søndag 20. september 2015

Week 3 - We are closing in!

What at first seemed like 4 weeks of endless opportunities is getting towards and end. In a few days we will be touching the east coast, hopefully have a couple of days left over to relax without any driving before the flight back home. 

Day 15

New states, new opportunities. We left New Orleans on a lovely Sunday morning with the sun shining from blue skies. After an hour we arrived at Honey Island Swamp Tours, and spent the next two hours photographing and watching dragonflies, alligators, owls, heron, ibis, turtles and snakes in the swamps. The guide was really great!
After lunch we drove north to Memphis, a rather uneventful drive with trees blocking any potential view from the road for most of the way. Tomorrow we have a date with Elvis! (well, not really, but I guess we'll see a bit of him anyway).

Day 16

Elvis wasn't at home, and Graceland not that interesting from the outside. So we went up north of the city to see the Underground Railroad Museum. It was a lot smaller than I expected, but very interesting, even if the tour guide could use some more training. I learned a lot about the slave trade and the slaves' means of communicating and escaping.
We drove to the city centre for lunch, and walked down Beale Street, where we had milkshake and nachos. We also walked down to see the Mississippi river, before taking off further inland towards Nashville. In Nashville we had dinner at a very nice brew-pub, the food was really good if not quite authentic (we had shepherd's pie). When we arrived at the motel it appeared I had booked for the wrong days, but we were lucky and got the last room they had available.

We've been quite lucky with most of our motels so far, only one night with a bad squeaky bed, else we have had mostly spacious rooms with comfortable beds.

Day 17 Nashville

Nashville started with pancakes for breakfast at IHOP (International House of Pancakes) before we went to see The Hermitage, general Andrew Jacksons plantation. The plantation tour was very interesting and informative, and we learned a lot about both general Jackson and his life, and also about plantation life and politics and the beginning of the United States.
We were not very hungry yet at lunchtime, so we dropped by a Walmart to buy water and some light lunch and headed back to the motel for some rest. In the evening we went down to Nashville city centre, and walked along Broadway, visiting a huge candy shop, and passing loads of bars with live music. Unfortunately the famous Bluebird café was fully booked for tonight.

Day 18 – 19 The Appalachians

From Nashville we drove east, into the Appalachian mountains, to visit a friend of Tollef. He lives in a house far up in the mountains away from everything else, without water and only solar power for electricity. We had a nice dinner, and sat outside listening to all the forest sounds and looked at the stars after dark. Before bedtime I also got to learn a new board game, a Carcassonne variety called Discovery. It is getting colder as we get further north, and the evening was quite chilly. I hope it will not get too cold as we get to Chicago and Detroit.

In the morning, we went to a nearby place and had biscuits for lunch. On the way back, our host had recommended a hike from the road and back to his place, «probably a mile or two, maybe a bit more». «A bit more» was a severe understatement. We walked about 5 km (3 miles) over several steep hills, a total of 340 metres elevation. Also, there was no marked track and we didn't have a map, only a gps with the general direction. We walked through a lot of growth with thorny bushes, so that my arms and legs got all scratched up. I was quite exhausted when we finally found the cabin, and had some rest before we left for Lexington.

Day 20 - Kentucky Horse Park

I thought we had more then enough time, arriving at Kentucky Horse Park only two hours after opening time. Well, we left ten minutes before closing time. They have an interesting program, and it is a large area to walk about. We came just in time for the first breed presentation, with five different horses being presented in an arena, working out to music. After the presentation we got to meet the riders and horses close-up, which was really nice. We walked through the «breed barn» and saw and read about the other breeds represented there. Unfortunately there were few European breeds at all, and the Icelandic horse apparently did not come in from the field today.
We also saw the «big barn» where the draft horses lived, and later got a short trolley tour in a large trolley pulled by two Belgian draft horses. We visited the Hall of Champions that has a handful of retired race horses that has done really well, and there was also a barn for police horses, mostly mixes of draft horses and some lighter breed.

At the end of our visit we saw both the American Saddlebred Museum, and the Museum of the Horse. The first one was a bit confusing and, of course, only focused on the American Saddlebred horse, the general horse museum was very good, with a special exhibit about Arabians at the end.
There was a lot of interesting things to see, and I am sure we could have spent another day walking around the grounds, watching the horses in the fields and the jumping contests going on right then. In the end, it was enough walking for a day, and we got to see and learn a lot about horses.
We were not too late back at the hotel, so I got to try out the pool before the sun set completely. It was chilly, but nice to have a quick evening bath.

Day 21 - Chicago!

New car, new state, new opportunities. The car has been asking for an oil change for the last day or so. With a rental car you just don't fix the problem yourself, you get to the nearest office and get a new car. This car was larger, more space for the luggage in the trunk, and better interior, but the one we left had a more powerful engine and was far more comfortable to drive. At least we have only one week left, and no long stretches to go anyway.
Today was the last long stretch, going from Lexington to north of Chicago. The drivers seem to be more reckless the further east and north we get. The first few days people were good on the road, traffic flowed easily about the speed limits. From Texas, people started to drive more aggressively. Even the trailers, that get repeated messages about no passing and staying in the right lane, rushes past and of course causes problems. The speeding seems to have increased the further north we have come from Louisiana, and more cars and trailers passing at high speed. We also see several cars that have been stopped by the police every day. At least the drivers still are good at allowing space for changing lanes and getting onto roads, and there's no honking horns or flashing lights.

One week left. 24 hours and 2421 km this week. I think we're through 11 states so far.

Ingen kommentarer: