How to Make the Most of a Short Road Trip to the East Coast

Road trips are often an excuse to get on the road and go somewhere.  A lot of people have a destination in mind but if you really want to make the most of it and have fun with those whom you are travelling with — don’t plan so much.  Instead, why not turn it into a game or a quest?  Of course, this can be applied to any road trip.  Not just one to the east coast of the United States.

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Since I changed jobs earlier this year in May, I’ve had to acknowledge that I have significantly less vacation time than before.  This meant shorter road trips or in some cases, no road trips!

Fortunately, I had one road trip planned and approved of prior to my move to a new job.  Road trips are often an excuse to get on the road and go somewhere.  A lot of people have a destination in mind but if you really want to make the most of it and have fun with those whom you are travelling with — don’t plan so much.  Instead, why not turn it into a game or a quest?  Of course, this can be applied to any road trip.  Not just one to the east coast of the United States.

Waking up to a sunrise over Hawaii 2 and Lake St. George.
Waking up to a sunrise over Hawaii 2 and Lake St. George.

When the folks at Cards against Humanity purchased an island and renamed it Hawaii 2.  The first thought that crossed my mind was to find it and go there.  If we happened to find some other things to do along the way, so be it.  Just as my friend and I were about to set off to find this island, I discovered that The Holy Donut also resided int the state of Maine.  This turned into an amusing road trip that we dubbed “The Search for Hawaii 2 and the Quest for the Holy Donut”.  (I’ll write about my experience finding Hawaii 2 another time).

Here were some highlights along the way and back:

Never stayed in a lean-to before so why not give it a shot?   No need to worry about a rainfly and pretty warm.  Just had to deal with my friend's snoring...
Never stayed in a lean-to before so why not give it a shot?   No need to worry about a rainfly and pretty warm.  Just had to deal with my friend’s snoring…
Had no idea what the weather would be like but we ended up hiking the tallest mountain in Vermont (Mt. Mansfield).  Yes, that is a storm approaching, and yes, we got caught in it on the way down.  Not super pleasant but it was a great experience to take in.
Had no idea what the weather would be like but we ended up hiking the tallest mountain in Vermont (Mt. Mansfield).  Yes, that is a storm approaching, and yes, we got caught in it on the way down.  Not super pleasant but it was a great experience to take in.
Stopping by for a quick hike or two in New Hampshire on the way into Maine.  Great views.
Stopping by for a quick hike or two in New Hampshire on the way into Maine.  Great views.
Who would've thought one would encounter a piece of the Berlin Wall in Portland, Maine?
Who would’ve thought one would encounter a piece of the Berlin Wall in Portland, Maine?
Looking at all the options at the Holy Donut.
Looking at all the options at the Holy Donut.
Local food.  Local cuisine.  Always important to enjoy.
Local food.  Local cuisine.  Always important to enjoy.
Road side attractions and stops are always a must.  Don't ignore them, each has their own unique story to take in.  The owner of this giant root beer barrel told us that it took him and his friend over 850 hours to build this out.  It was rainy that day but we still stopped to take a seat and enjoy a bottle of local root beer and a root beer float.
Road side attractions and stops are always a must.  Don’t ignore them, each has their own unique story to take in.  The owner of this giant root beer barrel told us that it took him and his friend over 850 hours to build this out.  It was rainy that day but we still stopped to take a seat and enjoy a bottle of local root beer and a root beer float.
We couldn't really plan for when we'd be able to see the sunrise over Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Weather was rather unpredictable so we drove up (extremely slowly) through the fog up to the top where we slept through the night.  Extreme?  Maybe.  We weren't the only ones though!
We couldn’t really plan for when we’d be able to see the sunrise over Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Weather was rather unpredictable so we drove up (extremely slowly) through the fog up to the top where we slept through the night.  Extreme?  Maybe.  We weren’t the only ones though!
I had never encountered so many wild blueberries on a trail before.  We just kept picking them while hiking through the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge.
I had never encountered so many wild blueberries on a trail before.  We just kept picking them while hiking through the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge.
On the way home, we passed by the Bread and Puppet Art Museum in Vermont.  It was a brilliant place to stop off on the long drive home and quite inspirational.
On the way home, we passed by the Bread and Puppet Art Museum in Vermont.  It was a brilliant place to stop off on the long drive home and quite inspirational.
Across from the Bread and Puppet Art museum was the Cheap Art Store.
Across from the Bread and Puppet Art museum was the Cheap Art Store.

We did all of this and more in about a week and were never in a real rush.  Everything was chill with plenty of time to just talk about the meaningful as well as enjoy the nonsensical banter.  I also tried applying a twist on to the music as we drove home by building a playlist that only involved songs with ‘home’ in the title or reminded my friends of home.

Small things add up to make your journey a truly memorable one — and to add to the fact that you return from your ‘quest’ successfully, just makes it even more fun.

So to sum things ups:

  1. Turn your road trip into a quest.  Make it realistic, not impractical.
  2. Allow yourself time and the attitude to just enjoy the silence, the journey, and the nonsensical banter between stops.
  3. Don’t miss out on roadside attractions that you may just spot along the way.  Give yourself permission to stop — rather than rushing towards the destination.  The destination isn’t going anywhere anyhow.  You may not find this roadside attraction again.

We Stopped for the Blue Skies

A beautiful view of a small town in a valley in Vermont

It was 2002 when I first laid eyes on the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  My family and I were on a road trip to this beautiful state that we had never set foot into.

This was the beginning of my fascination and enthusiasm for hiking mountains.  I was never much of an outdoors person to begin with.  You see, when you tend to be allergic to everything and experience everything from hay fever to hives and rashes — you don’t really think of the outdoors as your best friend.

Nonetheless, after stepping foot on to the top of Mt. Washington by car — I said to myself that one day, I would return to hike the white mountains.  That day would not arrive until 2007 when I finally had saved up enough money (dirt poor after so much school) and recruited a couple of friends to go on this one week road trip.

On the way to New Hampshire, we passed through Vermont.  During our long drive we just had to stop to take photographs along the way.  The blue blue skies, lush green lands, and the small pastures and farms were a beautiful and tranquil sight for this relatively clueless city kid at the time.