The Blogging Manual tells me that this is the time to reflect on the past year and do recaps out of pure narcissistic indulgence. I’m off work today and it’s dreary outside, so why not?! We’ll talk about my favorite road trips in this one, and perhaps later I’ll come back and tell you about my favorite coaster experiences?!
2022 was pretty decent. Covid has definitely made me appreciate every little thing, and that mentality really boosted my feelings toward the trips we took last year, even the ones that maybe someone would look at and deem as “so mid” because it wasn’t a tropical locale or Europe, but an amusement park in the upper mitt of Michigan or some strange small town in Indiana.
Anyway, here are some of my favorite trips from 2022, in no particular order except that the Spring Break Trip is totally uncontested as #1:
- The Spring Break Roller Coaster Trip: For a trip that ended up being a last minute Plan B to the Plan A itinerary that would have had us going through Texas and Missouri, this ended up being the week that I relied on in my memories to get me through shitty days. It was jam-packed with some of the most fun days I have ever had as an adult, and we even mostly got along famously as a family, which is unheard of when you put the three Oh Honestlys in a car together for any length of time. This had us going through Virginia, where we spent a day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and then the bulk of the trip had us in Florida for Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Sea World Orlando, Fun Spot Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Fun Spot Kissimmee. We spent a day in St. Augustine before continuing on home, making a pit stop at Carowinds in North Carolina, and then Kennywood for opening weekend the day we got home. It was action-packed, exhilarating, and supremely fun. I loved that trip so much!!!
- Michigan for Bill & Jessi Time!: With vaccinations and boosters making things sort of more safe (???), I was desperate to see some of my friends, especially the ones who live outside of Pittsburgh. Bill and Jessi are those friends who you can pick right back up with after years of not seeing them and it’s like no time has passed at all. It was SO GOOD to see them after all these years (I think 2018 was the last time??) and were so appreciative that they made time for us. I especially loved exploring Ypsilanti with them! I’m hoping that we can host them again here in Pittsburgh soon. I have wanted to take them to the Bayernhof for years now because I think they would appreciate the kitschy vibes and feel like we would have a hilarious time there! Or the Mattress Factory?!?! They have been here to visit us so many times but it’s usually for Chooch’s birthday parties so we never really get to show them around that much.
- New Hampshire for Alyson & Ryan Shenanigans!: I hadn’t seen Alyson IRL since 2014 and after years of writing “Hopefully next year we’ll get to hang out again!” in all of my Xmas cards, I knew it was time to finally get serious about it. Perspective is wild, man. I don’t want to waste any more time not seeing my friends!! I was so glad that Alyson and her husband Ryan were game for a hangout. One of the weekends that were free for them happened to be my birthday weekend! Chooch was in Mexico at the time and I knew that staying here for my birthday would be utterly depressing. Dude, not only was it amazing to see Alyson again (I freaking cried!), but meeting Ryan was wonderful! What a chill, kind man! We had the best conversations, delicious food (they made me soondubu jjigae for my birthday dinner!!!), leisurely nature walks, hilarious diner hangouts…it was amazing. I think this feeling was what that dumb Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul book means?!
- The Slickly-Planned Excuse to Meet Two Members of Chooch’s Mexico Squad: I originally had several other ideas for Labor Day Weekend, but then while Chooch was in Mexico, he became part of a “squad,” and some of those kids live near Chicago. Also near Chicago is a Six Flags that we had never been to, and also kind of near there is Wisconsin Dells, the place I have wanted to go to ever since Henry and I drove through it on our way home from a music festival in 2004ish and had a huge-ass fight because we were broke AF back then and he said “NO WE CANNOT STOP HERE, WE ARE DRIVING STRAIGHT HOME!” and then I made him pull over so I could sit in the back because I didn’t want to be near him anymore. Sounds so unlike me, I know. I was v. immature back then.
- Six Flags New England for Memorial Day!: Another new-to-us park! We hadn’t been to Massachusetts since….2013? I think? Granted, we didn’t do much of anything there aside from the park, but we did some time in parts of Connecticut, and I got to hand-free a chipmunk in the Black Squirrel Park!! We had a lot of fun at Six Flags though and it was just nice being in a different area for once.
- WILDWOOD!!!!: This weekend was pretty insane. We went specifically for the Morey’s Piers Coastin’ By the Ocean coaster enthusiast event and it was SO MUCH FUN. But we also hit up Six Flags Great Adventure and Hershey Park on the way home. I won’t say it was the perfect weekend because I felt 100% sleep-deprived and had a ton of moody moments at Morey’s, and Hershey was soooo mid as usual, but there were still more bright spots at Wildwood to counteract the mood swings, and Great Adventure ended up being FUCKING AMAZING after we had two so-so visits in the past.
There were so many other little weekend trips that happened and they were all wonderful! We went to Cedar Point twice, the aforementioned Indiana Beach, Newark twice which is not that great BUT we went for Stray Kids and NCT127 concerts so that made it 100% worthwhile, and Dollywood! I have to give Henry credit (grudgingly, of course) because these trips are not the least bit leisurely. There is so much driving involved and to be honest, I do not help with that very much lol. And then once we get to the destination, it’s non-stop running around theme parks, making strategic plans to beat crowds, getting totally busted on wooded coasters. It is A LOT and I am truly so lucky that Henry is ok with this kind of chaotic lifestyle. I mean, I don’t want to BRAG, but I think I kind of have a fun family. :)
I also want to include the aforementioned “Chooch’s Mexico Trip” here even though I wasn’t there because it was so cool living vicariously through him, waiting for CIEE Instagram and email updates, trying to piece things together by visiting (NOT STALKING LOL) the friends he made on Instagram. I’m just sincerely relieved and grateful that Henry and I were able to make this happen for him, although Chooch did most of it on his own by getting an academic scholarship. Plus, he got a transferrable college credit out of it, and an A in the Spanish course he was taking while there, so I whole-heartedly feel that it was worth it even though I was scared to death of sending him to another country alone, as a 16-year-old, during a pandemic. I think this is something that he will keep close to his heart for the rest of his life, even though if I say this to him right now, he’ll probably vomit and ask me why I’m suddenly saying “sincere mom things.”
I don’t think I ever recapped his last week there because by the time CIEE sent the email update with pictures, he was already home and showing me the “real” pictures and regaling us with stories about the Girls Gone Wild-type shit that was going down behind the scenes. One of the girls got kicked out and lost her college credit because she was sneaking out to go to clubs and then skipping class, lol.
Chooch already had a hearty lust for travel but this definitely solidified that in him. He is obsessed with geography, and has memorized every country on the map along with their flags, just for funsies. I hope he studies abroad in college, too!
Hopefully, 2023 will be full of more trips, big and small! I always hesitate to put things out there because of my ever-present fear of JINXING myself (looking at you, Euro Coaster Trip 2020 that was corona-canceled, lol), but we do have a big trip planned for next August with Coaster Crew. They’re doing a 9-day Nordic trip full of amusement parks in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. We have already been paying into that so hopefully it happens! I take nothing for granted anymore, though.
If you read this whole dumb thing, thank you for being a real one and I hope your 2023 is full of all the best things! If anything, this post got me to crack down on my category / blog post organization so I think everything is now properly filed away for easier access?! Blogging is tough.