Hey everyone! It’s finally time for the actual November 2020 Walt Disney World trip report!!
Well, I think it’s exciting. You guys have suffered through all those pre-trip reports and now, finally, you get to see it all actually happen. You get to finally find out if those plans we had really worked out. Did we have a good time? Did we have a great time? Did we all make it back in one piece? Did we stick to only eating outside?
You’ll have to read on to find out.
I know. I’m excited too.
And this post covers TWO WHOLE DAYS. I figured since these first few days are mainly spent in the car, it would make sense to combine them into one since such a large chunk of those days was spent driving and singing showtunes.
Which really doesn’t translate well into a blog post.
So without further adieu.
Merp. Let’s just get on with it.
Day 1 – Leaving Massachusetts, heading to New Jersey
It was actually here. Day 1 of our November 2020 trip!
And as years pass, that sentence may not mean a lot. But in the midst of the insanity that has been 2020, it meant quite a bit. It meant beyond simply “getting away” as most vacations do. It meant not being stuck in the house as we have been for what has felt like an eternity. It meant a break in the routine in a year where “the routine” has become far too routine.
So yeah. We woke up excited. And I mean. A little nervous.
That morning, the kids had some remote learning to do while Nickie and I cleaned the house to get it ready for our house/dog-sitter, Renee. So at least we were all too busy to think about the insanity we were about to embark on.
We got the car all packed up…like literally ALL packed up…
And I applied a new window decal Nickie bought off Amazon.
And, blargh, we said goodbye to our Lilo. For 11 WHOLE DAYS. Oof.
And before we hit the road, we gave the kids their first road trip bag full of goodies. You know. For the Goodys.
We had some bags made up for each day on the road. This one had a couple Disney water games, road trip bingo, some new winter beanies (a Peter Pan one for Myles and a Mickey one for Owen), and some snacks.
So after all that car packing, gift giving, and doggy goodbying…it was time to head out.
We officially hit the road at around 1PM. Which I mean…is like past lunchtime. So about an hour into the drive on the Mass Pike, we stopped at our traditional rest stop of choice – the old Charlton Service Rest Stop West.
Yeah, we literally have a tradition for everything. It’s a Goodreau thing.
Honestly, there is really no explanation as to why this is our favorite rest stop. It’s not particularly pretty nor does it offer any sort of unique food options or anything. It’s just sort of where we prefer to stop. And rest.
At this point, we were young and naïve enough to think we could stick to our whole “we are only eating outdoor” thing so we ordered D’Angelo’s inside and took our food to the tables outside.
I ordered my youge – a Chicken Number 9 and a Coke Zero.
After we finished up, it was back in the car for a couple hours before our next stop. In Danbury, CT. And you know what that means.
Orrr maybe you don’t.
We were in Danbury to visit their sewer plant, of course.
Well I am sure some of you understand. The rest of you I assume do not watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO.
For those of you who don’t watch this absolute treasure of a television program, you could probably do with some backstory. While his “feud” with Danbury and its mayor can be traced back to some mentioned in 2017, John Oliver began more regularly ranting against Danbury, CT last August during a story regarding the exclusion of people of color from jury duty in two other Connecticut towns. His rants against Danbury were hilarious, completely random, laced with profanity, and continued through multiple episodes.
These rants garnered attention from Danbury citizens and the mayor of the town, who suggested he would name the town’s sewer plant after Oliver, saying “Why? Because it’s full of crap just like you, John.” This carried on for a little bit, with the mayor recanting his “threat” and John Oliver offering to donate $55,000 to Danbury if they went through with it. There were town hall meetings discussing it and finally, the mayor agreed to name the sewer plant after John Oliver if he agreed to show up, in person, to cut the ribbon. Which, of course, he did.
And as we were putting our trip together, we noticed Danbury was on our route. So I mean. Destiny.
And yes, you’ve read over 1000 words and all we have accomplished so far is a medium sub from D’Angelo’s and sewage. What mistakes have led you here?
And then it was back in the car. For about two more hours. Nickie and Owen played some road trip bingo…
…we listened to our road trip playlist and drove on as the sun went down.
Eventually, we found ourselves at our home for the night – The Kenilworth in Kenilworth, NJ.
We checked in and went right to our room to check election results. I mean, Election Day was two days before this but this was all still going on.
In fact, as of the time of writing this post, it’s actually STILL going on.
Nickie and I cracked open some lukewarm trunk Ultras
As the four of us watched the Trump vs. Democracy show. And yeah, I know…I won’t get too political on these posts. I have avoided that thus far on this blog. But it’s kind of impossible to do given what was going on during this trip. I won’t get too into it, but I will say that I made a point of giving a specific gesture to every Trump sign we passed on the road.
That gesture was a middle finger.
On account of he is terrible and I hate him. Deal with it.
As we were exhausted and not too keen on going out, the decision was made to GrubHub something to the room. While I was pushing for ordering from someplace local, I was outvoted, and we landed on Wendy’s. Which ended up working out. On account of their Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger.
Seriously though. That Wendy sure knows how to make a burger.
However, in true GrubHub fashion, our order ended up getting a little messed up. Myles and I got our full orders but Nickie and Owen’s burgers never showed up. Their chicken nuggets and drinks made it but that was about it. Sooooo, being gluttons for punishment, we made a second GrubHub order, this time to McDonald’s for some cheeseburgers, hamburgers (for Owen since we are trying to figure out if he’s actually lactose intolerant right now), and fries.
In the meantime, I gave up my fries to them to tide them over until their order arrived. Which paid off, since Nickie ordered me some McDonald’s fries to compensate.
McDonald’s fries with a Wendy’s burger? This was some sort of paradise.
Plus…being that it was rescheduled due to election coverage on Tuesday, The Bachelorette was on. Which is a big deal for us since we all participate in a Bachelorette bracket. Yeah. We are the coolest. And not only was it on, but it was a pretty big episode in that Clare was leaving and Tayshia was coming in.
Both Clare AND Trump out? HUGE night.
In fact, this called for a celebration. Which meant breaking out the Angel’s Envy bourbon Nickie got me for the trip. It also meant searching for ice. Being in COVID times, ice makers are not always easy to come by so I had to go to the front desk for some. And well…they were MORE than accommodating.
Look at all this ice.
But yeah. Angel’s Envy. It’s good. Go get some.
Also, just so you are all properly prepared, I “celebrate” most nights this trip. I’m extremely festive.
But yeah, Day 1. Fast food. Sewer plants. Clare Crawley. Kind of a big day. And in case you’re wondering, the hotel was nice. Nothing super extravagant or anything. But we felt safe and everything felt very clean. Plus, I mean…. the ice.
Stay tuned for Day 2!
Which is happening right now.
Day 2 – New Jersey to Virginia Beach
I know what you are all wondering.
“Why am I still reading this?”
No no….I mean, probably. But you may also be wondering what we were doing in Kenilworth, New Jersey. And even if you weren’t wondering this, let’s pretend you were.
Because I have the answer.
Myles is currently in his junior year so college choices are starting to come into play. Therefore, since we were driving this trip, we decided to visit some of the places on his list. We could get him seriously thinking about things and the days we visited wouldn’t count as an absence from school. So it was a win-win.
Seton Hall University in South Orange has been on Myles’s list for a little while so it worked out being on the way down to Florida. We had a campus tour scheduled for 10AM so we woke up at 8:00 with plans for a more substantial breakfast but Google Maps took us to Seton Hall Law School. Which is in Newark.
So erm. We got into South Orange a little later than anticipated.
So for breakfast, the fast food continued.
Yup. Dunkin’ Donuts. At least they still had pumpkin spice coffee. We parked illegally so Myles and I walked over to grab breakfast and brought it back to the car. I got my DD usual – ham, egg, and cheese on an English muffin – and paired it with a pumpkin spice coffee.
Hrm. “Paired.” Does one say “paired” when getting Dunkin’? Also, the good news? I recently won a raffle where I scored a $100 gift card to Dunkin’ AND a $100 Starbucks card. Which is awesome. The bad news? I was so rushed this morning I totally forgot to use my winnings and instead paid cash.
I’m so stupid.
I had to eat and drink my breakfast as we drove over to the campus since we were running tight on time. But we did make it.
Since they were only allowing one person to accompany each prospective student due to COVID, I was going with Myles today while Nickie kept Owen company.
Walking towards the opening presentation, we both couldn’t help but notice how pretty this campus was.
And look at this kid. Walking off towards his future. Sunrise, sunset.
We checked in, got some free swag (including a Seton Hall buff and some Seton Hall hand sanitizer)…
…and settled in for the opening presentation in one of the lecture halls.
The presentation was really informative, given by a few students currently enrolled at the University in different majors. It definitely painted Seton Hall in a good light. Their strong focus on internships and class size resonated with both me and Myles.
After the presentation, we were paired up with a student to go on a walking tour of the campus.
Overall, it seemed like Myles was impressed with the school. I have a feeling he will end up applying there. I don’t think it feels like his first choice but we shall see.
After the tour was over, we met up with Nickie and Owen. They walked the campus on their own and Nickie grabbed Myles a Seton Hall t-shirt and pennant.
We ended up leaving the campus at around 11:45 AM. Our planned lunch stop was a little over an hour and a half away so we needed to get on the road.
And our lunch stop? It was pretty epic today.
It was time for….
THE PHILLY CHEESESTEAK CHALLENGE!!!
We put the two most well-known Philadelphia cheesesteak spots – Pat’s and Geno’s – to the test. And yes, Philadelphians. We know you think these are tourist traps and the real cheesesteak places are those hidden gems no one knows about. But eh, we’re tourists. Humor us.
So here is what we did. We drove first to Pat’s.
There, we ordered 2 cheesesteaks and drinks for all of us.
Then, we parked nearby. Word of warning for anyone looking to try this – parking here? It’s pretty much impossible. We had to park the car in a no parking zone, which meant everyone stayed with the car while I ran over to Geno’s to grab two more cheesesteaks.
This worked out ok since they are literally both across the street from one another. Here is a view of Geno’s from Pat’s. For perspective.
And to keep things level, we ordered at both places “Whiz Witout.” Which meant each sub had Cheez Whiz without onions. Look, we had a long car ride ahead of us. Onions were a big no-no.
I brought the Geno’s order back to the car and set up on the hood of the car for the big moment.
Myles enjoyed his in the car…
…While Nickie and I remained outside for our test. As mentioned earlier, Owen is dealing with some potential lactose intolerance issues. I offered to pick him up a steak, no cheese but he wasn’t interested. He just had a couple bites of each to try them out.
Now, the results.
Honestly, both Pat’s and Geno’s seemed to use high-quality steak. And both made good use of seasonings, giving each of them a really nice overall taste. Taste: Draw.
The texture of the steak, however, differed greatly across both subs. Pat’s steak was more shaved/shredded (as shown in the image above) than Geno’s (in the image below.) The Pat’s texture not only matched what we’re all used to when it comes to cheesesteaks, but it also allows for the cheese to seep into more areas of the sandwich. Geno’s, meanwhile, had larger pieces of steak. The texture of Geno’s steak felt more like roast beef than a cheesesteak. Steak texture: Pat’s.
Being that both were using Cheez Whiz, the cheese also had a similar taste across both. Though I will say Pat’s seemed to have more of it. You may not be able to see it in the picture below, but Pat’s cheese was actually spilling out onto the top of the bun, which gives Pat’s a slight edge. Cheese: Pat’s.
I wouldn’t say either sandwich had wildly better bread than the other though Geno’s bread had a little bit more chew to it. So Geno’s gets the edge, even if slightly. Bread: Geno’s.
Sooooo…based on these results, Pat’s is the Goodys’ preferred cheesesteak. Myles, in fact, said it may be the best he’s ever had. But both Pat’s and Geno’s are worth trying as the both offer a tasty sandwich. If you find yourself in the area and can’t decide between the two, my recommendation would be…
Once we were finished putting all that wonderfulness in our bellies, it was back to the road. We drove for nearly two hours south and I decided I really wanted a coffee AND I wanted to use my Dunkin’ gift card. So we pulled off the road at a roadside Dunkin’/Subway combo. Which worked out since Owen LOVES Subway and he didn’t have much to eat at Pat’s or Geno’s.
So in addition to grabbing a Pumpkin Spice, I stopped in on the Subway side to get Owen a Ham and Turkey sub. And while I was standing in line, this guy was in front of me exemplifying everything we were worried about on this trip.
While there were signs telling this gentleman to wear a mask, he decided the most effective way to do so would be as a chin diaper. The girl behind the counter mentioned that was not how he was supposed to wear his mask and he answered with “Yeah, I don’t wear masks anyways.” He then proceeded to talk about his truck and how he was looking forward to “beating the hell out of it.” So I mean, the chin diaper tracked.
We noticed this quite a bit on this trip. While there were signs telling people to wear masks and observe social distancing, there were several places where this was not enforced so people did whatever they wanted to do. And this made us uncomfortable in certain places. Spoiler alert though – Walt Disney World was insanely good at ensuring people wore their masks properly.
Coffee and sub in hand, we were back on the road, heading towards our final destination for the day – Virginia Beach! We rolled into Virginia Beach at around 7:30PM. And to provide a point of reference, we left Seton Hall at around 11:45AM. So we were officially on the road for about 7 hours, 45 minutes on Day 2. Which is long.
Not to mention – it was INSANELY foggy on this drive. Which isn’t something you want when you are driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at night.
So yeah. Not the longest drive of the day, but long enough to warrant a cocktail. Is what I’m saying.
But first things first, we had to check into our home for the night – The Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Which was super nice. The beds were super comfortable, and the room was very clean.
Also, the bathroom had some pretty risqué art up on the wall.
Check out all those bare ankles. Jeesh, I thought this was a place for families.
And check out the view we had off our balcony.
As you can see, it was still foggy out. But I mean, a view of the beach AND the Christmas tree they were putting up? Not bad. And wait until we stay here on our way back up….
OK, back to important business though. Cocktails. Oh, and food.
We were still trying to eat outside and based on looking through menus online, I made the recommendation we head to Murphy’s Irish Pub for dinner. We headed out and walked down the street to the restaurant. Away from the water. Good start.
We had to wait for a table outside for a little bit. They had some seats open in the tent outside but right before we were seated, this doof showed up sans mask and was seated in there. So eh, we waited.
A table opened up about 5-10 minutes later, so it wasn’t too bad.
As you can see from the image above, Nickie started the meal with a Cosmopolitan. As she is wont to do. I opted for some sort of Jameson, rum, and Coke combination thing.
To start in terms of food, we ordered some Irish Egg Rolls stuffed with corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. Which were pretty darned delicious.
We also got some Jameson BBQ sauce covered wings. Also, pretty dang good.
For my main entrée, I went with the Bangers and Mash.
I actually really liked this entrée. I am kind of a big bangers and mash fan anyways, but the green beans here put this dish over the top. These green beans were rull good.
Nickie went with the Turkey Club Wrap. She said this was….ok. But I mean, what was she expecting from a turkey club wrap? “OK” is probably the best you’re gonna get.
Owen got the Chicken Tenders. Which he seemed to enjoy. I mean, they’re chicken tenders. What’s not to enjoy?
And Myles got the Chicken Breast Sandwich. He said this was pretty good. It looked good for sure.
I thought it was a pretty good dinner. You know, pub food and what not but solid options and some unique offerings. So yeah, recommend. And to be honest, while there was that goon that didn’t wear a mask to start the night, everyone else seemed to be wearing them whenever they got up from their tables. And of course, the staff were all wearing masks as well.
There’s always one doof-face in the crowd.
Then it was back to the room. When we got there, Myles and Owen asked if we could hit the vending machines. Myles went for some Twizzlers and Owen got some Fudge Stripe cookies.
Annnnd the ice machine was still in use here as well. Which boded well for my upcoming bourbon enjoying. I mean, we all knew that was going to happen.
Before that though, I joined Nickie out on the balcony to get a look at the moon reflecting off the ocean. Even with the fog, still prettytown.
Hey remember a few sentences back when I alluded to the fact I would be drinking bourbon with ice? Well. Here’s the payoff.
A pretty nice way to end the day. Where will Day 3 take us? You’ll have to wait and see…
Next post – Day 3 (Virginia Beach to Jekyll Island!)