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Published: January 18th 2021
We enjoyed our first big road trip so much we were anxious to do another. We've wanted to see fall color again and we've always wanted to see Savannah, Charleston, and Asheville so that's the trip we planned.
Once again we planned the trip eight nights and nine days and cover about 2,800 miles. And once again I rented a car because it made sense to save the wear and tear on our own car which would depreciate it more than the cost of the rental. We departed October 21.
Our first stop was New Orleans. A silver lining to the pandemic is that it has made hotel prices more affordable so we stayed right in the middle of the French Quarter at Place d'Armes which I would describe as a boutique hotel. It has quaint, old French Quarter charm and just one block from Jackson Square. We were astonished to find the streets around Jackson Square empty! There were very few of us walking around. There were no artists displaying their wares. There were no performers. Despite all that we enjoyed the quiet and the calm. It was a unique experience for the Quarter. We experienced the same
thing at Cafe' du Monde. There was no wait, no crowds, plenty of empty tables. Were we in the Twilight Zone? We enjoyed at meal at the Corner Oyster House that evening before heading back to the hotel.
Our next stop was Panama City, Florida. I booked us at the Casa Loma Inn. Normally, I wouldn't stay at a two star hotel or motel or one that has only a 3.6 out of 5 star rating from guests. But, it was right on the beach with a great balcony and the price was right. While we were disappointed that a motorcycle rally was in town that weekend which created a lot of noise from the street, on the beach side of the hotel and from our balcony we could not hear any of that and enjoyed a few walks on that amazing beach!
Next was Savannah, Georgia. All along the drive through Louisiana and Mississippi we saw the devastation left behind by multiple hurricanes during one of the busiest hurricane seasons in history. Particularly, Lake Charles, Louisiana which took a direct hit from two hurricanes just weeks apart. It seemed almost all buildings had blue tarps on their
roofs. When we got to Savannah we stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn in the Historic District.
This is one of the best walking cities we've been to. The historic homes and beautiful gardens seem to go on forever. They line the streets all around Forsyth Park which is a must see along with the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Every few blocks is a beautiful little park loaded with Spanish moss laden trees and surrounding either a central fountain or statue. We had a nice meal at the Crystal Beer Parlor and also a small little Greek place near the hotel. The waterfront area which has a lot of restaurants was crowded so we chose instead to drive out to Tybee Island. This is a nice little beach community with a lighthouse and a big beautiful beach.
Then it was on to Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is also a very walkable city. It being Saturday the streets were crowded so we decided to put off our walk around the historic district until Sunday morning. That was a good choice. The streets were relatively empty and we found some free parking right in the heart of
the area. The waterfront along East Battery and then around the bend onto Murray Boulevard is a pleasant walk. We then walked through White Point Garden and into the neighborhood down Meeting Street. The homes date back as far as the early 1700's. They are beautiful and have that old colonial look and feel. We also walked through the Historic Charleston City Market which is worth your time. Charleston is also noted for its many plantation homes, but this did not interest us so we didn't stop at any of them.
Just north of Charleston we have some transplanted friends living there so we made sure we set aside some time to visit them before heading to the Hyatt Place hotel by the airport.
The next morning we hit the road and headed to Asheville, North Carolina. The reason for traveling the last week of October was to see fall color in North Carolina. It did not disappoint. Country Inn & Suites had a great rate so we stayed there and it turned out to be a great location. We spent two nights and it wasn't enough. We took a Gray Line tour which we highly recommend. We
went to the Farmer's Market which we also highly recommend.
The River Arts District was a bit of a disappointment. I would say that the pandemic caused some of the galleries and shops to close and so there didn't seem to be many to visit. Downtown is very nice. They still have a Woolworth's store but it is not at all what you would expect. There is the old-fashioned lunch counter where we devoured a fried bologna sandwich and chocolate malt. But, the store itself is actually a gallery for local artists. And a very nice one at that! The Grove Arcade is a small shopping mall that is worthwhile, but, once again some of the shops were closed, we assume, due to the pandemic. Once again, we had these places almost all to ourselves! There were no crowds in Asheville.
Everyone recommends the Biltmore, but, we just did not have enough time. Be aware that the price is in the one hundred dollar range per person for the Biltmore. Another big attraction, particularly during peak fall color season is the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a spectacular drive and there is a Visitor Center that is worth
your time. The Parkway is actually a national park that was built during the Depression as part of the New Deal. Some of the construction was performed by the WPA.
On to Atlanta! Country Inn & Suites had the best deal again by far, but it was on the far side of the city by the airport so we did some sightseeing being going to the hotel. There is a lot to see in Atlanta. Sadly, most of it was closed due to the pandemic. We will have to go back there. We wanted to see the Carter Center and Presidential Museum, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park and Visitor Center, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the King Center, and Centennial Olympic Park. So, we just did drive-by's and took pictures and in some cases walked around the grounds.
Our next stop was supposed to be Biloxi, Mississippi, however, hurricane Zeta made us change our plans. And we are glad we did. Biloxi took a direct hit from the hurricane the night that we would have been there. Instead we headed west to Jackson, Mississippi where we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. We
didn't know of any sights to see in Jackson so I decided to take a little detour the next day and go to Natchitoches, Louisiana. It did not take us much out of our way and it was well worth it. It is a cute little town on the Cane River. The historic downtown area is loaded with quaint shops and restaurants. The waterfront is always lavishly decorated with flowers and makes for a relaxing walk. They are know for their Christmas parade on the River. The waterfront was decorated for Halloween this time. It is also known as the place where the film "Steel Magnolia's" was filmed. That house is still there and serves as a bed and breakfast.
The last leg of our trip took us across the Sabine River, which looks more like a like, and into Lufkin, Texas. From there we drove down highway 59 back to Houston. Like Pandemic Road Trip #1, we thoroughly enjoyed this trip in spite of some attractions being closed and highly recommend it to y'all.
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