Quick Overview of East Coast Road Trip8:41 PM
After I went to Toronto for the IdeaCity conference, I went to Denver for ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) and after that to Boston for the BLC10 (Building Learning Communities) conference. However, I had two extra weeks before the Boston conference began, which I spent with my family on a road trip. Here's the chronological rundown with hotel commentary:
1. Arrive in Boston and meet up with Dad at the Hyatt Harborside (awesome views of the Boston harbor, and no, I'm not getting paid by Hyatt, sadly)
2. Drive up to New Hampshire to see Grandpa; stay at the Sleep Inn--room had a funny smell
3. Spend time with cousins, drive to Burlington, Vermont, see July 3rd fireworks in Montpelier. The contrast between rest areas in New Hampshire and Vermont is just shocking. New Hampshire has an unorganized sprawling rest stop with a liquor store (yeah, seriously, a liquor store at a motorists' rest stop. It's like you seriously want us to drink while driving--as my dad wryly remarked, the state motto is Live Free or Die when maybe it should be Live Free And Die--lax policies on helmet and seatbelt wearing reinforcing this); NH's neighbor Vermont, on the other hand, had a beautiful joint Vietnam Veterans memorial and rest stop with a greenhouse and toilet water recycled through the greenhouse's hydroponic recycling system.
4. Arrive in Burlington, Vermont; stay in the Courtyard Marriott. Okay hotel. Nothing spectacular. We got to see the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory. They charge too much for the tours, but the scoop of ice cream at the end was delicious (still, as my mom would complain, three dollars a person for a little scoop of ice cream!)
5. From Burlington, we drive up Highway (or is it Route?) 89 to Montreal--just in time for the International Jazz Festival and for a great tour from Montreal native and friend Sebastian. Stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville--very well-furnished hotel with a beautifully tiled swimming pool. I work on my French. New terms learned (pardon me if my spelling is bad): Parlez-vous Anglais, Pamplemousse et Orange jus, sil vous plait.
6. Head up to Quebec City in blistering heat (I must have gained ten pounds just from all the ice cream I consumed those days). We stay at the sprawling Chateau Bonne Entente, a palatial estate with numerous guesthouses. Though the rooms usually go for 300 dollars or more, we managed to land a bargain (when my mom checked in, they looked at her and asked, "Are you a travel agent?") I got to stay in one of the fanciest hotel rooms I have ever stayed at.
Not only did the room's contemporary, somewhat minimalist design make it aesthetically pleasing, it came with a sound system, awesome Nespresso coffee, plush beds, two bathrobes, a globe, a digital scale, and a giant long sink--and--I'm getting breathless--a TV in the bathroom mirror. Yes, seriously. So that you could watch it while taking a bath in the programmable--PROGRAMMABLE--bathtub, which came with air jets that created giant waves, massage programs, and even underwater red lighting. My wrists are hurting from typing this all so fast.
7. Although the hotel was pretty incredible, it would be unfair to Quebec City if I only talked about the lodging. We also got to see the Museum of French-Speaking People, a fairly new, well-designed museum with interesting and visually interactive exhibits about the history of French-speaking peoples across the Americas. We also took a look at the original city walls and walked by the castle-like Fairmont Hotel.
8. From Quebec City, we headed back South, down past Montreal. This time, instead of going through Vermont, we took 87 down to Plattsburgh, NY, where we ate dinner, and from there continued onto Saratoga Springs, where we stayed at the Saratoga Hilton. It was an okay hotel but the atrium-like lobby was big enough to be confusing. My dad also isn't fond of the Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries Hilton hotels offer.
9. From Saratoga Springs we head South to Atlantic City because my mom wanted to see the ocean (and my sister and I were enthusing about seeing the "Jersey Shore" in real life, not just on MTV. Coincidentally, Mike "The Situation" of MTV's Jersey Shore was appearing at our hotel, Trump Taj Mahal, that week). Sorry Donald, but your hotel was one of the tackiest ones I've ever stayed at, and the room needed some work too. We did have a view of the ocean but there was a layer of dust on all the furnishings, implying that our room hadn't been cleaned (or occupied) in quite some time. We bought cheap stuff on the boardwalk and played around in the Atlantic waves until my dad cut his leg and my sister almost drowned (well, that's the way she likes to tell the story; she was okay in the end).
10. Go to Abingdon and Baltimore to visit great-uncle and grandma. Stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Baltimore.
11. From Baltimore start heading up toward Boston to get ready for the BLC10, or Building Learning Communities, conference. Drive through Pennsylvania to visit Dad's childhood home of Yardley, Pennsylvania. See Philadelphia skyline (though we didn't drive through the city itself).
12. Stay in Stamford, Connecticut at another Hilton. Yeah, we stay at chain hotels a lot. We should probably patronize local businesses more, but when you're making reservations on the fly, it's a lot easier to go with what you know.
13. Drive up the Connecticut coast and through Rhode Island, finally arriving at Boston to stay at the Boston Park Plaza. The whole road trip has added five states to my "States Been To" list, some by courtesy of driving through--Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont.
14. On our last day in Boston, we go to the Institute of Contemporary Art and look out the window onto the harbor view. Across the Boston harbor, I see the Hyatt Harborside Hotel by the airport where we stayed at on our very first day. Our trip has really come full-circle.
-Ben and Jerry's factory
-International Jazz Festival in Montreal, some very creative graffiti going on, science museum, contemporary art museum
-French-speaking peoples museum in Quebec City, ancient walls
-Beautiful park and historic Congress Park Carousel in Saratoga Springs, see some very grand old houses
-Got my abs so totally ripped in Atlantic City that I call them the Situation, yo! (reference to MTV)...well, maybe not, but jumping over, riding on, and occasionally falling under the giant waves in the Atlantic was pretty fun. Went on boardwalk and no, I did not do any gambling...they caught me before I could operate the slot machine. (Just kidding).
-See my dad's old house and elementary school in Yardley, and the absolutely tiny little library he used to go to. It's got to be one of the smallest in the world.
-The historical Fort Trumbull in West Haven, CT--highly recommended! We missed the tour, unfortunately, but we got to take a walk around the grounds, look in the windows, and look out over the pristine views of the shore.
-Bunch of stuff in Boston--the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, watched an IMAX movie, Arabia, (great movie, by the way!) at the science museum, saw the Institute of Contemporary Art, walked along the harbor, went to Faneuil Hall...
Now that I've had a vacation with extended family in Toronto, seen the action and excitement at ISTE, and taken a road trip around the East Coast (not to mention keynoting at BLC10!), I think that I'm pretty traveled out. I'll be spending the rest of my summer at home, in lovely (temperate!) Washington.