I do a lot of traveling in my life. Between meeting with clients, speaking engagements and press events I’m away from home quite a bit.
Earlier this week though I got to do something I’ve longed hoped for. The planets aligned and I was able to take my daughter on a trip with me.
My wife is away attending a conference and my son is at summer camp. So, when Syracuse University contacted me about speaking to their communications teams, I agreed to do it as long as they didn’t mind my daughter coming along as well. They loved the idea and everything was set in motion.
To say that we were both excited about this would be an understatement. The past weeks have had us saying to each other “I can’t wait!” over and over. My son got sick of this because he has always wanted to go on a trip with me and I look forward to making that a reality some day.
The plan was to wake up whenever we did and then hit the road. My speaking wasn’t until the following day at lunch time so we had no schedule that we had to stick to. We’d stop to eat when we were hungry and if anything caught our eye we’d pull over.
Now, from where we live to Syracuse is not all that exciting of a trip. You literally get on I-90 and head west. That is it.
We stopped at Dunkin Donuts to get our morning fuel and then we were off.
Emily read and doodled while I got comfy for the five hour drive ahead of us. We have a game where she’ll ask for something crazy to draw and then she does. While it wasn’t crazy, I asked her to drive a flag for the trip which you see above. I love how she made the C in our name.
Massachusetts passed by rather quickly. We took a quit pit stop in the Berkshires to fill up on gas. Emily requested sunflower seeds. Little did I know that this is her current road trip snack of choice. Oh, the things you’ll learn!
I love the drive through New York.
You make your way over and through mountains while surrounded by beautiful and hilly farm land on all sides. I spotted windmills in the distance and we had fun watching them spin on the horizon. Plus, for a long stretch of time you follow the Hudson River which of course is beautiful.
My stomach was rumbling, but Emily was engrossed in to her book. I decided that whenever she stopped reading we would stop for lunch. We passed several small towns that looked promising, but she was still reading so I sang along to the radio and waited.
She finally looked up and closed her book. “This is getting really good,” she announced.
“Want to stop and grab some lunch?”
We determined that the next exit we’d get off at. It turned out to be in Utica, NY.
The very first thing I noticed was a sign for Saranac Brewery Tours and I got excited. I love their beer and I’m not one to pass up a brewery tour. I also noticed the Amtrak station and an Adirondack Scenic Railroad which sounded like a lot of fun. Sadly, there was no way of finding the brewery since the signs didn’t have an address or anything like that, so lunch became our only priority.
Driving around Utica reminded me how hard much of America has been hit. While there were plenty of businesses that looked like they were doing ok, there was an equal number boarded up buildings and for sale signs.
It seems that in Utica most restaurants are not opened for lunch on Tuesdays. We drove all over and every time we spotted a place it wasn’t open. Our prospects were looking pretty dim.
Finally we spotted Master Pizza and aimed for it. While we both were hoping for a diner or small town dive, we had to settle for this. Thankfully it was pretty good pizza. Emily got a slice of cheese and I got two slices of buffalo chicken.
After a bit of a leg stretch, we got back on the highway with only an hour left until our final destination.
We pulled into the Syracuse Sheraton and checked in. Of course we then proceeded to do what Chapmans always do in every new hotel room. A back flop onto the bed. They were super comfy!
I took a few minutes to check email and other things to make sure all was well. I’d have more time later to really dive in so it was a quick scan so we could get out and see what was going on. Sadly, after checking all the local attractions they seemed to either not have much going on or were closed. Plus it was over 100 degrees out so walking around wasn’t really in the cards.
I contacted the person who brought me up to speak and we decided to meet as she headed out of work for the day. We chatted a bit about the event and how many people were coming. She thankfully gave me some great suggestions on things we could do.
Leaving everything in our room except for our cameras, Emily and I headed out to Armory Square to walk around. They had told us that there were lots of great shops and things to see. They were right.
I’m sure on a Friday night this area gets hopping. There were several brew pubs, restaurants and an assortments of shops.
Emily had a blast in an accessory store where she bought a new toe ring. The woman behind the counter made quite the impression when she noticed that Emily’s purse had a broken snap on it. She grabbed her hot glue gun and fixed it up in a jiffy. “It is amazing how just being nice is such a simple thing.” Emily stated as we walked out. Yup, she is my kid!
We played in the fountains and marved at the Niagara Mohawk Power Building. We just strolled around and took it all in.
“Want to find this Dinosour BBQ place that everyone is talking about?” I asked to which I got a nod.
I pulled out my iPhone and saw that it was listed as only .2 miles from where we were. I looked around and laughed as I could see it a couple of blocks from where we stood.
I love a good meal and quality barbecue is one of the best. Any place that is packed on a Tuesday night has to be good and we were not disappointed at all.
Creole deviled eggs for an appetizer followed by a sampler plate of brisket, ribs, pulled pork and macaroni and cheese filled our happy bellies. Plus, we washed it all down with some quality high end soda. Emily went for the cream soda, but I had my favorite black cherry.
Walking off dinner was a priority, so we decided to do it by seeing the Syracuse campus. It is a neat mix of old stone buildings and modern structures. You can see what it looked like through my lens if you want.
It was fascinating to see what caught Emily’s eye. It filled me with pride to watch her move to find her shot and get frustrated when she couldn’t find it. Teaching her some basic macro photography skills and lighting tips was a personal highlight for me. I can’t wait to see her photos!
We had thought about going to the movies, but opted to cuddle up in our room and watch something from pay per view. She chose The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Surprisingly it was quite funny and we both enjoyed it.
Morning came and while she slept, I was wide awake and jumped on the computer to get some work done. When she woke up, we hit the restaurant in the hotel for a quick bite to eat. She liked that I encouraged us to go down in what we were wearing instead of having to shower first.
After breakfast, we showered and packed everything up. I had seen the night before where I was talking and it was directly across the street. Of course we got there early, but I hate being late. Emily kicked back playing Amazing Alex for the first time while I went through my talk in my head one last time.
Turns out that Emily got to be a bit of a rock star while I was talking as she had an intern assigned to her. They headed over to Varsity Pizza for lunch and afterwards found a cookie truck that she couldn’t stop smiling about.
My talk went great and the crowd had a ton of questions. After I was done a few of them even came up to thank me for Content Rules because they had got so much from reading it. That never gets old hearing and fills me with pride every time.
After a quick stop by the book store (I had to get something Syracuse Lacrosse for Dylan!) we got in the car for the long drive home.
Thankfully Emily slept for part of the trip since I know how fast that can make a trip go.
When she woke up I asked about dinner and we got off at the next exit which found us in Lee, Massachusetts. Unlike our last pull off the highway meal town this one was picturesque small town New England. We parked the car and began walking up the street to see what caught our eye.
We opted for Salmon Run Fish House because we are both seafood lovers and it sounded pretty good.
They were a bit surprised we didn’t have reservations and told us it would be a thirty minute wait. It ended up being about ten minutes and we sat down and drooled over the menu.
Unfortunately they were out of the crab legs that Emily was craving. We munched down on a plate of perfect onion rings followed by seafood alfredo pasta for her and a baked seafood sampler for me. If you ever find yourself in western Mass you should make a point to go here. Super food and the fact that they have a homemade crisp of the day makes them instantly my type of place. Apple was the crisp of the day and I’m happy to report that it was perfectly yummy.
After dinner, Emily asked if we could go for a walk. Who was I to say no? My heart is still smiling from the fact that as we took our first steps, she reached out to hold my hand and never let go the entire walk. Few things melt my heart like affection from my daughter.
We took a few more photos and got back in the car for the last leg of our journey.
Pulling into our driveway in the dark of night meant that our road trip had come to an end.
Roxie was happy we were home and so were we. Until the next adventure!Pin It