A Travellerspoint blog

New York to Miami - Heading South, Orlando, Tue, 2 Jul 13


storm 28 °C

Sleep in day today. Bliss! We wandered down for a late breakfast at about 9am and leisurely ate our meal without looking at our watches and racing to get on the bus. Arranged to have breakfast in our room tomorrow because the dining room opens at 7.00 am and we have to be on the bus at 7.45 am which doesn't give us much time.

Our hotel.


Boring blog today. We caught the trolley bus down to the factory outlet centre. 25 cents each way for seniors. That's us! Just as we hopped on, the bus started to take off and then the driver jammed on the brakes. I went flying. Luckily one of the wooden bench seats stopped me or goodness knows what damage would have been done. I think I am going to have a very nice bruise on my upper leg. There are hundreds of shops down there, but I didn't think they were all that cheap. It was all a bit overwhelming and a storm was coming so after a couple of hours we caught the trolley back to our hotel.


As we had a late lunch, we decideve afternoon tea and save ourselves for dinner. We had a dunkin doughnut and coffee. That was our last
American "delicacy" we had to try before coming home. It wasn't too bad at all. For the last month, the Aussies have been complaining about how bad American coffee is, but we had a latte and it was very nice, though I should add here that we are definitely not coffee connoisseurs!

On the way back to the hotel, we came across a golf warehouse. YIpee! They had Footjoy gloves for $3.99. I pay $20+ for them in Australia. Unfortunately, they only had medium sizes, not small, but I bought another brand for $12.99, which was a bargain too.

The rain has stopped and the sun is out and it is quite warm and humid.

Had a relaxed couple of hours and then went down for dinner. Phil had a lovely steak and I had a nice chicken salad. Last day tomorrow. Heading for Miami,via the Kennedy Space Centre. It has been really nice to have a relaxed, do nothing day.

International Palms Hotel - Room 4071

Posted by gaddingabout 18:51 Archived in USA Tagged orlando Comments (0)

New York to Miami - Pensacola to Orlando, Mon, 1 Jul 13

Pensacola to Orlando

rain 33 °C

Early start today as we have our biggest driving day from Pensacola to Orlando, plus we lose an hour as we are entering a different time zone.


Florida wasn't a very popular state to live in because it was so hot and humid, but when air conditioning was invented, all that changed. Population stats - 76%white, 15%African American and the rest are Latinos. There are a lot of Spanish speakers in Miami. The highways in America are great and there are lots of lanes and they are in great condition. Back to Florida. Lots of rain and tornados here. In 2004, they had 5 hurricanes and in 2005, three more. Orlando is known as the lightning capital of the world. Florida receives 60,000,000 tourists a year, because of the warm weather. It is the fifth in the nation for energy use, due to air conditioning and pool pumps. We find the air conditioning much too cold and very night we turn it off. Last night in Pensacola, the hallway was absolutely freezing and Phil phoned reception and asked them to turn it down as it was making our room cold.

18,750,000 people live in Florida. The state beverage is orange juice. They grow sugar cane and phospate and there is no personal income tax in Florida. Sounds like the way to go! Each state has different income tax laws. 81% of the population are Christians, 54% of them are protestants. Miami is one of the biggest cruise ship ports in the world.

We have a movie playing the bus, "As Good As It Gets", with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. It's a good movie. We have seen it before.

We had a comfort stop at a Walmart somewhere. Little shopalohic Phil bought a couple more shirts but couldn't find any navy blue shorts. Very boring day today re photos. Just driving down number 10 highway with the same trees all the way along. Coming in and out of rain. Today will be a good day to catch up on all the sleep we have missed!

Called into Gainesville for lunch at a shopping centre. It was really nice and to add a bit of interest to today's blog, I am going to download some photos of the centre. A couple of comments. The rest rooms were the nicest I have ever seen. They had the usual men's and women's sections, but also a section for families. Also a defribulator on the wall. Then we came to a "stuffing station". What the? Kids can buy a soft toy and the guy then turns on the machine and stuffs it. Only in America!


This is a fourth of July cookie.


It rains every day in Gainesville. The University of Florida is here and has a student population of 51,000. It is a citrus growing area and gatorade was invented here. Famous people from Gainesville: River Phoenix, Faye Dunaway, Minnie Ripperton and Stephen Stills. It is the best place in the USA to start a band.

Now driving to Orlando in pouring rain.


We are staying at the International Palms Resort, Room 4071 for two nights. It has just been renovated but really has seen better days. Our phone doesn't work and as we are expecting a phone call, we asked for it to be fixed or replaced. Can't do because apparently no phone will work in this room! They offered us another room but we had unpacked and couldn't be bothered.

Walked across the road to have dinner at the Brazilian Steak House. We had the buffet which was quite nice.

We have a free day tomorrow, which means a sleep in! Orlando is theme park city but we aren't going to any of them. Don't fancy queuing in the heat and as thunder storms are predicted for tomorrow, don't fancy queuing in the rain either. We think we will catch the tram, 25 cents for seniors, down to the outlet shops.


Posted by gaddingabout 18:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

New York to Miami - New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, 30 Jun13

New Orleans - Mobile - Pensacola

sunny 35 °C

Left New Orleans, Louisiana and headed east through Mississippi into Alabama. 52% of Mississippi is heavily forested. It is very flat and swampy country. A lot of houses are built flat on the ground, with no foundations. You would think if the houses were a little higher off the ground, then they wouldn't flood so easily.


Shortly after we entered Alabama, we visited the Bellingrath Home and Gardens which were opened to the public in 1934. Mr Bellingrath had the first Coca Cola franchise in the south and became a very wealthy man. After a visit to the doctor, he was told to stop working so hard and to learn to relax, so he bought a little fishing shack. Mrs Bellingrath developed the gardens while he was fishing. After the gardens were done, they then built a lovely house. Please enjoy the following photographs.

The gardens.


Spanish moss in the trees.


The house.


The crockery.


Some of Mrs Bellingrath's porcelain collection.


We spent a couple of hours in this lovely place and also had our lunch there.


Mr and Mrs Bellingrath and their home in Mobile. They were wonderful philanthropists.


Alabama's nickname is "The Heart of Dixie". The camilia is the state flower and they have low taxes. We are now in the deep south where church and family have very strong ties. They still celebrate Robert E Lee Day, Jefferson Davis Day and Confederation Memorial Day. Over the years, this area has been devastated by hurricanes year after year.

The civil rights movement started here with Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. When she died, she was the first and only black person, so far, to lie in state in the capital building. 911 was started here and as you drive through the towns there are signs saying "hurricane evacuation route". The state bird is the yellow hummer and the state rock is marble. Cotton and rubber are grown here and Mercedes Benz SUVs are assembled here.

Some famous people from Alabama are: Nat King Cole, Courtney Cox, Emmy Lou Harris, Helen Keller, Wilson Pickett, Lionel Ritchie, George Wallace, Booker T Washington, Martin Luther King, Jesse Owens, Joe Lewis, Willie Mays, Carl Lewis, Condelezia Rice, Percy Sledge and the Captain and Tenile.

We called into the Battleship Memorial Park for a photo opportunity. USS Alabama was there plus lots of aircraft and memorials to the Vietnam Vets and Korean Vets.


We drove across the border into Florida, the Sunshine State. The state drink is orange juice and just over the border we pulled into an information centre and they were handing out free orange juice and maps of Florida. Florida has lots of water, lakes and ocean. They experience hurricanes every year. Why would you live here? It's hot and humid and attracts hurricanes! The average wage in Pensacola is $35,000. We spent a couple of hours at the beach. I was too lazy to get changed and go for a swim but went and had a paddle in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a bit cool because I was so hot but was okay after you got used to it. We went shopping and I brought a lovely dish shaped like a crab. It is very unique and will be a lovely reminder of Pensacola.


We drove across a bridge that was three miles long to get to the beach. Half way across is the remnants of an old bridge that was destroyed in a hurricane. People now fish off it.


We had a nice dinner at a local fish restaurant with the four girls from Newcastle and Miller and Joan from Melbourne.

Hampton Inn, Pensacola - Room 304

Posted by gaddingabout 20:31 Archived in USA Tagged new orleans to mobile pensacola Comments (0)

New York to Miami - Heading South, New Orleans, 29 Jun 13

New Orleans

storm 30 °C

Hopped on the bus at 8.30 am for our morning excursion to a plantation, Oak Alley Plantation, located on the Mississippi River about an hour and a halfs drive from New Orleans.


We left the hotel in the middle of a massive storm. I thought Cyclone Katrina had returned. I have never seen anything like it. I mean, we have huge storms in Australia, but the amount of rain, the thunder and lightning were unbelievable. The roads were flooded in minutes. The photos from the bus aren't the best, but hopefully you get the idea.


We came in and out of rain for quite a while. As we approached the plantation, there were some very interesting cloud formations. Again, not great shots from the bus.


We arrived at Oak Alley Plantation and were in awe of the beauty of the grounds, the beautiful mansion, but most of all the 300 year old canopy of giant live oak trees.


This is the dining room. The cutlery is set upside down on the table because the family crest is engraved on the back. Also, the pieces were quite large, which is a sign of the wealth of the family.


This is the main bedroom. The mattress was stuffed with horse hair and spagnum moss and after the night's use, it had become quite flat and lumpy. It was then fluffed up which took anything from 2 to 5 hours to do, so once it was completed, no one was allowed to sit on the bed until night time.


I have decided to stay in New Orleans, apply for this job and work in this house!


It was an absolutely stunning property and we were very glad we visited it. Also, it had the best gift shop I have seen in America. Very classy stuff and not too badly priced either.

Where the slaves lived.


A small grave yard in the grounds of the original owners, the Stewart's.


Back into New Orleans and it is still a very sleazy place with loud awful music coming from every door way trying to attract the young to come in and drink. Not much jazz inside, but some groups performing out on the street. It's still hot but not as bad as last night.


Our group then went to lunch at the Court of the Two Sisters, located in the French Quarter. It was an extremely atmospheric buffet restaurant and the food was plentiful with stacks of choice. It was delicious. We sat with Denise and Reece from northern NSW. A group played jazz while we ate. Just lovely.


After lunch we walked slowly back to our hotel and called into a few shops on the way back. They are all so tacky and full of rubbish and junk. It's starting to warm up.


Dinner at Bubba Gumps tonight. The food was good; we both had fish, mine was grilled with shrimp and Phil had normal fish and chips. There is talk that Bubba Gumps might be opening a restaurant in Sydney soon. If they did, I'm sure it would be a great hit.


We were lazy and had a rickshaw ride back to our hotel. Phil has a sore knee and it's pretty warm outside, but nowhere as warm as it was last night! Besides, I don't feel very comfortable walking around these streets at night. Too many crazy people drinking too much. Our 'driver' was Ooti, a first nation American. He was a really nice guy.


Posted by gaddingabout 18:55 Archived in USA Tagged new orleans Comments (0)

New York to Miami - Memphsis to New Orleans, Fri, 28 Jun 13

Memphis to New Orleans

storm 27 °C

Left Memphis at 7.30 am for the long drive to New Orleans, where we have a two night stay.  We are driving through a huge storm and it is very dark, pouring rain and lightning.


About 15 minutes out of Memphis, we crossed the state line into Mississippi.  Mississippi is known as the Magnolia State, so the state flower and state tree are the Magnolia.  There are more fat people in Mississippi than anywhere else in the US.  $36,000 is the median income.  It is the poorest state in the USA.  Mississippi means Great River.Mississippi has the worst schools in the nation.  The national educational average is 45% - Mississippi's average is 3%.  Hot and humid long summer; short mild winter.  Highest temperature 115 degrees and lowest recorded 48 degrees.  Lots of rain because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and lots of hurricanes and tornadoes.  1969 Camille, 2005 Katrina have been the worst. Mississippi produces chicken, cotton and soy beans.  In 1966 it was the last state to repeal prohibition laws.  Lots of famous people come from Mississippi, a majority of them singers  - Tennessee Williams, Elvis Presley, Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette, Bo Diddley, B B King and Oprah.

Had grits for breakfast this morning.  They are like a gritty version of semolina or the baby porridge, farex.  I asked the waitress if they had any oatmeal and she pointed me in the direction of the grits.  So as I was happily eating them, she arrived at the table with a bowl oatmeal!  I had to eat both so as not to hurt her feelings!

There is a huge amount of water on the road; it is almost flooded and the storm is right above us as the thunder is very loud and the lightning is almost coming in the bus window.  Yipes!


After about an hour we had driven out of the storm and we stopped at a Walmart and did some shopping.  Bought a towel for $2 something for the afternoon when go to the beach in Pensacola.  Back on the bus and watched a video about the life of Elvis, from birth to death, and all in between.  What a waste of such a talent, dying at 42, probably from too many prescription drugs.  How very sad it was at the end of his career. One thing I learnt yesterday.  I always thought that Elvis didn't come to Australia because he didn't like flying.  Wrong!  Turns out that his manager, Colonel Tom Parker was a Hungarian and hadn't entered the USA in the correct way, and if ever he left, he probably would have been denied entry back into the country.

We stopped at Brookhaven for lunch.  There were lots of choices so we chose Subway.  We are having extreme trouble understanding the locals.  They speak so fast and with a southern drawl.  And we thought we spoke quickly!

At about 2.00 pm we crossed into Louisiana.  Lots of swamps, lakes and bayous.  Swamps don't move and bayous are a slowly moving stream.  It is a sportsmen's paradise.  Lots of alligators, frogs and fish.  Largest city in Louisiana is New Orleans.  5% of the population speak French; 91% speak English and the rest speak Spanish.  One quarter of the city is eight to ten feet below sea level.  In 1965, hurricane Betsy devastated the city, as did Katrina in 2005, when 2000 people died. This is where a lot of them sheltered from the hurricane for several days before they were evacuated.  The conditions were atrocious in the heat and humidity.  It was the worst natural disaster in American history.


The population is mainly catholic.  New Orleans is known as the Queen of the Mississippi.  The Missouri River is 190 miles longer than the Mississippi. We passed Pontchartrain Lake on the outskirts of New Orleans.  It is absolutely huge.

Arrived at our hotel which is very nice.  We didn't have a bath in our room so we changed rooms and now have a bath and a corner room which is huge.  We have two walls of windows and a lounge suite and a desk and heaps and heaps of space.

Dinner this evening was on board the Natchez which is a paddle steamer.  We paddled up and down the mighty Mississip with a jazz band entertaining us.  It was a very pleasant way to spend an evening but god it was hot.  It is so humid.


Most of us walked back to our hotel with our guide who took us the length of Bourbon Street and we survived!  I thought it would be quite well lit with jazz sounds floating out of the doorways.  Not so.  It is quite dark and seedy with loud horrible music playing in the clubs for young kids.  We came across only one jazz group who were playing in the jazz legends park.  Lots and lots of young people wandering the streets, half stoned.  Sounding old, aren't I?  Anyway it was good to experience it but so nice to be back in our air conditioned hotel.  Have I mentioned that it's hot here??!!


What a three days we have had.  Nashville, country and western; Memphis, rock and roll; and New Orleans, jazz.

Hampton Inn, New Orleans, Room 812

Posted by gaddingabout 13:37 Archived in USA Tagged new orleans to memphsis Comments (0)

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