mad in pursuit travel notebook


East Coast 2009: Ocean, River, Swamp

Winter was dragging on... must get away. Decided to take the scenic route to visit our friends Pat and Joe Drum in Ponce Inlet, just south of Daytona Beach.

Summary: It's 1400 miles between Rochester NY and Daytona Beach FL. The coastal route along secondary roads has some spectacular scenic views of the Atlantic, but is very pokey. The mountain route along rural interstates is fast, with some of its own spectacular views of the Appalachian range.

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4/19/09 Bought a bottle of Windex and a MegaMillions lottery ticket on the NYS Thruway. Got the windshield clean, but we're still poor.

Cape May, New Jersey. Our first beachfront, though rain and howling wind stunted the enjoyment. Marquis de Lafayette Hotel had an ocean view but no wireless internet in the rooms. Retro. High point: Fudge Kitchen and Althea's restaurant.

4/20/09 Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Fun to take a ferry across to Delaware. We are ferry neophytes so were antsy about the process, even though I was able to book our reservation online.

Kill Devil Hills, NC (Outer Banks). Two nights at the Best Western Ocean Reef Suites. We drove down to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse at the south end but the high point was actually at the Kitty Hawk Wright Brothers monument, where we happened in on a lecture about what a couple of hard-working geniuses those pioneers of flight were, presented right next to a full-scale replica of their plane.

4/22/09. The drive between Outer Banks and Isle of Palms along US 17 was long. We hated the slow ride through the ticky-tack of Myrtle Beach, but we didn't mean for it to catch fire.

Isle of Palms (east of Charleston), SC. The Palms Hotel was a real treat. The weather had warmed up and calmed down, so that beach-walking was a pleasure. The high point was supposed to be our exploration of historic Charleston (and we did take a pleasant Harbor Cruise), but by this time we were a little travel weary and happy to just veg out in our room, looking at the ocean.

Pat and Joe Drum, along the St John's River4/24/09 Finally! A fast drive on I-95 and arrival at Ponce Inlet (south end of Daytona Beach) and our friends Pat & Joe Drum, formerly of Rochester! A brisk walk on the beach with Pat, then happy-happy-happy hour, followed by a gourmet Pampered Chef quiche. I've known Pat for nearly 30 years but never got to know her husband -- an athletic, animated guy full of stories. They are a perfect couple -- goin' for the gusto. Fun. Energetic. Eager to learn new things. And really, really organized.

4/25/09 After Joe's delish pancake breakfast, we headed over to Blue Springs State Park and St. John's River for a nature cruise. Last time we were here (Jan 2008) we were treated to dozens of manatees. This time we saw dozens of big alligators mobilizing for mating season. Wow. I have to confess I love these riverine, swampy nature preserves better than the beach-y ocean.

4/26/09 From Daytona, the four of us headed to Georgia. Jim with Joe. Pat with me. We registered at the King's Inn, Eulonia GA -- a humble old motel (perfect, though the room did have that ripened aroma of smoke and sweat that old motels do have). Then, off to earn our wilderness badges...

4/27/09 was turnaround day. From northeast Georgia we caught I-95 to I-77 to I-79 to I-90 to home-sweet home by the next afternoon. First day we got to Summersville, West Virginia, where the Best Western offered only Fox News. On 4/28/09 we continued our fast-track drive till we hit roadblocks on I-90, just east of Erie PA. A fiery, fatal crash had occurred hours before and all traffic was being slowwwwwly rerouted off the interstate and onto secondary roads. A pain... but a sober reminder to drive safely and count our blessings.

It's good to be home now. We're relaxed and energized. Total mileage: 2841.


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