Transcontinental Travel Tips ( Part 2 )

Posted on February 28, 2015 under Storytelling with one comment

Dad Roberts western world

Downtown Nashville

( Peter MacDonald photo )



Tip # 3: Carry lots of water and stay hydrated

Spending long days in a car and nights in motel with questionable air quality, you end up being dry much of the time.  Always carry a few jugs of water and sip on it all day long.  Take your own water bottle and refill it from the big one.  Good for the environment and cheaper than buying plastic bottles.

Did you know that the state of Virginia has produced more presidents (8) than any other state?  It is also known as a major tobacco producer, has a large military presence and is home to the CIA.

Tip # 4: Use coupon books to find affordable accommodations

Ok.  I’m not much of a shopper but I look for bargains like anyone else.  If you are looking for hotels and are on a modest budget, coupons are the way to go.  Once you are reasonably sure in which state you will lay your head on any given night, stop at the Visitor’s Centre when you cross the border and pick up a coupon book.  You can get discounts in just about any town or city.  Hotel coupons are for walk in traffic for one night only and usually give the best rate, even better than senior’s rate, CAA etc.   If you suspect that they might run out of coupon rooms, call ahead.  You can’t reserve but you can get an idea on occupancy on that night.

Nashville.  We all have an impression when we hear the name of this famous city in Tennessee.  After three days of travel, Pete managed to find the lens for his camera that he had been looking for at one of the oldest camera shops in the U.S. – Dury’s.  Some of the guys behind the counter looked like they had been working there since the store opened decades ago.  Not many earrings and tattoos.  They gave us some great tips of where to eat and which bars had the best music.

Ok.  Here’s a separate tip.  If you want to hear the best C@W music and you happen to be in Nashville on a Monday night, go to Robert’s Bar and Grill.  John England and The Western Swingers have been playing there for 14 years.  They are all session musicians and have played with Country’s royalty.  I think this was the musical highlight of the trip for both of us.

Tip # 5: Always have your cell phone fully charged

We were extremely fortunate.  My good friend, Bill, loaned us his GPS and a bunch of other electronic gadgetry which enable us to charge our phones while driving.  Having a phone is essential because eventually you will need it when emergencies arise.  (Stay tuned for our adventure in Texas).

We spent most of the next day in Nashville and contributed to their GDP by buying passes to tour the Ryman Auditorium, where all the legends of Country have performed.  We also passed a pleasant hour at Gruhn Guitars, where you could buy a vintage guitar for as much as $350,000 US.  We hemmed and hawed but took a pass.  Our last stop on the way out of town was the Bluebird Café where many an aspiring musician got their start.  It’s a very unassuming place in a strip mall far from the downtown.  It was closed when we got there so we added it to the schedule for our return visit to Nashville.

Tip # 6: Reject any notion of healthy eating

You can pack on the pounds while vacationing but, if you’re disciplined, you have a fighting chance of maintaining your weight.  IF you’re disciplined.  We abandoned this notion completely.  You start off the trip snacking on raw veggies and apples and four days later you have the first order of large fries from McDonald’s packed nicely under your belt.  And it’s all downhill from there.  It’s not impossible to eat properly on a road trip but the Americans don’t make it easy with their great food, excellent service and huge portion sizes.

The next stop on the trip was supposed to be Memphis but, lo and behold, we had seen Elvis alive and well in downtown Nashville the night before.   So we decided to take a pass on Graceland.  Old swivel hips was looking good and he was happy to pose with us … for a fee.

We decided that New Orleans might be a cool place to spend New Year’s Eve.

We headed due south and passed through Alabama.  When we approached Birmingham, I went to Google to bring up the history of the civil rights movement.  Back in 1963, when racial unrest was at its zenith, the city of Birmingham witnessed some of the worst violence perpetrated on African Americans (many of them children), when they tried to demonstrate peacefully.  Martin Luther King was jailed and was only released due to the interventions of then President John F. Kennedy.

We ate supper in a small café in Tuscaloosa, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team.  We pulled in to Meridian, Mississippi late at night. (The Comfort Inn in Meridian was our best hotel experience during the entire trip).

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