We spent a lot of time on the road in September and October of this year.
The destination for the BIG road trip for the year was Orlando Florida to go to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival at Disney World. We love going to Disney and we love to make it a road trip. This year was complicated by Hurricane Florence which was going to be right in our path. But, nothing stops us! So we headed in west and then went south. This just added to our adventure. Our first planned stop was Johnson City Tennessee.
We left NJ and went into Pennsylvania. We made a stop at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Walking in to their store was a Holiday Trifecta! They had Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas merchandise. Something for everyone!! After breakfast we continued the drive. Loved some of the billboards along Interstate 81. There was a large sign directing you to an “adult store”. A minute later was a sign telling you that “Lust Leads to Hell”.
We continued into Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. In Virginia we started seeing a lot of power service trucks heading to the Carolinas to be ready to help. The plates on the trucks were NY and Massachusetts. The sky went from beautiful blue to black clouds. The sky was reflecting the changes to come. We were in Bristol Virginia for Rush Hour. We were doing 78 mph. Not like the rush hour traffic we are accustomed to at home. Next we entered Tennessee and hit Johnson City 30 minutes later. We were ready to stop for the night. It was Happy Hour and we were hungry for dinner. We stayed at the Doubletree Hilton. Hiltons are always my first choice. We settled in and went to the bar for dinner. We love having dinner at the bar especially when we travel. I think the bartender was looking for a good tip when she asked for proof before serving our drinks. We all had a good laugh! Met interesting people at the bar as we always do.
The next day the weather was beautiful. Sunny and 83 degrees. Perfect. Our next stop was Warner Robbins Georgia. The route we took was so scenic. We drove into North Carolina and passed through The Cherokee National Forest heading toward Ashville. This stretch of the drive was so mountainous that there was a long period that Tom didn’t have his foot on the accelerator. We passed a field of wild poppies and sunflowers in Weaverville North Carolina. Soon we entered South Carolina. Another fabulous billboard read “Don’t Wait. Communicate”. Hope everyone passing reads that one.
We arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in Warner Robbins Georgia (outside of Macon) just in time for Happy Hour. We checked in and headed to the bar for dinner. We got happy hour drinks and a delicious dinner. The bar was hopping. Totally full. We met 3 men who were pilots waiting to be deployed after the hurricane comes on land. They then do searches for people, ships, aircraft. We also met some other business travelers who stay there frequently. Very lively conversation. Did I mention how much fun it is to have your dinner at the bar when you are on the road?
The next day we headed to Ponte Vedra Florida to spend the weekend with our friend Maria. We had a terrific weekend of food and wine and great conversation with Maria’s friends. We also took a ride to Amelia Island for lunch one day.
Then it was on to Disney World. We always stay at the Boardwalk. What is so good about staying on property is that once you get out of the car you don’t get back in it until you leave. Disney always says “welcome home” and you know what, they really make you feel like that.
Our friends Carol and Tony joined us for a couple of days to go to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We enjoyed the wine lecture and tasting we attended. It was given by Ana Balbo from the Susana Balbo vineyard in Argentina. Very interesting presentation and the wine tasting was good. There were food kiosks all around with small plate tastings from all over the world. But, I have to say, it was so hot that we had to keep going in and out of air conditioning because I thought I would vaporize! Epcot also had a concert series for the event called “Eat to the Beat”. We saw Sheila E and she was fabulous. Very high energy! All in all it was a great week. We spent time at the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs. We had amazing dinners at many restaurants at Epcot (my favorites are France and Morocco) as well as on the Boardwalk (Trattoria and Flying Fish) and Disney Springs (The Boathouse). We did lots of shopping for Christmas at a variety of shops at Disney Springs.
By the time we were leaving Interstate 95 had reopened after the hurricane. We made a stop the first night at a favorite place. Clark’s Inn in Santee South Carolina is a perfect stop on your drive. They have a really nice restaurant and bar and with your night’s stay there is a full breakfast included. There is also a beautiful gift shop. Is there anywhere that I can’t find a place to shop?
The second night we stopped in Manassas Virginia. Originally we thought we would drive straight home but there was traffic and we decided to make a stop. We stayed at a nondescript Best Western that was the only place available. Won’t do that again. The next day we rolled into the driveway at our home. It was a great road trip.
Usually when I travel there is something that peaks my interest and I come home with a flurry of photos. This trip it was clouds. All of the changes going on in the atmosphere made for some spectacular clouds to look at. It also reminded me of when I was a kid and how my mother and I would sit out on our front lawn and look up at the clouds and tell each other what we thought we saw. It made me smile to think about this . I think that is why my head is always in the clouds!! Here is a sampling of the photos I took.
No more than a week later we got back in the car to go to a suburb of Chicago to see my friend Susan who had recently moved there. She moved to be near her mom who is 100 years old. She is just the best daughter. On the way we stopped in Cleveland. We stayed at The Cleveland Hilton Garden Inn. We had made a date with Mel and Merle for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Lola Bistro. How great is it to be able to meet a friend from high school and have a fabulous dinner in Cleveland? The next morning we drove on to Chicago. This road trip was geared to just having a visit with Susan and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We really had a good time on both of these road trips. I am trying to decide what our song should be for the trips. Choices are “On the Road Again” or “Get Off my Cloud”. What do you think?