Living far away

I live 1,188 miles away from my parents. 1,142 miles from my daughter. 1,576 miles from my son.

I live 6 states away from my lifelong Wisconsin friends and my in-laws, and 5 states away from my sister.

I’m not living in the wilderness by any means, but I’m far from family and friends (not counting those I have here, of course). I live in Virginia – the furthest East and South of anyone in our immediate families.

This is especially difficulty when someone is sick or in need. Like my mom, or one of my lifelong friends. I want to be with them, but there’s no easy way to do so. I have to plan way in advance to be able to afford the plane ticket. And I need to be there for several days – so I’m at my destination longer than it takes me to travel to and from there.

I wish I could just stop by my daughter’s for the weekend. Or plan a 3-day holiday at my son’s. But it’s cost-prohibitive.

Don’t get me wrong. I live in a beautiful part of the country – in the valley of the Shenandoah Mountains, and the views are spectacular. Our town is small, but near a couple of larger cities with college campuses, and 45 minutes from an airport, which connects us to the rest of the country within a day’s travel. We have easy access to concerts and breweries and museums.

I’ve lived further away. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in Utah, far from our families in the Midwest. And more recently, we lived in Florida for a little over a year. But Florida is a vacation destination, so we saw family and some friends while we lived there, with the promise of many others to come visit.

It’s hard to live so far from family and friends. Thank goodness for instant messaging and texting and FaceTime and Facebook. For phone calls and video chats. For vacations and an understanding husband, who tells me, “Go,” when I need it.

Over the course of the years we’ve been married, we’ve talked about living overseas. Now that’s far away! And quite honestly, I think now would be the time, before the kids settle down and have families of their own. I don’t want to be far away when there are grandbabies to hold!

All this means that we probably have another move in us, sometime in the not-too-distant future. And maybe a move after that, to wherever we’d like to retire and live out the rest of our lives. That’s hard to decide, because while we long for the western mountains, we loved the beach. But neither of those are close to family! I guess our biggest deciding factor will be access to a national airport, for easy travel to all the places we’d like to visit!

Philadelphia

What do we do when we have a long holiday without the kids? Instead of moping around and missing them, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving weekend by driving five hours to the City of Brotherly Love. Why not?! We had nothing else going on!

We ate leftover Thanksgiving ham in sandwich form. We stopped a couple of times – for gas and caffeine. The traffic moved pretty smoothly, and we got to Philly around 1:30pm. After driving for 15 minutes around the hotel looking for parking, we walked to the Residence Inn and checked in – we had a beautiful view out of our 20th floor window!

Philadelphia skyline view

We walked many blocks toward Independence National Historical Park. We passed the house where Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence on our way to the Visitors Center. I stamped our National Parks Passport, and then we walked to Independence Hall and took pictures outside.

The Declaration House
Independence Hall

Then we went to the Ben Franklin Museum – what a brilliant man. We saw the bifocals he invented – when he was 78 years old!

We walked to the car, and moved it closer to the hotel. After that, it was time for food and drink. We took care of that with a bar, a wine bar, and a German brew pub.

Bru Pub

Then back to the hotel for bed!

Philly nightscape

This morning, we slept in, ate a mediocre breakfast at the hotel, then began our walk back to Independence Center. We explored the Reading Terminal Market,

Reading Terminal Market aisle

and found delicious coffee among the produce and fresh meat stands. We walked to the Liberty Bell – waited in line for 30 minutes but had good conversation with those standing behind us. Then we walked up to the iconic symbol of freedom – so cool to see the original Liberty Bell, with its infamous long crack.

Liberty Bell

We also walked the oldest neighborhood street, Elfreth’s Alley, down the cobblestone road.

Elfreth’s Alley

Then to Sonny’s for a famous Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. The place was packed!

Loaded Philly Cheesesteak

We headed back towards Independence Hall, but our tickets’ entry time was still 3 hours away, so we decided to head home.

Good thing, too, since heavy rain came! But we drove carefully home through 5 states – PA, DE, MD, WV, and home to VA. Not bad for a day and a half!