Route Map


Day 51: The District By Dark

Start: Asheville, NC
End: Washington, DC

Miles Driven: 488.1 (10663.6 total)

The drive from North Carolina, through Virginia, to Washington, DC took us surprisingly little time. We made it downtown before dark--which was particularly helpful since there was a blackout at Katrina's cousin Gabby's place (where we were staying).

Though the museums were closed for the day, we took the Metro down to the National Mall for sunset. We finally felt ready for Mexican food again so we ventured down the cold sidewalks of U Street to Alero's. (Not sure if you noticed, but we had ALOT of Mexican food while in the South.) Keeping our fingers crossed for power, we arrived back at Gabby and Chris's to find a still-dark apartment. Just as we were settling in for a night of cards-by-headlamp, the lights flickered back on and the electricity returned!


Day 50: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Start: Columbia, SC
End: Asheville, NC

Miles Driven: 188.3 (10175.5 total)

The day began with a milestone; we surpassed the 10,000 mile mark just north of Columbia. Other than that the ride was uneventful as we climbed from the foothills of upstate South Carolina to the mountains of western North Carolina.

Today's destination was Asheville, where Patrick grew up. The first stop was Roberson High School and we arrived just as school was letting out. The building was just the same as Patrick had left it six years ago, complete with dirty bathrooms and mean librarians. As we prepared to leave, we realized that neither of us had our car key; we had to make our first call to AAA of the road trip. Luckily, they dispatched "Key Man" and he had us out of our jam in no time at all.
The next stop on memory lane was Patrick's old house on Muirfield Drive. We then drove to downtown Asheville to take in the sights: art galleries, book stores and restaurants. Dinner was at Barley's with local beer and half pepperoni-half tofu pizza.

A drive through the dark backroads of Asheville delivered us to the Grove Park Inn, where famous guests over the years have included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Ford, Harry Houdini, and six US Presidents. Sitting by the huge fireplace of the inn and taking in the century of history around us capped off our evening.


Day 49: The Soggy South

Start: Charleston, SC
End: Columbia, SC
Miles Driven: 165.1 (9987.2 total)

An ice storm in North Carolina prevented us from driving to our next destination today, so we were stranded in South Carolina for a cold and rainy day.
Luckily, we found some good indoor activities for the day which started at the Karpeles Museum just as it was opening. David Karpeles holds the world's largest private collection of manuscripts, and today on display was a special exhibit of maps of the United States from as early as 1507. We also visited Gaillard Auditorium to see a powerful collection of photographs taken by children reflecting the dilapidated conditions of schools in the state's poorest school districts.

Our next stop was the home of former Governor and Declaration of Independence signer John Rutledge. While most of the historic houses in Charleston charge entrance fees to tour the building, the mansion is now an inn so we were free to tour the lobby and ballroom to see beautiful chandeliers, antique furniture, and intricate woodwork from the floor to ceiling.

Having run out of free, indoor activities in Charleston, we drove to Columbia to see the State House. As we entered the lobby we saw a group of people gathering, waiting for what we assumed was the 3:00 tour. Turns out we actually happened upon a presentation of surveying licenses, and the other people with cameras were not fellow sightseers, but rather proud family and friends. We snuck away and took a self-guided tour instead, seeing the House and Senate Chambers, the points of the State House facade struck by General Sherman's cannon fire during the Civil War, and statues of George Washington, John C. Calhoun, and South Carolina's favorite son, Strom Thurmond.

Today was also the day we saw our first New Hampshire license plate outside of New England. We really are getting closer to home.


Day 48: Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places

Start: Melbourne, FL
End: Charleston, SC
Miles Driven: 408.5 (9822.1 total)

We left 80-degree Melbourne this morning heading north, passing through Georgia, and arrived in Charleston six hours later. A 48-degree chilly afternoon awaited us, causing us to recoil as we stepped outside the car. Looks like we have seen the last of flip-flop weather on this trip. That's not the only thing that is different about South Carolina. Gas is a steal at $1.99/gallon, and we also noticed this strange-looking red flag waving with blue bars and white stars on it.

We took a walking tour of The Battery and saw many beautiful historic houses, including the mansion of Vice President John C. Calhoun. Many of the houses are still privately owned and inhabited today...which made it awkward when Katrina took pictures as local Charlestonians pulled up to their homes at the end of the day.

For dinner we ate at Jestine's Kitchen, a local institution that serves up classic low country cuisine. We dined on fried green tomatoes, shrimp creole and okra gumbo followed up with pineapple bread pudding for dessert.


Day 47: Gator Bait

Start: Flamingo, FL
End: Melbourne, FL
Miles Driven: 284.6 (9413.6 total)

The sky was clear and sunny as we awoke in Flamingo this morning. We packed up our tent and made our way back to civilization, but not without stopping at Royal Palm to hike on the park's most scenic trail. There were countless species of birds (the Everglades boasts more than 300 species in all) and alligators at every turn. One was not happy when Patrick got too close: he winked and made an aggressive gesture with his head. Patrick got the hint and maintained a safe 15 feet from all alligators from that point forward.

With no accidents or rush hours to impede us, we made it back to Melbourne smoothly. Patrick's grandmother made her famous lasagna, and we enjoyed a leisurely evening of feasting and looking at baby pictures of Patrick.


Day 46: Swamp Excursion

Start: S. Miami Beach, FL
End: Flamingo, FL
Miles Driven: 108.2 (9129.0 total)

Before leaving Miami we took a goodbye walk on South Beach and strolled the Art Deco District.

The weather was overcast, warm and muggy: the perfect setting for a day in the swamplands. We made the short drive from Miami to Everglades National Park. Once there, we hiked through the Mahogany Hammock, a natural canopy island in the middle of the swamp, and watched alligators lurk at Paurotis and Nine Mile Ponds.

Our final destination for the day was Flamingo, Florida at the very southern tip of Florida in the Everglades. We set up our tent in the middle of three palm trees and watched yet another dramatic sunset, which was only topped by the crystal clear starry night.


Day 45: Happy Three Kings Day

Start: S. Miami Beach, FL
End: S. Miami Beach, FL

Miles Driven: 34.0 (9020.8 total)

Today it was back to Coconut Grove for the 17th Annual Great Taste of the Grove. The event showcased menus from 20 local restaurants as well as live jazz bands. After taking in our fill of food, we headed downtown to the Miami-Dade Cultural Center to check out the Miami Art Museum (which is free on Sundays).

We continued our afternoon of culture by heading over to Little Havana. Unfortunately, we had just missed the Three Kings Day Parade down Calle Ocho, the main street through Little Havana. Three Kings Day celebrates the three wise men visiting the baby Jesus after his birth. We actually thought they were celebrating Cuban Independence Day until we came back and researched what the celebration was. Though we missed the parade, the neighborhood was still lively and cut-throat domino players were the new attraction at Maximo Gomez Park.

At 4:30 the Patriots-Chargers game began so we settled in at an outside table at a Lincoln Rd pub to watch the game. Surrounded by other Patriots fans, we enjoyed a rowdy viewing of the victory.