Road Trip 2000

9/13/00 to 9/24/00

Wed. 9/13:

We thought it was a bad omen when Rick's water heater sprung a leak and we had to drain it and shut off the water before starting our trip. And, before we got 10 miles on I 40, the Avis car stalled repeatedly . After going back and getting a new car, we managed only to get to Knoxville the first day.

Thurs. 9/14:

On the second day we left I 40 just east of Knoxville and took I 81 which heads Northeast through Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley is between the Allegheny Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I 81 follows the valley North - East. The second night we stayed north of Roanoke,Virginia. The failure of the Grand Am turned out to be a good thing. Avis replaced it at no extra charge with a full sized Bonneville with a host of goodies including power drivers seat which was the perfect car for a long road trip.

Fri. 9/15:

Today we spent a few hours at Natural Bridge. A formation carved out by water. It was once owned by George Washington and later by Thomas Jefferson. From the natural Bridge we continued up the Valley to Staunton where we jogged east to get on the Skyline Drive. This is the Northernmost 100 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Shenandoah National Park. The speed limit is 35 MPH. There are view turnouts every few miles with views to the West into the valley and to the East. We stopped for the night at Big Meadow Lodge. A rustic lodge in the Park with fine views of the Valley. There is a campground adjacent to the lodge. We attended a campfire program about bears. It was quite cold and felt good to get back to a warm room.

Sat. 9/16:

After breakfast at the lodge, we continued north on the Skyline Drive. Stopping from time to time to enjoy the views or hike in the forest. Before the end of the drive at Front Royal, we took off East on U.S.211 directly for Washington D.C. The plan was to stop short of the big city in Arlington for the night and board the Tourmobile at Arlington National Cemetery the next morning to tour the city. As often happens, the plan went awry and we found ourselves snarled in traffic in the city. By luck, we found a parking spot near the Washington Monument and had a nice walk along the mall to the Lincoln Memorial. With a bit more luck and hair raising traffic we got back to the Holiday Inn in Arlington and holed up for the night.

Sun 9/17:

Again the plan went awry and we missed the tourmobile stop in Arlington and wound up again in traffic in the city. Again we lucked out and found a parking spot on the Ellipse and found a Tourmobile stop near by. One could spend years touring all the buildings, monuments, parks, and sites of interest in Washington but with limited time and energy we settled for looking at most things from the bus but got out at the Capitol building and in Arlington to see the Kennedy Perpetual flame and a lunch stop in the food court in the old post office building. Back at the car we decided to head south out of the city and wound up in Fredricsburg Virginia for the night.

Mon. 9/18:

This is Civil War history day. For the final Months of the Civil War, Union Forces under General Grant besieged The Confederate Capitol of Richmond and its nearby city Petersburg defended by the Confederate Force under General Lee. The plan was to starve them into surrender, and it worked. In the end, Lee abandoned the city and tried to escape to the West with his Army, but was trapped and forced to surrender a week later at Appomatix ending one of the bloodiest and saddest periods of American history. During the siege there was much fighting and loss of life along the long siege line.

We spent this day touring the Petersburg national Battlefield and viewing displays at the visitors center. One of the most interesting was The Crater. Early in the siege a Union regiment made up largely of Pennsylvania coal miners dug a 500 foot shaft under the Confederate lines and packed it with explosives. Union troops trained for weeks on rushing the resulting breach in the line and flanking the Confederate army. In the explosion hundreds of Southern troops were killed but many more Northern troops were killed in the charge that followed. Many fell into the crater and were picked off by the Confederates rushed in to reinforce the breach. The main reason for the failure was that Union General Meade made a last minute change, substituting untrained troops for the ones who had trained for the assault.

Tues. 9/19:

This morning we head south east on U.S. 460 for the North Carolina Outer Banks. A group of long, narrow barrier islands off the Carolina coast. It took a little longer than planned due to the failure of Ed, the driver, to follow the route of Rick, the navigator, but we got there in the end.  After some exploration of the towns of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Nags Head which merge into one developed metropolitan area unlike the quaint beach towns I was expecting and some beach walking, we checked into the Oceanside Holiday Inn where from our 4th floor deck we watched a spectacular sun set.

Wed. 9/20:

Today we go south on state route 12, leaving the developed area behind for the undeveloped area of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

"If your fond of sand dunes and salt sea air, quaint little villages here and there, your sure to fall in love with old Cape Hatteras."

At the southern tip, Rick climbed the 212 steps to the top of the Cape Hatteras light house. I was eager to climb up also, but I wanted to stay below to take Ricks picture at the top.

The light house was recently moved half a mile inland to keep it falling into the ocean due to erosion of the shore. From the South tip of Hatteras Island, we retraced our route to Nags Head and another night at the Oceanside Holiday Inn. On the return trip we stopped to tour the Bodie light house on the Pamlico sound side of the island. For dinner I had a craving for fish and chips but apparently this is a food unknown to North Carolinians. I settled for a Mac Donald's fish sandwich.

Thurs. 9/21:

Today we cross the bridge to Roanoke - a small island in The Sound between the Outer Banks and the mainland - the site of the Lost Colony. In 1594 the English established a small colony here to stake their claim on the New World. Hard times caused them to send their leader back to England for more supplies. Since England was at war with Spain at the time, and ships could not be spared, it was 3 years, 1597, before they came back. When they did, they found the settlement destroyed and no trace of the settlers. It is not known what happened to them. But since earlier English explorers had killed some of the native Algonquin Indians, one can speculate. This colony was the site of the first English child born in the Americas, Virginia Dare. We checked in to the Elizabethan Inn on the island. The inn keeps bicycles for the use of their guests. We took a 6 mile ride on one of the paved bike trails. Rick had enough energy left for a swim in the pool. I passed on that.

Fri. 9/22:

Time to head back to Nashville. Followed U. S. 64 to I 40 at Raleigh then west on I 40 through Durham to Burlington for the night.

Sat 9/23:

Another travel day. As far as Ashville. This is a town often mentioned in the " Best Places To Retire" books so we decide to go downtown and do a walkabout. Its kind of an unusual town. Hilly. Surrounded by mountains. On the flanks of the Great Smoky Mountains.Very scenic. Lots of outdoor restaurants and coffee shops, art stores and antique shops. They were celebrating Fiesta Latina, a thing done by the town's small but growing latino population to introduce the populace to their culture. We went back to the interstate and found a Super 8 Motel to spend the night.

Sun. 9/24:

Back to Nashville on interstate 40. Intermittent rain, but easy traveling on a Sunday on the interstate in the nice big Bonneville. Back early enough to unpack, turn the water on and go out to dinner. To celebrate my 74th birthday, Rick took me to the Outback Steakhouse for one of those meals I never have enough room to finish. I can recommend it . The salad was perfect..The steak was tender. The baked potato was hot. Of course Rick was disappointed that they didnt have Roo on the menu, but he enjoyed his steak.

Mon. 9/25:

A mostly inactive R&R day. We went for a short walk along Radnor Lake. Its a wildeness area in the middle of the city. You would think you were in the middle of a forest.

Tues. 9/26:

Early rise for a 9:25 flight to Seattle on Southwest Airline. The only airline I've found with a direct nonstop between Nashville and Seattle. A reluctant goodby to Rick at the gate and back home by noon. An AAA+++ road trip.


See vacation 2000 for more.