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20 days to go (David)

by on August 1, 2014

I can’t keep track of how many days have gone by… but it’s August 1 and we fly home on August 20, so we must have 20 days left. We truly have no idea which day-of-the-week it is without looking it up. But we’re all in good spirits and doing just fine. (Well, there was a bit of snipping today around who got to keep the pretty gem we found at “Gem Mining”, but other than that…)

The “touristing” part of our trip is almost over. The next week we work our way through Alabama seeing Renee’s friends and family; then a week on the beach in Florida, then a couple of days in New Orleans and then home.

We’re in the phase of the trip with the most driving…. 770 miles from Williamsburg VA to Haleyville AL, with 4 days to do it. It was really fun to see the signs for Biltmore Estate yesterday on the highway and decide to pull off to go see it… that was totally unplanned, but it did get us something fun to do in the middle of a long drive.

We’ve driven about 3,100 total miles…. more than enough to cross the USA… but considering we did it in 5+ weeks, it hasn’t been painful at all. (And entering Tennessee yesterday was State #15 with 5 states to go. (Alex says that DC isn’t a “state” but I’m counting it.))

Speaking of driving, it’s amusing that the official Park Service brochure for Great Smoky Mountains National Park says “You can see much of what the park has to offer from your car”. Come on, people, get out of your car and hike, already! (We did)


(We’ve come to really enjoy the ranger-led hikes in the parks… even though we’re with a big group of other tourists, we learn a lot from the rangers)


We’ve found our way around pretty well with the GPS, but proving the common view that a GPS will always get you where you want to go, but sometimes in an unpredictable path: we got pretty nervous yesterday on the way to Gatlinburg, as Garmin told us to get off the freeway and put us on progressively-narrower roads, until we were on a one-lane “pig trail” about as deep in the back woods of Tennessee as you can be. But Google Maps recommended that road too, so we stuck it out and we finally turned onto a numbered highway and we were out of the woods.


In contrast to all the pictures of fun things we’ve done, here’s what it’s really like in our hotel room at the end of a long day….


(What the heck did traveling families do at the end of a day when there were no iDevices???? )


This was a fun one that nobody else blogged about… at Colonial Williamsburg they had a renactment of the people getting up in arms when the British Governor had his troops steal all the gunpower from the town storage locker, so the crowd marched on the governor’s palace to demand it back. Great fun!



Can you find the typo in this boxed Gold Mining Kit? (Hint… it’s a very vile mistake)



There’s a big election in Tennessee on Tuesday, so the TV campaign ads are playing fast and furious. Chuck Fleishman wants you to vote for him because he:
– Always opposed Obamacare
– Voted for $15 trillion in cuts in government spending
– Endorsed by Rick Santorum
– Always been pro-life
– Endorsed by the NRA

With a resume like that, how can he lose? As the sage said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Northern California anymore”.


Nobody else has blogged that of course we’re playing License Plate Bingo on the trip. For the last 2 weeks we’ve had 47 states (plus DC which of course isn’t a state) and were wondering if we’d ever get the last 3. But we found Nebraska yesterday in the parking lot of Moe’s Barbeque in Asheville, NC, and we found Colorado today in the parking lot of the national park visitor center. Only South Dakota is left, and we’re keeping our eyes peeled….


Gatlinburg, TN has totally outgrown the small valley it’s crammed in to, and it’s just a swarming mass of tourists going to every chain restaurant, store and tourist trap you can imagine. The photo doesn’t do justice to the traffic jam on the only street in town. Ugh!



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  1. Uncle John permalink

    Don’t you love it when people go on vacation and complain about all the tourists…
    We could use some Weston Wamp out here in California.

  2. bill permalink

    D & R, We hope the remainder of the travel goes without incident. Remain well-rested for the upcoming miles. No need to push hard. Also hope you enjoy the beach in 2 weeks.

  3. sofie permalink

    Did Chuck Fleishman win the election…?

    I have had it with Garmin on trips… too many times it has sent us to places we did not intend to sightsee…. We have had great fun with the interactive system “WAZE”.
    Check it out.

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