Boston-Orlando road trip

Oh yeah. Hot on the heels of my Peruvian adventure, and having Pete and Mary visit, Halvar and I drove to Orlando to have a few beers with Jose for my birthday. And by Halvar and I, I mean I drove, and he took photos out the window.Starting on Thursday morning, we headed out to Canton, home of the Autodriveaway Co’s local office. The hope was to pick up a 2002 Taurus destined for Greensboro, NC. I’d been watching the National Carlist for several months in the hope that something would come up, and a few days before we were destined to leave, up popped the Taurus. It turned out that getting approved was quite simple. The ACT DMV people were quick and helpful in supplying me with a drivers record (as they were when I renewed my licence recently), the essential thing for aproval. Talking to the driveaway guy, it turns out that overseas folks are way easier to process, since he doesn’t have potential access to the same wealth of information that exists for Americans. Lucky us.

Rhode Island, Ocean State (license plate tagline): With a potential twelve states to visit along the way, we wasted no time in getting down to Rhode Island for some breakfast/lunch. We ended up at the “Liberty diner” for some good honest cooked breakfast. The name inspired the thing we needed to do in each state, which was something to do with something patriotic. Eating at a place with liberty in the name counts. Having ticked off Rhode Is. we headed on to Connecticut.

Connecticut, Consitution State: I’m not sure how patriotic it was, but we stopped at Hammonassett Beach in Connecticut for a look (I didn’t know there was an extra ‘c’ in Connecticut!). There were lots of reasonably large, very tanned people lounging around as it they had nothing better to do, which I suspect they didn’t. Having ticked off Connecticut we headed on to New York.

New York, The Empire State: We didn’t really do anything in New York. We’ve both been there so it wasn’t in need of a ticking off. We were in Pennsylvania before we knew it.

Pennsylvania, visitPA. com (what? that’s crap!): PA got the full patriotic treatment from us, since we drove across a fair chunk of it, and stayed the night at a campground. We stopped for a stretch at a lake the first evening, where a hot air balloon flew right over us. It had an American flag on the basket, which was pretty patriotic. The lake was pretty too…

A lake in PA

We stayed the night at a nice campground, and went for a walk the next morning. It was a pretty small park, so hunters could only use bows and arrows, black powder, and shotguns. Thankfully noone tried them out on us, despite our ignoring the signs instructing us to wear bright orange. We drove on to Gettysburg. There is this whole route one can drive around that takes hours, and goes past dozens of battlefield and historic sites. We stopped at a couple, but there were too many and we had other states to visit. Having thoroughly done Pennsylvania, we moved on to Maryland.

A nation united?

Maryland, ?: Our visit to Maryland was brief, but we made sure to stop at the welcome center and admire the state flag. Having not really ticked off Maryland, we managed to get a bit of West Virginia, since we’d long ago decided it was going to be a bit much of pain to go through Delaware.

West Virginia, Wild, Wonderful: We were only in West Virginia for a while, but stopped by the Shenandoah river for a bit of a walk. We also caught a covered bridge along the way. West Virginia done, we moved onto Virginia proper.

Rail tracks near the Shenandoah river in West Virginia

Virginia, ?: We arrived into Virginia later in the evening, and proceeded to find a campsite to stay at. Somewhere along the way we stopped at pub for a beer and some pub food. The girl couldn’t really understand me, and exclaimed something like “You’re accent’s different!”, as if that were a highly improbable thing. It was well dark when we arrived at the campsite, and we were tired so we set up and went to bed. The next morning we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a nice bit of road through forest on the edge of the Appalachian mountains. There weren’t any really good looking breakfast places around, so we dropped into a Food Lion for some donuts and turnovers. Virginia done, we moved on to North Carolina.

North Carolina, First in Flight: After driving down the parkway, we arrived in North Carolina, and headed to Greensboro to drop off our car. We drove all the way to the owners house, a suburban mansion somewhere in the ‘burbs. Though the house was nice, it looked just like all the others, as is so commonly the way in these places. He was kind enough to drop us out the airport, where we picked up our rental. Greensboro was about halfway, 900 miles from Boston. With our new iPod compatible rental, we cruised on down towards Charleston.

South Carolina, Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places: The first thing we caught in SC was Dizzy Gillespie’s birthplace, in the little town of Cheraw. We felt it important that we eat some southern food, so stopped for a bbq buffet. The ribs were marinated in vinegar and other things, very nice. Nearer Charleston, we hunted out a campsite, but not after driving around the national park past several map marked campsites. Eventually we happened to spot an unlit sign, and pulled off for another great nights sleep. We awoke to a misty forest in the morning, with an irresistible fenced off tower to climb for a nice view of the local forest.

View from the top of the tower

From the campsite we drove on down toward Charleston, taking a detour to see some swamp dwelling wildlife. At some pont we found a confederate flag on the side of the road (the one on the car roof of the General Lee). Going into Charleston we went over a HUGE bridge that disappeared into the fog. We stopped at the ubiquitous Huddle House for some food, just to be sure we were being patriotic, and then headed on to Savannah, Georgia, which also had a pretty large bridge leading into it.

Georgia, ?: The first thing to do in Savannah was head out to the Crab Shack for some seafood. We ordered the massive seafood platter for two, a margarita, and soaked up the atmosphere. After our feed we said hello to the alligators, but it was getting late so we headed off.

‘gators at the Crab Shack

We were hoping to drop by Okefenokee swamp for a look at some real size alligators, but a ring ahead told us that there had been a fire earlier in the year, which rendered the boardwalk and observation tower unusable. We instead headed along the coast, and stopped at a much smaller reserve. This place was still pretty impressive, we saw some baby alligators, and then a real size one hiding in the algae choked water. We were approached by a seemingly deaf and blind armadillo, which didn’t run away until it was close enough to hear my camera taking pictures of it. We also saw storks, herons, large spiders, and squillions of mosquitoes and other bitey insects.

Upon leaving the park we found another gem, the Smallest Church in America. A little non-denominational shack, we couldn’t resist a photo stop. That done, we headed on down toward Florida.

Florida, Sunshine State: Time was getting on by the time we reached Jacksonville, so we made sure we got a little confused and crossed the river five times on three separate bridges. They were rather nicely lit up in blue, with one sporting a particularly large American flag in lights. We headed on down to Canaveral to meet Jose, arriving about 11:30, just in time for the purchase of some $4 “Icehouse” beers to celebrate my birthday.

The next morning was time to head for the airport. We could see the famous NASA space shuttle building as we drove along. In a photo Jose showed us, the doors were open halfway up, which is enough for the space shuttle to get out. Massive. Arriving at the airport we almost had a disaster, no petrol station! Thankfully my guess of going down some random road turned one up in ten minutes, thus saving us a threefold increase in the cost of gas that rental companies impose. The car had around 900 miles on it, making the trip a grand total of over 1800 miles.

We flew back to Boston, safe in the knowledge that we could claim a bunch of states, without really having done anything in any of them. The rest of the photos are here.

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