I’ve been a West Coaster all my life. I won’t say I’ve seen all there is to see, but I know it like anyone knows their home. I’ve driven up and down its beautiful coastline more times than I’ve flown to New York City, which is will be nine this year. However, New York was the only place I’d been on the east coast at all, and as soon as I heard I was visiting Boston, I was excited to change that.
Emily and I left from Indiana at nine o’clock on a Saturday morning, with Syracuse, New York as our destination for the day. Crossing state lines I’d never seen before was thrilling despite the familiar road signs and similar scenery.
Columbus, Ohio was a place I was slated to visit last year before plans fell through. It’s never been a place high on my list (Midwest metro areas tend to blend together), so driving through seemed like an appropriate way to see the city for the first time. I’ve heard it’s home to amazing botanical gardens and a booming German village, both places that sound right up my alley. The only thing I really noticed was the striking art-deco LeVeque Tower as we passed.
Columbus Eats: Mission Coffee | Portia's Cafe | The Suisse Shop
As soon as we crossed into Pennsylvania, the scenery changed from Midwest quirk to colonial charm. It was like we had driven into a different time period. All I could think about was Felicity Merriman as we drove by farmhouse after farmhouse. Her life and family may have been set in Virginia, and a hundred years before western Pennsylvania was developed, but she's my tie to the colonial days.
Pittsburgh Eats: Big Dog Coffee | Randita's | La Gourmadine Bakery
Upstate New York is almost exclusively open forests with bare trees, broken up by hunting stands high up in the trees, which were surprisingly close to the roadway. It seemed so quaint to see signs for Manhattan—the City for the rest of the world is just their metro area. The prospect of driving in New York City terrifies me, but from 300 miles away, it doesn’t sound as daunting. There are also a ton of American Revolution historical sites in upstate New York. Most of the major battles were fought on its grounds. Near Buffalo, Old Fort Niagara is rumored to be haunted by a fallen French soldier, and also housed something like 1,200 German soldiers during World War II as a POW camp.
With a low-to-no-budget hotel room on our horizon, we decided to pull off in Buffalo for a look at Niagara Falls. I’ve always wanted to go, but it seemed for some reason like a pipe dream that would never be accomplished—a silly thing to think for someone in the midst of traveling the world. My only advice for visiting Niagara Falls is this: investigate the park situation before you get there. We happened to go when it was closed for the season and all of the viewing points were closed off. We saw a corner of its majesty and didn’t want to accidentally end up in Canada, so we turned the car around, less than impressed. With one final state line to cross, we set out the next morning with Starbucks and a dream.
Buffalo Eats: Public Espresso + Coffee | Ashker's | Wheatberry Bake Shop
Massachusetts was a different shade of green than what I’m used to in Washington state. Beautiful and bright, and nothing like the vibrantly melancholy evergreen that anchors our hillsides. Around every corner is another level of idyllic meadow or river or town that I'm not used to seeing on our country's younger coastline. I've been to Colorado a dozen times. I've driven the Oregon coastline up and down and down and up. Maybe I have seen it all. When I road trip, I expect to zone out pretty quickly and get into whatever else I'm doing, whether it's a podcast or a crossword or belting out an entire Broadway musical. Things on the east coast felt new and exciting, and I couldn't peel my eyes away from the windows. It was nice to take actually take a journey instead of spending a quarter of the time and just flying over it all. Although we were anxious to get to our destination, it set the gears in motion to plan a more substantial road trip next summer. Of course, to somewhere new.
I wrote about road trip eats for Urban Outfitters last month: click below to read my tips for snack-packing!