Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mystic Pizza

Since 2010 when we first started our summer road trip adventures, Mark has had one major fear: somehow accidentally ending up driving through Manhattan.

On the eve of our journey from Washington DC to Connecticut , a visibly terrified Mark stayed up until 3am carefully planning out the route to make sure we avoided: Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, Manhattan, and the "No Mark Zone" just north of Manhattan that is a web of super busy interstate roads leading into Connecticut.

He had us running a nice sweeping curve through the Pennsylvania countryside and over through New York, eventually curving down into Connecticut. The sight seeing would be amazing, the blood pressure low. We may even be able to squeeze in some bird watching!

The morning of the big adventure came and April, handy dandy GPS into tow, realized that Mark's "scenic" route had added 220 miles to the trip.  She was not a happy camper. After all, April sits in the backseat with the kids. She manages movies, snacks, spills, audio books, real books, potty breaks, puke, constant fighting and constant talking and the constant interruption of everything that she is doing by our two little munchkins.

We were at odds, to say the least... but we agreed on a passive-aggressive attitude toward one another and forged at the astonishing speed of 40 mph in search of back roads and local color. America. Frick yeah.

In Leesburg, VA, we stumbled on to Melt Gourmet Cheeseburgers, a local institution that has a huge fan following and a wonderful assortment of burger combinations. Also, they put Pecorino Romano on their fries. And we all know that Pecorino Romano is the best cheese ever. Applause. 



Also on the "road less traveled by," we spotted a Cabela's.  April didn't know what Cabela's was, but Mark assured her that he had one of their catalogs and it was awesome. Why are these sportsman stores always so amazing? We don't know - but everyone in the family was so thrilled stop that we decided make camp for the night at a quaint little family campground right down the road.


The Blue Rocks Family Campground offered much more than expected - and the kids had a blast playing on the extensive playground for hours. Mark fired up the BBQ and we settled in for the night. April couldn't stop raving about how wonderful the off the beaten path trip had become. 



Morning came and Mark was nervous. Today was the day he would drive within 100 miles of Manhattan.

April was now once again not having it with the circuitous route.  Mark didn't have the fight in him this time, so he agreed to let her navigate. He handed her a scribbled legal pad with turn by turn instructions that would only make sense to a long haul trucker and said, "This is what I had planned, maybe it will help."

April fell asleep. 

We ended up smack dab in the middle of Manhattan at rush hour. 



Just in case anyone is wondering how much the toll is to cross the George Washington Bridge with 4 axles... It's $84.

Just in case anyone is wondering how much marriage counseling costs... We'll have to let you know :) 



It was terrifying.  Twice Mark was heard muttering: "I can do this. This is my finest hour." He also called a lot of people "pal" when they cut him off: "Come on pal!" and "Really, pal?" In the end, Mark was a rock star and drove this massive beast like a boss all the way to Mystic, Connecticut. 

April and Mark embraced with joyous relief. April admitted that she is a terrible navigator. Mark admitted that it's hard for him to always be right :)

Mystic, Connecticut is adorable, coastal and quite possibly the perfect summer temperature.  Our first stop was Mystic Pizza, inspiration for the movie of the same name and a total geek out moment for April.  


The pizza was, according to Andrew, the best pizza he has or will ever have. The waitresses were awesome and the walls are dotted with movie memorabilia. A fantastic road trip find!

It's important to note here that some people who work with Mark and April have never watched the movie Mystic Pizza. They also have not seen The Princess Bride.  Their names are Andy, Sarah and Crystal.  As you read this, they've been captured and taken back to 1988 for a lesson in what makes a perfect 80s movie.  Shameful.  

Anywho.... our next stop was the Mystic Aquarium. Home of the moment that April fell in love with Beluga Whales. 


That's not April. That's some German girl that was a total whale hog. Auf Wiedersehen, chick... Other people want to smile at the cute whale. 



The aquarium was awesome and the kids were sufficiently exhausted by all of the aquatic excitement. 


Back at the campground, evening was spent hosting a polar bear picnic with foam swords for all attendees. Children were reminded multiple times that neither stuffed animals nor foam weapons (nor children, for that matter) should be placed anywhere near the bonfire.  Fear of stuffed animal damage kept these two hyperactive rascals within the invisible confines of this 5x7 for two whole hours... Score one for Mom and Dad! 


The next morning, we headed to the Dog Watch Cafe for some seaside gaming and the best "Codwich" ever. 



Andrew insisted that he wanted to try oysters, until he saw them and was utterly horrified. Oh well, more for Mark and April!



Bellies full, we headed over to the Submarine Force Museum. Mark realized a decades-old dream he had harbored ever since reading "The Hunt for Red October," and walked aboard a decommissioned nuclear sub.

He explained to Andrew the ins and outs of the nuclear deterrent philosophy and how it kept the cold war from turning into Armageddon. Andrew asked everybody in the museum how the submariners would repel an attack of invaders that were trying to take over the sub.  When they said "by diving deep in to the sea," he thought that there should be more to the story than just pushing the "down" button.



Day three was the best, as we got to meet up with long time Steinhour family friends Shane Eisenbeis and his daughter, Lauren. They were so kind to give us a fabulous tour of their town - complete with a carousel ride of the oldest and one of the few remaining flying horse carousels in the country.

Fun fact, in the picture below we're standing in two States at once: Connecticut and Rhode Island! 







Oh AND they showed us Taylor Swift's house. We couldn't imagine living there in our "Wildest Dreams" so we had to "Shake It Off" and get back to our "Love Story."

Ohhhhhhh Taylor.  Love her.  


In a nutshell, we loved our time in Connecticut with family and friends! 


On to Maine!! 

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