Cross-Country Travel, Chapter 1

May 6, 2002-May 31, 2002

We left NYC on 5/6 and made a small loop through North Eastern PA, and the Delaware River Water Gap, and then down the coast of NJ. I wasted a whole $10 on the slots in Atlantic City, but it provided about 2 hours of entertainment. We then crossed the Delaware Bay on the Cape May Ferry, and drove down the coast, stopping at the Assateague Island National Seashore to see the wild horses. We stayed in Hampton, VA with Dustie’s relatives, and got a tour of Langley AFB. When we turned inland, we stopped at some of the historical towns (Yorktown, Jamestown, and Colonial Williamsburg). We went to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, which was well worth the visit. We then did a quick drive through the mountains in Western Virginia and West Virginia. It’s amazing how windy the roads are with switchbacks up one side of a valley, and then down the other side, with a new valley every few miles. It’s doesn’t make for very exciting driving in an SUV. Even the main roads in WV are constantly curvy.

The next part of the trip was down the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is consistently (over hundreds of miles) one of the best drives I have been on. We went almost to the end of the parkway in Asheville, and then turned off to go to Raleigh, where Dustie caught a plane back to NY. In Raleigh, I noticed that the weather looked unseasonably cool, and decided to head to FL, since I had never been there. I stopped in Savannah, GA on my way to get a vanilla shake at my favorite ice cream shop. Luckily the campground that night had a cable TV jack at every site. From Savannah, I checked out the Okeefenokee swamp, which isn’t all that exciting unless you go boating.

When I started down through Florida, I stayed along the east coast, off of I-95 most of the time. Both Georgia and Florida have excellent state parks both for camping, and for sightseeing. In my travels down the Atlantic coastline I started to notice a pattern best illustrated by Florida. It goes something like this: small beach houses packed in with a ridiculous number of powerlines running down both sides of the street -> kitsch central tourist traps -> huge houses with huge ivy-covered brick walls and wrought iron gates -> the dunes and beaches of a state park, and then it starts all over again. Anyway, In Florida, I checked out a couple of forts, drove through some tourist towns, and stopped at Cape Canaveral to see the space shuttle (not a launch). The tour of the Kennedy Space Center is expensive, but overall worth it. As I continued, I drove through Ft. Lauderdale, which has Loads of canals with huge boats docked on them. I was hoping to find a place where you could walk along the canals, with restaurants and shops, but no such luck. Then I went through South Beach, and Miami. I decided to go check out the Everglades, and luckily there has been a drought, so the mosquitoes were not bad. Mostly I saw tons of Alligators, and some Crocodiles, but there were also a lot of birds. The coolest bird I saw was a juvenile bald eagle.

After the Everglades, I went to the keys, figuring I better see what they are all about. On the glass-bottom boat tour, they took us by the ship whiuch was supposed to be sunk to create a coral reef. Of course, it was a big hull sticking up out of the water. Also the Minimal Regatta in Key West is pretty cool. Contestants are given a piece of plywood, 2 2x4s, and a roll of duct tape, and they have to create a boat which they race. I also saw the “second best beach in the US,” which didn’t look like much, so I am skeptical. Of course, I saw Hemmingway’s house. After the Keys, I went to the northern part of the Everglades. I spent two days driving from Florida to Atlanta, and now I am headed to the Great Smokey Mountains.

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