2014 East Coast Trip

Cliff Crew Road Trip 2014


2014 was a weird year.  For most of it, Jonathan and I had role reversal; I worked full time, while he stayed home as part Domestic God and part Homeschooling Dad.  We both learned a lot about each other and ourselves, and learned to appreciate each other in a new way I think.

I for one, learned that it’s tough to work a long day (especially if the day brings challenges) then come home and be ready to engage with the family.  A lot of days I just wanted to walk right past them and straight to bed.  Jonathan is great about coming home from work, no matter the kind of day he’s had, excited to see us and spend time with us; I have always appreciated that, but even more so now.

I was commuting a lot of crazy-town miles and working a lot of crazy-town hours. When we got ready to make a transition to a new city where Jonathan would begin working full time again and I would be staying home, we wanted to take some down-time first to be together,  and frankly to sort of recuperate from the nutso schedule I’d been keeping.

So, when the lease on our apartment in Georgia was up on December 19th, and Jonathan didn’t start his new job in Tennessee until Feb 1st…..we hit the road!!!

It really felt like “the trip of a lifetime.”  Since neither of us were working for those 1.5 months and we were living off savings, we did the trip in typical Cliff Style (aka on a strict budget).  We were blessed that gas prices were super low, and the crazy snowfall hadn’t hit the East Coast yet! We had beautiful walking weather in all the cities we hit.  Amazing, amazing trip.

We know life might not ever afford another opportunity like that – I am so grateful for the chance.

Our game plan for Operation: Budget East Coast Tour was to use hotel points for lodging (earned off a credit card we pay off monthly and only use to accrue the points; plus, a family member donated some points as a Christmas gift), eat lots of lunches in the car (I can make a mean PBJ traveling the interstate), eat at lots of local pizza joints (cheapest way to eat local for a family) and to hit all the FREE tourist spots.  I wouldn’t change a thing about our trip.

In addition the hotel stays, we rented a two bedroom apartment in Hoboken NJ off of airbnb.com  for the few days surrounding Christmas.  We had a great experience! The area of Hoboken where we stayed was surprisingly delightful (who knew?), super budget friendly when compared to Manhattan, and a quick walk from our apartment to the train station took us into NYC.  The owners of the apartment even set up a Christmas tree for us!

And if you can believe it….we all even got along really well for the duration of the trip. Planning this trip I thought it might be more fun in hindsight that in the actual day to day of the trip. I imagined squabbles, and boredom with the driving, and all around crankiness due to the sharing of hotel rooms. But I’m happy to report there was really only ONE major outburst. It happened in Boston, with crying and yelling and maybe some cuss words.  I apologized quickly. 

Below are some highlights of the trip!


Colonial Williamsburg/Yorktown/Jamestown was made better because Dylan and Lauryn had just studied the Revolutionary War!  I was impressed by how much they retained, and they were excited to see places in real life that they’d read about all year:

Battle of Yorktown



Beautiful blue skys for our tour of Historic Jamestown
Williamsburg - 1
We didn’t buy tickets for the full Colonial Williamsburg experience, but we had an amazing time just walking around the city (which is free). Beautiful!





Washington DC was the one place that we hit a bit of nasty weather.  There was freezing rain and bitter wind!  It just made us walk that much faster between our favorite Smithsonian Museums.

So cold that no one was ice skating!
National Mall
The National Mall is pretty even in freezing rain.




New York City was the favorite stop for all the kids.  They were all three completely taken in by this place.  We kept hearing “I feel like I’m in a movie!” We were sure to watch some of our favorites that take place in NYC (Elf, Home Alone 2) when we crashed back at the apartment after walking our legs off all day long:

Washington Square Park
Times Square
rockefeller center
Rockefeller Center
central park
Central Park
carlos bakery
Carlos Bakery in Hoboken. We were starstruck with a Mario spotting!






Boston was the favorite stop for me and Jonathan.  I was completely charmed by this city and I can’t wait to go back.  Beautiful, historical, lovely.  Don’t miss the Freedom Trail; we spent most of one day walking it and seeing each of the 16 stops along the trail.

Harvard Yard
Stunning Harvard Yard on a Sunday morning.
Steeple of Old North Church, of “one if by land, two if by sea” fame.
view from bunker hill monument
View from the top of Bunker Hill Monument
USS constitution
From aboard the USS Constitution, the last stop on the Freedom Trail.






Niagara Falls. All I can say is that it was so stupid cold.  The spray off the falls was freezing in mid-air before pelting us in the face.  I think it was probably beautiful but I was too cold to know for sure.

The coldest I’ve ever been ever.




We were also able to travel to upstate NY to stay with some good friends in Utica.   So nice to have a home-cooked meal after all the time on the road!

After driving the East Coast, we headed back to Oklahoma for a good long visit with family, broken up by a trip to Texas to see friends.

After all that travel and precious time together, we were refreshed and ready to transition to our new city! We are happy to be settling into Clarksville, TN.  We’ve met some great people here, and feel amazingly blessed to be able to be part of an awesome, awesome group of believers, Grace Community Church.  Here’s to our next adventure.

Future Home to the Cliff Crew, now under construction!













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