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  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default As we headed west

    Our Changed Routing

    We headed out on a Sunday morning, at first going northwest on I-26 all the way up to Columbia, SC, then turning west on I-20. Traveling on a Sunday had both its positives and its negatives. We hit one of each on the first stop -- the positive was going down the road about 3/10ths of a mile to save 30c/gallon on diesel fuel, but the negative was the long wait for food at a restaurant because a lot of people were eating out that day!

    Tooling down I-20, we crossed into Georgia first:

    We were very, very concerned about Atlanta. Its traffic can be horrid, even on weekends. Well, we came upon a traffic jam just west of Conyers:

    After inching along for a few miles and a lot of time, we realized that it was a traffic accident, not any sort of jam that would last all the way across Atlanta. Someone's day got ruined, that's for sure.

    Getting across Atlanta actually wasn't all that bad. Traffic was moving at around 60mph, all the signs gave things like "exit XX, 6 mi, 6 minutes", so we were reassured.

    Our overnight was at a Country Inn and Suites, in Tuscaloosa - about 490 miles from Charleston. I mention this because Radisson is becoming part of Choice Hotels, International. If you have Radisson points, they will merge with Choice Rewards at some time in the near future.

    We arrived at our new destination right after check-in time, which had to be the earliest check-in time I've ever seen: 2 pm. This was at Best Western Vicksburg. They empty out very early in the morning, as people want to get to their next destination - they serve more transient than destination travelers. So they bring in their housekeeping staff early on and in staggered shifts. This room was probably the nicest one we had on the whole trip, everything in great condition, working, nice indoor pool. My only complaint was that the treadmill wasn't working in the fitness room.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Vicksburg NMP - Try #2

    Seeing Vicksburg Again

    About 11 years ago, we tried to make a stop at Vicksburg while enroute to Florida. We were trying to make 500 miles in a day, so we didn't feel we had a lot of choice than to race through Vicksburg. We viewed the movie, watched a cannon exhibition, then quickly drove the main loop, stopping only at one or two points including the Illinois Monument and the USS Cairo and its museum.

    This time, we had the whole day. The negative? The skies were very gray and there were predictions of "severe thunderstorms". But we were there. Our motel was about 2 miles from the park.

    We viewed the movie -- the same one as they showed the last time -- talked to a ranger about some of the closures in the park, both buildings and roads. Then set out. We were able to get out and walk this time, at least for the first few pull-outs.

    These markers were clarified, later, as the markings of where the trench lines were. Along "Union Avenue", the signs were blue, and the signs were red along "Confederate Avenue".

    We walked to various state monuments to honor the different regiments who were at Vicksburg. Before doing so, though, we noticed that the grass was very long, so we used a little bug spray to keep from getting chigger, flea, ticks, etc. on us. At one stop, I noticed an interesting looking tree.

    Another family was doing the same, walking up to the monuments.

    Despite the crummy-looking (for now) weather, it was rather serene in the park, as in Yorktown.

    Unfortunately, some roads were closed this trip. We could not get up to Grant's Quarters, for instance. When we finally got around to the USS Cairo, you could see the ship but it and the museum were both closed, for rehabilitation. We were very disappointed about Grant's Quarters, but not so much about the USS Cairo since we had done that on our previous trip.

    A view across the fields towards the Illinois Building/Monument:

    The Illinois Building/Monument, up closer:


    As we were coming out of the Illinois Building, it started to rain. We stayed out for a few minutes. Once back in the car, I remarked to my husband that perhaps we shouldn't change our horses in the middle of the stream. Our Dayton trip tried to get changed, and weather overruled it, and now, this one.

    After driving around a little more, hubby took most of the pictures (and they're not yet on Flickr). It really started to rain while we were in the parking lot at the USS Cairo, looking at the ship, so we headed back to the motel.

    A little later, it had stopped raining, but we decided not to go back into the park, but to explore a little bit of Historic Vicksburg. We drove through some less-than-stellar-looking areas before finding the house that was General Pemberton's Headquarters. It is occasionally open for tours, but not that day.

    A little later, we drove back down to the Riverfront area (though you could not see the Mississippi River) for dinner at Rusty's Riverfront Grill. In another post, I will focus on some of the good-eats we had on this trip. Vicksburg was our last real sightseeing, though I will post some travel information about the trip home from there.
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 06-19-2023 at 03:01 PM. Reason: grammar

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Heading Home

    And So We Head Home...

    After Vicksburg, we knew we had to go home. We had some obligations already scheduled. Our route home was to backtrack on I-20 East to I-220, the belt loop around Jackson, and then I-55 into Missouri.

    At Memphis, I-55 was closed and we were detoured onto I-240 then I-40 in order to cross the Mississippi River.

    I-55 goes through Arkansas, but only for about 71 miles (one hour). We were in Missouri soon, but still had a little less than an hour's drive into our final overnight stop, in Sikeston. There, we used one of the free nights we earned with Best Western Rewards. They gave us a room that they don't use very often, or so we were told when there was a bit of problem with the air conditioner. It's saved for points and a couple of other uses. It was the biggest room we've ever had at a hotel, and it was down on the end. The bathroom was larger than any I've seen, too.

    The biggest reason to stop overnight in Sikeston, MO, is a restaurant, Lambert's. One of three locations anywhere, it had its roots in Sikeston (though it's long outgrown the original building). One distinguishing feature of Lambert's, over any other restaurant, is "throwed rolls". When they come out with a fresh batch of rolls, and you want one, just raise your hands and they'll try to throw you one. The rolls are really GOOD, too. Another distinguishing feature are the "pass arounds". Servers come around with a big bowl and ask you if you'd like whatever they're offering: black-eyed peas, fried potatoes, macaroni and tomatoes, and more...all over and above what comes on your plate and no extra charge. Third feature is they'll come around and ask you if you'd like seconds on anything that came on your plate. My husband and I both had BBQ pork steak and it came with 3 sides anyway. Add a roll to that and we were FULL. Finally, I should say that walking into the place reminded me a lot of Wall Drug. Here are some photos from that evening:


    My meal:

    I've known about Lambert's for years, long before we moved here. But we never got down to Sikeston.

    There are two other locations for Lambert's. One is Ozark, MO, just south of Springfield on US-65. The other is Foley, AL, Gulf Coast about halfway between I-10 and Gulf Shores.

    After that full meal, it was no surprise that we headed home the next morning, not stopping for a meal even once.

    For dinner that night, we decided to "play tourist" in our own hometown. However, we know our way around a little better. :-)
    Our view at dinner:

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona



    You're making me hungry! Do you know if there was ever a Lambert's in St. Louis? At Union Station, maybe? I can swear I've eaten there (I distinctly remember the "throwed rolls"), but I've never been to Sikeston.


  5. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    No Rick, there are only the 3 that Donna mentioned, there never has been one in STL. You may be thinking of the STL airport - Lambert Field. I've been to the ones in Sikeston and Ozark.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Summary

    Summary of Trip: Food

    We ate really well on this trip, choosing more local places than chains. On the few occasions we did chains, we chose the ones we don't get to "do" very often. Among some of our favorite local places:

    Williamsburg - Our favorite was definitely Christiana Campbell's Tavern. Our bill for two was well over 3 figures, but if you don't order liquor, you can get by with a double-digit. We also enjoyed King's Arms Tavern, but not quite as much, and it was more expensive.

    Nag's Head - One place, Sam & Omie's, we tried twice. Once was for breakfast and once for dinner. No reservations for dinner, but the lines outside the place show you how popular it is with not just tourists, but locals. If this was a long line in mid-week, I can't imagine what it would be on the weekends!

    Vicksburg - We had dinner at two local places. One was Beechwood Bar & Grill, and the other was Rusty's Riverfront Grill. Both were excellent! My only real comment about either was that the "Riverfront" really couldn't be seen from the place. Both were extremely popular with the locals.

    At both Nag's Head and Vicksburg, we ran into "closed on (certain days of the week)". We arrived in Nag's Head on a Tuesday and found several places closed, Sam & Omie's was one of them. In Vicksburg, we arrived on a Monday and the Beechwood was the only non-chain sit-down restaurant open, and they don't have very many chains.

    Chains we enjoyed - always, Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Ruby Tuesdays in Charleston, mainly because it was within a short 1-1/2 block walk from our lodging. Also, on this trip, we "discovered" Jersey Mike's when it search of a sandwich for lunch. It was on Roanoke Island. We were trying to get into a local deli, but there was NO parking at all. We were going to drive by a Jersey Mike's, and decided to try it. Now it is a favorite, but it is not located in our home area. Nearest one is 40 miles away.


    This trip was almost entirely Best Western and Choice properties.

    Best Western Winchester - would have been fine, but the outdoor pool was not yet open for the season. After Memorial Day? Really?!

    Best Western Williamsburg Historic District - rooms were small. Everything worked. Indoor pool just a tad too cold for us.

    Comfort Inn South Oceanfront, Nags Head - incredible view. Room just okay in size, everything worked, we had a balcony with two chairs and a small table.

    Sleep Inn North Charleston - not so great area, room had issues, evening and night management liked to "pass the buck" to the day manager.

    Country Inn and Suites by Radisson, Tuscaloosa - nice place. Only issue was checking out, as their computer system was down. Lovely, small, outdoor pool that was just the "right" temperature. Drawback, you had to drive to get any food unless you wanted the nearby McDonald's.

    Best Western Vicksburg - probably the best place we stayed at, as everything was "just right". Hospitality was truly "southern hospitality" at its best.

    Best Western Plus Sikeston - second best place. Ahhh! But using points made it better.


    When we first planned this trip, fuel was high-priced and we just weren't sure: take the pickup (diesel) or the newer car (likes premium, better gas mileage, but could take regular or mid-grade). Finally decided on the truck.

    Least expensive diesel fuel was $3.04/gallon in Tuscaloosa, AL. While out for dinner on arrival night, we saw one station at $3.04, and the one across the street at $3.06. Went back the next morning, and the $3.06 had gone up to $3.36, but the other station was still at $3.04.

    Most expensive diesel fuel was $3.68/gallon in Nags Head,NC.

    I will add that we use Gas Buddy almost exclusively. When we are actually on the road, I will use GB's Map Mode to look. We learned, this trip, that BJ's is a club like Sam's and Costco, so don't go in one if you're not a member.


    We always bring home stuff from a trip like national park mugs, t-shirts. This time we brought home some unusual souvenirs. For instance, Williamsburg had a Christmas Store that we went into and found some lovely things. In Nags Head, I went into a stitching shop and a quilt shop to bring home some things for my hobbies.


    I don't think there's any routing we used that we would have changed. Ours was very much a "lollipop" though -- we took I-270/I-44 home from I-55. We had debated taking US-60/62 out of Sikeston, across the state to Mansfield to pick up MO-5. However, MO-5 between Mansfield and Lebanon is two-lane, curvy, and slow. MO-5 is the longest state route and, if you drive the whole thing, the 350-some miles will take you well over 12 hours. Hubby wanted no part of that.


    I haven't finished doing the stats for our trip. I'll post them at a later date.


  7. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Funny you mentioned Jersey Mike's - the one here in Joplin is having their grand opening today! I grew up on the NJ Shore before there was a Jersey Mike's, and they are very authentic. Now I don't have to go to Springfield to get one.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good for the soul.

    Thanks Donna, a nice trip report with great photos that I enjoyed following. Makes me want to come back even more than I do already !


  9. #19
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri

    Default Summary of the Trip - Statistics

    The Nitty and Gritty of Road Trips - Costs and Statistics


    Driving days only - 3,170 miles
    Longest drive - 557 miles, first day (10+ hours)
    Shortest drive - 181 miles, Williamsburg to Nags Head, included sightseeing

    Total mileage placed on truck - 3597 miles


    Fuel - $622 (highest and lowest in previous post)(ranged from 16.5 to 21 mpg)
    Lodging - $2545 (average=$170; highest $313/night at Nags Head, lowest $110 at Tuscaloosa)
    Food - $1745 (about $105/day; budgeted $120/day; most expensive meal at $236 at Kings Arm Tavern CW, cheapest incl in hotel fee)
    Souvenirs - $725 (high for us, but we chose to buy books in some places to support the NP instead of Amazon)
    Admissions, Parking, Tolls - $75
    Prepaid Tickets - $148

    More on the Admissions, Tickets and Tolls

    National Park Service Annual Pass - free for us, due to veteran status. This paid for half of Jamestowne Rediscovered, Yorktown, Wright Brothers Memorial, and Vicksburg.

    Admission was charged at Jamestowne Rediscovered and Berkeley Plantation. We had to pay for parking at Patriots Point, and tolls in West Virginia (they accept E-Z Pass, but we don't have any passes). The toll in WVa was $4.25 twice.

    We bought two sets of tickets before we left. First was Colonial Williamsburg, by going to Fort Leonard Wood and picking up military tickets there. When we checked into Colonial Williamsburg, we found that they were vouchers and we had to stand in line to exchange them for a ticket. The check-in lady gave us the map and some advice to use the military lounge and showed us where it's located in Colonial Williamsburg. The other tickets were for the Fort Sumter Tour, and those were actual tickets.

    Military information: my husband grabbed one of our military veteran hats before we left home, and found himself wearing it more than the other hat he brought with him. That's because waiters/waitresses, cashiers, and more would see his hat, ask him (or thank him) for his service and promptly take 10-15% off the bill!

    Senior information: many places that don't offer military discount, sometimes offer senior discounts. We took advantage of those where we could. No, we didn't encounter any place that would do both -- just one, or the other, and they were usually the same discount.


  10. #20


    One day I will hit Lambert's just to check it out. I could jump on I-57 near here and go straight down there 420 miles away although the Ozark, MO location is likely where I will try it as my GF has family in Fayetteville, AR and it's on the way. Great pics and report. I use Gas Buddy every time I get gas anywhere. The map feature is awesome.

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