A Long Drive

In May 2014 I went on my first ever road trip!

Road trips are a norm in the U.S. road trips. Families spend summer holidays driving around the country; it’s a good way to see beautiful America. The wide roads and and extensive highway network as well as the rest areas at regular intervals, make driving a pleasure.

According to Wikipedia, the Interstate Highway System of the U.S. (as of 2012), has a total length of 47,714 miles (76,788 km), making it the world’s second longest after China. Fun fact: you can drive from New York on the East Coast to San Francisco on the West Coast, a distance of 2900 miles in just 42 hours (nonstop)! Another fun fact: the longest road in the U.S. is Route 20, an east–west highway that is 3,365 miles long, beginning in Boston, Massachusetts  and ending in Newport, Oregon.

My sister-in-law and I, had a more modest goal. We needed to drive from West Palm Beach in Florida to Lexington in Kentucky, a distance of 1,136 miles, and we planned to do this leisurely over three days stopping to visit some of the Southern cities.

Day 1: West Palm Beach to St Augustine on the I-95 N; a distance of 248 miles in about 3 ½ hours.

We started from West Palm Beach around 3 pm after packing the car with suitcases and boxes. The plan was to spend the night in St Augustine. The drive down the I-95 North was smooth and easy, and we reached there by about 6pm.

St. Augustine is the oldest city, the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the United States. It was founded in September 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain. It has a beautiful historic district with cobblestone streets, museums, quaint cafes, bars, unique shops and bed-and-breakfast inns. Significant landmarks include the Castillo de San Marcos, the Ponce de Leon’s (Fountain of Youth), the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse, the Lightner Museum, the Flagler College and Fort Matanzas.

We parked the car close to The Old City House Inn and Restaurant, where we were going to have dinner, and walked around the historic district. The restaurant, a historic building was once a stable house that served Henry Flagler’s hotels and has been restored as an excellent example of Spanish Colonial Revival.

Day 2: St Augustine in Florida to Savannah in Georgia to Charleston in South Carolina to Charlotte in North Carolina

First drive: On the I-95 N, St Augustine to Savannah, a distance of 176 miles in about 2 ½ hours.

Savannah has the largest National Historic Landmark District in the U.S. with museums, churches, mansions, monuments and famous forts related to the Revolutionary and Civil War eras. We took a 1 ½ hour trolley tour which was well spent driving around the historic district viewing the beautiful houses with painted shutters and iron railings, the cobblestone streets, and the oak-shaded parks studded with silvery Spanish Moss. Many Hollywood movies have been filmed in this southern city including the famous ‘box of chocolates’ scene from Forest Gump!

Second drive: On the I-95 N and US 17 N; Savannah  to Charleston, a distance of 106 miles in 2 hours.

Our next stop was Charleston, another historic and beautiful city. We walked around the French Quarter with its old houses and gardens. The Philadelphia Alley was a lovely walking path as was Chalmers Street, one of the few remaining original cobblestone streets. Dinner was at Cypress which is housed in a historic two-story building on East Bay Street. We sat outside in the courtyard enjoying the cool evening breeze.

Third drive: On the I-26 W and I-77 N; Charleston to Charlotte, a distance of 209 miles in about 3 hours.

The last stop of the day was the Courtyard Charlotte. It had been a long driving day and it felt good to put our feet up and indulge in Haagen Dazs chocolate icecream!

Day 3: Charlotte in North Carolina to Lexington in Kentucky on the I-40 West and I-75 North; a distance of 397 miles in about 6 hours.

After breakfast set off on the last leg of the road trip. We took a pit stop just after Asheville in Tennessee and then drove straight on to our destination, Lexington in Kentucky where my brother and my niece welcomed us with a lovely dinner of pasta and salad. It was good to be ‘home’!

What did we do as we drove? We talked. We listened to the talk shows on NPR, sometimes switching to a music station. We dozed (the passenger, not the driver!). And we soaked in the scenery…

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