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Posts Tagged ‘New England’

Believe it or not, this week marks one year since we woke up, put our suitcases and the dog in our cars, and turned our backs on the Rocky Mountains. We arrived in Maryland exactly one year ago today, literally and figuratively in the dark. Twelve months, two states, and two houses later, I still wouldn’t say that we’re totally settled here, but being in our own house seems to have closed the chapter on a year of transition.

I don’t think I anticipated how difficult the first year here would be from a personal standpoint. I knew there would be challenges with fighting traffic, getting lost, finding grocery stores, meeting people, joining a church, and learning my job. But surprisingly, I struggled with feeling like I was wasting my time and lacking purpose in life when we didn’t have any friends or anything we were involved in and just sat around the house looking at real estate listings on the internet all the time. At times, I felt despondent, unmotivated, and a little sad. Bart reminded me that this was not a truthful way to look at this time. It wasn’t time wasted, but it was a season of rest and rejuvenation so we would be ready to begin again with those things when that time came. And, of course, he has been right about that. In due time, things like finding a house, meeting people, and getting involved have fallen into place. We aren’t completely back up to speed, but we’re accelerating in that direction, and it seems like every week we see new opportunities around us.

It never hurts to look back and see that we have actually done a lot in our first year here. You don’t often have such a period free of obligations to explore a new place and have new experiences, so we tried to take advantage of it. Looking back over the last year, here are some of the most notable things we’ve experienced:

  • Visited twelve different states along the Eastern Seaboard and New England. When was the last time I visited twelve states in one year? Probably never.
  • Now that I think about it, we should also include the seven other states we drove through when moving here, and two more we hit on a trip back home in April. That’s an incredible 42% of the United States.
  • Bought a house. This is typically not something you do every day, and given how many months it took us to find this one, it definitely isn’t an insignificant accomplishment.
  • Hosted our first dinner party. That happened this last weekend, in fact.
  • Weathered a presidential inauguration, sequestration, furloughs, shutdowns, and a gubernatorial election in a state where we missed the voter registration deadline by two days. And there have been numerous other little quirks we’ve experienced living in Federal City.
  • Had seventeen separate house guests stay with us, some multiple times. I can think of maybe 10 overnight guests that we had in Colorado the entire eight years I lived there.
  • Waited at the DMV twice. Remind me to never move states or buy a new car or anything else that requires a trip to the DMV ever again.
  • Both of us had jury duty in Montgomery County. And now we’re back at the top of the list in a new one.
  • Driven past or walked on a beach three times. Not something we could accomplish in Colorado or Arkansas.
  • Visited many monuments and museums on a whim that most people have to go on vacation to see.
  • There were also a few things we didn’t do that we expected to do, mostly because finding a house was a real time-sucker for the nicest six months of the year. But we look forward to having time to do these and more now that we’re not in the market for a home. Of course, I hear that home improvement projects take up weekends, too. Good thing we don’t have a list of dozens of things we’d like to do to the house…or something. ;p

  • Go to Gettysburg. I was 100% positive we would do this sometime in our first year, but it never happened. It’s definitely going to, though.
  • Go to Mount Vernon. Granted, we now live about ten miles from it, and we’ve heard it’s awesome during the holidays. I’m motivated to make this happen before the year is out.
  • Go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. We almost did this on our trip to New England over the Fourth of July weekend, but we passed, opting to go during the off season this winter. We like excuses to head to upstate New York.
  • Go to New York City. We ran out of non-house hunting weekends in the summer. Depending on the weather and our travel plans around the holidays and first of the year, this might have to wait until next spring or summer.
  • Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in Shenandoah National Park. This would have been awesome to do three weeks ago, but if you recall, we bought a house three weeks ago. But I hear Shenandoah is beautiful all year round.
  • That’s a quick snapshot of our first year in Washington, DC. I guess we can’t consider ourselves “new” to the area anymore, but I still feel pretty green most of the time. But we’ve still got a lot of living to do here as long as we live here, be in a few years or the rest of our lives. I appreciate your accompanying me on this journey and hope you have enjoyed the blog so far. I intend to keep sharing our adventures with you, both with exploring the DC area and the East Coast as well as fixing up our new house. I hope you’ll continue to join me as we start Year Two in Washington!

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    Today marks eight months since our move to DC. Two thirds of a year now–as usual, I am incredulous at how fast time goes. I feel sort of in the groove here, but other than my job I feel like I haven’t really started making a life here yet. We’re sort of just waiting for…something, I guess. Buying a house and really settling down? Life is good, lest you fret that it’s otherwise. My spirit is just getting antsy.

    In two thirds of a year, I/we have:

    • Made a driving tour of New England.
    • Returned a visit to everyone who’s stayed with us at Hotel Taylor.
    • Complained about the humidity.
    • Gone to the batting cages.
    • Been stalked by a real estate agent we ran into at two different open houses.
    • Taken a furlough day.
    • Experienced an hour-long power outage at work.
    • Experienced a three-hour long power outage at home.
    • Harvested lettuce and Swiss chard from my little pots on the back porch.
    • Taken the dog to a new vet.
    • Exterminate the bugs in our kitchen. Take that, vermin.
    • Visited a beach during the summer time.
    • Finally visited a lighthouse.
    • Updated our 101-in-1001 list to reflect our new situation.

    I/we have yet to:

    • Buy a house.
    • Feel totally settled.
    • Finish crocheting the border of my mitered square blanket.
    • Go to Gettysburg.
    • Plant more lettuce for a second crop.
    • Swim at a beach we’ve visited.
    • Buy any local Maryland produce (we have from places we’ve visited but not here).
    • Make rubbings of some names from the Vietnam Memorial, as requested by a family member.
    • Visited Mount Vernon.
    South Portland Lighthouse, Maine

    South Portland Lighthouse, Maine

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    Bart and I have had a lot of boring grown-up stuff on our minds lately and have not been enjoying life quite as much as we should this summer. Therefore, we abruptly cancelled our (total lack of) plans for the holiday weekend, leveraged a holiday, and got out of town for a much-needed break.

    With five total days between the Fourth holiday, taking leave on Friday, the weekend, and my first furlough day on Monday, we decided to forego nearer destinations on our travel list (Philly, NYC, etc.) and go big with our large chunk of time–a driving tour of New England. We didn’t expect to thoroughly explore every nook and cranny, just see some highlights to get a flavor of the region and mark some more states off our US map.

    Day one, July 4th: We dropped Murphy off at doggie daycare where he was going to have his own little vacay playing with his new friends, then headed north through Pennsylvania on our way to New York State. We took some back roads, making a side trip through Punxsutawney just to say we’d been there (no groundhog sighting, though). We ended up in Niagara Falls for the evening, taking in views from the American side at dusk and waiting until dark for fireworks over the falls. Unfortunately, the fireworks weren’t that impressive from our vantage point, so we left early to beat the crowds on the highway back into Buffalo where we were staying.

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    Day two: We originally planned to head to the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, NY, but we decided it probably deserved more of our time than we would be able to spend in an afternoon. So we saved that for another trip and opted to head back to Niagara with our passports for viewing the falls from the Canadian side (note: if you ever go to the falls, make sure to go to the Canadian side, as it has the best view of both falls).

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    Afterward, we headed upstate to meet our friend Aaron near Oswego, NY. He used to live in Colorado but moved back to his hometown over a year ago; we saw him when he was in DC a few months ago, so we reciprocated the favor while we were in the area. After spending the afternoon together and taking in some local cuisine, Bart and I made it a few more miles up the road before overnighting in Schenectady, NY.

    Day three: We were up early for a drive further upstate through the Adirondacks and into Vermont, where we proceeded to make a food crawl across this small, quaint state. The scenery was some of the best on our trip; from rugged, green lakes and rolling dairy farms.

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    Vermont reminded us a whole lot of Boulder and Colorado: lots of crunchy, granola hippies and mountains (a bit shorter). We stopped at a farmer’s market for some maple cream soda, then drove to Waterbury for a tour of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory (free sample ftw!).

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    We shopped for a local brew for my cohort at work, and headed up the road for a tour at the Cabot creamery, where we saw them make their cheddar cheeses and ate a ton of free samples.

    We also stopped at a sugar house where we learned about making maple syrup. I desperately love maple syrup, and Bart and I seriously have “buy maple syrup in New England” on our travel bucket list, so this was a must-see. While we were there, some random guy started talking to us; before we knew it, he had grabbed a gallon sized jug of maple syrup and said, “I’m going to buy this for you two.” Turns out the guy is from Rockville, too, and he and his wife like to do random acts of kindness for young couples. We were absolutely stunned–a gallon of that stuff is not cheap! We were incredibly grateful and could hardly get over his generous gift.

    After dinner at a local pizza place, we set our sights on New Hampshire that evening. This small state is mountainous and full of ski resorts and moose. We saw one standing in a stream by the road as we drove by but unfortunately didn’t get to stop and take her picture. Given our crunch for time, we only made a drive through the state on our way to Maine that evening, but it was beautiful.

    Our final destination was Portland, ME, where we met up with our friends Nathan and Kenda who moved there not long after we moved to DC. You may recall that they stayed with us on their journey out. They were kind enough to let us crash their apartment for a couple of days.

    Day four: After attending church with Kenda and Nathan, we did some scenic touring of the Maine coastline. We saw a Civil War-era fort on the Kennebunk river, a picturesque lighthouse in south Portland, and many quaint coastal Maine towns. Those of us inclined to seafood (everyone but me :p) enjoyed some fresh catch from a roadside stand. Most importantly, we got to catch up with our friends and share the ups and downs of relocation.

    Day five: We got up early, bid farewell to our friends, and headed home. Nine states and over ten hours later, we made it in time to pick up the dog, but our time constraints required avoiding some more interesting and scenic roadways along the coast and through NYC. I must say that the New Jersey Turnpike is dull as dishwater, but at least we made it home in time. I also have conveniently not added up the amount of cash we spent on tolls this trip. The hemorrhaging of cash was just depressing.

    All in all, we had a great trip. As always, it felt too short, but it was actually a nice length for getting away, having some fun, spending time with each other, and temporarily putting our cares behind us. Now it’s back to the grind, but hopefully more refresh and energetic with good stories to tell.

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