We had off from work the entire week of Thanksgiving so we took a roadtrip up to Pennsylvania so Rob's family could meet Rowan and Kina. The trip was about 1000 miles each way, about 17 hours driving. The weather and the car both cooperated very well, and the road trip was as smooth as could be.Click on the map above for a closer look at our route up through the Appalachians.
Along the way, most of the scenery was typical US interstate highway fare, but we did catch a few diversions, especially while we were still in the south.
In Huntsville, Alabama, it's hard to miss this large rocket standing next to the freeway. Huntsville is home to NASA's Rocket and Space Center, as well as Space Camp and the US Army Missile Command.
At the Alabama-Tennesse state line is this giant firework supermarket, set right in the median of I-24, which you can easily see from more than 4 miles away - just another testament to southerners' love of blowing things up.
Once we got up to Virginia, we crossed over the Appalachian mountains and up through the Shenandoah Valley in probably the most scenic part of the drive. At Roanoke (baby Rowan's namesake, a cute little mountain city that left a nice impression on us), we took off on a little side excursion along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway so we could check out a bit of the Appalachian Trail.
Upon arriving in Pennsylvania, the first thing we did was stop in Philadelphia to visit Rob's sister, Brandi. After a long road trip, lunch at the South Street Diner was just what the doctor ordered, where the menu was chock full of Pennsylvania specialies, such as Chicken & Waffles & Gravy, Pork Roll and Cheese, and the famous Philly Cheese-steak with grilled peppers and onions.
Brandi lives just a couple blocks off South Street, Philadelphia's famous electic hipster hangout.
Full of hip little stores, restaurants and bars, South Street reminds us just a little bit of more progressive cities such as San Francisco.
We also stopped by Lincoln Financial Field, the current home of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, just to let our little Eagles-fan-in-the making check it out. (Rowan is such a big Eagles fan that he already has a Donovan McNabb jersey!)
Finally we got to Rob's hometown, Bangor. Formerly a rural slate-mining town full of textile mills and surrounded by dairy farms, Bangor is very blue-collar and still has a small-town feel, with a population of less than 6000 and 0 (zero) Wal-Marts within a 15-mile radius. Located an hour-and-a-half north of Philly and just a few miles west of the New Jersey state line, the Bangor area has recently been developing into a burgeoning residential haven for commuters to the New York City area, which is also about 1-1/2 hours away.
The Appalachian Trail passes through just a few miles north of Bangor, providing some excellent hiking opportunities.
We took the Applachian Trail up from the highway through the famous Delaware Water Gap (background) The ridge and interstate highway on the left are across the Delaware River from us, in New Jersey.
We stayed at Rob's grandmother's house in Bangor, right next door to the people with way too many large inflatable Christmas decorations. They even have an inflatable Pittsburgh Steelers football player set up out there (all the way to the far right).
Of course, the culmination of the trip was a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, prepared by Rob's grandmother. From left to right are Carley, Karen (Rob's mom), Pauline (Rob's grandmother), and Brandi (Rob's sister).
Rowan was all smiles when meeting his Gee-Gee (Rob's mom Karen) for the first time.
Rob and family
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