I just love road trips and especially these days, they are most convenient. After our last Colorado road trip, we got some confidence to travel. I met my elder sister, who lives in NJ, in February this year and since then waiting for conditions to improve. In a normal year, we could have met 3 to 4 times, but this year is different. We finally planned to visit her on her birthday -Nov 8.
Omaha to New Jersey means approx. 18 hours of drive. Since I love driving, I was super excited. We planned our trip with one stopover at Joliet, Illinois which is 6 hours drive from Omaha.
States Covered in the journey:-
- New Jersey
DAY 1 –
We planned to leave for Joliet at 6 AM, so set two alarm of 5 and 5.30 AM. Harmit got up on time while I was sleeping like a baby. Once she got ready, she woke me up and it took nearly 1/2 an hour for me to get ready. We left home at 6:30 sharp, it was still dark outside.
What we packed for the trip :-
- 2 carry on bags with our clothes
- Camera, lenses and tripod
- 4 books for reading
- Indoor bonsai plant
- 2 Laptop bags with laptops and other necessary stuff
- Water bottle pack
- Shoes and slippers
- Jackets, caps and gloves
- Mobile and Fitbit chargers along with power bank
- 6 masks and sanitizer
Soon vibrant colors in the sky were visible with the emergence of sun above horizon. Everything was just beautiful and we also noticed fog on both sides of the highway. Harmit took some great pictures and a video to capture this.
We took our first halt after 2 hours in Clive, Iowa. Harmit searched for a local coffee-shop with good eating options and selected 5 Borough Bagels as our breakfast stop, which turned out be a great decision. Service was quick and bagels were delicious and fulfilling. We always prefer local coffee shops, as most of the time they do wonders through their menus and tastes.
Even though there were sitting arrangements, we preferred to take out and eat in our car. We had breakfast in parked car and also gave water to our cute bonsai. We were back to road in nearly 45 mins. There was not much to see during the trip, just the uninhabited lands and crops on both sides with no colors.
We reached Joliet at around 1 PM and checked in to our hotel – Best Western Joliet Inn & Suites. Location of hotel was nice and there were fall colors in surroundings. They upgraded our room to 2 queen beds room which was spacious and was equipped with all basic amenities. We ordered Thai food in lunch through DoorDash. For dinner, we got late, so had to settle with Taco Bell. We also filled gas for the trip and went to bed early. Room was sun facing, experience of watching rising-sun from the window of our room was amazing. We got ready, grabbed packaged breakfast (water, banana and granola bar with coffee) and headed for NJ at 7:30 AM.
DAY 2 –
It was around 12 hour journey from here. We ate breakfast while driving and started the day 2 trip. Basically there were 3 more states between here to our destination. There is nothing to see during the trip and also not much to eat.
We took our first break at around 11AM in a service plaza in Ohio state. We stopped there for Starbucks and loo break, but got lucky to find some good food options there. There was Sbarro, an Italian food chain with plenty of vegetarian options. Harmit picked a pizza slice and I took cheesy mushrooms along with baked potatoes. Food was cheap, delicious and very fulfilling. It served the purpose for our whole trip. We also filled the gas tank there.
From there we continuous drove without any break. We talked a lot, listened music and whenever I felt drowsy, discussed some serious topic 😊. We saw some beautiful colors in Pennsylvania but couldn’t capture much.
Soon it was dusk and there is nothing in Pennsylvania other than cluster of trees both sides like a forest. It got very dark with basically nothing but just big trucks trying to overtake us in that silence. That area was so quiet and dark that we decided to look for gas station so as not to be in trouble. We searched for gas station and exited the highway for it. Place was very scenic and cold. We filled the tank and went to washroom there.
Finally we entered NJ, and it was more illuminated unlike Pennsylvania. We reached at my sister’s house at 10:30 PM, still 1.5 hours before her birthday. She wasn’t aware of this plan, it was a birthday surprise for her. We unloaded our carry-one and ringed her apartment bell. She opened the building door and waited for the guest to come upstairs and knock her door. But we stayed in the lobby trying to hide beneath the staircase. After few minutes, she came out and asked – “who’s there ? “ When no response came, she came downstairs with some hesitation and saw us. We said – “Surprise ! “ and she was speechless for few seconds trying to understand what just happened :). Then there were hugs, welcome and birthday party 🙂
Interesting facts about the trip
- Added around 1200 miles in the trip
- There was no COVID related restriction in any of the states
- Masks are mandatory almost everywhere
- Cash was not being accepted at tolls, only card or EZ pass
- Nearly 30 $ was spent in state tolls
- Route is not much scenic
So overall it was a great trip and we enjoyed it to fullest. Will cover the return trip soon.
Happy Reading ! Keep Traveling !!!