Alex hits the road!

This summer we don’t plan to wander to far from Maine with the exception of Alex. He is heading out on a big adventure with his 8th grade class from Brunswick Junior High School. The trip is the Freedom Tour with stops in NYC, Gettysburg, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Alex says he will post some entries when he gets back. In the meantime, you can look for him in pictures posted on the trip blog: If for some reason this link doesn’t work, google Bath YMCA and the blog is linked off their homepage. They do a nice job posting photos. I followed the April trip because several of my former fifth graders were on it.

If you watch the Today show Thursday morning you may catch a glimpse of Alex’s group. They will be wearing red jackets.

The End…and a New Beginning

We have reached the end of our cross-country blog but not the end of our travels.  The Wandering Mainers are going to be wandering around mostly Maine this summer.  The farthest we will travel is to New York to visit Grammy and Grandpa.

This summer we plan to explore new places in Maine and share with our friends in hopes that maybe more will come visit us.  Our hiking last summer helped the kids realize that they actually enjoy it (well…Alex more than Erin).  Our plan is to tackle Mt. Katahdin this summer but we will have to work our way up to it.

Alex is going on an exciting adventure at the beginning of the summer on his own through the Brunswick Junior High and the YMCA.  He and about 50 kids are going on a Freedom Tour for a week.  They will visit NYC, Philadelphia, Gettysburg and Washington DC.  Watch for them on the Today show on June 24, they will be the group wearing red or blue jackets.  He says that he MIGHT blog about it when he gets home.  I just hope he remembers to take pictures.

Thank you for reading!

How to Plan a Cross Country Road Trip

Really! We didnt get tired of each other 🙂
This was as elaborate as our set up got (Note: The table-cloth is great for having a “clean” surface to eat off of)
Dont forget to leave room for the kids!
The tightly packed car. Food was always at the back ready for roadside meals.


A few people have suggested that we write about our adventures in a book.  Well…. the agents haven’t exactly knocking down our door.  So I will offer a few tips here.

1.  If you are planning on doing a road trip just do it.  There will never be the perfect time.  The perfect places to visit are limitless.

2.  We started with a giant road map on the wall.  We each put post-its to label the places we wanted to go.  I used Wikki-stix (bendable wax sticks available at toy stores.  They bend, stick, unstick and restick) and  laid out the route.  We did lots of playing around with it.  At one point Alex arranged the stixs so we were going to Mexico.  We settled on the best route that connected the places we wanted to go.

3.  Once we laid out our route we did more research to find other places along the route we wanted to visit.  Our two major guides were 1,000 Places to see Before you Die, USA  and Road Trip USA were our two major resources.

4.  If you aren’t a AAA member it is a good idea to become one before you go on a trip like this.

*They have offices all over the country.  You can call any of them for information about the local area, tickets, places to stay.  Every time we called they were amazingly helpful.

*Once you have your route planned call them for Trip Tiks and guide books (camping guides too!).  GPS doesn’t work everywhere and I found the Trip Tik usually had the better route.  The guidebooks are updated yearly so information is current.  The AAA gems really are gems, we were never disappointed.  When you are done with the guidebook you can pass it on to another traveler, recycle it or use to help start a fire.

*If your tire falls off in the middle of the desert they will be there and get you to a reliable garage.  Phew!

5.  Plan your budget.  Figure out your mileage to estimate fuel costs.  Estimate cost of car maintenance.  Tally up costs for attractions.  Figure campgrounds run from $15-35 a night.  Budget for hotel upgrades.  Estimate cost of groceries and meal allowance.  Plan a souvenir budget.  Any other possible expenditures. Okay got all that??? Now double it and that should cover the cost of your trip.

6.  Traveler’s Checks…don’t bother most places don’t take them anymore.  We relied on cash back at Wal-Mart and other chains for cash.  Most places take credit cards.

7.  If you are planning to go to National Parks the National Park Yearly pass is a great deal.  $80 gets you into all the parks.  Some of the parks have entrance fees of $20-25.

8.  Bring a lap top.  I don’t know how I did it without one the last time.. you know back in the day before internet and cell phones.  There is free wi-fi everywhere.  We were able to check email, update our blog and research ahead to our next destination.  We also used ours to watch movies.

9.  Packing…we brought enough clothing  for a week.  We each had our own duffel bag (I highly suggest squishable luggage for packing.  In addition, we had an empty duffel for dirty laundry (laundry bags fell apart), we kept the soap and quarters in the zippered pockets.

10.  Make a pile of everything you plan to bring and then get rid of half of it.  Forget about things you might use…you won’t.  Good intentions like workbooks, board games, musical instruments (I dragged an electric guitar and a ukulele across the country that were barely played), nice clothes will just take up space.  We brought basic camping equipment.  Don’t forget to leave room for souvenirs!

11.  We each had our own mesh bag for toiletries.  It was big enough to carry clothes and towel too.  The handles made it ease to hang on hooks.

12.  If we were to do this trip again I would get an e-reader.  We brought a bag of 25 books that we finished the first week and they took up a lot of space.

13.  Have a plan for music…Cds, Ipod, you will go for miles and miles with no radio signal at all or worse…country music.  Although I started to take a liking to some of it.  Especially the one about the guy and his tractor.

14.  Reservations…hmm…tough one.  We didn’t really have any.  I didn’t know how long it would take to get from place to place and I didn’t want to be tied down to a strict plan.  The only time we had reservations and set dates was when we picked Jim up in Utah and dropped him off in Arizona.  It can be tough at the National Parks but we lucked out or kept driving.  People make reservations over a year in advance in some places.  Usually you can squeeze in at National Forests sites that are near the parks.  I tried to call a day or two ahead when we were about to arrive somewhere and that worked pretty well.

At this point I should mention the notebook people.  I saw these people at different stops along the way.  These people had notebooks on the dashboard of their vehicles.  From my observations it appeared they had their Google maps, itinerary, tickets and reservations all neatly organized into plastic sleeves in a three-ring notebook.   These were the people who would confidently walk up to the desk at campgrounds with their confirmation numbers and specific requests about their campsites.  I on the other would slink up with my fingers crossed, hope for the best and take whatever patch of land I was offered.  I am not sure what these people do if their car breaks down or they decide to stop and watch a sunset.  That might put them off schedule.  The go with the flow method worked well for us.

So…here you have it… a few helpful tips to get you on the road.  One more thing…if you go on a trip write a blog…we want to read about your adventures.

Happy trails!

Road Trip by the Numbers

Maine at Mt. Rushmore

It was a year ago that we launched this blog while on our trip to Virginia.  I had a few other entries to sum up our trip from last summer and never had time to post them.  As soon as we returned home in August we hit the ground running getting ready for school and sports.  I have been trying to play catch up ever since.

2010 Summer Roadtrip by the Numbers

8122…. Total miles

10… Hours longest day in car

45 …Days on the road

15 …. National Park Sites visited

19… States we drove through

12 … Nights in hotels

3 …Most nights stayed in one place (camping)

25…Books read

2.65 …Least price paid for a gallon of gas

3.66 …most paid for a gallon of gas (Good thing we didn’t wait until 2011…this is a bargain now!)

.99 … Least paid for a bag of ice

4.26 … Most paid for a bag of ice

6 …Number of times we had fast food (9 if you count Subway)

3 …Stops at Wal-Mart (home away from home:)

Total cost ????? (Jim’s still adding it up)

Togetherness is Priceless


Hershey Park by Diana 8/2/10

I promised the kids at the beginning of the trip that we would visit Hershey Park on our trip IF they were good the WHOLE way.  They were good so I owed them even though I was really ready to go home.  This is our second visit to the park.  When we came before the kids were too small to go on any of the big rides.  Now they were ready to roll and go on everything and we did for the most part.  Alex is the only one who made it onto all eleven roller coasters.

We also made a return visit to Chocolate World AKA knows as the chocolate grocery store.  Any kind of Hershey Chocolate is available in all shapes and sizes.  So of course, I had to stock up.  This really is my happy place.  To make it even better…they added a Dunkin Donuts at the entrance…the first good coffee I have had in weeks!!!

Perhaps our trip did go one day too long.  We had thought Erin’s stomach issues were from the rides.  I felt queezy too so figured it was that I was getting to old for all these roller coasters.  Then…Alex got sick during the night…in the tent….fortunately I had placed plastic bags strategically around the tent so there was little mess.  I had to make several trip to the bathroom during the night not good when the tent is a 1/4 mile away.  I think I logged about four miles during the night.  We also stopped at every rest area between Hershey and Holland Patent, NY. 

Stocking up on supplies...maybe we should have stopped here at the beginning of the tripWords can't desrcibe how I felt when discovering this Dunkin Donuts...

Hershey Park By Alex 8/2/10

Today we went to Hershey park it was really fun. Because we stayed at the official Hershey Park campground we got into the park an hour early. But only some of the rides were open that early. When the rest of the park opened everybody ran to get in line for the big roller coasters. My favorite roller coaster was Wild Thunder. It was my favorite because it went really fast and upside down a lot. Mom did not like it because it jerks your head around a lot. After we went on some of the roller coasters we went to the water rides.  The water rides were okay.  Me and ham did a surfing simulator it was really fun. Ham did not like it because she was bad at it. After we did some of the water rides we ate lunch. Then Ham started to feel sick and did not go on ride me and mom went on a couple.  We went to a show it was kind of boring. After the show Ham threw up in the bathroom. She was done with rides for the rest of the day.  After ham threw up I was the only one who did rides for the rest if the day.  When I was done we went back to the camp ground tomorrow we drive home.

Was this coaster that did Erin in or was it a stomach bug??? It’s a mystery…Erin and Alex are in the front seat

Hershey Park 8/2/10 by Erin


  Today we went to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania.  The night before we went to the park for a day, we went to the park preview just to see the park and get a feel for our plan.  First we went to Chocolate World and went on a tour of the “factory”.  Then we went down to the park and did a lot of rides.  We started out easy and worked our way up to the bigger rides.  I loved seeing the park all lit up; I especially liked seeing the Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk was set up like an old fashion boardwalk with the ferris wheel and ice cream parlor; it was really neat to see at night.  I enjoyed the wooden roller coaster because it was fast and bumpy but long and curvy instead of going upside down.  We stayed in the park until closing and we definitely felt we got our money’s worth.  I had never been in the front of a roller coaster before so I had a thrill ride on the Great Bear.

  Today we went for the whole day; let’s just say I had a rough day.  We got to go early because of the sweet rewards pass to get into the park early so we didn’t have to wait in lines.  I did a couple of rides that morning and didn’t feel too good so I didn’t do any rides.  I felt better so I went on all the water things.  I tried the surfing simulator but apparently I was too small so when I fell off I went flying into the wall.  When we were done with water rides we went to a tap show that wasn’t very good.  I threw up in the middle of the bathroom so that was when I was done for the day.  We also went to a show about music from when mom was a teenager and I recognized a lot of the music and artists since we went to the Rock and Roll hall of fame.  I loved that show.  We had a very exciting last visit to a tourist attraction 

Erin gets to visit with the KitKat

Halls of Fame by Diana 7/31/10

We had a marathon Hall of Fame day!  We visited both of these places in one day.  Football Hall of Fame is in Canton and Rock and Roll is in Cleveland, one hour away.  We started with football because they opened at 9:00 and closed the Rock nRoll at 9:00.  I enjoyed both of these Hall of Fame.  I don’t know much about football but learned quite a bit about the history.  Watched video clips of some games and asked Alex is he is sure he wouldn’t rather run cross country in the fall instead of football.

I LOVED the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!  There was so much to see, I could have spent much more time there.  It really traces the history of RR and from its roots in gospel and the blues to the differnt types of rock today.  There were so many interesting stories, videos and memorabilia.  I could reach out and touch Bono’s guitar that he wrote early U2 songs on (I didn’t because I would get kicked out but I could have!).  There was a guitar that belonged to James Taylor that was painted blue by his brother Alex.  I am guessing things weren’t too quiet around the Taylor household when that happened.

As we left and we were talking about what we had seen that day.  When I said how much I enjoyed the Rock n Roll hall of Fame the kids said well that makes sense because you lived it.  Hmmmm….I am not that old.  I guess I shouldn’t have told them all of the concerts I had been to by people in the museum.

We have a few more entries to go!

Halls of Fame by Erin 7/31/10


  Today was very busy; we went to two major halls of fame, the Rock and Roll and the Football Halls of Fame.  First we went to the Football Hall of Fame; there was a lot of stuff.  There were a lot of items from back when the NFL started, like their nose guard; I thought it made the person look like it had the face of a dog.  There were old uniforms and a lot of creepy looking manikins wearing them.  I really didn’t understand a lot of it because I don’t understand football so the positions meant nothing to me.  I did like seeing the busts in the actual hall of fame part.  I recognized some of the people, like the guys that went on to be coaches or sports reporters, I liked seeing the different styles of hair.  At the end of the hall of fame there is a room with all the Madden games in it and something were you try to throw a football through a hole in a net.  Surprisingly, I actually managed to somehow get the football through the net.  I really enjoyed the football hall of fame.

Football Hall of Fame

  Second, we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  This hall of fame was much bigger with a lot more stuff.  I learned all about the beginning of rock and roll and who helped start it.  There was a cool computer that had all the branches on who influenced who in the making, like Patti Smith influenced U2.  As we went throughout the museum I recognized some of the song and some of the artists, mostly the songs.  I did look at the outfits and I must say, some of them were pretty whacky looking and the guys were wearing dress looking outfits.  I liked watching the different videos of concerts and shows.  I liked watching a U2 concert for when they got chosen to be in the hall of fame and he played with Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Fergie.  I thought it was cool when we got to see Johnny Cash’s tour bus.  I would have much rather traveled cross country in his bus.  I really enjoyed both Halls of Fame.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland
Inside Johnny Cash’s bus, why would Erin pass up a tent for this?

Football Hall of Fame by Alex 7/31/10


Today we went to the Football Hall of Fame. It was really cool. When we first went inside we went to the history of professional football. We learned that football started at colleges. Then people started playing it professionally. The first professional football game was in Canton, OH that is why the hall of fame is in Canton. After we went through the history section, the museum had a room with all of the teams and stuff about them.  While we were in the room with all the teams they did a special presentation. They had lots of cool stuff. They had a 100 year old elbow pad from the first professional football player. They also had a pair of cleats used in the movie Leatherheads. They coolest thing they had was a Packer Hemet with deer horns on it and it was called a Packalope. A fan made it wore it to the games and had it signed by other fans.

Football Hall of FamePackalope HelmetAlex with his favorite team