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
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.
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
View from our apartment, Tybee Island GA
Apartments, Tybee Island, GA
The Piggly Wiggly, A Southern Institution
Church Sign, Tybee Island, GA
Daytona Beach, Florida. You can actually drive your car onto the beach to park!
More Daytona Beach
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
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
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
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
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:
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.