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  1. Default Two Aussies landing in Memphis next month.

    We will be picking up our hire car in Memphis on June 4 after spending a night at the airport motel (pre booked). We have a motel booked in Washington DC some 8 days later (one night) and we will then commute to New York via train or bus for a final 2 night stay before flying back to Australia (Ballarat). (Will we see more if we use the bus or a fast train?) We have nothing booked or arranged between Memphis and Washington. Our intention is to simply get in the car and see where it takes us.At this stage we think we will drive through some of Alabama and Georgia then maybe go via Atlanta and perhaps have a look at part of the Appalachian mountains. We are interested in looking at how people live, the culture etc. and just generally "discovering" all that a "foreign" country has to offer.We prefer to utilize some secondary roads and also have an interest in flora and fauna. (Would particularly like to see a bear or 3 in their natural environment.) We hope to stay in clean motels free of bugs and human hair!
    Is a budget of say $80 to $100 a night likely to guarantee us a pleasant motel? Can you recommend a motel chain that would meet our requirements? Where are the bears, skunks, coyotes ,foxes etc most likely to be sighted?
    We are happy to drive about two thousand Kilometres all up (not sure what that is in miles!) We are aged 57 and 49 and reasonably fit although my wife is still finding the ankle she broke last year gets tired after an hour of walking. I travelled 4300 ks by road in 12 days with my stepson a few years ago (California,Nevada and Arizona) and found the people very friendly and the sights memorable.I want to share it with my wife this time and at a slightly less frenetic pace.
    Answers to the questions above and suggestions as to where you think we should go would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by steveandbev; 05-21-2007 at 10:28 PM. Reason: typing error

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default As you go

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your plan of going where the road takes you will serve you well on a trip like this. It should give you plenty of opportunities to explore and see what you are looking for.

    There are a wide variety of state and national parks where you would have the potential to see wildlife. They will be marked on pretty much any map, but if you are really going to wing it, you can just look for signs along the road. Recrational areas will usually be marked with signs that have a brown background.

    $80-100 should be just fine for finding nice rooms. Holiday Inn Express, Ramada Inn, Red Roof Inn, and Best Western are some of the choices I would look for. I would avoid Days Inns and Motel 6's, which are on the lower end of the cost scale and tend to be a little less clean than I'd like. Moderator Gen posted here take on motel chains in this thread, so check that too for more ideas.

    You actually can tell a lot about a motel by its Lobby, so if that looks cramped or dingy, you might want to look elsewhere.

  3. Default Two Aussies

    Thanks very much for the information . We will take your advice regarding the "better" motels.
    We certainly intend to visit some of the parks that we will encounter on our route. (If anyone has had experience with a National Park in Alabama or Georgia that might be occupied by bears and other interesting animals please advise! )
    We are also interested in hearing from travellers who have utilized the very fast train from Washington DC to New York. Will we be able to see much of the general terrain while on the train or would it be better to go by bus?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Welcome back to the US

    Your enthusiasm for wildlife is admirable, but the likelihood of seeing a bear or three is slight. For one thing, the days of bears being attracted to humans are long gone since garbage in areas near their habitat is now much better controlled. (My uncle who was a ranger in Yellowstone in the 60s has amazing stories to tell of people putting their kids on the back of a wild bear to take a picture. Amazing because people rarely got hurt). However, the stories of cars being ripped open like a soup can because a bear can smell a candy bar wrapper inside are becoming common in parks like Yosemite. I don't know about the eastern US. Your best bet, really, is to check out zoos that have large native animal collections.

    Beale Street in Memphis has good restaurants and great music.

    You'll spend time in the Appalacians, now matter how you choose to go to Washington, DC. If you pick the route through the Great Smokies, you'll probably head toward Asheville, NC. The Biltmore Estate is kind of the American Versailles, if such a comparison can be made.

    I've made the recommendation before, but the evening laser light show at Stone Mountain, GA (outside Atlanta) is a strong dose of Old South patriotism. There are some excellent blues clubs in Atlanta, too. If memory serves, Blind Willy's is on North Highland Street.

    All through that area you'll find quirky small towns. No telling what will strike your fancy.

    Of course, there are lots of famous historical places in eastern Virginia from Monticello (Jefferson's home in Charlottesville) to Williamsburg (restored 18th century town) to Mt. Vernon (Washington's home) and on and on.

    Sounds like a guide book or two are in your future.

    Author of America's Living History (RTA review to be published on 5/27)

  5. Default Two Aussies

    Thanks for the information. "Quirky towns" appeal to us and the information we have gleaned from the net (and from one previous brief visit ) confirms there is an abundance of them.
    I stayed at Yosemite a couple of years ago and the park management had a constantly running film showing what a hungry bear can do to a motor vehicle ! At that time my desire for a bear to appear dissipated as I figured our car hire company would not look favourably on a vehicle being returned minus a door frame and window.
    With my enthusiasm rekindled I thought perhaps this time we might be able to access a half day "nature" tour (say an early morning trip down a bear frequented river with us safely on a boat in the middle of the waterway and a family of bears doing whatever it is bears do out of paw reach on land ). I guess we may just have to stop off at a zoo..........
    The blues clubs sound interesting.

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