Our trip through the Southeastern States of the US

May 2000


Our first stop, after a whole day spent in the car, was Virginia Beach, North Carolina where we just stayed overnight and continued southbound via the Outer Banks in North Carolina the next day to the first destination where we had planned a longer stay:

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a golfers' and minigolfers' paradise, was the first place where we had booked a hotel for a few nights. Of course, we tried one of the many minigolf ranges which are spread out evenly throughout the whole city and which are mostly dedicated to a theme - we chose the Jurassic Park one.
Thomas minigolfing
Furthermore, it was in this beach ressort that we had the first opportunity to sunbathe - after all, we were counting on returning to New York City all tanned and healthy-looking.

Charleston, South Carolina was the next destination - a nice old Southern town with lots of well-kept or carefully renovated old, Southern-style townhouses and a beachfront promenade inviting people to stroll along or sit on the many benches and enjoy the sun.
Our car parked beneath a palm tree in the city

Not far from Charleston is Savannah, Georgia - the town which was next on our list. Like Charloston, Savannah also has the typical Southern charm and invites its visitors to walk through the historical town center for hours. There are many squares with lots of trees and flower beds, benches, fountains and sculptures to explore, all of them surrounded by the typical Southern-style townhouses. For those who don't like to walk, historic streetcar busses run frequently and stop at a lot of different points in downtown. We also took the chance to ride on a tourist paddle steamer for a while which was fun, even though it lasted only for about half an hour and was only to and fro along the river.

After Savannah we finally made it to Florida - this picture we took shortly before arriving in Daytona Beach, our first stop in the Sunshine State.
Soon we'll be in Daytona Beach
One thing Daytona Beach is famous for, is the fact that it is permitted to drive onto the beach in your car, which we gratefully declined and didn't do. Another famous sight is the Daytona Speedway which we, of course, also visited. Moreover, we went to a museum with lots of very well-kept and well exhibited classic cars, amongst others the automobile of the Flintstones, in which we had our picture taken.

Having checked Daytona Beach off our itinerary, we continued southbound to Orlando. One of our days there we used to go to Cape Canaveral, to see the Kennedy Space Center - one of the main tourist attractions of this region. It was an exhausting but worthwhile trip.
Since Barbara is not very fond of all the different theme parks in the Orlando area, we agreed on one park we would visit and therefore spent a whole day marching through the Universal Studios taking a look at everything worth seeing there and spending lots of money. The third day in Orlando we went to GATORLAND, a zoo where mostly alligators are kept and could be watched lying lazily around there and not moving a muscle. We watched a Gator Wrestling Show and Thomas tried the tricks he saw after the show on his own...
Thomas with alligator
Last but not least we went to "Skull Kingdom" - a dark-looking castle which one has to walk through while being startled, terrified, made jump and subjected to lots of other horrifying things by a staff disguised as different characters from the best-of collection of the all-time favourite horror movies. This, of course, was something Thomas absolutely wanted to do...

When we were through with Orlando, Miami, where we had booked a hotel in Miami Beach, was next. We took a good look around town the first day and visited the famous Seaquarium - with its well-known orca whale and dolphin show. Another day we spent shopping in a huge mall outside of Miami and still another day we used to take a day trip to the Everglades National Park where we took a boat trip and hiked for a while, seeing lots of different forms of wildlife (insects, birds and the ever-present alligators) and taking pictures of them.

After that we took the scenic route to the Florida Keys to spent a few days in Key West, the Southernmost point of the continental United States.
The following pictures were taken when we rode back to the Florida mainland. You have to pass a lot of long or not-so long bridges connecting the islands with each other - on one side you see the Florida Bay and on the other side the Florida Straits, leading to the Atlantic Ocean. Because the road is only a narrow one, you are not allowed to drive very fast and can amble along, enjoying the scenery on either side of you.
The Seven Mile Bridge
Short stop at the beach

We passed again through the Everglades area on our way back from the Florida Keys to St. Petersburg, which is located at the West coast of Florida, at the Gulf of Mexico. On the way there we stopped at a small zoo-like establishment and watched another wildlife show during which Barbara among all the assembled tourists was chosen to hold a scorpion in her hand and have the expert show her how not to hold the beast.
Thomas, in turn, was allowed to hold a miniature alligator, a venture he wasn't too fond of, judging by the look on his face on this picture. May be he was thinking of how to fullfil the promise on his t-shirt???

St. Petersburg was another good opportunity to worship the sun and fry in the heat at the pool. Furthermore, we took a look around town and visited the Salvador Dalí museum. Then we started our trip northbound, back to New York City.

One more stop on the way back was Atlanta - Georgia's capital. Since we had booked a hotel in one of the suburban towns and weren't too keen on another sterile big city center, we decided to go to the Stonemountain instead. We took a cable car to the top and had a little fun there, took a ride on the railway around the mountain and on a boat across the nearby lake. Moreover, there was a typical Southern former slave plantation to be visited, which was very interesting for us - we saw the master's mansion and all the surrounding quarters, including the slaves' huts and were even able to inspect a few of the utensils and objects a little closer, like this rocking chair for instance.

Last but not least we went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on our way back and hiked in our car through the woods - at 10 miles/hour we drove on a dirt road through the forest for over 2 hours and enjoyed the scenery being badly shaken in our vehicle because of the road, or better - path conditions.
At the highest point in the National Park, we climbed onto an observation tower and were preseneted with this view - obviously the forests and trees of the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains are as dead and badly polluted as anywhere else.

A part of the return trip we continued driving on the Blue Ridge Mountains Parkway - at 40 miles/hour and in the neverending pouring rain, until we decided to leave the scenic route and chose the interstate instead. We had one more overnight stay - in Wytheville, Virginia - and after that drove the last 650 miles to New York City without any further interruptions.

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