Saturday, September 26, 2009

Road Trip Synergy

Most of the blogs I read are either business-related or are all about cooking, crafting, and kids. The big exception in this line-up is The Simple Dollar, a blog about sound money-saving advice.
A few weeks ago The Simple Dollar author, Trent, was talking about synergy. As he explained it in his post, synergy was doing something that was good in the long term while perfectly enjoyable in the short term.

Well, here's how it applied to us. Lately we had to drive to NY a lot. It's typically a 9-hour drive along I-95, longer actually with all the traffic around Richmond, Washington, D.C. and then all through New Jersey. In short, too long for our little one to make in one day. So we used to drive it in 2 half-days stopping overnight somewhere 30-minutes south of Washington, D.C.
But it sucked anyway - traffic, boring I-95, even more boring NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, crummy rest stops, horrible roadside motels... So instead of taking I-95, we took the backroads and I-81. Instead of spending the night at a 1.5-star motel somewhere on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., we stopped at a 2-star one in Hagerstown, VA.

The drive itself was a lot more scenic, going through rural VA, MD and PA. Apart from a few miles in NJ, there was no traffic to speak of (since we didn't go through any major metropolitan areas). The hotel in Hagerstown was pretty basic, but it was much cheaper than anything reasonably safe we would've found for the same price along I-95.

And we got to do lots of stuff that was fun for all of us.

When we arrived in Hagerstown it was already pretty late. We checked into our hotel and found out that there was going to be a little classic rock show in the bar area. The musicians just arrived and were setting up. Perfect for our Little Drummer. He was so excited to see the real instruments. And of course, he got to play the drums.

The next morning we didn't have to get on the road for a few hours. So we decided to drive around. That's when Chris saw a sign for the Antietam Battlefield. Don't ask me what it is with my hubby and battlefields.

So we drove through a lovely town of Boonesboro to the battlefield. Little did we know, it was the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. We drove and walked around the battlefield for a little while, climbed the observation tour, then checked out the bivouac re-enactment.
A bunch of people dressed in period costumes set up a camp and were going about the daily business of cooking, chopping wood, mustering, setting up a field hospital. And there was even a little concert (oh, the drums again!).

On the way back from NY a week later we stopped at the same hotel. Unfortunately, they didn't have a concert that day. So instead we drove to Sharpsburg to check out the Heritage Festival (more drums) and then - Boonesboro for lunch (local pizza and ice-cream) and a little walk-around.

So all in all, it was a very pleasant drive that felt like a mini-vacation. We used to dread going to NY, but now we actually look forward to the next opportunity.

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