I’m en route to Chicago now (BRRR…) and no surprise a major delay on my flight (BOO…) so I will miss a lunch date at one of my most favorite Windy City chow spots, but at least I have the rest of a long food, love, fun-filled wedding weekend to look forward to. (Maybe I didn’t really need those pretzel encrusted pancakes with white chocolate sauce today anyway. I do have to fit into a pretty tight dress on Saturday night.) I cannot wait to be back in one of my favorite ever cities!
In an effort to balance out the chill, we are going to the Carribean for Christmas! (Whoop!) Nothing says Happy Holidays to me like a sandy beach, warm sunshine, a tropical drink, and a super-awesome, fun, cute man to frolic and adventure with. Thank you, Santa!
Having a home base is good and all, but lets face it- travel rules and the road will always call. (For me anyway.) I love watching people, I love new experiences, new foods, and exploring everything possible. I can’t imagine that ever changing. As I sit here in the hustle and bustle of the busy CLT airport, I feel invigorated and alive. So many places to go, so much to see, so little time…
Travel Channel, Discover Channel, Travel company X- when are you going to hire me already? 🙂
Team Blue Lollipop Road is leading votes so far, but we still have 20 days to go, so we still need your support!
CLICK HERE to vote for my Mom and I to be a part of the 2012Â Rand McNally and USA TODAY’s 2nd annual search for the Best Small Towns in America!
Here’s the dish on this Road Rally:
Rand McNally and USA TODAY send amateur travelers (that’s us!) across the country From Washington DC to Seattle exploring the Best Small Towns in America naming the Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Most Fun, and Best Small Town for Food with blogs,Â photos, reviews and videos to take you on the journey from wherever you are. (As if you are riding in the car with us!)
Talk about the perfect trip and exactly what Blue Lollipop Road exists for! I have always been an advocate of not just “vacation” travel (like only seeing sights at sites) but the immersion experience, actively engaged vs. passively observing. The nooks and crannies where you nosh and spend time with local characters is where you find the good stuff. Â Mom and I have always been fascinated with small town America (probably because we both grew up in a tiny town and appreciate where we came from so much) so we would LOVE to be one of the teams selected for this trip.
Here’s my mumsie and I:
Pick us! The Peacock’s (that’s our actual real last name) are ready for adventure!
This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom and I and cracks me up. The guy behind us is really enjoying his food while were relaxing on the patio at the Sea Dog Brewing Company in Maine with my brother and sister. It’s pretty awesome to be best buds with your Mom and siblings as an adult. (I couldn’t resist adding this photo of my adorable smilin’ brother with his yummy Sea Dog samples):
During this trip we stayed in Bath, (The City of ships!) and wandered different spots in Brunswick and around the Portland area. New England in the summer is just absolutely gorgeous, and Maine is one of our favorites.
…even on a cloudy day it’s beautiful:
If you’ve been following here of any amount of time, you know I have photos Â and stories galore of people, places and food from my 50 state adventures. But? I know I have only touched the surface of what the USA has to offer for small towns, so help Team Blue Lollipop Road get on the road this summer to go search for more!
Here’s our order of sweet potato flapjacks from both angles before we devoured them:
That’s fluffy sweet potato hotcakes layered with maple mascarpone crÃ¨me, roasted pecans and drizzled with a light sorghum molasses. Step aside plain pancakes!
We shared the bacon wrapped backed eggs too: AÂ ring of applewood bacon filled with creamy polenta, topped with two eggs, sharp wisconsin cheddar & fresh thyme, baked & served atop a mixed greens salad. Both so good. It was hard to choose from all that sounded delicious on the M. Henrietta menu, but I think we did a very good job.
***If you liked thisÂ post, clickÂ HEREÂ to support me!***
It’s my last full day before the car return. (Boo!)
I wanted to give a little tour of this amazing 2012 Honda Hybrid Civic that’s been so good to me over the past couple weeks:
It’s a good thing I love this car so much because I sure have spent a lot of time in it stuck in traffic the past few days!
I thought I’d have a bunch of wander time in the Big Apple tonight, but by the time we spent all afternoon on the Jersey Turnpike and actually getting in to the city, there was only time for dinner and bed. (I have a very early rise time to catch the ferry in the morning to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.) I had to squeeze in at least one NYC landmark food spot, so as suggested by a friend;Â Lombardi’s Pizza it was. (America’s first pizzeria!)
Tomato, basil and the freshest, most delicious mozzarella you could eat on a pie. Mmmm…
All in all most of today was spent in transit, but even a few hours in NYC is a thrill and energy feed that I will take any day. (Not to mention the pizza treat!)
In the morning I go to the top voted spot Honda Fans picked from the Honda Facebook poll and I am thrilled! What a perfect way to end this incredible trip. Thank you again to everyone who voted!
***Total miles driven today, day 17: 117
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,778
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 26
I don’t even know where to begin on this zany, crazy, fun, feast of a stop.
My “plan” for today (once again, plans when I travel seem silly to even bother to make most the time) was to explore at least a couple food spots friends and readers had suggested around the City of Brotherly Love before we hit up the Honda Civic Tour show. I usually like to eat a little here a little there- like a smorgasbord of a city so I can fit it a bunch in when I only have a short time in a place. Well, that was so not happening after our entire afternoon at Koch’s Deli in West Philly. (And I cannot tell you how 110% Ok I was with that!)
Let the best kind of madness began:
…and then we went inside:
Surprises left and right, me stuffing my face again, (Mom- aren’t you proud?) and so much happening I couldn’t keep my head on straight. (Actually, that’s probably because I was on a cheese and pickle high.) Ezra continued to stuff everyones face as he lovingly heckled not only us, but allllll the customers. We made friends with everyone around us including Brita in the orange sweatshirt who was, like my friend Jocelyn- a “virgin” first-timer to Koch’s:
In case you don’t know this, I can eat. (Review above videos and nearly every post I write.) I’m not afraid of some food and a 5 mile run after to work it all off, but my god I ate more food standing in line at Koch’s than I eat at Thanksgiving sometimes! I had about 62 kinds of cheese, 342 pickles and I’m sure equal amounts of meat. Ezra was scolding me to “eat, eat, eat!”- so I threw vegetarian life to the wind and went in head first in a carnivore-fest. I tried pastrami types and random beef something or other. Meats I would never ever usually touch, have never eaten before, or haven’t tried in 10 years. It was out of control and I was in the moment going all the way. At Koch’s there’s something in the air that makes you want to scream NIKE!- and just do it. So I did. The overall vibe and scene in this place is a come, eat, laugh, and whoop it up. You can’t be shy here. I love that. It’s very clear by the hundreds of photos and notes covering the walls that lots of others love it too:
I finally got myself organized from the sensory overload, to order my hoagie: Honey turkey, onion-cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers and oil and vinegar:
Did Ezra slice it right there and make me try with yet another pickle? You bet he did!
Then he gave me a smooch:
…and I gave him a blue lollipop:
Of course I left blue lollies for the other staff too. Barbie (who actually was the one who made my sandwich) and Bryce who was slicing and dicing behind the counter. When Bryce heard I was driving a Honda he grinned, piped up and said excitedly: “Hey! My first car was a 1991 Accord and it had 300,000 miles on it!” Meet Bryce, fellow Honda fan:
After meeting the whole staff, talking to the regulars, and eating what seemed like ten thousand samples of meats and cheeses, we collected our sandwiches, said our goodbye’s and out the door for a wrap up video. You guessed it, the surprises were not over:
Oh Koch’s- I will so be back! You might go down in history as my most favorite sandwich experience ever. Thank you Ezra, Barbie and Bryce for such a great afternoon.
Naturally I wanted to check out all the Honda stuff, so we wandered to where the Civic Si CoupeÂ giveaway was. (Custom designed by the guys of Blink 182):
Did I sign up to win it? Heck yeah! Then I got tattooed up for the night:
As we wandered the masses before the show started, I spotted this little rocker dude and had to ask his mom if I could take a picture. Meet Ricky:
How adorable is he trying to be all tough with his mohawk?!
We found our seats and the show was about to begin:
Opening act Matt & Kim came on and got the crowd riled up:
They were hilarious! A sassy duo you would totally want to hang with and get into a little trouble. There couldn’t have been a better opener leading up to the show, starting with My Chemical Romance:
This show was my first time hearing much of these guys. They were awesome, the crowd loved them, and was excited to find another band to be a fan of! Blink 182 still had my heart though:
(Crush time!) Yep, I am still carrying a crush I had over 10 years ago that started after seeing them at a music festival in Upstate, NY. I picked an old-school song of course, to go with my old-school crush.
The amphitheater was packed and the crowd was on their feet and just going nuts the whole show. (We were too!) It was SO MUCH FUN. Being there made me feel like I wanted to be a rock star and wonder why I don’t go to more concerts. Thanks Honda! The guys announced on stage that this was the biggest show crowd on the whole tour and I got to be there thanks to you- yeah!
What’s the best surprise after jumping around all night screaming and singing with thousands of strangers and being exhausted as you sit bumper to bumper trying to get out of an after-concert parking lot? Koch’s Deli leftovers to nosh on! Mmmm…midnight snack. We were so glad we had those. What a day. Talk about going to bed full, exhausted and smiling…
Tomorrow I head to NYC to be close to the ferry for my final day Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty tour!
***Total miles driven today, day 16: 53
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,661
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 25
I had to start day #13 at the place where I wrote my first blog post ever; Front Porch Cafe’ in Kill Devil Hills nearly 3 years ago to the day:
It was cool to revisit the Front Porch Cafe’ and see the same chair (broken or not) that I sat in long ago, dreaming of what would become of this new idea I had for a thing called Blue Lollipop Road. To think of all the incredible things that have happened since these chairs:
After I got some laptop work time, I had to check out a reader suggestion; Duck Donuts:
For some reason, recently I have become a huge fan of fresh cinnamon and sugar doughnuts. (I am usually chocolate obsessed only when it comes to treats, so I’m still trying to figure out where this new craving has come from!) Add one more to the list of spots that get my yummy stamp of approval on the doughnut front:
I rolled up to the window to pay the entrance fee and Darius asked: “Do you sell lollipops?!” I laughed and told him no, (then gave him one of course.) Darius and I, two grown-ups having a moment of fun over a special blue lollipop. You’ve gotta love the never fail smiles these little candy sticks bring. Darius and I chatted for a few minutes. I asked him about details on transport, etc. to get to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse as I had just been informed there would be some issues because of road closures after the hurricane. (I would later find out that Darius was the first of manyÂ people who gave their best efforts to help me get there…)
Great to meet you Darius, and thanks for all your help!
I explored the grounds and was schooled in all things flight:
Inside the Visitor Center:
Outside near the actual flight path:
I took a drive around the loop:
…and a walk to the top of the hill. It was a beautiful day to be outside:
I am so thankful the readers from the Honda Facebook poll sent me to Kitty Hawk! To walk around this property (especially as a traveler) and see first hand how flight was born was very cool. I overheard conversations and watched groups of older men (clearly pilots and flight junkies) walking the flight path, calculating and analyzing how it was all done, and discussing details with each other with an overtone of nostalgia that was adorable. It always makes me smile when I see people truly enjoying their passions and hobbies.
The day was hot and I needed to get my daily dose of movement in (to work off all those doughnuts!) Off I went for a long run on the beach. (Running barefoot on the beach is such a bonus way for me to get some miles in.) The best way to end a hot and sweaty beach run is to take a dip in the salty warm ocean of course! Â I took a moment to stretch rest as the sun started to set:
I saw Jennette’s PierÂ to my right so decided to go there to catch the full sunset:
Who did I meet there? More nice people of course! Meet Ron and Rita: Husband and wife from Pittsburg:
Ron played videographer for me so I could say hi in my full glory of beach after run grubby. I have to admit I love this end of day chill and dirty, sandy, salty summer kid feeling.
Ron, Rita and I talked and talked until it got dark. We shared travel stories, talked about our favorite cities, and they told me about their son and grandson. Once again, sweet people- complete strangers I could have spent several more hours with. If there were only more hours in a day to meet, talk to, and learn from all the interesting people out there…
Thanks for your video help Ron and Rita! It was nice to meet you.
Next up is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!
***Total miles driven today, day 13: 125
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 2,085
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 21
As I mentioned in my last post, it was clear a few days ago that the Honda Facebook poll and all of you readers here had voted in the winning place for me to visit by a landslide (Statue of Liberty.) I looked at the two runners up (Kitty Hawk, NC and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse) and thought- why not go to all three? So North Carolina or bust!
Just rolling in, I am one Happy girl:
(Great face I have right where YouTube froze me in this video, right? If you can’t laugh at yourself…)
Kitty Hawk welcomes me and the loaned BLR-Mobile!
(Have I mentioned how much I love this Hybrid Civic and the fact I am getting on average 42.9 mpg? You know I love saving $ on gas and being thrifty in general. This car rules on saving me and helping me afford this trip! I can’t believe I only have 5 days left on the road. Tear…)
The endless dunes don’t even look like they could be real! From the top you can see the ocean and the sound- which feels surreal:
See those long skinny white things on the bottom-left of the photo? Yep, those are forÂ hang gliding lessons that are available to take on the dunes. How cool and fun does that sound?
I sat and stared at the ocean and the sound for a while just taking it all in. The sun started to set:
…and got more and more pink:
Jockey’s Ridge is a must do and the sunset in person is so much better than any photo or video could be! Next time you plan a beach vacation put OBX, NC on your list of to-go-to’s if you haven’t been here before. This undoubtedly my favorite beach area in USA. There’s something to be said for how clean it is, the fact that it hasn’t been taken over by a million neon lights, and that there’s mile after magnificent mile of uninterrupted sandy space for relaxing and playing. I heart OBX forever!
…and a fresh veggie press sandwich on homemade bread. (Oops! I gobbled it up and forgot to take a photo. I guess you’ll just have to trust me that is was delicious. So delicious that I forgot about my camera.)
WIFI, microbrew, and eats recommended by a local was the perfect night office Â I needed so I could get some of my work done. (Thanks Steph!)
Tomorrow it’s more beach exploring: Kitty hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and making my way to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The weather is supposed to be even more warm and sunny than usual in September here so perfect timing…
Thanks for all the votes to send me here!
***Total miles driven today, day 12: 215
***Total miles driven since trip start (9/2/11): 1,960
***Total blue lollipops gifted/left behind since trip start (9/2/11): 20