I’m currently in the process of planning a great American road trip – Miami to Seattle. It’s giving me flashbacks to the first time I did such a thing but on a much smaller scale. A road trip from Cape Cod to Connecticut way back in 2013 when I was still in University.
I’ve told you about my American friend, Jess, before. We were housemates in university with two other girls, Emma and Emily. When Jess decided the UK wasn’t for her, Emily and I joined her on a plane back to the Massachusetts for one last hurrah (Jess and I have since had several hurrahs but that’s another story).
We spent the majority of time in Cape Cod, where Jess lived at the time. Back in 2013 I didn’t know much about America or how fancy Cape Cod was. Apparently it’s a bit like The Hamptons and rich people have holiday homes there. During the summer the lighthouses, seafood shacks, beaches and bays are alive with holiday makers. In the winter it’s “a bit dead” like something out of a sad Jeffrey Eugenides novel. It’s the kind of place people don’t really live, they just holiday, making it the most unusual place to see like a local.Seriously though, I was clueless about this place before I visited. I pronounced ‘Hyannis’ like ‘hi-anus’, was amused by the Sandwich police cars and spent half the time amazed that their road kill was different to ours. I swear at one point I thought skunks weren’t a real animal but something made up for the cartoons. The trees were the most surprising. Forget about the people and the portion sizes, nothing follows the ‘bigger in America’ stereotype more than trees. They were huge! I spent the majority of the summer sneezing because of the damn things.
Although I was fully intrigued by the Cape Cod for holiday-makers, Jess decided we should leave to meet some more of her family members in Connecticut, two states away. Road trip!We passed through Rhode Island (not an island, but I knew this already. I didn’t know about skunks but I can point to any US State on a map, easily thanks to my habit of memorising useless geography-related trivia). Rhode Island is where I learned that Massachusetts roads are wrongly stereotyped as having the worst drivers in the US. They should witness the Providence highway! Okay, the majority of drivers definitely did have Massachusetts licence plates, which means the stereotype about the drivers rings true. I’m just suggesting that Rhode Island needs a few negative stereotypes too. Yeah it’s beautiful (it’s where the film Moonrise Kingdom was filmed!), and yeah, it’s small, and yeah, it has one of the best universities in the country despite it’s size – that’s Brown, by the way. I knew this because of The OC. But the potholes! Guys, they have so many potholes.
After a brief stop in Providence (we saw Brown and ate pizza), we continued on to Connecticut. This is the point where I should stop and tell you about the fun road trip games you should play on American roads. Cue the nerdiest part of this blog post, please skip if you’re not interested.
The Licence Plate Game
We didn’t follow the official rules because they were a bit violent. What is it with Americans and the desire to punch themselves in the face? Instead we played ‘who can spot the licence plate from the furthest away state?’. Obviously Alaska and Hawaii would be the rarest in that area, with California and Arizona close behind. Bonus points for anyone who spotted a Canadian or Mexican plate, triple points for any other international plate. I think we did see a couple of Alaskan and Canadian plates but that was about as exciting as it got.
First to Z Game
This game might have an official name. I don’t know it so I’m calling it the First to Z game. You look out for road signs, cars and graffiti with words and you shout out the word if it begins with ‘a’, then you move on to ‘b’ and your fellow road-trippers continue at the letter they’re up to. You can’t say the same word as someone else, the word cannot be inside the car and it can’t be the first letter of a licence plate. The first few letters are easy, it only becomes difficult with the tricky letters. You’ll hope to see zoos and quarries, parking zones and cultural quarters. Don’t get me started on the letter X. Thank goodness for X-ing signs.Back to the blog post… We finally arrived at Jess’s grandparents’ house in New Haven after a good few hours on the road. New Haven is home of the famous Ivy League school, Yale, which I knew because I’ve seen Gilmore Girls. There’s a theme going on here, isn’t there? New Haven has an 18th Century cemetery too but we didn’t visit that. British people tend not to be impressed with ‘old’ American stuff. Oh you have a cemetery? It’s been around since the 18th century? How young, how cute!
Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend much time exploring New Haven. We instead took a day trip to New York City and because of that I don’t regret missing out on Connecticut much. New York was kind of incredible. Whilst we were in New Haven we enjoyed being the only young people in a retirement community, making the most of the pool and playing Gin with Jess’s grandma but never exploring. We did manage to get our picture taken by Yale before we left, though.On the way back to the Cape, we promised we’d stop by everything that caught our eyes. A fun rule on shorter road trips, dangerously time consuming on longer ones. New Haven to Cape Cod happened to be the perfect distance for this game to be successful. We stopped at a view point somewhere in Rhode Island and a war memorial in the town of Fall River, Massachusetts. Back then I wasn’t interested in photography as much as I am now, which is why the majority of the older pictures are either potato-quality or non-existent so I’ll have to contain myself on my next American road trip because I’ll want to stop and take a photo of everything.