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Alabama Adventures: Longleaf Pine Treasure Forest

After hearing about Pinus palustris from several southern botanist friends, I had to see the trees for myself! I had the great pleasure of ...

26 December 2014

Amazing Road Trip Adventure! (Part 2)

In the last post I detailed the first part of our trip to New York. Upon further refleciton, perhaps I should have separated this trip into three posts. This is a long post!

On Wednesday morning Steve and I took advantage of the hotel breakfast. After Steve left to work, I wandered around the hotel premises. It was a foggy, rainy day and the landscape reminded me of a mystical forest. 

There were plenty of birds chirping and hopping about the tree branches. I was fortunate to spot some cardinals, which are my absolute favourite birds. There were raindrops all over the plants and I couldn't resist snapping some pictures of them.

Later, I hung out with Steve's brother again. T. told me that there are mozzarella sticks at McDonald's in that area so we had some for lunch. Back home they don't sell them so it was great! Afterwards we wandered around a pet store and an art store, finishing up our adventure with some delicious Carvel ice cream. I had never been to a Carvel so I was in heaven when I tried their watermelon Italian ice. To my delight, I discovered there is one in Steve's hometown of Gurnee, which is a 20 minute drive from home. Awesome! Afterwards we met up with Steve and ate dinner with Bee and her boyfriend in downtown White Plains. When we arrived back to our room, Steve and I sunk into the cushy bed and retired for the night. 

In the morning we fueled up with breakfast at the hotel then packed our things into the car. It was time to head back towards home, but first there was more adventures to be had! Instead of taking the same route back, we decided to visit New York City, Queens Botanical Garden, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

Breakfast with my best friend!

 We bade farewell to White Plains and set out for NYC. Traffic wasn't so bad getting there, thankfully. I initially wanted to hit up a hot dog stand and grab a cup of coffee, but $10 for 30 minutes parking wasn't going to cut it for me. It would take way more than thirty minutes for us to sufficiently wander around Times Square, and we didn't want to lose too much time anyways. We did a 'drive-thru tour' instead, which I was content with. We got to see Central Park, and the daily hustle and bustle of New Yorkers. I have never in my life seen so many people walking dogs in one city. Everything is much more cramped and rushed than in Chicago.

Despite crazy traffic, Steve was driving like a pro. I could've sworn he was born and raised in NYC with the way he was getting through traffic!

After what seemed like forever stuck amongst an endless stream of cars, we arrived in Flushing, NY. Street parking was pretty cheap at $8 for two hours, and only a block away from QBG! The garden doesn't charge admission in their off-season, to boot. The weather was only slightly chilly, and despite missing out on the most glorious seasons for the garden there was still plenty to admire and appreciate. Since I took many photos I will post a link at the end of the post with more!

Near the end of our visit to QBG, a squirrel friend approached Steve, and so he now has the title Squirrel Whisperer!

QBG was gorgeous, even in November. The rose garden was full of blooms, and 

We stopped at an oriental market to grab some things to munch on (tamarind candies and lots of mochi) before we realised we didn't eat anything for lunch! We tossed our bag of treats in the car then ran off to a random Asian restaurant for lunch. Everything was in Chinese and Steve probably wouldn't touch half of the things on the menu (I, on the other hand, am hardly a picky eater). Luckily the waiter was totally not judgmental and helped us navigate the menu. We ended up with two huge plates of food: spicy noodles with mushrooms, zucchini, and chicken for me and noodles with meat sauce for Steve. In the two years I've been with Steve, I have never seen him annihilate a plate of food like he did that day.

As we made our way to Maryland, traffic was even worse, as is to be expected in that area. When the sky finally darkened I spotted the Statue of Liberty in the distance (much too far for a decent picture, though). Considering I've never been to that area before I was excited to have seen it at all!

We continued on through New Jersey and Delaware, and finally arrived in Baltimore some time past midnight.

Despite being blessed with great weather throughout our trip, it was chilly and windy that night. We stopped by Gordon Biersch Brewery (which, upon further investigation, happens to have a sister property in Bolingbrook, IL!) and had a few drinks and the best garlic fries we've ever had.

Despite the cold weather, we bundled up and took a stroll around the city for an hour. After we had our fill of late night Baltimore, we continued on our journey to DC. It wasn't going to be an extensive tour since we crazies were arriving so early that the sun hadn't dawned, but we took what we could get! Since it was cold and way too dark out to wander the streets, we did another drive-thru tour. Steve has been to DC plenty of times, and promised that we'd go again and have a thorough tourist experience some other time.

I present to you: Washington, DC: The Drive-thru Tour!

And last, but not least, the scenic view at night:


For most of the trip back I slept, and when Steve was tired I took over driving. As much as we love whimsical experiences in far off lands, we were glad to be back to that same old place, Sweet Home Chicago. So, there you have it! The story of our amazing road trip adventure.

As I mentioned above, more photos of our road trip are here.

In the time since we've been back from New York, we went to Michigan again, but with the kids. On the way back we took them to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago. Last weekend, Steve took me to two places I've visited before: Oak Park and Garfield Park Conservatories, which had charming holiday displays. I will be making another post shortly to share pictures of those adventures.

I hope everyone had a great holiday! We certainly did. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was struggling a bit with some issues, but I am feeling much better! It is almost 2015 and I look forward to another year of adventures and sharing them with all of you.

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!