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What We Didn’t Do on Our Summer Vacation

Anne head-tabled.

Anne waiting for paint to dry, glaciers to melt, and dinner to arrive at an Irish pub in Philadelphia.

Our 2018 road trip is behind us at last. After seven days and 2,056 miles together on the open road, Anne and I arrived safe at home Friday night, several hours later than expected and ready to retreat into overnight catatonia. Five out of six previous evenings ended much the same way — with a number of new achievements to our credit, new memories to add to our mental slideshows, new regrets to tally up, new aches and pains to nurse, and new letdowns from the unchecked items on our lengthy to-do list. In some ways that’s a typical vacation for the two of us, but what stings most are a few omissions that weren’t our fault.

We always make a point of brainstorming too many historical highlights, roadside attractions, and other points of interest that we can choose from while we’re out of town and looking for odd new creations and beautiful corners of Creation to visit. A completion rate of 100% is impossible by our own design. We don’t expect to do everything we think of, but our earlier road trips taught us it’s possible to run out of options if we’re not overprepared. It’s never fun when you’re miles from home at taking turns asking each other “I dunno, what do you wanna do?”

Ordinary travelers might appreciate having margin to breathe and wind down between stops, but that’s not who we are. Our annual road trips aren’t intended for rest or relaxation. That’s what most Sundays are for, if and whenever the world is kind enough to leave us alone.

This year’s undone wish-list felt longer than normal, possibly because upstate New York quite simply offers too much to do and see, but also thanks to quite a few barriers that affected our itinerary on the displeasing side, including but not limited to:

  • Businesses closed on Sundays and/or Mondays
  • Businesses open barely longer than basic bankers’ hours
  • Extremely slow restaurants that gnawed off large mouthfuls of our schedule
  • Towns located a smidgen too far off our main path
  • Rush hour traffic
  • Rush hour in outer Philadelphia, one of the unwieldiest behemoths unto itself
  • Road construction, our perennial arch-nemesis
  • Several miles of interstate whose exit numbers had all recently been renamed and reassigned
  • Extremely slow drivers with a deep-rooted fear of speed or cars
  • Google Maps spasming with spontaneous logical lapses at the worst possible moments
  • Loss of confidence in ostensibly walkable distances after a long, long day
  • An unexpected food festival that overtook an entire downtown
  • Fair-to-middlin’ interest level to begin with

…and so on. For once we can’t blame bad weather. We had nothing canceled or rendered unworkable due to storms, and in fact didn’t see a single raindrop for seven days straight.

Anne and I send our regrets to the places we wanted to experience but didn’t, which included but weren’t limited to the following:

  • Buffalo’s McKinley Memorial
  • the Anchor Bar
  • Niagara Falls
  • the Jell-O Museum
  • the National Womens Fall of Fame
  • Seneca Falls entirely
  • the Erie Canal Museum
  • Forest Hill Cemetery in Utica
  • the New York State Museum
  • the Corning Tower Observation Deck
  • the U.S.S. Slater
  • Top Cottage at Hyde Park
  • the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe at the Culinary Institute of America
  • the Walkway on the Hudson
  • the War of the Worlds Monument
  • the New Jersey State House Museum
  • Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse
  • the Franklin Institute Science Museum
  • the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • the Rodin Museum
  • Reading Terminal
  • the Liberty Bell Center
  • Independence Seaport Museum
  • One Liberty Observation Deck
  • Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall
  • Flight 93 National Memorial
  • the Andy Warhol Museum
  • the National First Ladies’ Library

…and so on. A few of these would’ve been encore presentations, places we’ve seen on past drives but would like to retake photos, now that we have better cameras and more experience. Many more possibilities were cut during the early planning stages, well before takeoff. I had directions laid out for all of these that will now be set aside as potential add-ons to future road trips in New England’s direction, Lord willing.

Despite missing out on so much and coping with the fears thereof, we agree this year’s was a successful endeavor anyway. In the weeks ahead we’ll be sharing stories and hundreds of photos of what we did see and enjoy on our 2018 road trip, which even had a special theme. We’ll commence with that in due time — a few other stories will need to be told first in order to provide value-added context. Also, we’ll need more rest. Lots more rest. All the resting.

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