USA 2006

Memphis to New York

What a good trip our 2006 USA pilgrimage turned out to be.

"Put on my blue suede shoes And I boarded the plane Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues"

We flew in to A ) see map Memphis, Tennesee ....

...staying 2 nights ( 30 Sept and 1 Oct ) at the Heartbreak Hotel on Lonely Street. We visited Graceland, a lovely 60/70's timewarp, and a quite modest affair for a billionaire "They just hovered 'round his tomb"

and Sun Studios... where we were tour guided by David Brookings

<<This is David (behind Jon).

"I'm walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale..."
This is Beale Street, where we went a couple of times and also Johnny made us go to the Gibson guitar factory shop where he salivated over a banjo or two
Here's a 15 minute video of this part of the vac

B ) We motored the 220 miles to Nashville ...

...and stayed one night ( 2 Oct ) at a Best Western in the City Centre. We had a beer or three in a bar on Honky Tonk Row, ticked off the old Grand Ole Opry ( Ryman Auditorium ) and the following morning as we left town we ticked off the new Grand Ole Opry.
Nashville is a good looking city but being the administrative capital it is a bit boring

Johnny & Kath

C ) We then travelled 182.63 miles, courtesy of Mapquest,


...arrived at the Groom's magnificent lodgings, staying 2 nights (3 & 4 Oct)  Went boating on Groom Lake ( the locals call it Tellico )'s Dave at the helm looking as nautical as King Nautical of Nauticaland

...and we site saw. Here we are immediately after our barrel-ride down Bald River Falls..
L to R
Jon, Margaret, Johnny, Kath
If you look carefully you'll see that Jon has secreted the barrel in his shirt

and we talked and wined and dined and talked and wined....and beered
....and whiskyed
And as a direct result....
...took pictures this blurred

Fortunately, Johnny has a steady hand

Here we are at Fort Loudoun.

David incurred mild concussion while taking this picture as the oak tree under which he was standing was hurling it's acorns at him.
Flying high...very the flag of the South Carolina colonial soldiers who originally built and manned the fort..note the Union Jack in the top right corner of the flag

Loudon TN (town) and Loudon TN (county) are named after the fort which was named after the Earl who was named after the once Scottish county. Fort Loudoun Dam TN, Loudoun VA (County) Fort Loudon PA (the town) Fort Loudoun PA (the fort) and Loudon NH (the town) are named for the same reason
The fort is definitely Loudoun with two U's...this sign is wrong..

... so why was the second 'u' not dropped universally as per Noah Webster and the Simplified Spelling Bord? Well, the forts retained the original Scottish spelling (actually Norman French) while the towns and counties modernised the spelling to make things altogether more simple except for Loudoun County in Virginia which retained the 'u', the Fort Loudon town in PA which kept the fort but dropped the 'u' and the Dam in TN which kept the fort and the 'u' or did it? (Try's a 50/50 split) So that's clear then

Forgive my sense of humour
Honourable neighbour
But the colour of an orange
Is also it's flavour

Jon Bratton copyright 2006

Oh, you 'u' dropping Americans you!

Actually, I reckon that the TN City and County fathers dropped the second 'u' to disassociate themselves from the incompetent
Scottish aristocrat whose military prowess is described as "marching undauntedly from one defeat to another", whose magnificent family seat, Loudoun Castle, is now a fire ravaged ruin and the whole place turned into a Theme Park I kid you not. City fathers may I suggest you inverse the remaining 'u' to instantly enhance your status

This is 5 Oct as, reluctantly, we left Chez Groom for Chez Davy Crockett who was born on a slight incline in Tennessee. The mountain
top story is untrue and is the fault of Walt.
Here is Judy politely pointing out that, fun tho' it was, it's time we left

D ) Mapquest tells us Chateaux Groom & Crockett are 125.95 miles apart

Crockett's place was on our way to the Blue Ridge Mountains, otherwise it would not have been worth spending the money on gas.
Click on the tablet to visit the place, virtually, and tick it off as being done. Trust me, I'm a travel writer
Not far away we stumbled across Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough and had a spot of lunch. We then travelled a further 100 miles or so and at dusk as it started to rain we booked into E ) the Super 8 Motel in Wytheville VA.

On 6 Oct, the rain continued as we continued through Virginia. We went 150.85 miles to F ) Appomattox Courthouse where the Civil War ended, and spent an enjoyable hour, despite the rain. We popped into, and then straight out of, Charlottesville, mainly because the downtown hotel prices just weren't worth paying, given that the rain was too heavy to consider sight seeing

Eventually, a further 72.8 miles on, at dusk and in the pouring rain we very reluctantly booked into Bates Motel in Waynesboro right at the southern end of the Skyline Drive. It was actually G ) called The Inn at Afton Click on the link to read the reviews. It was awful with a capital A and the only saving grace was the lock-in we had in the bar, which closed at midnight instead of the usual 9 pm.
The following morning we drove the famous Skyline Drive in the rain and missed ...for 172 miles and spent the night ( 7 Oct ) at the Hampton Inn, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, 20 miles from H ) Gettysburg. As we left the non stop rain of Virginia, we touched West Virginia and Maryland and arrived in Pennsylvania...We were in 4 states in less than 30 minutes. Not a record here

We also called at a famous winery
If you're a fan of Hiney Wine I recommend you click here to hear all about putting your hiney in your food

Here's the vid of that middle section of the vac

H ) "We are met on a great battlefield of.. war" Gettysburg Address

Here we are at Gettysburg on 8 Oct 2006, three score minus two years after I was born
You see what I did there. I
used Abe to advertise my birthday

There are more statues and monuments at Gettysburg than you can shake a stick at.
We drove the battlefield with an audio-guide CD playing and it took most of the day to do that, as well as visit the National Cemetery and Visitors Centre

We were due to travel on, as we had only come 20 miles that day but, having noticed as we drove through the town how nice it was, I suggested that Johnny would be too tired to drive further and that he should relax in the several nice pubs that I, as vacation navigator, had spotted for him. I took the opportunity to remind them all that it was my birthday

This magnificent ancient hotel, standing proudly in the Town Square, which happens to be a circle, beckoned us and we booked in.
It was, to quote me quoting Abe, "altogether fitting and proper that we should do this"

We went to the first pub we had seen since leaving Nashville to have the first beer we had consumed since leaving Chambersburg
If Gettysburg hadn't had a famous battle it would still deserve to be high up in the Tourist Charts just for being sooo nice

We left the following morning to head for somewhere close to New York for we were due to drop off the rental car in NY at about 11am the following morning. We drove 191.41 miles and settled for I ) Springfield in New Jersey and stayed the night of 9 Oct at the Holiday Inn, which also incorporated the Elephant & Castle pub

To quote Beale Street Blues by W C Handy

"I've seen the lights of gay Broadway...
...And many are the places I have been,
Take my advice, folks, and see Beale Street first!"

My way of saying that we started in Memphis and after a thirteen hundred mile journey thro TN, VA, PA and NJ we arrived at NY . Actually, plugging in all the stops, Mapquest comes up with a distance of 1273.41 miles

J ) The Big Apple 10-13 Oct

"Start spreading the news I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it, New York, New York"

So good they named it twice
The City that never sleeps

We drove through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan on the 10th and deposited the SUV on 40th at 11, and wheeling our cases, walked briskly to 46th where we registered at our final hotel, Quality Inn, on time, in Times Square

Here's Margaret outside her own restaurant..but for a typo..
as she "tripped the light fantastic,
On the sidewalks of New York".
As this was the day after John Lennon's birthday we first walked up to Central Park to see Strawberry Fields and the Dakota Building.

On the way back we purchased tickets for the sightseeing tours from this man
The following day we did the downtown loop and then all the other loops

Our visit to Ground Zero was poignant

"Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Ferry, Co-op City, Katz's and Tiffany's
Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, The Empire State where Dylan lived
Coney Island and Times Square, Rockefeller Center
Wish I was there"

Johnny, Kath & Margaret on the Gray Line tourist bus

We walked miles & miles in 3 days but it was well worth it. I just lurve New York.

"...The streets are paved with diamonds and there's just so much to see..

..But the best thing about New York City is you and me"
Sang Johnny to Kath

..But the best thing about New York City is you and me"
Sang Johnny to Jon

This is Liberty Island and we also went to Ellis Island

..But the best thing about New York City is you and me"
Sang Marg to the Statue of Libertee..

..Indeed I wish to become thee

The girls shopping in Macy's Herald Square

"Give my regards to Broadway,
Remember me to Herald Square,"

Kath having a drink in one of the many Irish bars

Jon having two.

Margaret realising we leave tomorrow and she did not spend long enough or money enough in Macy's.


Here we are back hyem, drinking wine and watching our adventure, all captured on 3 hours of video. Look carefully at the TV and you'll see King Nautical at the helm of his craft

And here's another view of Groom Lake as we raise our glasses and say "Thank you Judy & Dave and thank you America for your gracious hospitality. We love you and we'll be back