We are officially one month into our adventure! Time has sped by and our “adjustment period” has come to an end. Our initial plan was to vacation with family in Topsail, and from there we would start our journey by heading north. I have never been so happy to not have a plan go as planned. By spending a month in North Carolina before heading north, we were able to work out any kinks, purge unneeded items, and feel secure by still being close to home.
As we crossed the border into Virginia, we all celebrated that we had made it a month, that we would be able to add a new state to our map, and that we would be seeing some amazing friends. Richmond, VA is a place that we try and visit as often as we can, but between our work schedules, we are usually only allowed a weekend twice a year. This time, though, we were able to grace our friends with an entire week of the Lombardo family presence. It still wasn’t enough, but we had a week full of kid playdates and mom dates. Liz, Steph, and I laughed like we were teenagers again, reminisced about times past, and as always sang all of our favorite songs.
By far the best part of our time in Richmond, was staying in Pocahontas State Park, where there is an abundance of hiking trails, amazing camping sites, and several water sports to choose from. Did you know that this park is named after Pocahontas, you know the Disney movie? It’s just amazing what a little bit of traveling and reading can do for your soul. Anyways, the campground only offered water and electric hookups, no sewer. This meant while camping here, we were forced to use the bathhouse due to the limited capacity of our waste tanks. You can only poop and shower so long before they are full. In the past, all we had to do was pull a lever and it would empty into the sewer. In this case, if the tank became full, we would have to break down camp, drive up to the dump station, and set back up which could take over an hour. No way were we doing this; we were determined to make it all week without having a poop explosion. As we approached day four, we started to get very nervous that we might not make it to Saturday. So, we made the decision to purchase a poopmobile. Thank goodness for Amazon and good friends down the road. Um, what the heck is a poopmobile? It’s technically called a honeywagon which allows you to dump your tanks into a portable tank on wheels that you can take to the dump station. I messaged my friend letting her know that our “poop mobile” would be arriving on Thursday and her reply was “I’m not even going to ask any questions.” The joke was on her when this gigantic box showed up at her house. She quickly realized that we did not order a poop emoji mobile that you would hang over a babies crib, but it was in fact a wagon to move your poop around in.
We love Richmond for our friends, but we also love this city for everything it has to offer. The city is rich in history. Not only is it one of the oldest major cities in our nation’s history, but it also played a large role in the Revolutionary War and Civil War. The girls and I enjoyed soaking up the beautiful gardens within Maymont Park, along with seeing past presidents at the Hollywood Cemetery, which overlooked the James River and presented downtown Richmond as an added treat.
One evening before taking off, Joseph and I were mapping out our September route and making reservations. Usually when we are doing this, I scope out any races that may be in the area. I haven’t had the best luck finding any that would align with our location and dates, which was no different on this evening. I was beginning to get disappointed in that I may not be able to fulfill my goal of running a race in each state. At this point I had two options – one was to give up, which old me would have definitely done or the other was to tweak my goal. I decided that in each state I would run, no matter if it were a race or just a 5K against myself. I have a cute chalkboard map that I color each state that I run in, and in this case, the states without races would be colored white. The next morning, the girls and I were headed out for an adventure, when I saw a plain white sign with “5K” on it, right in from of the park. What?!?! Talk about meant to be, right? I grabbed my headphones and $10, and registered for the race. It wasn’t a big fancy race. No shirts, no medals, no free beverages afterwards, but it was a race and the money supported a local school. As I waited for the race to begin, multiple buses arrived with their high school cross country teams that would also be racing. My excitement quickly turned into sheer panic. I’m already a slow runner and now I have to race against teenagers who can do a five minute mile? How do I get myself into these situations? Thankfully I was not the only adult. It was my first cross country race, through the trails of the park, and it was beautiful and hard. I finished, didn’t throw up, and may have even beaten a couple of teenagers.
As we packed up Saturday morning, we had a big choice to make in regards to our layover between Richmond and my hometown in upstate New York. Because this would be an 8+ hour drive, we needed to split it up into two days. Our choices consisted of finding a Walmart parking lot or a random place along our route. Random place won out! We drove to Gettysburg, PA, a place none of us had even considered visiting.
We parked the camper in Gettysburg around 3:30pm, and had only a few hours to experience what was is the largest battle site in North America. We strolled through the Gettysburg National Cemetery where more than 3,500 soldiers are laid to rest and where President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. With only a few more hours of daylight, the real tour began as we drove ⅔ of the park. It held great views of the battlefield, the North Carolina Memorial, and an observation tower which we climbed to take in such a beautiful, yet deeply saddening view. From 70 feet above, we could catch a glimpse of the East and South views of the battlefield, Big and Little Round Top, Eisenhower’s Farmhouse, and other points of interest along the tour. Once we descended the four flights of stairs, we were off again in search of Devil’s Den. It’s one thing to read about what happened here, but it’s another things to stand atop the rocks looking out at Little Roundtop and Slaughter Pen seeing what is only described in history books. When we were near the battlefields, you could feel the weight in the air of all the lives lost so many years ago.
After passing the Pennsylvania Memorial, we went in search of the historic downtown for dinner and drinks at The Pub (highly recommend!). We may have only had a few hours to tour this historic city and we may not have been able to see all that we had wanted, but I feel like we left with a sense of accomplishment and hopes on returning again. This may have only been our first layover, but I have a feeling it will be one of our favorite parts of this adventure.