When left Bar Harbor, we realized pretty quickly that we wouldn't have the stamina to split the drive home into two days as we originally had planned. We decided to cut short our stay in Gardiner, Maine (at my high school friend Carol's house) and add two more stops to our journey home, one at Uncle John and Aunt Dee's farm in Maryland and another at Kate and Tim's farm in North Carolina. These were in addition to another planned stop at Uncle Michael and Aunt Rebecca's house in Pennsylvania. I'm so happy we decided not to power through the drive on our way home and visit these for homes, as we added so many enjoyable dinners and unexpected experiences to our road trip.
These first few pictures are from Gardiner. Carol's backyard looked like a botanical garden!
After Gardiner, we went to Quakertown for a night at my brother's house.
We left Quakertown pretty early so that we could stop at Gettysburg. We had a great time exploring the park and learning about the battle. The boys got to join an educational program, in which they were enlisted in the Union army. They learned about life as a soldier and picked up some marching skills.
Based on the recommendation of Atticus' Aunt Dee (mother of 6 boys), we bought the boys civil war rifles and pistols, along with Union and Confederate hats. This has been a favorite toy of every boy that has come to our house in the past couple of weeks!
It took Cal quite a while to leave the park as he had to act his part as a soldier the whole way. And, yes, he was still in his pajamas from the night before!
From Gettysburg, it was only a short drive to Uncle John and Aunt Dee's farm in Union Bridge Maryland. We were probably only at their farm for about 18 hours, but we got to experience quite a lot of farm life. The boys rode behind the tractor, picking up branches from the field. Then, they learned to drive the tractor. Finnan and Jude drove them all by themselves. We put up the chickens and then got to feed the baby calf. Finnan and Jude also got to shoot their first real rifles. The next morning, the bull came to the farm, so the boys even got introduced to the basics of breeding cows!
Instead of I-95, we took I-81S through the mountains. After having been to Gettysburg, we kept thinking of the Civil War and the lives of the soldiers as we drove along this route where so many battles were fought. It was a beautiful drive, but there weren't many towns along the way. We couldn't wait any longer to find a restaurant, so we got off at an exit that said it had food. A ten minute drive later, we came along this soda counter, where Rory is pictured. It was yet another different experience for all of us.
And for our last stop, we landed in Lansing, NC at Bent Apple Tree Farm to visit Kate and Tim and their boys, James and Robert. We watched baby birds in their nest, hiked the hill to pick wild cherries, and hung out around their beautiful farm. It was great to be together again.
We wished we could have stayed longer at all of our southbound stops, but I was ready to be home. Even Jude said that he was homesick at the two week mark. Our road trip was so much better than I imagined or could have hoped. We spent 45+ travel hours in the car and slept in 8 different locations and everyone managed it. Atticus was really able to unplug and we flowed with the kids' schedules, not worrying what we missed. I can't imagine what we missed was better than what we gained though. We stayed on three farms, explored two cities some small towns, spent time on beaches, camped, sparked new interests in the Civil War and boat building, spent time with friends and met their families, and enjoyed our kids.