Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 13: Birthday in Key West

Thursday, April 30
Key West, FL

We are just relaxing today, which also happens to be my and Jen's 33rd birthday. (I will see her next week in Marco Island, FL) I am on the terrace, Brian is taking a nap, and John is by the pool. To see some images of Key West and the drive in, click here:
Key West

Day 12: Savannah, GA to Key West, FL

Wednesday, April 29
Savannah, GA to Key West, FL
Odometer Begin: 145,199 (John's Truck)
Miles traveled: 625
Time spent traveling: 12.25 hrs
Other: Cost for high speed internet connection at a Marriott: $12.99
Snagging free WiFi from the neighboring hotel from my terrace: priceless!
Wx: sunny low 80s F:
States traveled through: GA, FL

So we embarked on an slightly over ambitious journey to drive from Savannah, GA to Key West, FL. We arrived in one piece but just barely. John did all of the driving. What a trooper! John is Brian’s long time friend from when Bri lived in Georgia and they had made plans long before our trip came to fruition to spend a few weeks in Florida. The original plan was to ride motorcycles but then I had to come along and ruin the fun!

John travels a lot for his job and essentially “lives” at Marriott hotels so he accrues a ton of points. These points can then be cashed in later on for his personal use, so Savannah, Key West and Key Largo are all living large at Marriott hotels. The rooms they give Platinum members are absurd! Seriously, the “2 bedroom suite” Brian and I are in is nicer than anyplace we ever lived in. (but that is not a hard thing to accomplish)! The drive was grueling but worth the fantastic sunset and the accommodations. I am sure everyone else knows this but the Keys are further south than the Bahamas…which my geographically challenged self just realized. Which means the weather is down right amazing, you know, if you are in to sun and warm breezes and all.

On the way down, we stopped in Brunswick, GA at Brian’s friend Scott’s urging to try out Willie’s Wee Nee Wagon, for a pork chop sandwich.
From Key West
Willie’s dares you to find a better tasting pork chop sandwich in Glynn County. If you do, they will give you $2000! I wonder how one goes about proving that.
From Key West
We tried ‘em, they were good but the best ever?…
Can't...pull...'selves...away from post. But check back later the sun does eventually set and my Northern European skin can only take so much UV.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 11: Athens, GA to Savannah, GA

Tuesday, April 28
Athens, GA to Savannah, GA
Odometer Begin: 144,943 (John's truck)
Miles traveled: 247
Time spent traveling: 4.5
Other: How much I love Marriott points? A LOT!
Wx: sunny high 80s F:
States traveled through: GA

Savannah is one of my favorite places in Georgia. We arrived around 3 and dropped our stuff off at the hotel. We used John’s Marriott points so, you know, it’s rough being us. The hotel was on the river, we walked right out the door and were on River St. We then climbed up to the street level and took some photos and hung out under the live oaks. I had to take a photo of the Savannah Cotton Exchange building. I love this building! I really can’t explain why. It is a little run down but is still beautiful.

We then headed back down to River St. to find a place for dinner. We ate dinner on the deck at Tubby’s Tankhouse. Which was easy to get, I think us being in town may have brought the mean age down to 68 years old! The food was decent, nothing amazing but sitting on the deck was quite nice. There were three men busking, singing a capella, and the temps were in the 70s. After dinner we went to get “dessert” at Wet Willies, a self-dubbed, “Savannah Institution”. They serve frozen drinks only. There is a wall of flavor choices of all different colors in blending machines. I had a White Russian and Chocolate Thunder mixed and Bri had a straight up White Russian. Talk about an ice cream head rush! Oh! But the candied pecans at the Savannah’s Candy Kitchen are worth a text message home…I mean worth writing home about.

For our photos from Savannah, click here:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 10: Techie Type Stuff

We are taking a day off. Just going to hang at John's enjoy the sun on the porch, do some laundry and maybe take a nap. So I will use today's post to talk about our car setup. Of course we have the Thule box on the car which most of the camping gear has gone in. In the car we have a Belkin converter to plug our iPods into and play through the radio. And an inverter that turns our rear cigarette lighter outlet into a AC two plug outlet that we then have a surge protector plugged into so we can charge our various battery operated items like, phones, camera, flashlight, motor for the Aero Bed to name a few. And of course Garmina. The only thing we are missing is a wireless account for the netbook, but Brian's Blackberry can do that while we are on the road away from WiFi but getting a cell signal. We could even "bluetooth" the computer through his phone but that is pushing it a little. (Plus he doesn't have that data plan). Keep commenting, we love reading them!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 9: Jackson Lake, GA

Sunday, April 26
Jackson Lake GA
Odometer Begin:
Miles traveled: John drove!
Time spent traveling:
Other: Amount of beer or wine you can buy in Georgia on a Sunday: 0!
Wx: sunny high 80s F:
States traveled through: GA

We stayed at Scott and Karen’s last night and had a great breakfast then headed down to John’s friend Mark’s house on Jackson Lake. We spent the afternoon out on the boat and then went back and barbecued. The southerners thought is the lake was too cold to swim in. It felt pretty good to me. I didn’t swim though but Brian did.
From Athens
A perfect day on the lake.

More photos here

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 8: Athens, GA- Stalking Michael Stipe

A day at rest!! Today we woke up at 8:30 am which was such a luxury. I went for a run and un-known to me I ran by Kenny Rogers old house. I was hoping it was Michael Stipe's house but no... We then headed into Athens for Twilight Festival. Not the Cullen's darlings but cyclist. We then headed to Karen and Scott's for pool and spa and a BBQ dinner.

Mobile update

At Twilight Festival in Athens GA. No, Edward is not here, this is for cyclist. In it's 30th year, the festival is a criterium and other length rides as well as a skills course. And it is HOT HOT HOT! (For me anyway). Pics to come...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 7: Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN to Athens, GA

Friday, April 24
Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN to Athens, GA
Odometer Begin: 109,087
Miles traveled: 176
Time spent traveling: 3 .5 hrs
Other: Miles hiked: 4
Number of showers in the since Wednesday: 1
Wx: sunny high 80s F!
States traveled through: TN & GA

Another grand morning! We were able to sleep in until 6:30 am this morning. Don’t let anyone tell you that extra half hour doesn’t mean anything! I have to say; we are getting better at breaking down camp, no bickering ensued! The hike we chose today was a short (4 miler round trip) trail off the 441 the road that bisects the park and will lead you from Tennessee to North Carolina.
From Smokies
The sign at the start of the Chimney Tops Trail says something along the line of “The view is worth the climb” and “strenuous hike, wear proper shoes“…but what it should have said “strenuous hike; if hiking is not your thing or your usual pass time…skip it“. This was the all time understatements of hiking signs. For a trail this popular this is the one time when the usual conservative sign would have been more appropriate. For us, it was fine but the poor souls we passed on the way down had NO IDEA what they were in for. The trail pretty much goes straight up even with switch backs and ends in a hair raising climb over practically vertical slabs of rock. It was pretty cool!! Unfortunately, the camera died right near the beginning of the trail.

Upon returning to the car, we had a quick parking lot clean up (Shout out to Pond’s Cleansing Cloths!) we headed east then south on 441 all the way to Athens. A shower was high on the priority and then Brian had to take care of his yearly craving for Zaxby’s.

For photos of our time in the Smokies, (or is it Smoky's? )

Day 6: Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN

Thursday, April 23
Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN
Odometer Begin: 109,042
Miles traveled: 43 to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and back
Time spent traveling: 3 hrs
Other: Miles hiked: 11
Wx: sunny and cold in morning, then HOT! 80s F!
States traveled through: TN

From Smokies

Today started as a very lovely day. We awoke to the sounds of a enthusiastic Phoebe at 6 am. We chose our hike for the day as a trail that left about a mile from the campground. The Meigs Mountain Trail. Although, there was no summit just a trail termination in a “gap”, it was a gorgeous hike and surprisingly easy. Our walk took us through Elkmont, which is the Historic District of the “Appalachian Club” of the 1920s.This large group of cabins started out as a “Gentlemen’s Hunting Club” but soon became a getaway for affluent Knoxville families. In typical government fashion they took the buildings and land by eminent domain when the park was formed and now are in the mists of a historic restoration project, as in restoring the buildings to reflect their historic nature, not that the project itself is historic J. It is actually a really cool cluster of “camps” that must have been sad for the owners to let go of. This week in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they are in the peak of the wildflower season. There are wildflower lovers everywhere! We saw many flowers today on our hike, some familiar, some not, making me wish I had gotten my hands on a local wildflower guide. Although, I am not as in to it as the “Flower people” as we came to call them. For other flora and fauna news on the hike; we saw a Scarlet Tanager and heard barred owls calling back and forth, which was a little trippy to hear in the morning.

We returned to camp by early afternoon and decided to venture into Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, (which is an, um colorful joint…), as we had to go to the grocery store anyway. We did swing by Dollywood but the new (?) by-pass made it feel too fee required and more effort to get to than we wanted to expel. We turned around before seeing anything but brand new pavement and little mini busses that Dollywood must use to transport the masses that show up daily. Besides, in Gatlinburg there was “Ribfest”, which is more in tuned with our thinking. There we saw professional eaters in a chicken wing eating contest. Round 5 was the napalm round and the four guys who were left were in rough shape. We returned to camp for dinner and a fire and then to bed, with the Coyote’s serenade.

For more photos click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 5: Shenandoah NP, VA to Great Smokey Mountains NP, TN

Wednesday, April 22
Shenandoah NP VA to Great Smoky Mountains NP, TN
Odometer Begin: 108,636
Miles traveled: 406
Time spent traveling: 9 hrs
Other: Tennessee is the 43rd state that Amy has been to!
Wx: sunny and cold in morning, drove through some scattered showers than sun and warm temps in Tennessee!
States traveled through: VA & TN

View Larger Map

Happy Earth Day, to celebrate it, we burned a petroleum product for 406 miles. I know we are going to environmental hell. The deer woke us at 7 am when a small group grazed through our campsite. It was a cold one today and it made us eager to get on the road to warmer weather in Tennessee! After a stop at the Sevierelle Chamber of Commerce to use the WiFi and to get some Smoky information, we arrived at Elkmont Campground in the park around 6:00. We chose our site and set up. Then had a relaxed evening of supper, cold dish washing and some reading. Tomorrow we get some hiking in.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 4: Shenandoah National Park

Tuesday, April 21
Shenandoah NP VA
Odometer Begin: 108,566
Miles traveled: 69 (to Luray and back)
Time spent traveling: 1.5 hrs
Other: Miles traveled by foot; 6
What $1 will get you for shower; 5 minutes including the first minute you have to wait for hot water.
Wx: sunny and warm to start, rainy and cold to finish. Thick fog on Skyline drive with some breaks and undercast.
States traveled through: VA

Morning broke with beautiful bluebird skies and mild temperatures. We ate breakfast, said good morning to the deer and decided to spend another night in Shenandoah. We headed to the ranger station and found a Ranger this time. He checked us in for another night and gave us a recommendation for a 5-6 mile hike, that we could get to without moving the car. We made a loop out of the Appalachian Trail (AT),
From Shenandoah
Rose River Trail, Dark Hollows Falls Trail and a nature trail that lead back to the campground. The falls were…well, let’s just say that we saw Rose River falls with out realizing it and though Dark Hollows was pretty, our falls at home in the Whites put these guys to shame. This sign
From Shenandoah
was right next to this falls…
From Shenandoah
But the hike was very pleasant and it felt good to stretch the legs.

We ventured into Luray after a shower to get some groceries and look for WiFi. The search for WiFi was proving to be fruitless and we decided we were tired so we headed back to camp…and rain. The temperature had dropped a fair amount, we’re guessing it was in the high 30s. We brought the iPod and little speakers into the tent and played a few games of Kings In The Corner. The rain broke for dinner prep and eventually cleared for a lovely sunset. We put our culinary skills to work and had red rice and not-exactly-falafels for dinner, yum!
From Shenandoah
From Shenandoah
We were visited shortly before we turned in for bed by the reason we needed the bear box…Rocky the raccoon. He didn’t stick around for too long but we are pretty sure he came back to scratch at the tent and clank the chain on the bear box during the night.

To see more photos of Shenandoah, click here.

Day 3: Troy, NY to Shenandoah NP, VA

Monday, April 20
Troy NY to Shenandoah NP VA
Odometer Begin: 108,059
Miles traveled: 507
Time spent traveling: 10 hrs
Other: Crossed Mason-Dixon Line at 3:18 pm
Wx: cloudy, rainy, low 50s. Thick fog on Skyline drive with some breaks and undercast.
States traveled through: NY, NJ, PA, MD, & VA

We started the drive out on the New York Thruway which has high tolls
($5.75) but I guess what you are paying for is the reliance that a full service Rest Area is on the horizon and it will have fast food, cheesy gifts, bathrooms and WiFi. We were hoping for dramatic changes in budding/leaving out progression on the trees but really didn’t see any. In the higher elevation (3,000- 3,600 ft) of the Skyline Drive, the trees are equal to what we were seeing in Southern NH.

We arrived at the north entrance to Shenandoah and Skyline drive in rain and fog.
From Shenandoah
Excited to use our Federal Recreation Pass for the first time, I was disappointed to find that the ranger station was closed for the evening when we arrived after 5 pm. There was a sign that said “Closed, please pay entrance fee when you exit. “ I wonder how well that works. Skyline Drive runs along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the entire length of the park for105 miles. We drove up the road and at times could only see 15 feet in front of us. With the winding curves and limited visibility we both felt at home as seasoned Mt. Washington Auto Road travelers. (One of us more than the other, but I drove this time!) We decided to check out Big Meadows for camping, as it is the largest campground in the park and would have showers if we had to spend a lot of time in the cold rain. On the climb up Skyline Drive we encountered very few cars but MANY gray squirrels about the size of small cats. These either dare devil minded or semi suicidal rodents darted across the road for the first 20 miles or so. Once higher in the park we came across the White Tail Deer population, who we would spend the next two days with during our time at Shenandoah.
From Shenandoah

When we arrived at Big Meadows we actually had driven out of the clouds and were now in blinding sunlight! Since we arrived at 6:30 pm choosing and paying for our campsite was self serve. We found a walk in tent site (#40) and set up camp. We also got to use a bear box for the first time and what I predict will be the first of many times on this trip. However, we saw no trace of bears. The clouds caught up with us and the rain rolled in for dinner. The picnic table would remain wet for our entire stay thus forcing us to eat standing up for both breakfasts and dinners. The fog was so thick that it was a bit of a challenge to find the wash house to get ready for bed. We feel asleep to the sound of “Peepers” .

For more photos from Shenandoah National Park, click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We are in Shenandoah with limited connectivity. Had a great 6 mile hike this morning to two waterfalls. Better post and photos to come when we get WiFi.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 2: Concord, NH to Troy, NY

View Larger Map

Today was another easy drive day. We started out the morning with completely repacking the car and jettisoning a few things into Jen and Corey's basement. I have decided I need one more stuff sack for organization. Today's numbers:
odometer: 107,917 miles
tripometer: 117.2 - 259 = 141.8 miles traveled
tavel time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Wx: sunny, lower 60s
price for a HUGE calzone from Da Vinci Pizza in Troy: $6.99

Joining us on the trip is Garmina
From Travels of Kuzmerlain
, our lovely British navagator. We have a Garmin nuvi that Brian had bought for trips to auditions. We have set the voice to British, it just sounds nicer when it is barking directions at you. It is also a female voice, hence the name Garmina. Having a Garmin is a very nice gadget to have, but of course we are still carting around an atlas. For the most part, she is spot on with directions but sometimes gets a little confused for a moment in newly constructed roads or un-GPS'd roads. We hit two small newly built sections of road today which sent Garmina into a mild tizzy where she repeated "Recalculating" over and over (but with that charming British accent) until the satelites caught up. Today, Garmina lead us to Troy for a quick visit with Laurie and Sid, Brian's sister and brother-in-law, Jack and Estelle, our adorable niece and nephew.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 1: Shelburne, NH to Concord, NH

Yes, you read that right, we made it all the way to ...Concord.
View Kuzmerlain Trip in a larger map Well, our goal is to remain flexible on this trip, keep plans open, roll with it kind of deal. So after packing up the cabin, Brian working all the while and seeing friends and family (not to mention one rousing game of PIG) before we took off on our adventure…we are exhausted! Plus, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 had arrived at my sister’s where I chose to have it shipped, so we were getting that a few weeks early and that was reason enough to head to Concord. Jen and Corey are actually at the Red Sox game tonight so we have the house to ourselves, I can set up the computer the way I want and Bri can veg.

As Kai Ryssdal says, “First, let’s do the numbers”:
Odometer begin: 107,800 miles
Tripometer: 0.0 - 117.2 miles
Gas $ per gallon: $2.01, money spent on gas: $20
Time spent on the road: 2.5 hours
Wx: cloudy, sprinkles and upper 50s.
Numbers of truckloads of garbage/ old furniture to dump: 2

So- today is at my sister and brother-in-law’s and tomorrow is over to Brian’s sister and brother-in-law’s. Familiar territory. It still feels like we are going to return home in few days. We figure once we get to Shenandoah for our first park stop, we will feel like we have really started this thing. Traveling the country to see the sights and to figure out where our next step in life should be…bring on the epiphany!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Packing and Storage

The packing is nearly finished and we hit the road tomorrow! We have disasembled the interior of our cabin and given away our couch...the rest headed into storage. Yes, we managed to get everything into a 10 x 10 x 8 storage unit! And now off to enjoy our "Bon Voyage Brunch" with Kim, Deb and Chris!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Help us plan our trip!

We are are still developing a plan. So far we have decided we are getting an "America the Beautiful" pass which for $80 up front will get us into National Parks, National Forests, BLM, USFWS and Recl. Have you been somewhere in the US that we totally have to visit? Let us know!
-A & B