The Great American Road Trip

I am sitting here, writing this in the dining room of my Victorian mansion, with lightning fast WiFi. Just another day here with the Sweetspots!

Wait, what!? Perhaps a little background is necessary.

Yesterday evening, we safely arrived in Smalltown, PA (not the real name of the town, but might as well be) where we will be staying and working for 6 weeks. The local university organizes a children’s theatre camp, and we’ve been working with them for several seasons. We love the company, but uprooting for this amount of time can be a bit of a problem, especially when you have pets. Remember, not that long ago we had five of those!

Gumbo, the dog.
I’m the last survivor!

The whole reason we are in an RV today (metaphorically, and permanent address-wise… remember I am literally in a Victorian mansion!) was because three seasons ago, when we still had the full menagerie, we couldn’t find any place to rent in town so we rented an RV in a camp ground a few miles drive from our summer gig.

This made us realize that, while small, it was absolutely possible to live like this, especially if the space was gutted and redesigned with full time living in mind rather than “How do we sleep as many people as possible while on the road?” i.e. we don’t need a table that folds into a bed. However, in other housing adventures, those who know us IRL (does anybody say that anymore? #ThatChatroomLife #PartyLikeIts1999) have heard many tales of “5 weeks, no bed”. While this sounds like an awesome adventure hiking in the woods, it was actually at the company provided housing. Long story short, last year we were provided with housing that accommodated pets, but included almost no furniture, with the exception of 7 assorted tables and 3 chairs, for the four of us living there! We were also given air mattresses… (like, really?) After last year’s failed experiment, the company no longer offers housing, so again we had to find accommodations for the two of us, Gumbo and Zen.

Gumbo the Dog!
Zen the Cat?

Mr. Sweetspot has many amazing abilities, but chief among them are research and negotiation skills. He found us this place, which is biking distance from work and conned convinced 3 of our co-workers to move in with us. We are attending a conference here prior to starting the gig, so the upstairs is currently mysteriously locked up, Bluebeard-style. We have the full downstairs which is probably 10X our normal living space. As we were coming into town earlier than our roommates, Mr. Sweetspot also negotiated a flexible arrival date, which is where our story really begins.

Bluebeard, his wife, and the keys in a 19th-century illustration by Gustave Doré
Not a depiction of Mr. Ss

One of the main things our blog focuses on is finding balance, and we’ve recently realized just how much we suck at this. I jumped straight from working full time in accedamia into helping Mr. SS with building the shed-cottage-studio and land maintenance, and gave myself no time off. I ended up very upset and frustrated, and we decided, ENOUGH. We needed to slow things down. In the effort to do so, we decided to come to PA a day earlier, take our time getting here, and have a day to prepare before we dive into the conference. This idea felt really good, as slowing down is definitely what I needed. But I’m somewhat of a horrible road tripper. As a kid I used to get horribly car sick. I’m better now, but still don’t love being in a car. I also have a tiny bladder, and need to stop all the time. None the less, I decided to embrace road tripping and see if we could make it fun.

We stacked the deck of random adventure a little bit, as we knew we could easily direct our path through the Fingerlakes region, specifically the town of Watkins Glenn. We didn’t plan exactly where we’d stop, but we planned to allow ourselves to stop a lot, pack as much as we could the day before as to not rush in the morning, and not really worry about when we will arrive at our destination. We started the day with bagels with avocado (yum! #millenials) and proceeded to load our remaining stuff up the hill and into the car.


We loaded up our animals as well. Gumbo ran up the hill in great spirits, as the boy loves adventure. Zen hid her head in my armpit and dove under the car seat, as she hates seeing or acknowledging the world. We departed, drove for a few hours and stopped at the second winery we passed for a tasting. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Finger Lakes are more than picturesque views and serene boating, it’s wine country!

Swedish Hill had a great selection, including several sparkling options (unusual for small family-run wineries in NY), and we love the bubbly. We clinked glasses with each new wine, as our glasses at home are a very practical acrylic and we love the sound! After enjoying the tasting, we went onto their deck and ate our packed lunch while overlooking the vineyard, a pond and a donkey enclosure. We pack our own food when on the road for several reasons. Cost is one, accessibility of vegan options is another. Lastly, when traveling with pets, you can’t leave them in a hot car in the summer. This way, you can eat whenever you want, and spread out on a blanket or at a picnic table with the whole family.

After this lovely break, we proceeded down the road. We stopped at two more wineries, one of which was also a distillery. Lest you worry about drunk driving, from there on Mr. Sweetspot tasted stuff like a sommelier (“humm, yes, you can really get that apricot in the finish and those citrus notes sing over the fresh cut grass.”) while I tasted like a white lady (“More Rose, please!”).

We tried some eiswein, the liquor sampler of vodka, gin and bourbon, and then all of the dry wine selection at Bagley’s. We started with the semi-sweet, but if you’ve had semi-sweet in NY, you know it means “I’ll have all the sugar, please” (interestingly, the gal at Bagley’s Told us it’s because of the soil composition in NY, and that even wine with 0% residual sugar can have a fruity sweet forward). We ended up leaving with their Baco Noir, which was surprising as we typically don’t enjoy red wine.

The cherry on top, was our stop in Watkins Glenn. They have a Ben&Jerry’s store, and I wanted to stop by and see if they carried vegan ice cream. They recently started selling their non-dairy creations in stores, so I figured there was a 10% chance. To my surprise, they had two “ice-cream” flavors and a vegan sorbet. The girl working there was super helpful, and also let us know that their waffle cones, made on the spot, weren’t vegan. We got a scoop each (their “kids” size) in their (vegan) sugar cone and wondered around town, discovering all kinds of cute stuff, including the world’s smallest diner. Once our ice-cream was devoured, we returned to the car for the rest of the journey.

We didn’t make other exciting stops, but listened to some podcasts from The Minimalists (Intentional Living & Reset), and talked about everything and nothing. We didn’t make good time, and got into town a little after 9pm. We plugged in our pre-loaded rice cooker, and unpacked the car while our dinner cooked.

Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

When we travel we throw some rice and beans with seasonings into our rice cooker, pack it so that it’s easily accessible and then plug it in once we arrive at our destination. By the time we’re settled and unpacked, we have a meal ready. We went to bed enjoying our mansion, and I was really grateful that I finally had that amazing road trip experience (and managed a little balance too)!

2 thoughts on “The Great American Road Trip

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