Archive for the ‘US 301’ Category

October 4 (Monday)

The last day. It started as another overcast day. We ate from the hotel’s continental breakfast, then hopped back on I-95. In only an hour we were in South Carolina and the last place I’d really wanted to see, South of the Border in Dillon.

Some might call it a tacky tourist trap, and it is that. But I’m a tacky tourist at heart, so I love those kind of places. Started in the 1950s, it got the name for being south of the North Carolina border. It’s about halfway between New York and Florida, making it the perfect stop for snowbirds and other tourists heading south from New England, back in the day.

South of the Border – Sombrero Tower

More recently, the place has fallen on rough times. Tastes have changed, maybe people are more in a hurry, and don’t take the time to stop at these sorts of places. There was no one else visiting that day besides us. Admittedly it was a weekday, and several hurricanes had gone through the area recently. I was hoping to go to the top of the Sombrero Tower, but it was closed. I did go into one of the numerous shops and got some souvenirs. Cups, t-shirts and the like. There was some toilet paper I was sorely tempted to get for Uncle Francis, but I resisted. I did tell Mom about it, and she laughed and agreed.

South of the Border

South of the Border

I wanted to try the food there, so we went into one of the restaurants. I think there were a couple other people there, but not more than that. I don’t remember what I got, but ate too much, since we’d had a decent breakfast.

Back on the interstate, I had a laughing jag. You know how something strikes you as funny and you can’t stop laughing? Well, it was kind of foggy, and through the mist I saw a sign for a pizzeria.

What’s funny about that? My Mom’s sister (Aunt Kathryn, no longer with us) was always very proper. Things had to be just so, and she was rarely wrong. At least in her mind. Mom told me a while before how she and her sister were driving and they saw a pizzeria. Aunt Kathryn said something about it, but mispronounced it. Instead of peet-za-ria, she called it a pi-zarea, like it’s spelled. Any chance I could thereafter, I would tease Aunt Kathryn about it. Seeing the sign on the interstate brought it back, and the laughter just poured out. I think I laughed through most of South Carolina.

The skies cleared after a while, and we entered Georgia. On the first day of the trip, I remember us seeing electric trucks and landscapers heading into Florida to help with the hurricane aftermath. Once we got into Georgia, we started seeing the same kind of trucks heading north. We waved at them, thanking them in spirit. Glad though we were that so many had come down to help, it was encouraging to see them leave, since it meant the worst was over.

I-95 in Georgia

I-95 in Georgia

I-95 in Georgia is an interesting contrast to I-75. There are a crazy amount of billboards between Valdosta and Atlanta. But there are relatively few between Savannah and Jacksonville. Maybe the counties have different laws in that regard? It does make I-95 a more enjoyable drive to me. Most of I-95 is nice, as I discovered. The only unpleasant stretches are in South Florida (Palm Beach County to Miami) and Jacksonville. Once you get past Jax, it’s a breeze at least to southern Virginia. By the looks of the maps, the next gnarly bit would be D.C. From Florida to D.C.; that’s about 10 hours of pleasant interstate driving. One of these days I’ve got to visit Mom and Dad in Arlington, so it’s good to know the drive there will be easy.

I know we stopped again at a visitor center. I think it might’ve been the same one I stopped at on the way to Savannah a few weeks ago. That one was near the Florida border. We crossed over before sunset, then got off at the SR 200/A1A exit. I could have gone further south, but I avoid Jacksonville like the plaque. Plus we’d been on the interstate for two days, and I was looking forward to regular road driving again.

Once we hit Baldwin, we were back on US 301. I knew this section of it really well, and could practically drive it on autopilot. All you have to do is stay on it and you can’t miss Ocala.

We got back to Mom’s around 8 PM. She’d turned off the AC, since why leave it on when no one would be home for two weeks? We discovered the display on the microwave didn’t work, probably due to power surges related to Jeanne. In any case, we cranked up the AC and left to get dinner, giving the house time to cool down. We hit some of our favorite places, but they were closing. At 8! Fat Boys, El Toreo, what’s up? We finally downscaled, since our options were more limited than we thought, and got burgers at Wendy’s. The house was comfortable when we got back and we conked out. I unpacked the car the next day, then returned to work the day after that.

So that’s it. Two weeks of ups and downs (figurative and literal) that will always be with me. We had fun, Mom. I miss you, but we’ll always have our 12-states-in-12-days trip.

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October 2 (Saturday)

So, the last meal at the Deepwater Diner. Mom thought the available relatives should have breakfast together, and where better than the Diner. We were going to pay too. The relatives went along, since breakfast wasn’t an expensive meal, especially at the Diner. There were about ten people, and it came to about 50 dollars. Beat that, Rachael Ray!

The funniest part was Uncle Francis. Aunt Mae wanted Eggs Benedict, but not the whole thing. Mom convinced Uncle Francis to split it with her, which appealed to his frugality. To put it nicely. So all he needed was a plate to put his half on. Everyone gets their order, and Uncle Francis is still waiting for his plate. He grumbled, “Did they have to send to China for the plate?” Karma, baby, that’s all I’m saying.

We bid our adieus and headed out. We crossed the I-295 bridge and were in Wilmington, Delaware. Another odd detail I remember is that we were looking for laundromats. It was a week and a half into the trip, and clean clothes were a concern. But we realized we were OK. Mom had enough, and I’d been buying t-shirts as souvenirs, so I was set. There were only a couple more days until we’d be home, so we could manage.

I don’t recall the exact route we took to get out of Wilmington, but I know we eventually made it to US 301. I’d driven so much of it in Florida that I wanted to traverse some of it outside the state. It was very rustic and mellow. In no time at all we were in Maryland. It was overcast the whole day, but I didn’t mind. After driving through the remnants of a hurricane, any weather less severe was a walk in the park.

Saint Dennis Catholic Church

The first scenic stop was happenstance, in Galena. I saw this neat looking old church and had to stop. It was the Saint Dennis Catholic Church. All the different sized stones assembled like a puzzle to make it impressive. It was built in 1933, but seems older. The cemetery next to it was established in 1893, which is odd. Interesting place.

South we went until we got to US 50. We could have headed west across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Annapolis and DC. But I wanted to see the Delmarva Peninsula, so it was south again on US 50.

Chesapeake Bay at Tilghman Island

Next was somewhere I’d seen in one of my travel books I’d brought, Easton. Actually, Tilghman Island, but you had to go through Easton to get there. I wanted to see Chesapeake Bay, and some of that New England aquatical scenery. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of that to see on this road, and the overcast sky detracted from the ambiance.

Chesapeake Landing

We did get one of Mom’s wishes satisfied, though. Well, it was more my and her hairdresser’s wish for her. Her hairdresser had given her money to get crabcakes in Maryland on the trip. I swore she would get them, come hell or high water. I saw a restaurant on this sidetrip, called Chesapeake Landing, that looked like a likely candidate to get some. It wasn’t on the water, but you can’t have everything. They did indeed have crabcakes. I can’t remember what I got, but it must’ve been good, because I’d remember if it was bad. I tried a bit of her crabcake. I guess it was good, but I don’t like crabcakes, so I’m not the best judge. Mom liked them though, so that’s what counts. I didn’t get my Philly cheesesteak, but I didn’t mind, since Mom got her crabcakes.

Old Trinity Church cemetery

Once we traveled back the winding road to Easton, we headed south on US 50 again. We crossed a bridge and were in Cambridge. I know we stopped after the bridge, I think at a visitor center, though I can’t find it on a map. I think in one of my guidebooks I read about an old church, so it was off to find that. It was one of those “did I miss a turn?” drives, but I found the Old Trinity Church and Cemetery. The church itself was built before 1690. That’s still the oldest church I’ve visited. OK, the oldest built in America. St. Bernard de Clairveaux beats it by around 4 centuries. While I was exploring the cemetery, a church person came out and asked Mom if I wanted to see inside. Tempting though it was, it was getting way late, and the overcastiness was making it get darker faster. I didn’t want to be driving in the dark looking for a hotel in a more rural area, so I passed.

I wanted to get as far along as possible, so I could spend more time over the next couple of days seeing as much as I could. Therefore, we continued on to Salisbury.

Which I really wish we hadn’t. If I never visit Salisbury again, I’ll not cry. We came in on US 50, then south on US 13, which is one of the main roads through the city. They must’ve been resurfacing it, since it had those multiple grooves along the length, which makes it such a treat to drive along. I saw a hotel and stopped there, though it looked less than appealing. It’s a Budget Inn now, hopefully it’s improved. The check in desk clerk was behind glass (bulletproof?), which made me even more concerned. I said to myself that if Mom wanted to, we’d stay there, but I wouldn’t like it. Fortunately, Mom was as underwhelmed as I was. So we went across the street to Best Western. It was about 70 dollars a night, but you definitely get what you pay for. Yet it was still annoying, as there were people in adjacent rooms who were up all hours making noise. Not a good night’s sleep. Maybe Salisbury has a good side, but we didn’t see it.

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