Chattanooga to Macon, Georgia

 

Leaving Chattanooga we crossed into Georgia on Interstate 75. We drove around the

outskirts of Atlanta on the freeway but did not actually visit the city.  Instead, we continued

on to Macon, Georgia.  This is a small city but has quite a bit of history to it. They have some

wonderful old houses there such as the Hay House (did the tour - picture below) and also what

is known as the ‘Cannonball House’.

 

We then headed south towards the town of Juliette, GA, where the movie Fried Green Tomatoes

was made. We both really liked that movie, so we though we’d check out the Whistlestop

Café and the various shops around the tiny town.

 

 

‘Georgia on Your Mind’ – Crossing State Line from Tennessee to Georgia on I-75

 

Cannonball House  - Macon, Georgia.  Struck by a cannonball in 1864 during Civil

War. Also contains the Macon Confederate Museum.

 

 

Whistlestop Cafe, Juliette Georgia – From Fried Green Tomatoes

 

Smokey's Hut, from Fried Green Tomatoes, Juliette, GA

 

 

NLK and kids - Whistlestop Cafe

 

Whistlestop Cafe

 

 

Frank Bennett's 'Grave', Whistlestop Cafe

 

NLK at Whistlestop Cafe

 

 

It’s hard to be humble when you're from North Carolina!

 

 

Hay House, Macon Georgia.  This was built between 1855 and 1859 and boasted

many advanced features very unusual at the time. Now administered by the

Georgia Trust.  Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974.  Well worth

doing the guided tour.

 

 

Savannah

 

From Macon we drove to Savannah.  This was a great place, definitely one of our favorite stops.

Savannah is supposed to be the most haunted town in America, and we did a walking tour around the

old section of the town, with the guide pointing out a number of old homes in which various

supernatural events were said to have occurred.

 

It’s a great place to walk around - lots of history dating back to Colonial times and very well

preserved, with little 'squares' every few blocks and most of the old houses still intact.  It also

has a nice old waterfront area, from which we took a boat for a ‘Murder Mystery Afloat’ one night.

Savannah has become a big tourist destination, helped in no small measure by the book

‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’. 

 

We actually stayed on Tybee Island, some way out of town. We had a nice two-room apartment

right on the beach.  It cost a bit more than some of the chain motels we’d been staying in, but

it was good to have a bit of space, our own rooms etc for a change and they had a grill where we

could BBQ our dinner. Tybee Island was a laid back, seaside place which we quite enjoyed.

 

Unfortunately we missed Charleston, SC, which was one place I particularly wanted to see,

but we did bite off a little more than we could chew on the Southern road trip – putting about

4000 miles on our SUV in three weeks.

 

 

Savannah Street Scene

 

Savannah House

 

View from our apartment, Tybee Island GA

 

 

Apartments, Tybee Island, GA

 

The Piggly Wiggly, A Southern Institution

 

 

Church Sign, Tybee Island, GA

 

Florida

From Savannah we drove to Orlando.  Along the way, we stopped through St Augustine, FL

(America’s oldest city, dating back to 1565).  We also stopped off at Daytona Beach, where

the kids had a swim.  Daytona Beach has very hard sand, and was used for land speed

record attempts in the 30s. You can drive your car right onto the beach, as in the photos.

It seems to be a place popular with Brits and Canadians, judging from the number of their flags

we saw. For Aussies, it would probably be a bit reminiscent of our Gold Coast in Queensland.

 

 

Daytona Beach, Florida. You can actually drive your car onto the beach to park!

 

More Daytona Beach

 

Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral

 

Having been fascinated by the space program since I was a kid, this was always going to be

a mandatory stop on the trip.   They have a good display of space hardware there, and we

did the tour where a bus takes you out past the Vehicle Assembly Building and fairly close

to the launch pads used for the Shuttle missions.

 

One of the stops on the tour was the launch control room used for the Apollo missions in

the 60s.  The room is still as it was back in 1968- old-fashioned computer monitors and all.

They do a re-enactment of the countdown and launch of Apollo 8, complete with special

effects such as the rattling windows and an orange glow outside the windows, as

would have occurred during the real launch.

 

The space program, despite its recent setbacks, is obviously a very real source of pride for

the many Americans who do the tour. The NASA facility also attracts a large number of foreign

tourists.

 

We were surprised to see so much wildlife in the Cape Canaveral area.  On the drive from Orlando,

we stopped to watch dolphins playing in the intra-coastal waterway. We also saw alligators lazing in

ditches and canals within the Kennedy Space Center site itself.  Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve

is part of the NASA complex and is home to numerous species of birds as well as manatees and

other wildlife.

 

  

Rocket Garden, Cape Canaveral FL

 

 

Shuttle Launch Site, Cape Canaveral

 

Vehicle Assembly Building, Cape Canaveral.  This is supposed to be the world’s

largest building, by volume.  It’s so high that clouds form in the top of the building.

It was used to assemble the 365 foot tall Apollo moon rockets in the ’60s, and is still

used to assemble the Space Shuttle. In this building, the ‘full stack’ (orbiter, external

tank and solid booster rockets) are put together and mounted on a platform, prior

to being trucked several miles to the actual launch site.

 

 

Girls with Saturn V Rocket, Cape Canaveral

 

Lunar Rover - From Apollo Era

 

Apollo Lunar Module, Cape Canaveral

 

Astronaut Memorial Plaque, Cape Canaveral

 

Orlando

 

We stayed in Orlando for five nights, then flew out to Washington, DC to begin the north-eastern

part of our trip.  Orlando is a big sprawling city - a bit like our Gold Coast on steroids.

I may be wrong, but the city’s primary function or industry seemed to be supporting

the many theme parks in the area. 

 

While in Orlando we visited Universal Studios Florida, Blizzard Beach and Wet and Wild.

We’d been to Universal in Hollywood earlier in the trip, but we enjoyed the Florida one too.

Of all the theme parks we visited on the US trip, probably the ones we and the kids both liked

best were the Florida waterparks – Disney’s Blizzard Beach and also Wet and Wild.

They both have some great rides – we braved all but the fiercest, nearly vertical waterslides!

 

Between visiting theme parks, we tried to relax and have a bit of a rest and do some shopping.

It’s amazing what you can buy in Florida.  We visited a flea-market just off SR192 – among the

items on sale were Tazers (the things the cops use to deliver a non-lethal electric shock to criminals),

available in a range of voltages;  50,000, 80,000 volts or more.  You could also buy blow-darts,

air pistols that could be used for hunting, powerful slingshots, all sorts of knives and other weapons.

I commented to the shop-owner that all this stuff would be totally illegal in Australia – he said that

most of it was also illegal in many American states. Apparently Florida has particularly lenient laws

on these things.  He also said that many Brits buy things from his store which they intend to

smuggle home…

 

Cumbrian Lakes Villa

 

Before leaving Australia, we had booked a ‘villa’ for our five nights in Orlando.  These villas are

large, well-appointed houses which can be found in dozens of estates or ‘communities’ in the

Orlando area.  From our research on the internet, most of these are owned by British people,

and are also mostly rented to British tourists.  They do get some Americans, Canadians and others

renting them, as well as the Brits.

 

Anyway, the one we chose was located in Cumbrian Lakes, Kissimmee.  It was only a few

minutes drive to SR192, Wal*Mart and many other stores, and only 15 minutes or so to

Disneyworld.   It was great to have this wonderful house to relax in after all those weeks on the road,

sharing cheap motel rooms.  Everything was top-notch and very comfortable, clean and well appointed.

It was also good value for money (compared to hotels/motels), considering the amenities included.

It was quite a task sometimes getting the kids (and ourselves) out of the pool and the house,

even to visit the theme parks. We found the owner (Jon) to be very helpful and responsive

to our needs. He even organized for a BBQ (gas grill) to be supplied for our stay, as we Aussies

enjoy BBQs and were really looking forward to some home-cooked food after our long road trip.

Anyway, we'd thoroughly recommend this villa to anyone. While we only had four people,

the villa could easily accommodate many more in total comfort - two families or an extended

family, for example.  A link to the website for this villa is below:

 

http://www.lakesfloridavilla.co.uk/

 

Dom & Zac, Universal, Orlando FL

 

 

 

Our Chevy Cavalier and Villa, Orlando FL

 

Pool at the Orlando villa we rented. All pools in Florida seem to be covered by

these screened enclosures.  Apparently it is because of the bugs, which are really bad

there.  After driving only a few miles, the car is covered with these black insects which

they call ‘Love Bugs’, presumably because they appear to fly around as a pair,

joined together. Maybe it’s a mating thing in spring – in any case the air was thick with

them in mid-May when we were there.

 

 

Orlando Villas & Lake.