EPIC US ROAD TRIP 2017

33 Days, 23 Sates & 7,124 Miles. Being Epic All Over Again.


“… the US probably warrants more than one epic once-in-a-lifetime road trip experience. So, and a year-plus after our 9,500+ mile US Road Trip 2016, we’re hitting the US road once again. Welcome to Epic US Road Trip part II, the 2017 edition…”


Image || The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana. Day 17.

Epic US Road Trip 2017 Introduction

With almost 10 million km² of terra firma crisscrossed by some 6.5 million kilometres of road, the world’s longest & biggest road network, the US probably warrants more than one epic once-in-a-lifetime road trip experience. So, and a year-plus after our 9,500+ mile US Road Trip 2016, we hit the US road once again. Welcome to Epic US Road Trip part II, the 2017 edition, 33 days of US road-trippin’ centered on the original Thirteen Colonies (Northern, Middle & Southern Colonies). This one was all about history; music; (more of) the Deep South; rural drives and leaf peeping the vibrant hues of a New England fall/autumn. Oh, and we also found time to venture north of the border into Canada. Yes, it was epic. All over again.

Forget all of your preconceptions. Take a look at America the way it really, truly is today; a land of limitless road trips, astonishing natural beauty and diverse multiethnic cities from coast to coast. Pay your respects to the heritage of Native American tribes, then explore the kitschy side of stateside life at oddball roadside attractions. Taste the American dream – sweet as apple pie, strong as homemade moonshine – for yourself.

– Lonely Planet USA, 6th edition

Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

Is an epic US road trip still an epic US road trip if it involves Canada? Whoops. Spilling across the border. Day 30 in a very wet Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada.

Epic US Road Trip 2017 In Numbers

Days

Miles Driven

US States

Canadian Provinces

National Parks Visited

National Scenic Byways Driven

All-American Roads Driven

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|| Day 1 || September 27 || Boeing 737 MAX 8. Norwegian flight D81823 from Dublin to Warwick, Rhode Island.

 

“Making waves right now in the transatlantic sky, it was Norwegian who were tasked with the responsibility of getting us across the Atlantic to the road trip starting line… I’m well impressed.”

Day 1 || September 27 2017

Route || T. F. Green Airport, Warwick, Rhode Island to New Haven, Connecticut.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 110 (177)
Posted From || New Haven, Connecticut
Today’s Highlight || Hitting the road

Making waves right now in the transatlantic sky, it was Norwegian who were tasked with the responsibility of getting us across the Atlantic to the road trip starting line. And they did a rather good job of it too. I’m well impressed.

Boeing 737 MAX 8. Norwegian flight D81823 from Dublin, Ireland to Warwick, Rhode Island, USA. September 27, 2017.

NORWEGIAN || Boeing 737 MAX 8. On board Norwegian flight D81823 from Dublin, Ireland to Warwick, Rhode Island, USA. September 27, 2017. || It’s 15 years now since Norwegian’s first domestic flights in 2002. I’ve flown with them before, from Oslo to Reykjavik, Iceland in 2013, around about the time they won the first of their 5 consecutive best low-cost airline in Europe awards (they are also on a three-year run of being voted the world’s best low-cost long-haul airline). Going from strength to strength, seen here is one of their new, greener, quieter, US$100 million Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, this one so brand spanking new that the Wi-Fi antenna hadn’t even been installed meaning we had no access to the airline’s innovative and industry-leading free Wi-Fi for the duration of the 6 hour 40 minute flight. Taking the keys to the first their new toys in July of this year saw Norwegian became the first European airline to fly the single-aisle, 189-seater MAX 8, 110 of which they have on order and which they will use to service future low-cost long-haul routes, the first of which was their transatlantic service that began in May 2013. This service has been aggressively expanded of late to usher in what is being called a new era of low-cost transatlantic travel, one that is seeing Norwegian not only eat into the market share of the jaded offerings of established transatlantic carriers like Aer Lingus, but also the pilot numbers of complacent Ryanair. In hoping to open the skies to everyone, Norwegian are hedging their bets on people not minding a long-haul flight on single-aisle aircraft to minor airports (Norwegian themselves use the word ‘smaller’) in return for low fares, the cheapest transatlantic flights ever seen. There were certainly no objections here.
Keep up the good work, Norwegian.

A game changer.

– Travel industry expert Henry H Harteveldt commenting on use of the 737 MAX 8 by Norwegian as part of its aggressive expansion of long-haul offerings using smaller single-aisle aircraft.

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|| Day 2 || September 28 || Overlooking New Haven Green, New Haven, Connecticut.


“… the only show in town… one can’t but help get the feeling, and even accounting for New Haven’s formation over 6 decades before Yale’s, that if not for the university then there would be little reason for the city of New Haven to exist at all.”

Day 2 || September 28 2017

Route || New Haven, Connecticut to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 312 (502)
Posted From || Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Today’s Highlight || Yale University, New Haven

Day 2. The first full day. We took a look around New Haven this morning, a glorious but windy morning in America’s oldest planned city (it was laid out in orderly blocks way back in 1638). The city is home to the Ivy League Yale University, the reason we chose to overnight here last night on our first night of the wider road trip. Little did we know then that Yale is pretty much the only show in town; it’s New Haven’s largest employer, taxpayer and catalyst for economic development and while touring the Gothic-heavy campus one can’t but help get the feeling, and even accounting for New Haven’s formation over 6 decades before Yale’s, that if not for the university then there would be little reason for the city of New Haven to exist at all.

You join those who have come here as students, scholars, and visitors for over 300 years. We hope you will make your own discoveries here and gain a sense of the many contributions Yale graduates and faculty have made to this country and the world.

– A ‘Welcome to Yale’ posting in the Visitor Center of Yale University, New Haven.

Cross Campus, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. September 28 2017.

YALE UNIVERSITY – STERLING MEMORIAL LIBRARY || Cross Campus, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. September 28 2017. || I’m not too sure which is more important for getting accepted into Yale, money or brains. Either way, I suspect you need copious amounts of both. Founded in Saybrook, Connecticut in 1701 as the Collegiate School, relocated to New Haven in 1716, and renamed Yale College in 1718, this is the 2nd oldest Ivy Leaguer after Harvard (founded 1636). The Alma mater of 5 US presidents, including 4 of the last 6, the campus is, as one might expect, a rather picturesque riot of thick Gothic buildings. One of over 260 buildings gracing the vast campus complex, the library building seen here, the Sterling Memorial Library, more resembles a cathedral than a library (externally at least, where it displays some impressive relief work above the front entrance doors). Completed in 1930 and today serving as Yale’s primary library, it houses some 4 million volumes, most of which are stored in the building’s seven-storey tower, a.k.a. the Stacks, the library’s dominant feature.

A few more pics from today exploring the campus of Yale.

IVY LEAGUE – With connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism, the Ivy League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising sports teams from 8 private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States – Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut), University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) , Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey), Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island), Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire), Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) & Columbia University (New York City, New York).

In a region that is home to Yale University and the birthplace of the hamburger, Greater New Haven imparts tales that have evolved into the cornerstone of American history with inventions such as the cotton gin, Frisbee (the sport seemingly invented by Yale students) and the lollipop. The perfect home base to experience the arts, great shopping and dining and picture-postcard beach towns.

CTVisit.com commenting on the New Haven region

In getting from New Haven to the state of New York (before continuing on through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania), we drove the Merritt Parkway, the first National Scenic Byway of the wider road tip. It won’t be the last.

The entrance to the Merritt Parkway on the New York/Connecticut state line. September 28 2017.

The entrance to the Merritt Parkway on the New York/Connecticut state line. September 28 2017.

National Scenic Byway #1 – Merritt ParkwayUS Scenic Byways Logo
Set in natural surroundings, Merritt Parkway’s significant design brilliantly integrates the craft of the engineer and the artist. The bridges along the route are excellent examples of Art Deco, or Art Moderne, styles of the 1920s and 1930s. Magnificent foliage abounds in both spring and fall.

NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAYS & ALL-AMERICAN ROADS

US Scenic Byways Logo
While each state can and does designate its own Scenic Byways, a National Scenic Byway is a road recognized by the US Department of Transportation for one or more of six ‘intrinsic qualities’, they being archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic. The program was established by Congress in 1991 to preserve and protect the nation’s scenic but often less-travelled roads and to promote tourism and economic development. The National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The most scenic byways are designated All-American Roads. These roads must meet two out of the six intrinsic qualities. An All-American designation means these roads have features that do not exist elsewhere in the US and are unique and important enough to be tourist destinations unto themselves.

As of November 2010 there are 120 National Scenic Byways and 31 All-American Roads located in 46 states (all except Hawaii, Nebraska, Rhode Island and Texas).

Traffic jam. The Bronx, New York, USA. September 28, 2017.

NEW YORK TRAFFIC JAM || Traffic jam. Crawling through the upper Bronx, New York. September 28 2017. || We had hoped to get to stop off at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx while passing through New York (& later New Jersey where we missed a toll on the New Jersey Turnpike) en route to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but the traffic. Oh the traffic. We didn’t suffer one traffic jam over the course of 36 days of US road-trippin’ last year, the roads of the eastern seaboard wasting no time in proving to be as busy and as frustrating as we suspected they would be.

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|| Day 3 || September 29 || Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania.


“…the bloody Battle of Gettysburg (1863), the biggest and bloodiest battle to ever be fought on American soil…”

Day 3 || September 29 2017

Route || Gettysburg to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 98 (158)
Posted From || Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Today’s Highlight || Gettysburg National Military Park

Day 3. It’s about time we really got down and dirty with some history. And from here on out, as we head down the eastern seaboard through the so-called Middle & Southern Colonies, there’ll be little letup in it. First up, Pennsylvania where, and as some would have you believe, there’s so much, maybe too much, to see and do.

You’ll run out of time before you run out of things to do!

– A bold claim by VisitPA.com

Soldiers' National Cemetery, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania. September 29, 2017.

Pennsylvania – Gettysburg, Amish Country & Philadepphia
The Province of Pennsylvania was founded as a proprietary colony in 1681 by Quaker William Penn. The name Pennsylvania, roughly translating as “Penn’s Woods” and created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning ‘forest land’. Once the richest and most populous British colony in North America and one of its most industrial, this state is all about history & Amish Country, or at least that’s what it was always going to be about to us US road trippers.

Philadelphia, a.k.a. Philly, once the second-largest city in the British Empire (after London), was also a centre for opposition to British colonial policy. The new nation’s capital at the start of the Revolutionary War, and pretty much right up until Washington D.C. took over the mantle in 1790, this is where the US Constitution was drafted and first read. And when rid of the Brits, the Americans found the need to fight among themselves; one of the most decisive, bloody and pivotal battles of the 1861-1865 American Civil War was fought at Gettysburg. Oh, and in between is the aforementioned Amish Country.

The Brafferton Inn, Lincoln Highway, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

The Brafferton Inn, Lincoln Highway, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. September 29, 2017.

Gettysburg
A town of less than 8,000 it may be, but Gettysburg is a history heavy-hitter playing host as it did to two defining periods in American history – the bloody Battle of Gettysburg (1863), the biggest and bloodiest battle to ever be fought on American soil, and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Gettysburg is history – the question is, how do you want to experience that history?

DestinationGettysburg.com

Motel 8, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

Even the motels evoke the storied Gettysburg past. Motel 8, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Soldiers' National Monument, Soldiers' National Cemetery, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

Soldiers’ National Monument, Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

Battle of Gettysburg & The Gettysburg National Military Park
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863 by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war’s turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Meade’s Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, halting Lee’s invasion of the North. The Gettysburg National Military Park protects and interprets the landscape of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The Gettysburg National Military Park properties include most of the Gettysburg Battlefield, many of the battle’s support areas during the battle (e.g., reserve, supply, & hospital locations), and several other non-battle areas associated with the battle’s “aftermath and commemoration”, including the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Many of the park’s 43,000 American Civil War artifacts are displayed in the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. The park has more wooded land than in 1863, and the National Park Service has an ongoing program to restore portions of the battlefield to their historical non-wooded conditions, as well as to replant historic orchards and woodlots that are now missing. In addition, the National Park Service is restoring native plants to meadows and edges of roads, to encourage habitat as well as provide for historic landscape. There are also considerably more roads and facilities for the benefit of tourists visiting the battlefield park.

More pics from a self-drive tour of the military park.

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower National Historic Site, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

Eisenhower National Historic Site, Pennsylvania. September 29, 2017.

Eisenhower National Historic Site, Pennsylvania, USA. September 29, 2017.

Eisenhower National Historic Site, Pennsylvania. September 29, 2017.

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|| Day 4 || September 30 || Farming in Amish Country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

 

“Diluted or not, their way of life is a big tourist draw around these parts, a simple and curious existence that draws the hordes from far and wide.”

Day 4 || September 30 2017

Route || Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 149 (240)
Posted From || Atlantic City, New Jersey
Today’s Highlight || Amish Country

Day 4. Pennsylvanian Amish Country in the morning, Philadelphia, the historic City of Brotherly Love, in the afternoon and Atlantic City, the east coast’s very own Vegas, in the evening. Three very different locals on a busy day.

An Amish buggy on the roads outside Bird in Hand, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA. September 30, 2017.

An Amish buggy on the roads outside Bird in Hand in Amish Country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. September 30, 2017.

Bring home priceless memories of the expected – farmlands, family-style feasts and the Amish.

Discoverlancaster.com

The Amish & Amish Country
The colony of Pennsylvania, established in 1681, was one that respected religious freedom, thus attracting minority religious sects, including the Mennonite and Amish communities, Christian church fellowships with Swiss Anabaptist origins – the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland in 1693. Led by Jakob Ammann, the followers became known as Amish. Know today by some as the ‘Plain People’, the sect settled in tolerant Pennsylvania in the early 1700s fleeing persecution in Switzerland, something I’d imagine would be would be unheard of in the Swiss society of today. Speaking a German dialect, known as Pennsylvania German or Pennsylvania Dutch, they are known for having large families (6-7 children the norm, a blessing from god); for marrying within the faith, a requirement if baptised (baptism usually taking place in their late teens or early twenties with almost 90% Amish teenagers choosing to be baptised and to join the church); for their plain dress; for valuing humility & having an aversion to asserting oneself or self-promotion (not selfie takers, individual photographs might cultivate personal vanity); and for living a simple, rural and Bible-centered life, the rules of which – collectively termed the Ordnung, meaning order in German – see them shunning, or severely limiting, their use of power-line electricity (to do so would be going against the Bible which says that you shall not be “Conformed to the world”), motor cars, telephones and motorised tools, manual labour being just one why of living what they interpret to be God’s word while making one less dependent on community.

Amish farming outside Bird in Hand, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA. September 30, 2017.

Amish farming outside Bird in Hand, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA. September 30, 2017.

While they keep themselves to themselves, invariably pressures from the modern world have seen a dilution of strict traditional Amish values and customs in some regions of the US & Canada. Diluted or not, their way of life is a big tourist draw around these parts, a simple and curious existence that draws the hordes from far and wide. There are Amish communities in some 8 US states, the largest concentration found here in Pennsylvania – some 75,000 of the nearly 300,000 North American Amish population live in the state with the Amish communities in an around Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County something of an Amish hotbed. Welcome to Amishville.

More pics from today in Amish Country.

Philadelphia

The Liberty Bell in the Liberty Bell Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. September 30, 2017.

The Liberty Bell in the Liberty Bell Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. September 30, 2017.

Philadelphia & The Birth of The United States
Populated for at least 15 millennia, Europeans first arrived in the 1500s with the country as we know today emerging from the so-called 13 British colonies of the North America East Coast, established by English settlers between 1607 (the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, the first) – & 1732 (the Province of Georgia, the 13th). Grievances with the British government and numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the 1756-1763 Seven Years’ War led to the 1775-1783 American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, and during the course of the Revolutionary War, the 13 colonies declared their independence by ratifying the US Declaration of Independence, composed largely by Thomas Jefferson and unanimously passed two days’ previous on July 2nd.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

– Thomas Jefferson in a letter to his wife

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. September 30, 2017.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. September 30, 2017.

We the People
The new United States of America would go on to ratify, in 1781, the Articles of Confederation, effectively the first US Constitution (a guiding principle of the Articles was to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the states, a principle adhered to with the future expansion of the union to its present 50 states). The war ended in 1783, Great Britain formally recognising the independence of the United States, via the Treaty of Paris, resulting from the very first successful war of independence against a mighty European power. With the Articles of Confederation adjudged to provide inadequate federal powers, the current United States Constitution, which famously starts with the words ‘We the People’, was adopted in 1788, the first permanent constitution of its kind. Its first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and were designed to guarantee many fundamental and now famous civil liberties including the right to bear arms (the Second Amendment) & the right to decline to give self-incriminating information, a.k.a. pleading the fifth (the Fifth Amendment).

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. September 30, 2017.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. September 30, 2017.

Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. September 30, 2017.

Atlantic City, New Jersey. September 30, 2017.

Atlantic City
A nationally renowned resort city for gambling, shopping and fine dining, Atlantic City also served as the inspiration for the board game Monopoly. Considered the “Gambling Capital of the East Coast” and is second to Las Vegas in number of casinos, yearly gaming revenue, and number of rooms, the city skyline has been transformed by construction of new casino hotels and condominia. Atlantic City is also home to numerous shopping malls and districts.

The Boardwalk. Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. September 30, 2017.

The Boardwalk. The Atlantic City Boardwalk was one of the first boardwalks of its type in the United States, having opened on June 26, 1870. The Boardwalk starts at Absecon Inlet and runs along the beach for four miles (six kilometers) to the city limit. An additional one and one-half miles (two kilometers) of the Boardwalk extend into Ventnor City. Casino/hotels front the boardwalk, as well as retail stores, restaurants, and amusements. Notable attractions include the Boardwalk Hall, the Steel Pier, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum. Home of the Miss America pageant, Atlantic City has been featured in numerous films and television series, most notably the setting of the 1980 film Atlantic City starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon and the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Atlantic City, New Jersey. September 30, 2017.

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|| Day 15 || October 11 || The State Capitol Buildings in Tallahassee, Florida.


“While Tallahassee is short on attractions, it does, and unlike the other 49 state capitals, boast 2 capitol buildings.”

Day 15 || October 11 2017

Route || Maccleeny, Florida to Mobile, Alabama.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 397 (639)
Posted From || Mobile, Alabama
Today’s Highlight || The Florida/Alabama state line

T’was the busiest day of the lot on the road today. We returned to Alabama – we’re in Mobile, as deep in the Deep South as we’ve been, and we got here from Macclenny via a stop in the Florida capital of Tallahassee.

As seen from the 22nd-floor observation deck of the State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. October 11, 2017.

As seen from the 22nd-floor observation deck of the State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. October 11, 2017.

There wasn’t/isn’t a whole lot to see in Tallahassee, a planned city full of suits, bureaucracy and heat. The city’s geographical location meant today it was a convenient break in the 395-mile drive west from Macclenny.

A road junction as seen from the 22nd-floor observation deck of the State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. October 11, 2017.

A road junction as seen from the 22nd-floor observation deck of the State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. October 11, 2017.

The New State Capitol as seen from the steps of the Old State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. October, 11 2017.

FLORIDA STATE CAPITOL – NEW & OLD – The New State Capitol as seen from the steps of the Old State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. October, 11 2017. || While Tallahassee is short on attractions, it does, and unlike the other 49 state capitals, boast 2 capitol buildings. The old one, a.k.a. the Historic Capital, was built in 1845. It was spared from the wrecking ball when the new 22-storey capitol, a much more boxier affair, was built in the 1970s. Both now live happily side by side, the old capital a museum to all things Florida and the new one the somewhat sterile administrative centre for the Sunshine State.

On the Florida/Alabama state line, Interstate 10. October 11, 2017.

FLORIDA – STATE #12 On the Florida/Alabama state line, Interstate 10. October 11, 2017 || Just as we expected, the state line signs have been a lot tougher to tick off this trip; the eastern seaboard is a different, much busier beast. That said, we’ve yet to be thwarted (we’re resilient). Today we got the Florida state sign, albeit when leaving the state on the Florida/Alabama state line. It took a bit of work but it was worth it – between this and last year, we’ve seen 40+ state line signs and Florida is the most impressive of them all.

I saw this quote in the lobby of the Florida State Capitol today and thought it apt.

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.

– Ernest Hemingway

Late in the day. Interstate 10 on the Florida/Alabama state line. October 11, 2017.

Late in the day. Interstate 10 on the Florida/Alabama state line. October 11, 2017.

We’re now in Mobile. I’ve always wanted to come here, for no other reason other than one of my very favourite YouTube videos emanates from here. Leprechauns in the Deep South? Generally no, but tonight yes.

New Orleans is a 2-hour drive from here. The city is the only reason we’re this far south – this wasn’t on the original itinerary. That said, we’ll be there tomorrow. We’re super pumped for that.

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|| Day 16 || October 12 || Shitfaced on Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.


“A city where seemingly anything goes, New Orleans is also party central, the party firmly centred on the French Quarter’s infamous Bourbon Street, a neon-lit party zone that actively embraces getting shitfaced 24/7. Revelers, meandering from here to there with a beer or colourful cocktail in hand, come here to have a good time, and it seems a lot of them do just that.”

Day 16 || October 12 2017

Route || Mobile to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 167 (269)
Posted From || New Orleans, Louisiana
Today’s Highlight || The French Quarter, New Orleans
On the Mississippi/Louisiana State Line. October 12, 2017.

LOUISIANA – STATE #14 On the Mississippi/Louisiana State Line. October 12, 2017.

New Orleans. The largest city in Louisiana located the mouth of the mighty Mississippi river, the home of jazz & Mardi Gras. The city’s historic French Quarter, where we hung out, is a nice place to wander, awash as it is with charm, churches and foliage-draped & colourful wooden architecture – beautifully preserved wrought iron facades abound.

Rue Demaine, French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

Rue Demaine, French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

But it’s also rather grungy and is overflowing with weirdos and destitute types, a mix of non-conformists and folk obviously down on their luck.

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

Down on his luck. French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

Bourbon Street
This is a city where seemingly anything goes, party central with the party firmly centred on the French Quarter’s infamous Bourbon Street, a neon-lit party zone that actively embraces getting shitfaced 24/7. Revelers, meandering from here to there with a beer or colourful cocktail in hand, come here to have a good time, and it seems a lot of them do just that.

Burbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

A few more from rambles up and down Bourbon Street, an unavoidable consequence of a visit to New Orleans.

We came here because, and when three hours north of the city on last year’s, 2016 epic US road trip, we said we would swing by ‘some day’. That some day just happened to be today, epic US road trip (2017) day 16.

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

Getting ready for Halloween in the French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana. October 12, 2017.

I’ve a ton of picture from our time in the city today; the French Quarter, and once you avoid Bourbon Street, is rather photogenic. Way more to come from here but for now here’s a sampling, a few more captures from today in New Orleans.

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|| Day 17 || October 13 || The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana.


“… measuring an impressive 23.8 miles (38.5 kilometres in proper distance units), it was for decades the longest bridge over water in the world. The spoilsport Chinese (who else?) have recently built many more many times longer, so the good folk at the Guinness World Records have since shifted the goal posts as it were, changing the wording/fabricating criteria to ensure this is still, as I type, the longest ‘continuous’ bridge over water on earth. Neat, and a great drive.”

Day 17 || October 13 2017

Route || New Orleans, Louisania to Fort Payne, Alabama.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 480 (753)
Posted From || Fort Payne, Alabama
Today’s Highlight || The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

T’was the busiest day of the lot so far on the road today. Four hundred eighty miles of US Interstate we covered today, Day 17, just over the halfway point of the wider road trip. Needless to say, it was a day of covering ground, but there were a few interesting stops en route. There always are.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana. October 13, 2017.

LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN CAUSEWAY || The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana. October 13, 2017. || Just outside of New Orleans is Lake Pontchartrain and its awesome causeway. Opened in the mid-50s as a single bridge (another parallel bridge/causeway was added in the late 60’s, the present north bound carriageway we drove today) and measuring an impressive 23.8 miles (38.5 kilometres in proper units of length), it was for decades the longest bridge over water in the world. The spoilsport Chinese (who else?) have recently built many more many times longer, so the good folk at the Guinness World Records have since shifted the goal posts as it were, changing the wording/fabricating criteria to ensure this is still, as I type, the longest ‘continuous’ bridge over water on earth. Neat, and a great drive.

Meridian, Mississippi. October 13, 2017.

Meridian, Mississippi. October 13, 2017.

We stopped off in Meridian, Mississippi, 200 miles north of New Orleans. Why? It’s the birthplace of one Jimmie Rodgers. Who? Jimmie Rodgers, a.k.a ‘The Man Who Started It All’, all being country music.

The Jimmie Rodgers Museum, Meridian, Mississippi. October 13, 2017.

The Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian, Mississippi. October 13, 2017.

We’re in a place called Fort Payne, northern Alabama (we crossed from Louisiana through Mississippi and into Alabama today, crossing the Deep South as we headed north). It’s cooler here, a good few degrees cooler than the southern Gulf Coast. Dad likes that (he didn’t like the hot & steamy South). We’re 130 miles shy of Sparta, Tennessee location for the one-day bluegrass festival we’ll enjoy on Day 18. Yep, more bluegrass, one-day, bitesised bluegrass, and the reason for the epic dash north.

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|| Day 22 || October 18 || On the Tennessee/Virginia State Line.


“Shunning US Interstates, and in a successful bid to join the cartographical hometown dots of many an old-time Country Music or Bluegrass heavy hitter, we went deep off the beaten track for a total of 307 green & windy miles through northern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and southern Kentucky. Three states, 300+ miles and many a small-town USA highlight, none of which you’ll find in any guidebook.”

Day 22 || October 18 2017

Route || Knoxville, Tennessee to London, Kentucky.
Miles (Kilometres) Driven || 307 (494)
Posted From || London, Kentucky
Today’s Highlight || Rural, small-town USA

We went rural today, road trip day 22. Shunning US Interstates, and in a successful bid to join the cartographical hometown dots of many an old-time Country Music or Bluegrass heavy hitter, we went deep off the beaten track for a total of 307 green & windy miles through northern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and southern Kentucky. Three states, 300+ miles and many a small-town USA highlight, none of which you’ll find in any guidebook. I guarantee that.

Americana. Sneedville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

Small-town Americana. We ventured into the neighbouring shop to use the toilet. While here we attempted to buy a few coffees, but were given them for free. Why, I’ve no idea. The Irish charm charming charming rural USA maybe. Sneedville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

Tennessee – Maynardville & Sneedville

Maynardville, a.k.a. The Cradle of County Music – Hometown to Roy Acuff.

Maynardville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

If last year’s trip thought me anything it is that the Yanks, especially those in the sticks, love Halloween. And they prepare for it well in advance; we’ve been looking at pumpkins since landing in the country 22 days ago now. Maynardville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

Mid-morning break. Maynardville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

A mid-morning ‘Be Back Soon’ (if at all) in Maynardville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

For Sale. Immaculate 1989 Cadillac Coupe deVille. US 32 outside Maynardville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

I loved this. As always in rural USA, today we saw plenty of abandoned, rusting & has-seen-better-days transport options by the side of the road. However, this, an immaculate 1989 Cadillac Coupe deVille with 74,000 kilometres (miles) on the clock, has obviously seen some TLC of late and is now for sale by the side of US 32 outside Maynardville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

Sneedville – Hometown to Jimmy Martin, a.k.a. the King of Bluegrass.

Americana. Sneedville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

Americana. Sneedville, Tennessee. October 18, 2017.

On the Tennessee/Virginia State Line, US 33, Hancock County. October 18, 2017.

On the Tennessee/Virginia State Line, US 33, Hancock County. October 18, 2017.

On the Tennessee/Virginia State Line, US 33, Hancock County. October 18, 2017.

Show-off Halloween displays fronting whitewashed houses amid impeccable display lawns that contrast starkly with unkempt, detritus-plagued surrounds of tumbledown houses & sagging barns; flags (both the Star & Stripes & the Stars & Bars); mile after mile of rusting roadside farm machinery, cars, trucks & tractors; rolling fields, forests & roller-coaster-esque roads; You see them all in rural USA this time of year. They are all eye-catching, but it’s the abundant abode abandonment that’s most striking, most photogenic. On the Tennessee/Virginia State Line, US 33, Hancock County. October 18, 2017.

Virginia – Coeburn – Hometown to Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

Coeburn, Virginia. October 18, 2017.

Love. Coeburn, Virginia. October 18, 2017.

Coeburn, Virginia. October 18, 2017.

Coeburn, Virginia. October 18, 2017.

The Country Music Highway, US 23, Virginia. October 18, 2017.

We hit the Country Music Highway last year too in northeastern Kentucky. Today was the return, this time in southwestern Virginia. The Country Music Highway, US 23, Virginia. October 18, 2017.

On the Virginia/Kentucky State Line, US 23. October 18, 2017.

It’s good to be back in Kentucky. I loved it last time. On the Virginia/Kentucky State Line, US 23. October 18, 2017.

Kentucky – Jenkins & Hyden

Jenkins – Hometown to Kenny Baker, master fiddler.

Burdine, Kentucky. October 18, 2017.

Burdine, outside Jenkins, Kentucky. October 18, 2017.

Hyden – Hometown to The Osborne Brothers

Hyden, Kentucky. October 18, 2017.

Bob? Em, that would be Bobby. Tut tut. Hyden, Kentucky. October 18, 2017.

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|| Day 25 || October 21 || By the side of Interstate 86 in Upstate New York.


“… as brilliant as autumn foliage gets, an unrivalled natural display of spectacular and vibrant autumn hues that makes the 6 northeastern states we’re about to explore the bucket list destination par excellence that they are this time of year.”

After 5,229 miles and 25 days, we’re almost done. For the most part, we’re done with history; we’re done with music; we’re done with daily hours of Interstate driving; and we’re certainly done with the warmer temperatures of the south (I’ve long since dispensed with the flip-flops but an innate pig-headed stubbornness to persist with shorts will, I fear, last only another day or two at most). Today is day 26 (of 33). We’ve a week-plus left and we find ourselves perched on the edge of a lake, Lake George, in upstate New York, itself on the very edge of New England. New England. The geographical region of North America this trip was initially centred on. New England. In the fall/autumn. We saw the leaves first fall on day 18 and have been treated to some nice fall foliage in parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York almost every day since (this picture was captured from the side of Interstate 86 in Upstate New York yesterday, day 25). But this, New England in the fall, is as brilliant as autumn foliage gets, an unrivalled natural display of spectacular and vibrant autumn hues that makes the 6 northeastern states we’re about to explore the bucket list destination par excellence that they are this time of year. A week of slow, exploratory drive through rugged rural wilderness & sleepy towns awaits, a week of crisp air ‘Leaf Peeping’ autumnal purple, gold, orange and yellow.
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|| Day 28 || October 24 || The iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.


“… North America’s oldest walled city and the cradle of French civilization in the New World. I can understand why North Americans (& the Chinese… oh the Chinese are everywhere) love its jumble of tight & atmospheric walled lanes, but for us it’s just like any other quaint European town that’s a short Ryanair flight from home (but of course it’s a million miles removed from anything you’ll find over the border in the US).”

We first saw a Tim Hortons in upstate New York on day 24 (we did, of course, pull over for a double-double & donut). We first saw French signposting on day 26 in Vermont (they – Vermonters – claim this is to keep the neighbours happy). So, I guess it was coming. Today, day 28, we cheated. Or did we? Umm. Is an epic US road trip still an epic US road trip if you leave the contiguous 48? Umm indeed. And now that we’re here we’re debating, over a Moosehead or two, whether to take the long way back to the US. Another night in Canada? Oh, may as well be hung a sheep as for a lamb.

Photographing the St Lawrence River from the balcony of the Hotel Terrasse Dufferin, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. October 24, 2017.

QUEBEC CITY || Photographing the St Lawrence River from the balcony of the Hotel Terrasse Dufferin, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. October 24, 2017. || We’ve a balcony overlooking the famous Quebec City Terrasse Dufferin, an elevated boardwalk at the tip of Old Quebec. Founded in 1608, this is North America’s oldest walled city and the cradle of French civilization in the New World. I can understand why North Americans (& the Chinese… oh the Chinese, who we haven’t seen anywhere over the past 27 days, are everywhere) love its jumble of tight & atmospheric walled lanes, but for us it’s just like any other quaint European town that’s a short Ryanair flight from home (but of course it’s a million miles removed from anything you’ll find over the border in the US). We’re staying at the Hotel Terrasse Dufferin, a 180-year-old creaking (in a good way) Dame, a stone’s throw from the uber-swish Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. We can see it from our balcony, something the Fairmont doesn’t seem to offer.

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|| Day 29 || October 25 || On Autoroute 85/the Trans-Canada Highway in Quebec, Canada.


“Staying in Canada tacks on over 100 miles of dashboard time to the drive from Quebec City to eastern Maine, with the consolation that you get to drive a 560 kilometre (350 mile) stretch of Canada’s famed Trans-Canada Highway.”

We’re en route to the easternmost point of land in the continental United States. That’s a place called Quoddy Head State Park in Maine, somewhere, and while road-trippin’ the US east, we were always going to search out (those who know me know I love visiting geographical extremities). Getting there via Canada, however, was never part of the plan, the chance to do so by driving a section of the Trans-Canada Highway too good an opportunity to pass up. So that’s what we did today, Epic US (& now Canada) road tip Day 29.

Heading south on Autoroute 85/the Trans-Canada Highway in Quebec, Canada. October 25, 2017.

TRANS-CANADA HIGHWAY || Heading south on Autoroute 85/the Trans-Canada Highway in Quebec, Canada. October 25, 2017. || Staying in Canada in getting to eastern Maine tacks on over 100 miles of dashboard time to the drive from Quebec City, the consolation being that you get to drive a 560 kilometre (350 mile) stretch – from Quebec City to Longs Creek, New Brunswick – of Canada’s famed Trans-Canada Highway. Opened in the early 1960s and traversing all ten Canadian provinces, it runs from coast to coast, from the Atlantic to the Pacific & vice versa, for a whopping 7,821 kilometres (4,860 miles) making it one of the longest routes of its type in the world. There wasn’t a whole lot to see on the road today (the rain didn’t help), about the most photogenic part of the drive the distinctive white-on-green maple leaf Trans-Canada route markers we’d encounter every so often.

At the New Brunswick-Quebec provincial border on the Trans-Canada Highway north of Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada. October 25, 2017.

New Brunswick. We aren’t supposed to be here, but we obviously are. We had to come to Canada to get wet (and to find me donning long pants, even though it’s still unseasonably mild/warm throughout the whole of North America right now). We’re hoping the rain goes away when we cross back over into the US tomorrow, Epic US/Canada road trip Day 30 (of 33). At the New Brunswick-Quebec provincial border on the Trans-Canada Highway north of Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada. October 25, 2017.

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|| Day 30 || October 26 || Rain & the world’s longest covered bridge in Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada.


“… it was a very wet, the incessant rain trying its damndest but ultimately failing to put a damper on a day that was for me rather momentous, a day when I clocked my 50th US state.”

What a miserable f***in’ day, climatically speaking. We saw a lot of water today, road trip day 30. Not because we finally reached the New England Atlantic coastline, but rather because there seemed to be no let up in the dredging inflicted on this supposedly picturesque portion of the US northeast. Yes, it was a very, very wet day, the incessant rain trying its damndest but ultimately failing to put a damper on a day that was for me rather momentous, a day when I clocked my 50th US state.

The Easternmost point in the USA. West Quoddy Head, Lubec, Maine. October 26, 2017.

EASTERNMOST POINT & 50TH STATE || West Quoddy Head, Maine. The Easternmost point in the USA. October 26, 2017. || OK, what follows is a bit of a boast, something I’m not very comfortable with, but here goes. In getting here, to West Quoddy Head in Maine, the easternmost point of the US mainland, I’ve now visited the geographical 4 corners of the contiguous 48 (& lots in between): the northwest (Seattle, Washington – March 2013); the southwest (San Diego, California – April 2013), & the southeast (Key West, Florida – July 2013). But, and more importantly, in crossing over into Maine from New Brunswick, Canada, I’ve now visited all 50 US states. That’s kind of neat. Boast over.

Apart from getting wet and reaching milestones, today saw us crossing a timezone; saw us leaving Canada (twice); saw us entering the US (also twice); saw us crossing the world’s longest covered bridge; and saw us, once again, wondering why there are no lights in New England – Vermont, New Hampshire and now Maine are spookily dark states then the sun goes down (rumour has it the states in question, even in Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ US of A, are too stretched to pay the lighting bill). Oh, and they are awfully boring places to be too. I understand it’s out of season right now, but gosh. There’s no doubt New England is drop-dead gorgeous this time of year (assuming the sun shines). Expect plenty of leaves. Just don’t expect a party. Yawn.

A few more pictures from today as captured (in the rain) in chronological order.

CANADA

Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

HARTLAND BRIDGE || Dating to 1901, this is, as the text states, the longest covered bridge in the world. Forget the Trans-Canada Highway. This alone is worth coming to this remote part of a remote Canadian state for. Maybe. Actually, probably best to just stop by if, you know, you happen to be in the area. We did. (No doubt resulting from a hangover from the old days, the bridge is still listed as being 1,282 imperial feet long, a tad over 390 metres.) Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

Route 3, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

MOOSE & BEARS || Attention. Moose & bears by Route 3, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

At the Canada/US border crossing in Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

BYE BYE CANADA || OK Canada. I enjoyed you this time. You’re alright, I guess. We could be friends again. See you next time. At the Canada/US border crossing in Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

USA

SiriusXM failure. US coastal Route 1, Maine. October 26, 2017.

SIRIUSXM FAILURE || Satellite radio failure. I’d like to blame the rain, but it was more than likely the remoteness. On US coastal Route 1 in (remote) eastern Maine. October 26, 2017.

Water Street, Eastport, Maine. October 26, 2017.

EASTPORT, MAINE || Aptly named Water Street in Eastport, Maine. I know someone who grew up here. I can’t blame him for leaving. There’s only one way out – it’s the same as the way in and there’s not a whole lot going on in between. It’s the easternmost something in the US – city, I think, even though it has less than 1,500 inhabitants. I would have liked to stick around a tad longer, but the driving rain – at its horrible worst today here in Eastport, whose streets resembled mini rivers – ensured that wasn’t going to happen, to say nothing of the place being a veritable ghost town. Eastport, Maine. October 26, 2017.

Eastport, Maine. October 26, 2017.

Eastport, Maine. October 26, 2017.

Lubec, Maine. October 26, 2017.

LUBEC || Not far from Eastport is Lubec, the easternmost town in the US. Lubec, Maine. October 26, 2017.

Lubec, Maine, USA, as seen from Narrows Road across Lubec Narrows on Campboello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017.

BORDER SHENANIGANS || Lubec, Maine as seen from Narrows Road across Lubec Narrows on Campboello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. October 26, 2017. || A bridge from Lubec crosses over Lubec Narrows to Campboello Island, a 14-kilometre-long by 5-kilometre-wide island that’s part of Canada (New Brunswick, to be precise). The island goes nowhere; it’s a dead end, ‘Alcatraz’ according to the Canadian border official who granted us access back into Canada mere hours after departing the country further north in Saint Stephen. Somewhat bizarrely, we told the official we’d only be a few minutes (in Canada). True enough, and with nothing to see on the island (not now, out of season), we were back in Lubec, back in the US state of Maine, but not before capturing this picture of Lubec as seen from Campboello Island.

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|| Day 31 || October 27 || Fall foliage. Acadia National Park, Maine.

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|| Day 32 || October 28 || Race Point Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

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|| Day 33 || October 29 || Providence, Rhode Island.

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