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My Van Life: Day 44

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Trenton, NJ – Philadelphia, PA – Wilmington, DE – Baltimore, MD – Laurel, MD

Today was...An interesting day. I woke up half expecting to be underwater with Tropical Storm Henri making it’s grand debut early this morning. Thankfully we were completely in tact and above water (praise the Lord) but it did not stop raining all night long. It wasn’t too heavy but it was consistent.

We woke up and headed to pick up coffee before hitting the road to Philly. It was a pretty quick and easy drive, I don’t think we even encountered any rain on the way there which I was fully expecting, and we managed to find two hour street parking upon arrival quite easily. We arrived in Philly around 12pm and it was eerily quiet. I wasn’t sure if this was from the storm and everyone trying to get out of town or Sundays truly are the day of rest on the East Coast (as it is in other countries and should be, am I right??) or what but it was slow moving and the streets were virtually empty. Not what I would expect for what I thought to be a big and bustling city like Boston. Plus it’s the weekend in a big tourist destination so it was DEFINITELY not what I expected.

Aside from that, I was pleasantly surprised by Philly. I had no idea what to expect and truthfully I think going in my expectations may have been a bit low but it’s actually a spectacular city. What I really appreciated was the fact that we were able to hit just about all the main points of interest within two hours in a small walking radius. You can see the Liberty Bell then pop across the street to Independence Hall then walk and see Washington Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (American Revolutionary War) then loop around the corner and see the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and other early American leaders at Christ Church Burial Ground and then and then and then. It was kind of incredible but also very intentional. That’s just how it was back in the day. Things were located in the center of town (within a small radius) to make what limited travel people did that much easier.

From there we drove around a bit and saw some other noteworthy monuments like the LOVE Sculpture in John F. Kennedy Plaza or LOVE Park in addition to one of the most spectacular buildings I’ve ever seen right across from the LOVE Sculpture – Philadelphia City Hall. That building will absolutely take your breath away the moment you turn the corner and it comes into your line of sight. There were lots of tourists in that area taking pictures and I wasn’t about to wait in line for a picture so we kept driving to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rocky Balboa Statue (of course). It should come as no surprise that there was also a line of tourists there looking to mimic Rocky’s victorious pose and take photos with the infamous Philly hero. Again, I passed on that one but we thoroughly enjoyed the view from the van and both left feeling quite admirably toward Philly.

After that the day was a wash truthfully. We’ve been searching for water to fill our tank back up just about all day with no luck and we went through disappointing town after disappointing town, none of which met our expectations. First it was Wilmington, DE. We are both big fans of Wilmington, NC and perhaps a little piece of us hoped that this Delaware city may live up to the North Carolina one but unfortunately it did not. Not in the slightest. Again it was eerily quiet but this time there just wasn’t a lot going on nor anything that piqued our interest and would encourage us to stay rather than just pass through which was what we were originally planning on doing - staying overnight. So we kept driving.

On our way to DC we veered to Baltimore in the hopes that that would offer a promising stopping point but unfortunately we were met with much the same vibes in Baltimore as we experienced in Wilmington. There was certainly lots more going on in Baltimore versus Wilmington but getting there at nighttime we didn’t feel the safest nor most comfortable staying there truthfully. Which has brought us to our current location at a rest area in Laurel, MD. We continue to run into the challenges of finding places to stay on the East Coast. We keep imagining it will become easier the farther south we go but we’re met with much the same problem time and time again. It’s times like this I miss my West Coast. I’m so grateful to be seeing and experiencing so many new things out here on a coast I've never explored but it’s felt like more work than anything as of late on this side of the country. I don’t know the last time I went to sleep not terrified of being woken up with someone banging on the door telling us we can’t park overnight there. I feel that anxiety just about every night out here. We also haven't been able to park somewhere and sit with the doors and windows open, breathing in fresh air in what feels like ages. While I'm not sure we'd really want to with how uncomfortably hot and humid it's been, that's still a luxury that I think we both miss from our time out West. I’m hoping things really do change (in our favor) as we move out of Maryland, past DC and start heading toward Florida. I have faith in our Carolinas at the very least and if not we just turn around and head somewhere that IS conducive to van life.

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