Family Stories: Day 1: 2016 Vacation – Genealogy Road Trip

Vacation – Genealogy Road Trip

Day 1 – October 14, 2016


Day 1:    No trip to visit mom in my home state of Georgia is without a hint of genealogy, but this trip was just a few pinches more. I have many day trips planned involving family history!

Hubby and I  were so anxious to head out of Connecticut, finally heading to Georgia… that we were up by 2:00 a.m. – after only going to bed at 10 p.m. I know I laid there contemplating our trip – what I wanted to see (genealogy side-trips), my visit with mom, did I have everything packed, and what was I going to eat for breakfast at 2 a.m! Breakfast foods are alway import and coffee as soon as we find a Dunkin Donuts on the Merritt!

Hubby packed the car the night before…. still the Boy Scout – Always Prepared! The only bags I was concerned about was my genealogy bag of notebooks and my portable scanner. I need notebooks for my scribblings, stories and ideas! Flea Markets are great for those… and I can never resist paper! (I wasn’t prepared in taking a photo of our packed car though!)

One of my planned activities with mama was to show her all the old photos that she gave me many years ago. I scanned my album of all those photos just hoping… thinking it would make a nice trip down memory lane, and I was planning to record a few of her memories on some of those photos. On the night I mentioned it to her, I could tell that wasn’t going to happen…well maybe next time. As soon as I said I wanted to record her voice, she immediately made a face… “Oh I don’t like my voice.” She did enjoy watching the photos on a loop on my laptop though. On my next visit, I’m going to demand…. maybe!

While I hate driving in the dark… with one reason being “deer” – we were on our way in the early morning hours… in the dark. Before we exited the Merritt parkway in Connecticut, headed into New York, what did we see grazing on the side of the road, yep…mom and pop enjoying a morning breakfast of grasses.

The first bridge we cross after leaving our home state, if we haven’t missed our exit, is the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. It’s an awesome sight to see at night, looking spectacular all lit against the dark sky; and it appears lighted from quite a distance. It was worth leaving so early just to view it at nighttime, it’s such a different experience viewing it at night vs the daytime view. A little trivia... The Tappan Zee is the longest bridge in New York and crosses the Hudson River at its widest point; it was built in 1952-55. At the moment they are building a new Tappan Zee alongside the old, so the Hudson is speckled with cranes. Before our trip in October, one of the cranes fell across the bridge during traffic, but thankfully no one was hurt; I wouldn’t have wanted to be in that traffic jam! (I’m not good at taking photos at night, so sorry for no nighttime photograph of the Tappan Zee – but I promise to work on that –  below is a daytime view)


A daytime view of The Tappan Zee Bridge

When we travel, hubby drives and I navigate using my saved directions from previous trips – complete with notes like “stay in right lane” or “left lane for I-85, then move quickly to right.” Those extra notes help to keep us from having to backtrack….to get back on track!

I couldn’t wait for sunrise so I could check online for Amy’s Day 14 topic on the 31 Days to Better Genealogy group challenge that I joined for the month of October. My topic to research and write on today is  “Plan a Research Road Trip.” What a great idea…for today I was on a road trip, and planning to research. If you’d like to read my post, head over to 31 Days to Better Genealogy: Day 14. 

In passing certain recognizable sites along the way, we always know we’re on the right course… like the Clinton Station Diner in New Jersey. Everytime we go by we always say we’re going to stop for breakfast, but then we just keep going – wanting to be on our way.


I’m definitely stopping next time we pass by on I-78,  as it’s open 24-7 I’ve discovered’ It’s located on I-78 in Clinton, N.J. If you’re a favorite of trains their website boasts of a suspended track from the ceiling with trains running and a unique fish tank; I will have to report back on them! If you have stopped at this diner, please leave me a comment on your favorite foods there!

Another marker is the Mason-Dixon line, and no matter how well I think I remember where the sign is – I miss it more than I see it. Although sometimes it’s the drivers fault as he likes to drive in the left “fast” lane and the trucks on the right obstruct my view. He strives to pass every truck – but they never end! Another job I delegated to myself is “speedometer watcher” and I constantly remind him that the speed limit is only 70, not the 85 he’s doing. We haven’t had a speeding ticket yet – and I’m very thankful! He’s gently  reminded him that if he gets a ticket – it’s definitely going to ruin “his” vacation!

On one of these trips, I’m planning to exit off and find all the neat Mason-Dixon signs I found on the internet; that would make an awesome side “road trip.” There’s many interesting signs in the Mason-Dixon area.


It seems all the businesses use Mason Dixon in their names!

It’s amazing how long and short some states are – and it also depends on which part of the state you’re crossing through. When we start, we are usually out of Connecticut within a good hour, passing into New York and within the next hour we are in New Jersey; which seems to be about 20 minutes or so and soon seeing a Welcome to Maryland sign.


As soon as we hit Maryland, that’s when I start thinking about the Mason-Dixon sign as it’s on the border going into Pennsylvania. Once arriving in that state, I know it’s going to be awhile, so I keep my camera out as the scenery is awesome. I often see sites I want to visit, like the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle one one of the many Virginia Civil War Museums. The one in Carlisle sits just alongside the highway where you see helicopters and tanks situated right alongside the highway. One day when we finally arrive in that area during the early morning, we’ll make that detour off and visit.


As soon as I snapped this sign hubby began telling me how he began the program…. I feel a blog post coming on!

While I’d like to add more photos of my trip, it eats up my storage here… but if you are friends with me on Facebook… you will find them over there.

Once we exit Pennsylvania, it’s a short 15-20 minute drive through West Virginia, but it’s not short through Virginia, that’s another few hours… and that’s where I become my mother saying…”When will we be out?” Virginia is the state that never ends, especially when you’ve been driving/riding for almost 13 hours at this point and thinking… when are we stopping? As we finally inched into North Carolina…. finally….we stopped just before Charlotte. I have a road trip planned for tomorrow!

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I felt just a bit guilty not leaving you with a few photos of our first day, so….

We love the rolling hills of Virginia and often laugh at the cows as they walk on the hills – I keep waiting for one to roll down, but they seem to be pretty sure-footed. Hay bales and barns are favorites of mine and if hubby stopped for all the photos I wanted, well we would never get to Georgia. In October all the fields have been harvested, but even the bare fields are beautiful to me. Hitting the Shenandoah Mountains in the early morning is awesome as you can see the smoke rising – I’m always wishing there was a pull-off for better views, but hubby says no pullovers. The scenery is just so different in the Southern states, and the painted water towers… always catch my eye – especially love this apple one! Now why don’t we have these in the North? Believe it or not, most all my photos on these trips are taken from the car using my sports mode feature on my Nikon – I think they came pretty good! Hope you’ve enjoyed my slide show!

I’ll keep you in suspense until Day 2, but here’s a clue… the stop will be somewhere in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina! So don’t forget to check out Day 2!

Like to read more… click on Vacation – Genealogy Road Trip!

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

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2 Responses to Family Stories: Day 1: 2016 Vacation – Genealogy Road Trip

  1. Lyn Smith says:

    Great story. You covered a lot of territory in just one day, with some pretty wonderful scenery. I can’t wait for Day 2, as you said you will be in Mecklenburg County. That should be very interesting and informative.

    Liked by 1 person

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