No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


August 30, 2006

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting St. Augustine

After 101 days away, 28 states and 14, 904 miles, we have arrived at home in Key West safe and sound. It looked a little sketchy there for a moment last night driving through Tropical Storm Ernesto, but other than about 10 minutes of scary wind and blinding rain, the storm turned out to be, thankfully, much less of a problem than we had anticipated.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Castillo de San Marcos

We began the day in beautiful hot sunshine in St. Augustine. The historic oldest city (established in 1565) in the US, is a tourist Mecca that reminded us in many ways of Key West. Perhaps it was the collection of similar stores or maybe it was the mini conch trains and trolleys that seemed to be everywhere on the narrow streets. We walked the streets with India in tow, stopping to have lunch at one of the many outdoor cafes that allowed us to bring India in with us.

Our next stop was the famous centerpiece of old St. Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos fortress that was built beginning in 1672 and has over 300 years of Florida history and battle being under the control of the Spanish, British, Native Americans, Colonial Americans and US Military at various points of its fascinating history. It really is an amazing structure. After leaving the fort, we drove about 20 miles south along A1A to another related site, Fort Matanzas, which was built to protect the city from attack along the Matanzas River which is now part of the intercoastal waterway.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting India at Castillo de San Marcos

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Ernesto Driving

Along the way, we kept hearing the media hype about the impending Tropical Storm, so we headed south early in the afternoon, planning to stop somewhere in South Florida, we planned to drive over and down the western side of the state to avoid the heavy rains, but we saw no signs of bad weather, so we just drove down I-95 and the turnpike to Homestead. We got a little rain there, but figured we may be able to get through to Key West before the worst of the storm hit. It turned out to be the wrong choice because almost as soon as we got on US1, we had heavy rain and wind. It was a tricky drive to Key West, especially going over the bridges, but we made it home just before midnight and found our house and cats awaiting our arrival. Many thanks to Colin Rudd who was our house sitter over the summer, we could not have done the trip without knowing our home and cats were in safe hands.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Surprise Colin!

The Folkston Funnel

August 29, 2006

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Our journey us nearing completion as we have made our way from Charleston into St. Augustine, Florida with a stop at the infamous Folkston Funnel in Folkston, Georgia. We have been keeping a cautious eye on Tropical storm Ernesto, which is currently passing just south of the Florida Keys and is on a collision course with us as we head south. Thankfully it is not a terribly strong storm and will only great us with some torrential rains as we cross paths.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Charleston Harbor

Our day yesterday began in Charleston, South Carolina which is a truly beautiful and historic port city. We stopped at the Fort Sumter National Memorial visitor center and later toured the historic downtown. Fort Sumter, located mid-harbor at a prime point for protecting the city, was the site of the first shots of the Civil War. The visitor center features displays, including the huge original flag that was flying over the fort in 1861 when the war started. The city is full of beautiful architecture and historic structures and has the feel of the Old South.

After touring Charleston we headed south again. In South Georgia, just across the Florida line is a small town, Folkston, that bills itself as the greatest spot in the country for trainspotting. We had seen a feature on the NBC program “Sunday Morning” that had shown how the town has taken its one major asset and utilized it in promoting itself as a tourist destination. It was just the sort of eccentric place we had hoped to include on our journey. The town has set up a viewing platform complete with ceiling fans and a loudspeaker which broadcasts the radio transmissions between the trains and the rail traffic controllers. We were there for just over an hour and the funnel did not disappoint as three trains passes during the time we were there. It was a quirky yet fun place.

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We continued into Florida, driving past the Okeefenokee Swamp and through Jacksonville, stopping for the night in the historic oldest city in the US, St. Augustine.
It is slightly more difficult traveling with a pet as finding a pet friendly hotel can sometimes present a problem, but we found a nice Ramada Inn that accepted pets and had a nice pool and hot-tub so we were happy. Today we plan to explore the town before heading south, waiting to see what happens with Ernesto before heading home.

Folkston Funnel Website

Monday, August 28, 2006


August 28, 2006

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The official transfer of custody of our dog, India took place in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Kathy’s father did us the huge favor by driving her from Massachusetts to Virginia to hand her over thus saving us from about 20 additional hours of driving.

Before the hand over, we drove to Fredericksburg from Winston Salem, stopping a couple of times along the way. Our first stop was at the Petersburg National Battlefield in Petersburg, Virginia. This site of a nine month siege in 1864 near the end of the Civil War as Union General Ulysses S. Grant was able to basically starve out the final days of the Confederacy under Robert E. Lee leading to the eventual surrender at nearby Appomattox Courthouse.

The battlefield had a couple of interesting features including the largest cannon used in the war, “The Dominator” and the site of one of the most interesting events of the war when Union soldiers tunneled under Confederate positions and placed explosives there creating a huge crater which you may have seen depicted in the book and film, “Cold Mountain.”

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Crater

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The Dominator

We next drove into downtown Richmond, just in time to attend the Shokoe Beer Festival. This small but fun beer festival featured all of the local breweries and then some pouring their best microbrews. We sampled many tasty brews including to our surprise, Dale’s Pale Ale, from Oskar Blues in Lyons, Colorado, which we had been drinking there only days previously, though we prefer their Old Chub brew and we actually have a case in the car. We had dinner in Richmond, where we received a call from Jimmy that he was in Fredericksburg, about 50 miles north. So we drove up there for the big reunion.

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India was thrilled to see us and squealed with delight upon seeing us. She looked fine, had much longer hippie dog hair but was otherwise was in great shape. It was nice to see Jim as well and we spent the evening and the next morning’s breakfast with him before we each departed heading north and south respectively.

Our journey took us into South Carolina, where we spent the night in Charleston last night, watching the path of Hurricane Ernesto closely. The Hurricane path seems to be right through the Florida Keys and certainly will affect us as we head south. We are keeping a close eye on it. What a welcome home!

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

North Carolina

August 26, 2006

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Our trek eastward took us through West Virginia and back to Winston Salem, North Carolina to check the progress that my mother Marta is making on her brand new downtown condo. When we were here last, about a month ago, she had just arrived and the place was empty, the furnishings had not yet arrived from Indianapolis. On the way to Winston Salem, we stopped at the New River Gorge National River.

The New River area of West Virginia, once known for its coal mines, timber industry and many railroads is home to one of the oldest rivers in North America. The New River National site contains a 53 mile stretch of the river, which flows south to north, through some of the most scenic portions of the Appalachian Mountains. We stopped at the visitor center and then drove the windy scenic road south towards North Carolina to enjoy the stunning views.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Sandstone Falls- New River

Eventually we crossed into North Carolina and found ourselves in familiar territory, near Mount Airy or Mayberry as it is known to classic TV fans. We stopped for a late lunch at Barney’s diner, an old time lunch counter style diner that features decorations from the classic “Andy Griffith Show”. After lunch, in need of another haircut, I made my way across Main Street to visit the famous Floyd’s barbershop again. This time, I had the actual inspiration for the Floyd character cut my hair. It was quite a fun experience and not a bad haircut for $7.

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We made our way into Winston Salem to Marta’s new condo at the Tarbranch Towers. Last time we were here about a month or so ago, Marta had just taken possession and her furniture had not yet arrived from Indianapolis. Now she is completely unpacked and has totally decorated the space creating a wonderful, uniquely Marta living space. We got the full tour before Marika & Brian arrived and we all went out for a celebratory dinner.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Marta's New Home

We were pleased to be Marta’s very first overnight guests and give the accommodations our highest rating. We are not staying long; we have to meet with Kathy’s father Jim somewhere near Richmond, Virginia. He is doing us the huge favor of driving and meeting us to transfer our dog India, who has been attending camp at his home in Marshfield much of the summer.