Saturday, August 04, 2012

To and from Dixieland

Overnight at Franklin, TN, and next morning to Dotson's, 99 East Main St, for breakfast. The grits are a bit watery, but they are forgiven for offering sliced beefsteak tomato as a side dish. Veggies are hard to find on the road. The cafe walls are covered with pictures of country musicians, notably the Judds and Kathy Mattea. We head for the Lane Motor Museum, 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville - $7 a head. This place warrants a second visit - a haven for European cars in an unlikely spot.

We head north into Kentucky for our second visit this year, passing the railway museum at New Haven, a stop in the spring, on the road to Bardstown. We check out Frankfort, but the town is confusing with roadworks and diversions, so we carry on to Lexington, a home to horse-racing, pausing at Versailles for diesel. We stop at the Holiday Inn Express and dine at the DQ (Dairy Queen).
Next morning eastbound in the rain we stop at Olive Hill, KY, for the post office, where Railway Street is much boarded up. This is not postcard country. We reach Huntington, WV, named for Collis Potter Huntington of the C&O, close to the Ohio river. The railroad station has been unsympathetically restored and the ALCO #10 engine is left out in the weather, a rotting national monument. Still worth a visit.
We take a salad lunch at the River & Rail Bakery, snapping up the last two Snickerdoodle cookies. We press on for Charleston in a monsoon, resolving to spend the rest of the day indoors at the WV archives, looking for distant relatives of Mad Jack Fuller. Next morning we search for the Fuller and Kries family graves in the Mount Olivet cemetery, on top of a hill.
We head northeast stopping for diesel at Clendenin, WV, where the customers are straight from Central Casting. We are in oil and gas country. A stop at Walmart for supplies was followed by a roadside picnic. We crossed the Mason-Dixon line to Morrisville, PA, overnighting at Waynesburg, PA, close to the Marcellus shale gas field. Motel rooms are hard to find.
We drive into Pittsburgh, PA, following the GPS to Bicycle Heaven, in an industrial estate, mostly featuring Schwinn krate bikes. The NOS parts are priced for restorers only. We take the backroads to Jamestown, NY, in time to visit the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center late afternoon. The prerecorded shows were filmed by Desilu in front of a live audience; taping them enabled the bonanza of reruns that has kept Lucy front and centre down the decades.
On our tour we have driven over hundreds of miles of freshly-layed tarmacadam - if resurfacing roads leads to economic salvation then surely America is on the way back. But I am not so sure.
Just when you have despaired of North American road engineers, with their endless stop signs and stoplights, you reach Hamburg, NY, which features roundabouts and bike lanes, looking the epitome of modernity. You could be in Holland. Even dear old Buffalo, NY, has streetcars. Across the Peace Bridge and we have Toronto in our sights.
Pics by RLT.

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