so leaving that early just made sense. I tried taking pictures of each state that we entered but some states were close to impossible to get and some didn't even really have signs posted. Starting our journey out of North Carolina, we first arrived in Virginia but it was too dark to get a picture . Even though it was early we could see there was a lot of snow on the ground This state proved to be one of the longest legs of the trip because it seemed like we were driving forever through the state and had us both wondering when we would reach Maryland!
We finally made it to Maryland after pulling over at a gas station for a power nap. By this point Ryder had oken up too and it was a good time as ever to make a pitt stop for the bathrooms and gas up the car. We also got breakfast: doughnuts from Duncan Doughnuts because Ryder was begging for them since his daddy had apparantly promised them to him the night before and he remembered! With such a sweet innocent voice begging for doughnuts how could we resist?

It started getting light out by this point which helped, so Scot and I switched places driving so I gave him a break from driving for awhile. I started getting nervous driving in an unfamiliar city as we got closer to Baltimore, so we switched after awhile and just in time for the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel! I was excited to take Ryder "under water" for the first time. We kept on driving through Maryland and then into Delaware. Scot and I talked most of the way while Ryder watched his Toy Story 3 DVD in the backseat.

We reminisced about our trip to Delaware a few years ago to see good friends of ours get married in their home state. It was my first time visiting those states back then, and we made a fun roadtrip of it then too, spending a day at Ocean City, MD and then Atlantic City, NJ before reaching the final destination for the wedding in Delaware. It was and still is one of the best trips that Scot and I have taken together and we still talk about the fun we had.
We continued our drive into Pennsylvania and by this point we'd been in the car driving for almost 9 hours. As we were approaching Philadelphia, we saw the stadium for the Eagles and I was able to get a few pictures. It was getting close to lunch time so I googled a good place to have Philly cheesesteaks that would be easy to get to fromm I-95. I'd never had a true philly cheesesteak, so I was excited to try one for the first time! Tony Lukes was one that came highly recommended, so we decided to give it a try.
I grabbed my phone to take the next few pictures with so I didn't look like such a tourist, but we couldn't believe how many cars were parked outside and the line that was already starting to form inside! I was so excited I could hardly wait. We both ordered ours with grilled onions and provolone cheese but Scot wasn't as impressed as he had hoped for. I enjoyed mine, but maybe it would have been better with the Cheez Whiz? It was still a great memory I will always have and can now say that I've tried a true Philly Cheesesteak!

Ryder didn't want to try it although we offererd a few times. He was just a long for the ride! His favorite part was sitting at his very own table and chair all by himself! It started getting more crowded so we finished our sandwiches just in time and then headed back on the road.

Next we saw the water tower with Sesame Street Place and we wished we lived closer so that we could have taken Ryder since he used to watch Sesame Street so much! Sadly I think he is getting older and not wanting to watch it as much, but it looked like such a cool place to take kids.

Next state was New Jersey and immediately I thought of Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives of New Jersey, two of my alltime favorite reality shows! It was almost surreal that we were in the same state. I didn't enjoy New Jersey back when Scot and I visited Atlantic City, but mostly just because I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair and southern accent, and the people weren't very friendly.

Then we saw this "Ryders Lane" sign and thought how funny that Ryder had his own sign! It was fun to pass through all these big North Eastern cities and take in just how big they were and I was glad Ryder was along with us to one day say he'd been too! Of course we had the better end of the deal since we weren't the ones driving, but Scot didn't seem to mind.
It's still so cool to see these big cities on the water and see first hand how big the shipping import and export business in our very own counrty operates as we passed all the ports.
You don't see much of this in North Carolina and Ryder was taking it all in and really loved seeing all the big boats! Then we started seeing the huge skyscrapers and the outline of the city and I knew we had to be near New York City! One word: Wow! It is my dream to one day visit for a few days and take in a show and some of the best food. Pizza, wings, cupcakes, you name it! Sex and the city just doesn't do it justice for the majesty of how big the city is.
Signs for Lincoln Tunnel and driving past the NYPD car I took a quick picture. My first NYPD car! I know- total tourist but I'm so intrigued by these big cities that founded our nation. And these tolls! Another thing you don't see much in North Carolina, and I was again happy that Scot was driving instead of me who would have been so nervous I wouldn't have gotten the exact change ready in time before having to throw it in the bin. From living in Orlando, Scot knew a thing or two about toll roads thank goodness.
Next state: Conneticut! So far we'd been driving smoothly but then we got to Conneticut and the outskirts of New York City and we realized we had gotten into holiday shopping traffic. I will never again complain about the traffic in Charlotte and Mooresville again ha!

We found another rest area as we drove further into Conneticut and Scot and I were both dragging so we knew we needed some caffeine to make it through our last leg of the trip. Ryder was very happy to be out of his carseat and able to stretch those "baby legs" but it was definitely colder and more windy than what we were used to so we made sure to bundle up before heading out. I ordered a cream cheese pastry and Scot wanted to try an Elephant Ear. His proved to be a bit more messy than mine and it was a laugh that we both needed and maybe it was pure exhaustion that made the whole thing so funny, but it got us through the rest of Conneticut and on to our next state.

Massachusetts! By 4 o'clock it was almost completely dark out again which made the time feel more like 8pm! We kept on trudging through the rest of the state, talking most of the way and just ready to get to our last state, New Hampshire. We finally reached New Hampshire around 7 that night and we got checked into our hotel room and unloaded and unpacked everything. After a quick shower, we all felt new again and as refreshed as we were going to get.

Aunt Sandi and Uncle Tobey really wanted to see us once we got settled that night, so once we were all cleaned up, we drove over to see them. Ryder was a joy to have there and we were glad we brought him along to bring some light onto the situation. When they saw Ryder both of their eyes lit up and she told us that our coming to New Hampshire and bringing Ryder meant more to her than we will ever know. It was so sweet that they brought out wooden blocks and some of Chad's old matchbox cars to play with.

Ryder was very taken with his uncle Tobey and played and played. Ryder hugged his Grammy too and she was very happy to have him there and to see him again. We were also excited that Scot's Uncle Wayne (his moms brother) got to meet Ryder in person for the first time. Living so far away makes it hard to see everyone much, so it was a good break from the sadness that was bringing us all together. I think they were very taken with one another and we would love to visit he and our Aunt Teresa in Washington State sometime.

While we were there a few more family members came over to visit and Ryder got to play with a "distant" cousin, 4 year old Jason. He was so cute playing and we were very proud of Ryder for sharing. It made us realize just how well Ryder does with other children and that he needs a sibling :)

I talked with Scots mom while Scot was hanging with "the guys" and Ryder played with his new friend Jason. It was so good to be there for our sweet Aunt and Uncle and just let them know we were there for them.

The next day we picked Scots dad up from the airport and got lunch together before heading back over to see Aunt Sandi and Uncle Tobey. And as usual they were making their jokes and being silly which was good comic relief during the sad situation.

Aunt Sandi and Ryder were very happy to see one another! He was so sweet and gentle with her, as if he knew, and gave sweet hugs to her all night. She told me that he has a special place in her heart, as do they in his. It meant the world to Scot and I that she and uncle Tobey drove twice all the way to NC to come see Ryder since he was born. They just love Scot that much and always have, and wanted to meet their "faux grandson" as we say. Ryder is so blessed to have so many people that love him so dearly.
Coming back to our hotel, Ryder loved playing peek-a-boo with the sheer curtain and especially loved being able to climb up into the window seat all by himsellf! I do believe we are entering the climbing stage of his toddler hood as well as the tantrums. I will say I was so proud of Ryder the entire trip because I prayed to God that we would have safe travels to and from New Hampshire, as well as Ryder behaving and he answered all of those prayers and more!

On our last day at the hotel, we took a few pictures by the Christmas tree that was in the hotel lobby. It was the only reminder that Christmas was near but we were still happy to have had the chance to visit with family. Ryder was such a blessing to have around and he was so excited at the "Ryder pesents" under the tree.

That late afternoon we took Ryder to the playground that Grammy had once taken Scot as a boy and it was sweet to see him play at the same playground he once had. Ryder was very happy about the slide and the rocking horse and we played for awhile until it got too cold outside to bear! We were also getting hungry by this point but wanted to walk around for a bit first to see some of the downtown Rochester that Scot was born and grew up in, and the same town his family is from.

We do have fond memories of visiting New Hampshire a few years ago for the first time together when we came to see Scot's grandparents for an anniversary, but then the following year they both passed, just a few months apart. I attended the funeral for Scots grandfather and we jokingly say that we conceived Ryder during that trip somehow. This past trip we think that we may have even stayed at the same hotel and hotel room which was really funny. We took a few more pictures of the downtown area just as the snow started to fall!
To make the trip full circle, we decided the four (plus Ryder) of us should eat at the same Chinese restaurant we had the time we came to New Hampshire before. So to China Palace we went! We did have a good time and it was nice to have time with Scots parents before meeting back at his aunts house with everyone. We do wish that we could see them more often and living out of state makes it hard but we are trying to figure it all out so they get to see Ryder often too.

It was a fun night and we spent time with Scots family before heading back to our hotel room, packed and ready for getting home to North Carolina! We did sleep a few hours but then decided while Ryder was sleeping to go ahead and head out. The possibility of a big snow shower made us nervous to get stuck in the weather, so what better way to start our journey back home than now. We drove awhile before Ryder woke up, and he was well rested and being a cutie most of the way. We did stop quite a few times like we did on the way there,
but we were very thankful that God had answered prayers for a safe trip!
And a HAPPY baby!

We drove home a different way to avoid most of the big cities and toll roads, making our way through West Virginia and Virginia and their snowy mountain tops! It was very pretty and scenic along our way home and made us get into the Christmas spirit some. With Scot travelling at the beginning of the month, and then having to drive for the funeral in New Hampshire, it was really the furthest thing that either of us had thought of, but it was finally sinking in that Christmas would be here in just a few days! We made it home safely and I had never been so happy to see the NC sign!

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