Monday, July 30, 2012

Backroads and Blue Highways

July 16: The Deep South tour rolls on, leaving Pennsylvania behind and heading down the Delmarva peninsular, passing close to Wilmington, DE, an Amtrak stop at New Year. We are making for Georgetown, DE, an overnighter away from the coast, which saves dollars. We lodge at the Comfort Inn & Suites, 20530 DuPont Blvd, $105.95 incl tax. We find some bagels for supper in a strip mall at J&J Bagels, 28 Georgetown Plaza, Georgetown, DE.
In the morning we head for Lewes, DE, twinned with Lewes, East Sussex, England. It is a wonder anybody visits as there are no signs off the highway and, like its counterpart in England, the place is plagued with parking meters. Founded in 1631 by Dutchmen, and shortly after named Lewes, the town is a relative newcomer, but claims to be the first town in the first state of the US.
Friendly folk greeted us at the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society, who both do a fine job of promoting the town, once you find it and a place to park. We find some postcards at the latter, hard to come by in Lewes. I guess folk are sending less cards.
Next we hug the coast, driving through endless beach resorts crowded with holiday makers. It's hard to imagine a sharper contrast to the Amish farmland we left yesterday. We turn inland and off the highway to Pocomoke City, MD, which turns out to be a rewarding lunch spot by the Pocomoke River. The newly-opened Riverside Grill, 2 Riverside Drive, sells hamburger lunches at popular prices. I was amused by the nearby MAR-VA cinema.

We take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, an engineering marvel and an attraction all by itself. Opened in 1965, the toll costs $12 to cross the 20 mile stretch of bridges, man-made islands and two 1-mile tunnels. We detour via Elizabeth City where we fill up with diesel at $3.58 per gallon, rightly fearing worse on the Outer Banks. We learn that diesel will be cheaper in South Carolina where there is less tax. An overnight stop at The Travelodge, Kill Devil Hills, is a bit spendy at $160.88 incl tax. We meet up with Tracy next morning, a friend for over forty years, and go out for brunch. She has lived in KDH for many years and has many tales to tell about the local scene.
We leave the Outer Banks, spotting our first Piggly Wiggly at Plymouth, NC. We take diesel at Pinetops, NC, where I spot this Winnebago for sale. A snip at $2,000!

Avoiding the interstate we pass fields of tobacco, cotton, peanuts and other crops. A heavy driving day in the over 90 F heat we cover 260 miles before checking in to the Comfort Inn, 1957 Cedar Creek Road, Fayetteville, still in NC. This is the cheapest yet at $67.66 incl tax.

Next morning we stop to photograph a Renault Dauphine, atop a defunct gas station on Hwy 301. There was a time when Renault gave VW a run for their money in the US, but those days are long gone.
"South of the Border" billboards proliferate beside the highway as you drive towards South Carolina. A phoney Mexican attraction, right in the middle of nowhere, it has got more kitsch than Route 66. At Darlington Raceway we visit the small NASCAR musuem which has an impressive collection of stock car racing exhibits. This is stock car country as she used to be, a world away from the slick-suited businessmen of Daytona. The Darlington track, "Too tough to tame," is a holdout from the days of Rockingham and North Wilkesboro. We reach Augusta, GA, and crash out with takeout.
The highlight of the tour goes pear-shaped at Madison, GA, - see Punchbuggy Passim.
Skirting Atlanta we stop at Kennesaw, GA, to visit the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, which features the story of the "General" locomotive. During the Civil War, "Andrews' Raiders" stole the General and a chase ensued north through the mountains toward Chattanooga. A different perspective is given here than that at the museum in Strasburg, PA, on the "Great Locomotive Chase." Another exhibit contains the only fully restored belt-driven locomotive assembly line in the US, which was rescued when the Glover Machine Works in Marietta, GA, was demolished.
We ride on to Dalton, GA, for a stop at the Holiday Inn Express, with supper next door at the Holiday Inn.
Pics by RLT.

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