After leaving Bartlesville, OK, we began our journey back to the homestead. The drive home is always bittersweet – you’re sad to see your trip coming to an end, but happy to be heading back to the comforts of home. Day one of the return trip saw us do the only backtracking of the entire trip. We followed the same route from Bartlesville until close to St. Louis, where we bypassed the city and headed towards Louisville, KY The rest of the entire trip found us following entirely different routes, which was very nice.
The most striking memory that I have of this day was somewhere on the road that morning. I can’t recall if we were still in Oklahoma or had crossed into Missouri, but we came to an overpass with a person standing on it. As we approached, I realized it wasn’t someone walking across, but just standing there. The closer we got, the clearer the image – a large, bushy-bearded middle-aged man dressed in what you’d expect someone like that to be wearing (just use your imagination… you’re probably right). And in his hand was a large confederate flag. He was just standing there holding the flag over the highway beneath him. Very odd. Very southern.
Despite the fact that we had a long drive ahead of us to get to our next hotel in Louisville, we made a few brief stops. We popped off again at the World’s Biggest Gift Shop next to Redmon’s Candy Factory (as I talked about in Part 1) where I purchased my souvenir Route 66 t-shirt and Golden Girls Funko Pop figurines.
Hours later, as we were driving through Indiana, we saw a sign for a town called Santa Claus. Now, I knew that there was a Santa Claus, Indiana, but this fact had left my mind. Given that I am a bit of a Christmas fanatic, we HAD to make a pit-stop. Santa Claus was a cute little town with a holiday theme sprinkled here and there. We stopped at the Santa Claus Christmas Store to do a little perusing. This was a large Christmas shop, offering decorations and ornaments of all kinds. While Isabelle was browsing a display of very realistic looking cupcake ornaments, we heard a voice boom from behind us, “Look almost good enough to eat, don’t they?”
We turned to see Santa Claus… There was a workshop set up in a corner of the section of the store we were in with Santa sitting in his big comfy chair, waiting to greet his visitors. This was unquestionably the real Santa Claus. No doubts in my mind. I somewhat regret not getting a photo taken with him to be honest. Guess I’ll have to go back!
As we were leaving the town, we passed an amusement park called Holiday World. Had we known about Santa Claus, IN and Holiday World, we may have modified our travel plans accordingly. While I’m sure it was no Disney World, it would still have been a fun way to spend a day on our way home. Another reason for us to head back to the area.
By the time we arrived in Louisville, it was early evening. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the hotel for the night. We had another long day of driving ahead of us to our next stop – Harrisburg, PA. After a nearly 10 hour drive through beautiful Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland, we followed the same pattern – grab a bite for supper and retire to the hotel for the night.
Our first two days of the journey home were long driving days, but this was done with intention. We knew that we had been rested after spending a couple of days in Bartlesville, and we would rather take a few longer days of driving to start the journey in order to have shorter days on the tail end.
Our next point of rest would be Wrentham, MA. Isabelle and I have had many shopping trips to the New England states, but we had never made it to Wrentham. We arrived at the Premium Outlets and spent the rest of the day shopping. For supper, we took a drive down to Providence, RI in order to go eat at the Cheesecake Factory, even though there was one closer to us in the Boston area. By taking the extra 30-minute drive, we were able to add one additional state on our list of visited states.
The next morning was a big day. Well, it was a big day for me. It was my birthday! One of the outlet shops that we bypassed the day prior was our first stop this morning. We headed back to the Premium Outlets and made a beeline for the Disney Outlet. With my love of all things Disney, this was the most logical activity for us to do. Both Isabelle and I bought some new shirts and the like, and then we headed off to Kittery, ME.
With our proclivity to choose travel destinations based on food, Kittery was a gimme for my birthday. Anytime we’re in the area, we have to stop by Bob’s Clam Hut for some of the best fried clams in the world.
The final destination on our return trip was Portland, ME. We had decided to spend one last night on the road so that we didn’t spend 6-7 hours driving on my birthday. We had one last big supper out, this time at UNO. I can definitely say that I ate well on my birthday. 🙂
And thus ended our epic 7659 km road trip. We had a blast and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The only change I would make would be to extend the number of days so that we could make a few more pit-stops and detours.