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3,548 miles

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Seven states (8 if you count a 15-min side trip into Indiana looking for a museum I didn't find) and two countries.

Man, I'm tired! I drove more in the last 17 days than in all of 2008.

My route was:
Day 1: Austin TX to Hope, AR. It was 98 degrees at 9:30 pm. Stayed in cheap motel.

Day 2: Hope to just outside of Nashville, with about a 4-hour stop in Memphis. Took a walking tour along the riverfront (in 100+ degrees, and got attacked by a bird. Seriously-- there was bird-claw-to-scalp contact, but no permanent damage.) Got hopelessly lost trying to find a restaurant and/or Graceland (the restaurant is allegedly near Graceland) with just the little tourist map. Memphis doesn't believe in street signs. Had to abandon the search and move on. Stayed in another cheap motel.

Day 3: Nashville to Berea, KY for grad school reunion. Stayed in college dorms. (Reunion organizer's mom has pull at the college.)

Days 4-5: Hung out with friends and toured central KY.

Day 6: Berea to Findley Lake, NY. Met up with my parents and their RV.

Day 7-10: Wedding prep, wedding, post-wedding socializing with relatives who'd come for the wedding, recovering from the relatives.

Day 11: Convoy with the RV down to northern PA where my sister (mother of the bride) lives.

Day 12-15: Sight-seeing in the towns near my sister and trip to Niagara Falls. I walked across the bridge so I could say I'd been to Canada.

Day 16: PA/NY border to Youngstown, OH, with a long stop in Erie, PA-- cycled around Presque Isle State Park. Cheap motel.

Day 17: Across OH and down to Louisville, KY. Torrential rain most of the way-- really scary driving blind through Columbus and Cincinnati, surrounded by semi trucks and semi-drunks (it was 4th of July.) Expensive motel. (There are no cheap motels on the 4th of July.)

Day 18: Louisville to Wildersville, TN. I'd intended to stop at Mammoth Cave NP to camp, but it was pouring down rain so I kept going until I started seeing deer, then hit the next exit. EXTREMELY cheap motel-- muddy campground in wet tent might have been marginally less unpleasant.

Day 19: Across TN and on to Hot Springs, AR. Finally got to camp.

Day 20: Hot Springs to Austin. Hiked around Hot Springs, got lost, ended up leaving about 3 hours later than planned. Made it home around 2 am.

Edit: Just realized that I listed 20 days but i was only gone 19. Oh, well. It's not that important.

Summary: Saw my grad school friends. All but one of them look exactly the same-- one of them said, "Damn, we look great for a bunch of women over 40!" They brought along 6 amazingly bright, well-behaved kids and one brat.

Got niece successfully married off to rocket scientist. We like his family. In fact, we like his family better than ours! Spent most of the following day with my oldest sister & her family, and I remembered how much I dislike her husband. There's something wrong with some of her kids, too-- could be some form of autism, or maybe it's just that Daddy-Know-it-All rarely lets them get a word in and corrects and contradicts them on EVERY. TINY. DETAIL when they do, so they've never learned to talk to people. Did I mention that I don't like my oldest sister's husband?

Went to Niagara Falls, took lots of pictures, and walked across the bridge into Canada just to say I'd been there. It was Canada Day, and I wish we could have stayed for the fireworks, but we were going back to my sister's house and it's a dangerous drive after dark. (She lives right on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest, and there's lotsa critters in them there woods. Apparently, hitting a bear is even worse than hitting a deer.)

Only got to camp out once, this past Monday night. I'd planned to camp at Hot Springs NP (AR) on the way out and at Mammoth Cave NP (KY) on the way back, but I started out too late the first day (and it was too hot), and there was torrential rain all across southern Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee on the way back. I did camp at Hot Springs on the way home, and it was very nice. My little tent was surprisingly comfortable and easy to set up, so I might do more camping in the near future.

As for diet and exercise...

I ate healthy all the way north, though I didn't have a chance to exercise much. While I was with my family, I ate junk. In all fairness, it's fairly isolated where my sister lives and they have a hard time getting good produce. But I also ate c**p because it was there. And we went to the buffet at the Senecas' casino in Niagara because she likes to support them (her baby-daddy was Seminole and her husband was mostly Cherokee, and they brought the kids up sort of generically Indian.) I tried to be reasonable, but I still have trouble with buffets; i want to try as many different things as possible, but I feel guilty leaving it on my plate if it turns out not to be as good as it looked. Actually, I guess that falls into the category of eating c**p because it's there.

On the way home, I ate all kinds of unhealthy but yummy stuff. I did eat some fast food, but only stuff we don't have here. I now understand what the big deal is about Tim Horton's, but White Castle I can totally do without. I also pigged out at two places that were listed as "worth a drive from anywhere" on a blog by a pair of food writers who are fairly famous. One was a bakery in Louisville, so I ate nothing but pie that day, and one was a barbeque place in Hot Springs, so yesterday I ate a rib platter. And you know what? They were worth every calorie. I don't feel bad about things like that, because I consider it "food tourism"-- part of the experience of travel. And i figure it's not like I'm going to get a midnight pie craving and up and drive to Louisville. (Although apparently Louisville has a bunch of great bakeries. Who knew?) [We need a shrug smiley.]

I did get in some exercise on the way back-- a 15-mile bike ride Friday in Presque Isle, near Erie, PA, and then about a 2-3 hour hike over the mountain from the campground to the main part of the National Park in Hot Springs. Not sure how long it really was. because i spent a bunch of time looking for the trailhead to get back-- it's on the NP map, but they fail to mention that it's only accessible by going THROUGH one of the hotels that's not in the park. emoticon

And I've discovered that I love McDonald's, WalMart, and Cracker Barrel when I'm traveling. McDonald's has cheap soda and coffee (and clean bathrooms.) Cracker Barrel lets you borrow an audiobook and return it at any other Cracker Barrel for $3.50 (and has clean bathrooms.) WalMart is THE place to go to hear how people talk in any given area. I never realized how different an Arkansas accent is from a Texas accent is from a Tennessee or Kentucky accent. (And it has... well... bathrooms.) I think I went to McDonalds' more in the last 3 weeks than in the last 10 years, though I never bought anything but a beverage. Oddly enough, I was never even tempted by the food there. I was kinda curious about Cracker Barrel, but I didn't want to take time for a sit-down meal.

So, now I'm home and it's time to get back on track. I bought fruit today, and tomorrow I'll get out to the garden to see if I have any veggies. I had gone healthy-food shopping for non-perishables right before I left, so I shouldn't have much trouble getting my eating back in line. Exercise is another issue, though. It's 105 here today. That's almost too hot for walking, much less running. I might stay lazy until the heat wave breaks. Or, i might finally get it in gear and try to learn to swim. Don't have money for lessons right now, but I might hit Craig's List and try to barter.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    WOW! What a roadtrip! Glad it was a safe one!
    3152 days ago
    Welcome back, Anarie ! You certainly covered more territory than I did on my road trip. My friend and I did 1300 miles in four days. And it was hot ! It was 95 degrees and 100% humidity in New Orleans. Which was amazing. However, like you, I was beat by the time we got to Philly. It isn't easy to drive for eight hours a day.

    So, how many Waffle Houses and Cracker Barrels did you count on the interstates ? I gave up counting after a while. I tried to make good food choices and for the most part, I did. But, as you know, road food isn't the most healthy.

    Although, I did try a Sonic Burger. That wasn't bad. In fact, it was pretty good !

    It sounds like you had a good time. I had fun too. A long road trip is something a person should do at least once in their life. It's a great way to see the country.

    -- karen

    3152 days ago
    Glad to hear you're back; that was quite a trek! We hit all the McDonalds when we travel, too, only for the clean bathrooms (and a diet Coke for me). If you wait till the hot weather breaks here, you'll be waiting a while. It's been AWFUL. I wouldn't mind so much but it makes me wonder what August is going to be like.
    3152 days ago
    Wow! What a trip. I'm leaving tomorrow for California with a stop or two each way.... but it won't be anywhere near as busy as the trip you just finished. Sounds like you should be ready for a rest.
    3153 days ago
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