Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Introduction - Schenectady NY

In 2002, two sisters, aged 74 and 69, set off to accomplish one of their shared dreams - to drive across the United States and see the sights.

On the way, they visited friends and family, saw lots of sights, survived treacherous snow-covered mountain passes, and suffered through disease and skimpy, but free, motel breakfasts.

This is their story.

Judy and Mary Harriett

20020311 Highway in PA

The family gave us a nice going away party last night. I will keep this notebook and also will use a tape recorder to preserve our memories on this trip.

We took our time getting on the road this morning, had breakfast and read the paper. We had packed most stuff in the car last night so we had our overnight bags and some food stuff to fit in. We were off about 10:00 AM. We had to back track after a couple miles to get the log book, instructions and information sheet Mary Harriett had prepared. There were no delays getting to the Verrazano Narrows bridge and over Outerbridge. We got on Rt. 1 for a few miles then onto 130. Followed that to the Penn Turnpike (via NJ Turnpike). We had lunch at Marcie’s Diner near Bordentown NJ and got to Lancaster PA about 3:30 PM. We checked into the Park Inn, and went to Carol’s. We spent the afternoon having chatting over tea. George came home and we visited some more. We went to dinner about 8:00 PM - George’s treat. We got back to the motel around 11:00 PM. Mary Harriett read some of the book to us and we had devotion. Did a little exercise.


20020313 Emmitsburg MD

We ate our oranges and bread for breakfast and watched the news before leaving the room. It was raining outside. We had no trouble getting on Rt. 30 and driving right out of Pennsylvania into Maryland. Right over the border was the town of Emmitsburg MD, where there is the shrine of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton. We stopped, did a tour of the Basilica, talked to a nice little nun there who gave us a tour. We went on into the town and had lunch at the Carriage House Inn. We had soup and sandwich, not bad. Drove on past Harper’s Ferry WV, on to Fort Royal VA. We followed Rt. 340 over to Rt. 11, up over the Blue Ridge Mountains through fog. Rt. 11 is busy road - through towns with lots to see. We saw many cows in VA, most are beef cows, but we did see some Holsteins. We decided to stay in Staunton. When we got into town, we stopped at the library to ask about places to stay. The Best Western was recommended and we got directions. It was a nice place with a good restaurant next door, Mrs. Rowe’s.

20020317 Chattanooga TN

Awake about 7:30. Mary Harriett asked if I’d heard the thunder, but I hadn’t, although it looked like it had rained in the night. Good thing we weren’t sleeping in the tent. Went to breakfast in the lobby and the girl at the desk called the Methodist Church up the road to find out what time the service is held. We reorganized the stuff in the van a little, found the batteries for the boom box. When we got to church, we were warmly greeted. The pastor was there at the door and gave us each a pencil. After church we drove into Chattanooga TN. We parked at the Chattanooga Choo Choo spot and took the shuttle bus. The driver left us at the Sticky Fingers restaurant, where we ate our dinner with lots of other people. We walked up to the Aquarium. We were shocked at the admission price of $12.95, but it was really a great place. The idea was to show the habitat of the beginnings of the river. There were trees and plants growing out in the open air and birds flying around. There was a pool for river otters, then trout and we worked our way down through the river story to the Gulf of Mexico. We went back to the car on the shuttle and found our way to Rt. 24 which has a turn off to Rt. 59. We went through the extreme northwest corner of Georgia. When we crossed into Alabama, we stopped at the visitor center, talked with the ladies and got coupon books. We drove almost to Birmingham AL, to Trussville AL to the Holiday Inn Express. I had coupon for it and got points on my Priority Club. We got lots of literature on what to see and do in Birmingham. Went to a Cracker Barrel for supper, I had mostly veggies. We went into Central Standard Time when we got to Alabama.

20020319 Montgomery AL

We got on the road about 9:30 AM. We took Rt. 459 and missed the turn off to Rt. 65. So, in finding our way back, we found Rt. 31 which took us south toward Montgomery AL. We went almost there, got gas and got on Rt. 65, so we could go to the center of the city. We found the Union Station visitors center. We took the trolley ride around some of the city for $.25. Our driver recommended the Farmer’s Market Cafe for lunch. It was good. We started out for Mobile AL about 2:30 PM and arrived about 5:15 PM to find our Holiday Inn.  It is a smoking room, had no chairs, my bed only had one sheet, and our view is the roof of the convention center with air conditioners, but it is only $49. We got the room for 5 nights. We had dinner at McAllister’s Deli. Oddly, both our lunch and our supper was the same price!

20020321 Mobile AL

We were up and out early, about 8:00 AM. We had breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, then went to the local Festival of Flowers. We took a couple of wrong turns to get there, but saw some beautiful neighborhoods. We watched a taping for TV formally opening the Festival featuring the mayor of Mobile and the people who were responsible for the festival. Lovely displays but I think we’ll enjoy seeing the real gardens when we go to Bellingrath Gardens tomorrow. We explored the Old Shell Road until we found the Brick Pit, which is reported to have the best damn B-B-Q in Alabama. I had ribs and Mary Harriett had pulled pork. The meal comes with beans and coleslaw. It was ok, I’m not an expert in BBQ, it was all kind of sweet to me. Then we had a nice tour of the Bragg-Mitchell house, built in 1855.  Drove over on other side of Mobile Bay and stopped at the visitor center. There are lots of things to see over there. Thought we might go to a movie tonight but we didn’t find one we wanted to see. Called Elizabeth. The sun goes down about 6:15 PM and it gets dark. I find that hard to get used to in warm weather. 

20020322 Theodore AL

Up at 8:30! We took a look at what was offered at the breakfast buffet and decided to try our luck elsewhere. We took the long way around, but found a postoffice. Mary Harriett mailed The Outlander to Carol G. and I got a stamp to send a card to Mats and Gunilla. We found Crumbley’s Family Restaurant, where I had scrambled eggs, toast, fries, orange juice and coffee. We got to Bellingrath Gardens around 11:00 AM. We toured the grounds and house, saw the Bohm birds and got out of the gift shop with only post cards. We needed gas and Mary Harriett asked one of the grounds keepers for the nearest gas station. We drove down the road. I saw a sign that said Exxon-Mobil to the left so we went that way only to find out it was the refinery, not a station. We back tracked and found a little back country store with two pumps in the front. A nice man came out and pumped $10 worth of gas for us. We drove on down to Dauphin Island AL. Saw the fort and estuarium. We drove to the west end where a lot of houses are built up on “sticks”. Drove back up to Mobile and ate at Nan-Sea’s restaurant, which was recommended in the book. We decided to stay for a movie, found Springdale Mall and saw “A Beautiful Mind” ($4.50). We even got ice on the way home.