July 15th, 2022
We woke in Richmond having had a fantastic sleep at the aptly named Sleep Inn. We have been on the road so long it really is getting to us now so a nice relaxed evening was just the ticket. Today would again be nonstop but at least the end was in sight. The Inn offered a decent free breakfast which set us up for the day perfectly.
Our drive was fairly short today, approx 100miles and 2 hours, and was the last push. We would be returning the car once we got to Washington. The route was pretty snarled up around Fredicksbery where there are some pretty major road works going on. however, overall it was a nice easy drive up.
There was one last highlight of our trip and it was something we missed out on purpose earlier on in the trip.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – Air and Space Museum
On our recent trip to Washington, we missed out on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum due to it being closed for refurbishment. However, the museum has two components, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center situated at Dulles was very much Open, and we were not missing the sister site. The Center is too far away from DC’s city center so we saved it for the way back when we would have a car!
Which of these two sites we would have rather visited is a tough one. The City Center Site has some really iconic aircraft on display such as the Wright Flyer, Apollo 11, and the Spirit of St Luis. But the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center has a lot more space and a lot bigger and cooler aircraft on display!
The Jet Aircraft section consisted mainly of cold war aircraft such as the F-4, Mig-21, and Grumman intruder, and f-14 Tomcat, which are all pretty cool. But there were some really modern jets there too such as the X-35B, the F-35 prototype, and a Blue Angles F/A-18 Hornet.
The Commercial Aviation section is awesome and is the only indoor Museum we have been to that actually has commercial jetliners on display (let us know if you know of others?). But among the various Jetliners from the evolution of the industry is the star of the Show, an Air France Concorde!
There is a decent section of early Aeroplanes on display. While these are not quite on par with the Wright Flyer on display at the City Center, It’s still pretty cool to see and they must have taken enormous kahuna’s to actually fly!
Historic Military Craft
The Historic Military section has some really nice aircraft on display. A Focke Wulf, P-38 lightning, Northrop Black Widow, and a Hawker Hurricane. These aren’t your usual Historic planes and it was nice to see something different!
The Big Guns
Finally, there is the Big-3. Each one of these is reason enough to visit the center and to have all three here is just awesome!
This is my favorite plane ever, and I love getting the chance to see them. This is only the second SR-71 I have seen and easily the best condition, although I have seen A-12s in New York, Palmdale, and San Diego and these are very similar.
It’s such a cool design and so awesome to think they were able to fly so high and so fast so long ago! There is almost no computing power on these and it was all manual pilot control at the edge of space at mach3+
Space Shuttle Discovery
The scale of the Space shuttle is truly incredible and just seeing one in person is awe-inspiring. There were only six shuttles ever built, and Columbia and Challenger were lost, leaving only 4 for display. Atlantis is in Kennedy, Orlando. Endeavour is in California and Enterprise, which was only a glide/test model is at Intrepid New York. So just getting to see a shuttle is a boyhood dream.
There are plenty of other Spacecraft in the Shuttle hall and this is one of the best parts of the Center.
If ever a single plane had a part in changing history, this one right here had one of the biggest of all. For anyone who doesn’t know, Enola Gay was the Plane that delivered the first Atomic Bomb to Hiroshima, Japan.
The aura of history around this plane is immense. It’s one of those moments you can’t quite believe the amount of history the exhibit is steeped in. Truly Stunning! We kind of just stood there going…”That’s Enola Gay!” Honestly if this was the only plane in the Entire Hanger, we would still have come to see it!
We spent a good couple of hours looking around the exhibits and getting some shots of our favorite Craft before heading off. The Museum has just opened a new restaurant and we were very happy to see it was Shake Shake, our favorite East Coast Burger Joint, so we grabbed lunch before heading back to Central DC to drop off the car and catch the train back to New York.
Amtrak – DC – New York
We were really low on fuel and it was quite a drive from Dallas to Ronald Reagan where we hired the car, so we needed to fill up, but also get to the Hire Car Center without dropping the needle below full. Some really careful driving got us there just about without being charged extra for fuel.
We dropped the car off with no trouble and then grabbed an Uber back into the City Center. We had all our bags and belongings so there was no chance to sightsee so we just headed to the Station to wait for our train.
The train back was at 5:05 PM and we had about an hour to kill so just sat around people-watching. Unlike on the way out, this was not the train’s first stop so when we got to board the train was quite full already and we were pretty lucky to get seats together!
We were o the Regional Train, which meant more stops and a slower speed but it still got us into New York Penn in less than 4 hours. We just relaxed and watched another Stranger Things Episode on the Tablet. It does help these trains have Wifi!
New Yorker Hotel
Hmmm, where to start here, we are not fans of this Hotel at all. We have stayed in a lot of New York Hotels but this one ranks easily as the worst. First-up things were expensive this weekend for some reason, and we ended up paying $300 a night for this room. We upgraded to a City View as it was not much more than the basic room, and at least we would be getting something nice for our money.
We checked in and were given a room on the 32nd floor, which seemed high enough for a good view. The hostess confirmed without prompting that would be a great view. So up we went happy we had got what we paid for. When we got to the room it was tiny. We know New York hotel rooms can be small but this was dead car small. But at least we had a fridge and a view…oh wait. The view was, pretty rubbish but we suppose it was the City…just, but no noticeable landmark buildings. However, 3 of the 4 window panes were completely opaque. So the view could on;y be seen by crouching down and peering through the one clear window.
We were tired and just wanted to head out for some sightseeing, so we were tempted to let it go. But we decided that no, we were not having it. So we headed back down to Reception. Where we got a groveling apology and a FREE upgrade.
Back to our new room now on the 31st floor, so one down, and into our even smaller room, this time with no fridge. We really are not sure what upgrades they think they gave us but at least we had a view…oh. This time yeah, 3 of the 4 windows were clear, but they overlooked…well have a look for your selves!
This time, we just broke. it was 9:30, we had a huge day tomorrow, and we wanted to head out and see the City for one last time at night, so we caved. We decided to leave it and fight the battle back home. There was more to come tomorrow from this Hotel too…
Hudson Yards and 99c Pizza
We had chosen the Hotel mainly for its proximity to Penn Station, so we could head straight there after the train arrived. For this it was perfect. But it was a little far out for most of the things we wanted to see. When we realized it was really close to Hudson Yards and we were yet to actually see the new development in the dark. So we headed there. It was only a few blocks.
The Area is surprisingly dull at night. We figured the Vessel and the surrounding building would be more lit up, as the rest of manhattan is. But it was all dark a gloomy. And there wasn’t really anything going on. So we grabbed a few snaps and headed off down the Highline.
Again this was something we had not done at night and it was quite pretty with the lighting illuminating the greenery. We didn’t head far and took the first spur off back towards the hotel.
For Dinner, we just wanted something fast and New Yorky. We considered heading up to the Halal Guys, but with a long flight tomorrow maybe that was a bad plan. So we hit our NYC Go-To. 99c Pizza. Unlike two weeks ago this one had NOT succumbed to inflation and was still churning out $1 slices. We grabbed 4 and headed back to the Hotel.
The last night in the US for this trip and a much-needed deep sleep awaited.
Walking Total – 4,816 Steps – 2.4 Miles
We really have been slacking on our steps the last few days! We will try and pick it up tomorrow.
So this was the end of our Epic South Coast Road Trip. We had covered over 1700 miles over 9 days and nearly 72 hours of solid driving! it was EPIC, even by our standards, and has been the longest USA Roadtrip we have embarked on. It feels like an eternity ago we were watching the fireworks once in Long Island and now we are back in the City one last time.