a relaxing weekend in Connecticut and DC (alternate title – more adventures on the New Jersey Turnpike)

For my last morning in the Big Apple, I grabbed a breakfast wrap and latte from Starbucks and then hailed a cab to the parking deck where I had left my car for the past few days.  I paid the $52 I owed for 2 nights and plugged Alyssa’s address into the GPS and hit the road to Connecticut.

Surprisingly, I only missed 2 turns trying to get out of Manhattan.  I felt like a pro at this point, mastering navigation in the big city.  Once I made it out of New York, it was the easiest drive since I left North Carolina.  I got to Alyssa’s around noon and she drove me through the streets of Norwalk along the water.  It was overcast all afternoon but I still enjoyed seeing another small, quiet town.  They tend to be my favorite and after the bustle of DC and NYC, it was very soothing.  She took me to lunch at a precious French cafe in downtown Norwalk, called Chocopologie.  We devoured ham, apple and brie crepes and a piece of chili chocolate.  Then we wondered in and out of a few boutiques and gift shops.

I always value the time I get to spend with Alyssa.  She was the first new friend I made when we were studying abroad in Paris.  She was from a small private college in New York and we bonded immediately.  We were both trying to make a relationship work across an ocean and soon struggled, together, with finding balance between the new and the familiar.  Neither of our relationships lasted (to put it mildly), but our friendship has remained strong.  She even lived for a year or so in Winston Salem, so we took advantage of the time we were so close geographically.  Other than that, she’s managed to visit me a few times a year.  I’d never made the trip up north to see her, so I’m sure she thought it was long overdue.

A while later we went back to Alyssa’s so she could pack things up for her adorable doggy.  She and her fiance, Matt, were heading to North Carolina the next day after work for a week and her parents were going to dogsit for them.  I’ve never met her parents, but her mom bought us many dinners during our travels abroad and even for my birthday when Alyssa visited a few years ago.  It was so good to finally meet them both.  When we returned home, Alyssa made dinner.  Her family is Italian, so she can make a mean chicken parm, ziti and meatballs.

Mmmmm…the picture doesn’t do it justice.  I helped myself to seconds.  By then, Matt had gotten home and suggested we go for fro-yo.  I acquiesced.  Shocking, I know.

I piled on toppings – white chocolate for-yo, shredded coconut, strawberries, chocolate chips and vanilla yogurt chips.  Deeeelish.

The next day, Alyssa and Matt worked from home so we relaxed around the house and watched old reruns of Saved by the Bell.  I unpacked and repacked my bag and managed to remember to snap one final picture before I had to leave.

It’s never enough time with her, but I knew she and Matt would be staying with me the following Monday through Wednesday.  We said our “see you soons” and then I began the journey back to DC for the weekend.  I thought about driving straight home, but DC is halfway and I had already planned to be gone until Sunday.  I took advantage of one more visit with Kristin.  As if she couldn’t get enough of me…. 🙂

Before further tales in the capital, I will interject here with a story about New Jersey.  I wanted to be adventurous and avoid toll roads back to DC.  TERRIBLE IDEA.  It took me 4 hours to get halfway through Jersey along city streets when it would’ve taken about an hour or so had I taken 95 and just paid the darn tolls.  After hours of nearly bumper to bumper traffic, I finally said #*&@ this and found the quickest route to 95.  Four more hours later, I arrived at Kristin’s.

She and her Matt were enjoying drinks a few blocks away so I changed in my car (it was dark) and walked to meet them.  We all shared a quesadilla and a chimichanga and savoured a few drinks before walking back to their apartment.  I was exhausted from the drive, so it didn’t take long for me to pass out on an air mattress in the living room, soaking up the AC from the window unit.  The next day, Kristin and I agreed that we needed a girl day.  We had brunch and Starbucks mocha frappes and then indulged with mani/pedis.  The salon was packed and way more expensive than I expected, but when the girl asked if I wanted a longer foot massage I didn’t think twice.  $70 later we walked to Georgetown to see the matinee of “The 5 Year Engagement”.  We even split a gigantic popcorn….what rebels.  I love Mindy Kaling, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt and Alison Brie so I laughed quite a bit.  My only complaint was that it was just a bit too long.  Still a decent rom-com though.

Obviously, we love photo-ops.  We decided to swing by the Safeway grocery on the way home and get the everything we needed for tacos.  We also found some kind of amazing, mouth-watering 7 layer taco dip.  It was difficult walking the remaining 20 minutes without tearing into that dip.  About 22 minutes later, I did.

It probably looks like I have an eating problem, but I love me some good food.  And Kristin likes taking pictures of me eating….We tore up some tacos and then stayed up late talking and laughing and sharing stories.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful two weeks.  The next morning, I packed up my bags for the last time, along with the memories and clarity I gained during my journey.  Little did I know, some major things would happen the following weeks after my return home (hence the reason it has taken me over a month to write about this little adventure of mine).  But that is another post for another day…

The drive home went by quickly and I sang along to my iPod the entire way.  I loved every minute of those 2 weeks, but I also loved pulling into my own driveway.

Final tally – 1,501.9 miles!!! Whew!  Hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did 😉

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