Day 3-5 - New York to the Great Smokey Mountains
Trip Start Aug 01, 2007
67Trip End Dec 19, 2008
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Woke up to another scorcher in NY. Mission this morning was to find an internet cafe. Not an easy task apparently...took 2 hours to find one near Houston.
Next mission was to pick up the hire car. A bargain at $1000 + $199 return fee as the car will have to get back from San Francisco to New York. The car I ordered was a super economy car. As long as it gets me to San Fran who cares...what I actually got was a Pontiac G6 GT with all the trimmings (Result!!).
Driving around New York was a daunting task but after 1 million honking horns and arsehole comments from cabbies I started enjoying it.
It was time to leave New York. Not a bad thing. Don't get me wrong I really like NY but I don't like staying too long in one City (too easy, too expensive and too addictive and tempting to stay). So at early afternoon I headed past New Jersey (popping into Tony Soprano's gaff for some Taglioni and Meatballs) then onto Interstate 95 south.
230 miles, 10 serious traffic jams and one serious swerve to avoid a broom lying on the road later I arrive in Washington DC. Found a motel for $45 a night. Result as I can park the car, get free internet and have a night swim in the pool.
Day 4 - Washington DC and Blue Ridge Mountains
"Onnnnnnnnn the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia..."
Ok, let me get the weather out of the way. It's even hotter than NY here in Washington DC (100 F).
Early start today to see some sites in DC. First stop was a visit to Dubya's gaff. Walking around the centre of DC is weird because it is so quiet...hardly anyone around. It seems at weekends all the people working there go out of town leaving the centre desolate (good for my sight-seeing anyway). The White House was pretty impressive but smaller than I expected. Had a brief chat and took a photo of a guy who has been protesting against War for the last few decades. Apparently he and his girlfriend do 6 hour shifts of sit-down protesting. They have a nest for sleeping and eating set up directly opposite the White House. Fair play fella.
Next was a one hour (sweat inducing and 2 stone weight losing) walk to the Abe Lincoln memorial. Very impressive indeed. Walked up the steps and sat down there with an ice cream so I could re-enact Clint in the film 'In the line of fire'. I could have spent all day in DC visiting museums and galleries but the Blue Ridge Mountains beckoned.
I was sweating like a pig and thought I would seriously self-combust when I got into the car ready for the long drive. Off I drove and with the air-con on full couldn't understand why I was still hot...and getting hotter by the minute. Stopped on the lay-by and realised the air con was on warm blower and to make it even worse I'd accidentally switched on my driver seat heater (damn buttons!).
It's common knowledge but petrol really is cheap here. I've worked out I can make 340 miles for $38. Nice. Driving really is smooth here...good roads, clear signs, patient drivers and time seems to fly by. So the 3 hour drive to 'Shenandoah National Park (part of the Blue Ridge Mountain range) was smooth with a capital Smoo. $15 entrance fee into a park with some stunning scenery. Did a 2 hour hike down to a waterfall and splashed around a bit. Freezing cold water perked up my blistering ankles. My cursed sandals have been demoted to backpack ballast.
Found a lodge within the park that had tented chalets for $26 a night. Sadly its high season here and everything was full so had to drive to small town called Harringburg where I found the usual cheap and cheerful Motel for $30 a night. God bless the cheap Motels.
Tomorrow I'm going to finish the drive through Blue Ridge using the Blue Ridge Parkway and then onto the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
On a side note communication's been a doddle here and people are ultra friendly everywhere (well...maybe not in NY) but one main problem keeps cropping up. Soda water is my favoured daytime drink of choice in hot weather. The words 'Soda water' draws a blank with everyone working in shops? I have tried 'Sparkling water', 'Fizzy water', 'Carbonated water' and I've even resorted to making bubbling noises. It's given me a complex now so I'm on the plain water now until I can get to the bottom of this.