I just made a quick visit to my parents outside Syracuse and with friends in the Albany area, built around a work-related trip. There were clear signs that I was away from the DC area when:
I could buy a milkshake for less than $3 (at Stewarts, of course, which is a must stop whenever I’m back in the Capital District)
The fall colors included brilliant reds and oranges in addition to the yellows I mostly see here
Everyone I was calling had 518 area codes (here everyone has area codes from all over the country, from wherever they moved from)
People have to take Greyhound to get from city to city (rather than regional public transit or the discount buses like Megabus and Bolt)
And, my favorite, a neighbor of a friend in the rural outskirts of Albany just happens to have a .22 handy to lend for shooting a skunk accidentally caught in a trap, and put it out of its misery. And another friend actually knows how to fire the thing, and does so to get the deed done.