Monday, August 20, 2012

Massachusetts Road Trip: Introduction

Recently I traveled with my two kiddos and my mom to Massachusetts to visit my brother and his family.  My brother is a Marine and they have been living in the Boston area for a couple of years.  I really had no desire to ever travel to Boston but I wanted to visit my brothers family!  Plus, there are so many people I know that have a vacation to Boston on their "Bucket List".  So, I figured I better check the place out while I still have family living in the area!

I will separate out my trip with a variety of blog posts.  This post is to summarize some interesting things about the overall trip.

First of all, we did not have the required passports to travel through Canada so we missed out on potentially saving some drive time both ways.  We also decided to take one route on the way out and another on the way back so we could have a change of scenery.

For the trip to Boston (from Grand Rapids, Michigan) we decided to take a northern route by using the I-90 toll roads.  The toll roads were great because the traffic wasn't bad and they offer these "all in one" stops, Service Stations, where you can get gas, food, use the restroom, and purchase needed items or travel memorabilia.  The disadvantage of the toll roads were the added cost of using them and we missed out on seeing any interesting sites.

We did not stop to see Niagara Falls (even though we were really close) because we are doing that as a family another time.  We ended up staying the night in Northern New York.  Thankfully an old classmate of mine saw on Facebook where I was traveling and she mentioned a place that we might want to visit - Herkimer Diamond Mines, New York. It was right near our travels the second day so we took a little trip there before heading the rest of the way to see my brother.

My brother lives on Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts and we were able to stay there with him.  The kiddos and I stayed in a hotel on base for the first three nights of our trip and then with my brothers family for the remainder.  Staying on base was a little different than my normal vacations.  They offer a lot on base but we really couldn't do anything without my brother or my sister-in-law with us.  You need a military ID just to buy milk!  But I have to say, you can feel the level of security so there were no worries of danger.  

One thing that happened on base that I thought was interesting...  And my brother tells me that every base does it different....  At different times of the day there would be an event across the base.  The one that I always heard was at 5:00 pm.  At 5:00 pm every day trumpets would start playing on outdoor speakers that are around the base.  At that time everyone would stop everything they were doing and turn to a flag.  After the trumpets were done the national anthem would play.  Once everything was over everyone would return to whatever they were doing.  Sometimes it was very interesting what you would be in the middle of when it turned 5:00 pm.  I have never really been on a base this size.  It was impressive and the housing that my brother has is beautiful!  

During our visit we traveled to Salem, Boston, and we checked out Author's Ridge.  Unfortunately I wasn't feeling well for the entire trip so there are some things we missed out on.  But, we didn't miss out on the most important part of the trip - visiting my brother and his family!

For the trip home we decided to take a southern route by taking I-84 & I-80.  We were really close to New York City but we have plans to make a vacation out of that some day so we avoided the area.  We saved money by only taking one small section of a toll road.  Although, I did miss the "all in one" service stations.  Since I really wasn't feeling well, and we had no plans to site see, we drove straight home in one day.  

It was about a 16 hour drive each way but my kids handled it very well!  Luckily, I didn't get any speeding tickets!  The highway speed limit in Michigan is 70 miles per hour but the other states we traveled in it is 65.  The difference may not seem like much but it surely felt like a lot when we were driving!

I would like to hear your feedback.  Have you made this trip before?  Did I pass by anything along the way that I should have seen?  I'm always looking for ideas for next time!

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