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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default 2018 History Trip

    Our summer trip has begun, and to distinguish it from other trip reports, I've decided to call this the "History Trip". As the trip report progresses, you all should understand exactly why it's titled that way!

    DAY 1 - OUR HOME TO HOLBROOK, AZ - 10 hrs., 51 minutes

    Our morning began at 4 am with last minute trip prep and loading. Our truck was full not only with our own stuff, but with things heading for Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. Much of the stuff for those destinations had been loaded in the truck several weeks ago, as a storage place as well as to see how things were riding. (I should say that we are normally early risers anyway, so 4 am isn't unheard of, for us.)

    We had hoped to depart earlier than 5 am but we were only a few minutes later. The drive was uneventful until the Cajon Pass, where CalTrans unwisely took traffic from 6 lanes down to 2 (plus the truck lanes), then eventually took those 2 truck lanes down as well, for construction. It delayed us at least 10 minutes.

    Breakfast stop was at IHOP in the Lenwood area in Barstow. Then our next stop wasn't until Kingman, where we picked up fuel at Smith's Grocery and Gasoline.

    More construction along the way took us down to one lane in each direction. Our next stop was at the Pilot just west of Flagstaff, for pit stop, getting something from the cooler to drink, and to stretch our legs. Then we didn't stop until the hotel in Holbrook. The woman at the Pilot station said that much of the construction was re-doing a sloppy job from the wrong materials put in last summer!

    Along the way today we started to count a certain brand of commercial truck, and trains. We couldn't get over counting 41 trucks and 30 trains! It got so that we had to keep track (in pencil) in a notebook.

    The Quality Inn here was decent. We tried the pool, though, and it was like ice. Neither of us got in past our thighs, it was actually painful. The front office also gave us recommendations of local restaurants rather than just relying on Denny's. We walked a half mile down to a place that was half bar/grill, half Italian. We sat on the Italian side and enjoyed Fettucine Alfredo (Warren) and chicken cacciatore (me, though I didn't eat about half of the pasta).

    Crossing the Colorado River from California into Arizona along I-40 just east of Needles, AZ. Yes, it's a windshield shot, as there's no place to pull over and take photos!

    IMG_6401 by jeanniesisters, on Flickr


    Donna

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,756

    Default

    [B]DAY 2 - HOLBROOK AZ to AMARILLO, TX - 514 miles, 8 hrs 45 minutes

    Up just before 4:30 this morning, , we loaded up the truck and were out before 6. We tried to get ice at the Chevron next door but it wasn't open yet, but ended up getting it down the road a little bit.

    Drive, drive. The first eventful thing, after fuel and food at Gallup, was seeing the Amtrak Southwest Chief going down the tracks. I have memories of riding that train years ago!

    The next eventful things had to do with the truck and that now-too-common bucking and snorting it does when some electronic interference bothers a sensor. One was right as we entered Albuquerque metropolitan area. There were antennae on the south side of the freeway, very close to it, and I said to my husband, “brace yourself”. Yup, it acted up. It jumped right back within ½ mile, though. Then it did similar just as we passed through Santa Rosa, though neither of us noted any antennae.

    Train count today: 17, including that Southwest Chief. truck count: 50! A record!

    The Comfort Inn is quite lovely though it's in the middle of a construction zone. There is a pool and hot tub which we tried after going out to dinner. We also had a Jacuzzi in the room.

    Dinner was down at the tourist place, Big Texan Steakhouse. No, we didn't try to eat 72 oz steak in one hour – neither of us would win that one any more. Each of us had a 12 oz Ribeye “Fort Worth cut”, but it was a bit peppery for our taste. Hubby loved the stout he had to drink. We both left very full. The ambiance of the place was fun and the service was excellent. We'd do this again if we get back to Amarillo. It's someplace we have wanted to try but have never gone through Amarillo at lunch or dinner time in order to do so!

    Inside The Big Texan Steakhouse

    IMG_6409

    The challenge clock, inside the Big Texan. If you eat 72 oz steak (4-1/2 lbs of beef) plus all the trimmings (baked potato, rolls, vegetables), in less than 60 minutes, you get it free. You pay it upfront, $72, and try to win your money back.

    IMG_6412

    Condiment basket. It says "Big Texan" and, on the side, Route 66.

    IMG_6413

    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,756

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    DAY 3 - AMARILLO to VAN BUREN, TX - 451 miles

    It was a leisurely morning. We chose to try the hotel breakfast this morning and wait out “rush hour” in Amarillo since we had mistakenly placed ourselves on the west side of town (my fault, I thought the place was on the east side when I reserved). I went down and tried the hotel exercise room, using the treadmill to walk for about 12 minutes. We packed up, drove to get some fuel which we'd found at $2.79/gallon....yay!

    We did very well today, making good progress and with no truck problems. The truck has been getting 17-18 mpg so far. We passed through some rather sage looking desert, then the rolling hills finally began just west of Oklahoma City again. OKC had no bothersome traffic issues and I do commend them for well marked lanes at major intersections such as I-44.

    Neither of us had intended to get fuel much before Arkansas, but we couldn't pass up another opportunity at $2.79 for Valero, when others had been advertising $3.09-$3.15.

    Pulled into the Best Western in Van Buren to find it fairly empty. I surmised that this is a place that doesn't fill up till later, and that seemed to be the way it was. We unloaded and went for a swim in an outdoor pool whose temperature was “just right”. Then drove to Arby's to pick up dinner and bring it back to the room to eat.

    Having enjoyed the treadmill this morning and still the need to add more steps today, I went to the exercise room at this hotel and used the treadmill again. I usually do my walks around our neighborhood, rather than using a gym's or a personal treadmill (don't own one), but when the weather is hot and muggy, an indoor "gym" is a nice convenience!

    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    DAY 4 - VAN BUREN, AR to CORINTH, MS - 385 miles, 7 hours

    It was another day of driving but the last one for a few days that is focused on "just driving". Tomorrow we have another destination but plan to stop and see a couple of places along the way.

    This morning after rising, I got some exercise by once again utilizing the exercise room at the hotel. Breakfast was in the hotel breakfast room – scrambled eggs and sausage for hubby, scrambled eggs, oatmeal and a tiny yogurt for me (and I took a banana to go).

    We left Van Buren, AR as a storm was passing by. While eating breakfast in the hotel's breakfast room, the wind really started to whip, and then it rained.* We packed up anyway after breakfast and just left.**

    The drive was mostly overcast, though it rained in patches here and there. It seems like it always rains when we're in Arkansas! It must see us coming and say, "Oh, I must RAIN, here comes that couple!"* The traffic was okay until after Little Rock when it got really heavy.* Then, just coming into West Memphis, everyone on I-40 *stopped*. There was a crash involving two semi's, in the left lane.* So we all had to carefully go around.**

    To get around Memphis, due to the direction we were headed, we got off I-40 at I-55 South, and followed that until we got to I-240 east. Then got off that at AR-385, and our final change was to get on US-72.

    Right after we got onto US-72, we came to a halt. Again. There was yet-another-crash involving several semi's. We were diverted through a fuel station, because the vehicles were taking up the whole eastbound side of US-72. We were so grateful to see dual lane again, to get around a whole convoy of trucks.

    Pulled into Corinth and evidently went right past our hotel. We had to kill time before check-in time anyway, but doing so by by-passing the place wasn't in our plans.* They let us check in early, then we went to the pool. It's warm and muggy, and would be *hot* and muggy if the sun were out. Thank heavens it isn't.**

    Dinner was at a place just down the road a bit, Taylor's Escape BBQ & Catfish. Hubby of course had the catfish and shrimp. That's why we chose it. It was mostly a place that the local's go, and that's what we wanted to do. He said the catfish were just as he likes it!


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    151

    Default

    I am enjoying reading this Donna. Enjoying the food parts as well hehe. Looking forward to some more of your trip. Hope there are no more crash's to hold you up.

    Keith

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default

    No more crashes. I just need more hours in a day. We keep going east and losing an hour -- finally lost the last one today.


    Donna

  7. #7
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    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default Corinth Battlefield and Helen Keller Birthplace

    DAY 5 - CORINTH MS to HUNTSVILLE, AL - 141 mi, 6 hours (sightseeing)

    It rained and rained last night, making us wonder if we'd get to do much sightseeing around Corinth at all. Twice last night, the phones screeched. Once was for an Amber Alert in northern Mississippi. The other was a Flash Flood warning. We were safe above ground in a motel, technically on the first floor but not in a downhill area, so we weren't too worried.

    It took us forever to decide exactly what to do about weather and our intended plans. We dressed and went to breakfast at the hotel breakfast room, which was disappointing since some of our favorite things were missing. We are definitely in the South when there are “instant grits” available in the area where instant oatmeal is located, on the hotel breakfast bar Then later, we used a break in the rain to load the truck for departure.

    Our first stop was at the Corinth Battlefield Interpretive Center. It was a nice museum, a few artifacts, a decent movie about the Corinth battle of the Civil War, and a few other things. We took a driving map and headed out to see what's in the townsite of Corinth. Two things with that: first, nothing is really visible any more except Battery F (just interpretive signs and no parking for our huge pickup); second, we got lost trying to find the Contraband Camp and never did find it. The town streets were not always well-marked. Eventually we found our way back to Cass Street and decided it was time to grab lunch and leave town.


    Corinth Battlefield Interpretive Center, a branch of the Shiloh Battlefield NHP:

    IMG_6561

    Outside, the walk includes bronzed war relics (probably not the real thing):

    IMG_6562

    Corinth marks its side streets with a white pole and the street names painted on them. This is all well-and-good, until the street names peel off or the pole (made of fiberglass pipe) falls down. It's no wonder we got turned around.

    Hubby couldn't decide last night between Taylor's Escape and Popeye's Louisiana Chicken. Well, at lunch today he got his Popeye's, something that's hard to find in CA (our area has *one* but it is at least 20 miles round trip to get there). After that, we headed east 60 miles to Tuscumbia, AL.

    There we almost got lost again trying to find our way into Tuscumbia to the destination. Turned around and went where GyPSy told us, which was not marked with a street name at all (much less the one GyPSy named) and found it perfectly. Helen Keller Birthplace was a very interesting, pretty area of Tuscumbia, the estate called Ivy Green. A docent led us through the downstairs of the main house, we could look upstairs to our heart's content and out on the property as well. I had wanted to see the water pump where Annie Sullivan made the break-through with Helen, and got to see it. Plus the rest of the house and all the gardens. It was dripping rain as we came in but we managed to get around after the tour without getting soaked.

    Ivy Green:
    IMG_6448

    The room where Helen was born:
    IMG_6427

    Where Teacher Annie Sullivan made a break through with Helen, teaching her the word "water":

    IMG_6425

    The truck aimed east again, this time towards Decatur and then Huntsville. We situated ourselves just north of the US Space and Rocket Center in the La Quinta Inn Huntsville Research Park, which has an outdoor pool. The room is small, especially compared to the past two nights, and we are here for two nights. But there is a pool, and there are places to eat within walking distance, including Golden Corral (which we love).


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-16-2018 at 06:00 PM. Reason: paragraph issue

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    Default US Space & Rocket Center Huntsville

    DAY 6 - U.S. SPACE & ROCKET CENTER, HUNTSVILLE, AL

    Whew, what an inspiring yet exhausting day!* Our bodies just naturally got up this morning, then we had coffee in the room, and I grabbed a bowl, spoon, and a banana at the breakfast room in the motel. (It was otherwise very disappointing breakfast.)

    Off we went to the US Space & Rocket Center, which is only about 2.5 miles from where we are staying, down a parkway.* Got in, they verified our tickets to the Marshall Space Flight Center bus tour (which we had purchased by phone last month), and we were off to see the museum first. We spent about 2 hours looking at all the exhibits, not quite finishing the Saturn V center, then went back out to the truck for our "truck picnic" lunch. Then it was time for the bus tour, which for us was the reason to come to Huntsville.

    That was absolutely wonderful, to see where they assist the International Space Station occupants with their science experiments in the Payload Operations building. Then we were driven out to see all the rocket test pads where history was made.* We made another couple of stops and almost 3 hours later, we were back at the Saturn V center.

    Historic test site where Alan Shepherd took his flight:
    IMG_6599

    There were "blockhouses" made from old tank cars left on the base, and buried, for the rocket controllers to remain and supervise during tests.
    IMG_6607

    We knew where we'd left off before lunch, so we started there.* We've added to the Apollo Command Modules that we've actually laid eyes on, as this place had Apollo 16. We'll see two more in DC, most likely. We also needed our souvenir t-shirts, before they closed.

    Apollo 16's command module, at Huntsville:
    IMG_6617

    Apollo 16's parachute:
    IMG_6626

    Our last order of business there was dinner. They were having a "Biergarten" festival there, every Thursday in summers, and you buy German food and dine right underneath one of the three remaining workable Saturn V rockets left on Earth. (We've seen the other two, at Kennedy Space Center and at Johnson Space Center in Houston.)* The food was reasonably priced, very good, but the ambiance of the location of your table just couldn't be replicated anywhere else.**

    When we came back to the hotel, it was during Rush Hour, Huntsville style, but that wasn't bad at all. What wasn't so fun was that all the parking slots near to our hotel room were taken by other travelers. One spot was open, but it was a "blue" spot and we couldn't use it.*

    Now we are just tired! Mostly our feet, but our bodies too since we were on the “go” all day after sitting in a pick-up truck for the better parts of five days.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-17-2018 at 05:04 AM. Reason: added photos

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,114

    Default And don't misss the "screaming frogs"

    There's a RV park adjacent to the museum and if you take the path through the trees, you will find a pond with lots of frogs. The home of the "Screamin' Frogs" to be exact. They actually squeal if you surprise them.

    Mark

  10. #10
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    May 2011
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    DAY 7 - HUNTSVILLE, AL to ROANOKE, VA - 471 miles, 9 hours

    Not much to say about today except that we did a lot of driving. We started on I-565 in Huntsville, which turned back into US-72 east. That we followed the rest of the way in Alabama and our first 2 or 3 miles in Tennessee. After a breakfast in Kimball, we got on I-24, took that past Chattanooga, then got on I-75 north. We were on that for about 100 miles or so where we picked up I-40 east again for a short time, then most of the rest of the drive was on I-81.

    Traffic got a bit heavy at Chattanooga, and stayed that way all the way past Knoxville and to the split between I-40 and I-81. It lightened up for awhile, till around 3 pm (Eastern time) when it got heavy and stayed that way all the way into Roanoke. I guess it was the start of the weekend!

    We saw about 6 Virginia State Troopers.

    The place we are staying is another Quality Inn with an outdoor pool, which we used right after we unloaded the truck of our necessities. Then we headed out for dinner up at the next exit on I-581, Olive Garden. It was about the closest thing that wasn't a Waffle House or fast food. After dinner, we found a Kroger gas station selling diesel for $2.79 gallon. We've found this price three times on this trip, and have yet to hit our budget high of $3.25 to $3.50/gallon. Yay, us!

    The pool at this place is one of the nicer ones, as far as its location goes. So many times, the pool is added as an after-thought, usually smack-dab in the middle of the parking lot. This time, the pool was in the center of the property, surrounded by rooms. Hubby and I figured that this is an older motel that has been renovated, judging by the style of the windows and of the age of the AC/furnace units. This has also been one of the least friendly hotels. There were signs that if you're a local, we'll refund your money and send you on your way. I commented on that and received a snide reply, leaving us to believe that the management must have been burned by some locals.

    No photos for this leg of the trip.

    Donna

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