Author Topic: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021  (Read 1762 times)

Offline PBaruch

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2013
  • Posts: 2179
  • Total likes: 183
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
  • Location: HutzNPlutz
In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« on: October 18, 2021, 11:03:25 PM »
As one popular author writes, "[I]f discontent is your disease, travel is medicine.  It resensitizes.  It opens you up to see outside the patterns you follow."  I suppose this is the disease we suffer from - the discontent of our ordinary lives and the yearning for something new.  Despite the many challenges of travel this year, we still yearned for something new.  While planning this summer's adventure, it was easy to rule out what we wouldn't do.  The airlines were a mess and car rentals were either nonexistent or prohibitively expensive.  Instead, we would head out in our aging minivan for what would turn out to be a greater than five-thousand-mile road trip through the American Midwest and South.   We would be on the road for a month, during which time we would conquer new states, new national parks, and make history come alive for the kids. 

And so, our journey began.  Like the old saying goes, every life changing adventure begins with an epic journey, and when you experience what the world has to offer, it's hard to stay in one place.  Our route would take us from our home state of New York through New Jersey, Pennsylvania,  Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Delaware, and then back through New Jersey to our home in New York.  To minimize the expense of such a trip, all hotels were paid for with points or certificates.  Gas was mostly subsidized through gas points.  The major expense of our trip was food and fees for attractions and activities.  Also, the van required quite a bit of work to get it road ready for such a trip, but it needed to be done anyway.

Chapter 1 - Planning and Preparation

DW had been "planning" a cross-country RV road trip for about six years.  At some point, a giant map went up on the dining room wall, and over the years little stickers were placed at locations to visit.  Although we weren't actively looking for an RV for this trip, Covid happened and everyone was road tripping.  Campgrounds were full and all of a sudden everyone seemed to be RVing.  So our plans changed.  I wasn't really onboard with a hotel-to-hotel road trip, but DW is persistent.  Once I gave the go-ahead (well not really), she was able to relatively quickly put together an itinerary within our constraints.  One thing I insisted on was not moving to a new hotel each night.  We spent a minimum of two nights at each hotel, and arrived at Shabbos locations no later than Thursday.  This meant that some driving days were quite long.

Chapter 2 - A Very Meh Cleveland

Our first stop, and the longest driving day of our trip, was Cleveland.  I usually do most of the driving on vacation, but since this trip was DW's idea, she did about 50% of the intercity driving, starting with four and a half hours on the way to Cleveland.  The purpose of having Cleveland as our first stop was because DW wanted to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  The drive was long and boring, and we wanted to get through it as quickly as possible.  Many thanks to @MosheD for your help in patiently answering my questions about restaurants/shopping in Cleveland.

We decided to stay at a Home2 Suites in Beachwood, as we were only looking for hotels with full kitchens.  Information about this hotel can be found here:

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/clehtht-home2-suites-cleveland-beachwood/?SEO_id=GMB-HT-CLEHTHT&y_source=1_MzQ4NzAxMC03MTUtbG9jYXRpb24uZ29vZ2xlX3dlYnNpdGVfb3ZlcnJpZGU%3D

The hotel was adequate but not as clean as we would have liked.  This became a recurring theme in our travels as all of the hotels were short staffed with some being worse than others.  One nice perk at this hotel was that the washing machines and dryers were free to use, which came in handy because we left the day after Tisha B'Av and had quite a bit of unwashed laundry.

We found Cleveland, generally, to be quite meh.  The restaurants were meh and Unger's Supermarket was meh (the Grove opened while we were there but we didn't have a chance to stop by).  Now I understand why Dan is such a foodie - it's slim pickings in Cleveland.   

No Dan sightings but we did see some deer:

Cleveland, Ohio by P Bryan, on Flickr

On our first day in Cleveland, we visited the David Berger National Memorial (https://www.nps.gov/places/david-berger-national-memorial.htm).  David Berger, originally from the Cleveland area, was one of the 11 Israeli athletes massacred at the 1972 Munich summer Olympics.

David Berger National Memorial, Cleveland, Ohio by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we visited Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park, where little one and I went swimming in Lake Erie.  Information about this park can be found here:

https://ohio.org/wps/portal/gov/tourism/things-to-do/destinations/fairport-harbor-lakefront-park

The park wasn't very crowded when we went and little one had lots of fun swimming and playing in the sand:

Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park, Ohio by P Bryan, on Flickr

Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park, Ohio by P Bryan, on Flickr

Once we were done swimming, DW noticed two fat smokestacks billowing white steam in the distance - it appears that we went swimming in the shadow of a nuclear power plant.  Now that I think about it, perhaps that was the reason the beach wasn't very crowded.  After all, glowing in the dark is very overrated. 

The following day we visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Consistent with the rest of the sites in Cleveland, it was quite meh. It seemed as though someone decided to turn Cuyahoga into a national park not because it was deserving of the status, but because they thought it would attract visitors.  Cuyahoga is fine for a state park, but definitely not deserving of national park status.

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9605) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We hiked the Stanford Trail to Brandywine Falls:

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9641) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9644) by P Bryan, on Flickr

One of little one's favorite activities - throwing rocks into the river:

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9648) by P Bryan, on Flickr

One of the many wildflowers on the trails:

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9655) by P Bryan, on Flickr

At the unspectacular falls:

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we hiked the Ledges Trail, which we all enjoyed:

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9659) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9668) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Try squeezing through here:

Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio (DSC_9689) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cuyahoga Valley (DSC_9697) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 3 - Chicago, Illinois - Oh The Traffic - Get Me Out Of Here!

Having never been to Chicago, and with DW wanting to visit Indiana Dunes National Park, this was to be the next stop on our trip.  For me, however, Chicago was just about the last place I ever wanted to visit on a trip or vacation.  It definitely wasn't the highlight of the trip, but, at the end of the day, wasn't as bad as I was expecting.  Many thanks to @SammyN and @yakrot for patiently answering my questions about restaurants and kosher food. 

We decided to stay at the Marriott Residence Inn Downtown Chicago, as it would be convenient to explore the city sights.  The only downside to this hotel is the $51.00 a day parking fee at a parking garage around the corner.  In addition, this hotel didn't have a pool.  It was also quite a distance from the restaurants and stores in Skokie.  Information about this Residence Inn can be found here:

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/chirl-residence-inn-chicago-downtown-loop/

The room was nice but some of the staff we interacted with were nasty.  The bathroom did not have any bath soaps or shampoo/conditioner.  When we asked for some, the individual I spoke with gave us a few pittances and balked when we asked for more - saying, why do you need more? My response was we have 5 people in the room and why are you being so cheap?  He relented and gave us more soap and shampoo/conditioner but it set the tone for the remainder of our stay.  Rather than interact with the lousy staff and preferring a normal full-size bar of soap anyway, I purchased some soap from a nearby Target.  Another issue we had during our stay was that the refrigerator wasn't working (but the freezer was), so they ended up giving us a mini beverage refrigerator for the duration of our stay.  Overall, I wouldn't recommend this hotel.

After checking in to the hotel, we met up with the Count for a dinner at Milt's.  Shout out to @CountValentine and family for a fabulous night out.

Milt's BBQ - Chicago by P Bryan, on Flickr

Just about everything on the menu looked like a heart attack special but the Count suggested I try the famous brisket sandwich, which I was told is one of Dan's faves:

Famous Brisket Sandwich at Milt's by P Bryan, on Flickr

We also ordered some sides:

Nachos at Milt's, Chicago by P Bryan, on Flickr

Smoked Brisket Empanadas, Milt's, Chicago by P Bryan, on Flickr

The older kids shared a steak and nachos while little one noshed on sliders, chicken fingers and fries.  For dessert, we shares chocolate mousse, pareve ice cream and brownies.

The following day, a Friday, was spent doing the touristy stuff such as visiting the Bean and walking along the Riverwalk, before heading back to the hotel to prepare for Shabbos.  I felt like all those dumb tourists I typically see walking around Manhattan. 

The Bean, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Bean, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

Making my usual fried potato kugel on a hotplate before Shabbos:

PXL_20210723_231014539.MP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Most of our meals were cooked using the hot plate and crock pot we brought with us.  On Sunday morning, we made french toast on the hot plate for breakfast:

IMG_20210725_094753 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After breakfast, we had a little excitement - little one lost his first baby tooth.  For some reason, we've had quite a few milestones on the road.  The rest of the day, however, was quite dreary.  We visited the nearby Indiana Dunes National Park.  Once again, I'm not really sure what they were thinking, but this really shouldn't have been classified as a national park. 

We initially stopped by to visit one of the beaches.  The place looked like Coney Island during its heyday, where not a patch of sand wasn't taken.    It should really be called Indiana Don't Step On The Dunes National Park Except If You Are Smoking Weed, because the dunes were restricted and the lifeguards repeatedly yelled at people to get off of them, except for the guy smoking weed who wasn't bothered.

After the epic beach fail, we visited the Chellberg Farm, at Indiana Dunes National Park, which had a number of farm animals:

Indiana Dunes National Park (DSC_9699) by P Bryan, on Flickr

As soon as little one saw the chickens, he bolted right over to them:

Indiana Dunes National Park (DSC_9701) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Indiana Dunes National Park (DSC_9707) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding grass to the chickens - yes, they ate it:

Indiana Dunes National Park (DSC_9720) by P Bryan, on Flickr

They also had a small herd of cattle at the farm:

Indiana Dunes National Park (DSC_9712) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wildflower on the trail back:

Indiana Dunes National Park (DSC_9727) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following day, I had work to take care of, so DW and the kids walked to the International Museum of Surgical Science, information about which can be found here:

https://imss.org/

International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

Iron lung:

International Museum of Surgical Science, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

On our final day in Chicago, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, information about which can be found here:

https://www.msichicago.org/

We saw the Silver Streak, which used to run between Denver and Chicago in the 1930's:

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (DSC_9730) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Silver Streak, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (DSC_9732) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The 999 Steam Locomotive from the late 1800's:

999 Steam Locomotive, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (DSC_9737) by P Bryan, on Flickr

999 Steam Locomotive, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (DSC_9736) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Captured Nazi U-505 Submarine:

U-505, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (DSC_9743) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Playing with the U-505 Simulation Game:

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois by P Bryan, on Flickr

WWII Airplane:

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (DSC_9750) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After our visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, our time in Chicago happily came to an end.  However, as much as I disliked Chicago, our next stop would be even worse.

Chapter 4 - St. Louis, Missouri - The Great Hairy Armpit Of America

For whatever her reason, DW wanted to visit the dumbest national park ever - Gateway Arch National Park, so the next stop on our trip would be St. Louis, Missouri.  We decided to stay at the Homewood Suites in St. Louis/Chesterfield.  Information about this hotel can be found here:

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/stlcdhw-homewood-suites-st-louis-chesterfield/

We do not recommend this hotel.  This was our first time staying at a Homewood Suites, and we wouldn't make that mistake again.  This particular hotel didn't even have microwaves in the guest rooms, just a measly toaster oven.  On check-out day just after 8am, housekeeping knocked and immediately entered the room (DW had gone to get coffee from the lobby, so the security latch wasn't closed).  Luckily for the housekeeper, I was partially clothed. 

Aside from the dumbest national park ever, there really isn't much else to do in St. Louis, so we visited the St. Louis Union Station, where little one rode a carousel.  We also went to a mirror maze, rode a Ferris wheel, and the kids went on through a ropes course.  Since it was scorching hot outside, it was a nice respite to do some indoor activities.   Information about St. Louis Union Station can be found here:

https://www.stlouisunionstation.com/

Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

The St. Louis Wheel:

St. Louis Wheel, Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

St. Louis Wheel, Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

The magnificent view of the most glorious city of St. Louis from the top of the wheel:

St. Louis Wheel, Union Station, St. Louis MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Feeding the fish at the outdoor pond:

Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Enjoying the carousel:

Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Mirror Maze:

Mirror Maze, Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mirror Maze, Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Little one having a great time at the ropes course:

Ropes Course, Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ropes Course, Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ropes Course, Union Station, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ropes Course, Union Station, St. Louis, MO (DSC_9829) by P Bryan, on Flickr

And for the grand finale, we visited the dumbest national park in America - Gateway Arch.  I guess the saying really is true - if you build it, they will come.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO (DSC_9835) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Magnificent parking lot by the Gateway Arch:

Parking at the Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 5 - Kansas City, Missouri - It Ain't St. Louis, So It's An Improvement
 
With DW wanting to visit Independence, our next stop was Kansas City.  We stayed at the Element North Kansas City, which turned out to be one of the nicer hotels of the trip.  Information about this hotel can be found here:

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcien-element-north-kansas-city/

Our room:

Element North Kansas City, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Element North Kansas City, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Element North Kansas City, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Take a guess at how many trips to unload it took using this airport style luggage cart:

Element North Kansas City, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

One thing that Kansas City got right, was the abundant kosher food at the Hen House Supermarket located at 11721 Roe Ave; Leawood, KS 66211.  Information about Hen House can be found here: https://www.henhouse.com/

Pictures at Hen House Supermarket:

Hen House Supermarket, Leawood, Kansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hen House Supermarket, Leawood, Kansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hen House Supermarket, Leawood, Kansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the following day, Friday, we drove to Independence, Missouri, where we hoped to do some historical activities.  It was nice to see the many American flags flying over Independence and that there are still some patriotic Americans living in this country.  DW had hoped to ride on the covered wagon, but it wasn't going out that day.  Instead, we settled for some photos at the courthouse where the Oregon Trail began.

Independence, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Independence, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Andrew Jackson Statue Disclaimer Plaque:

Independence, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Independence was the residence of President Harry S. Truman, but his home was closed for tours due to Covid.  We were only able to take photos of his home from the outside and view his recently purchased car in the garage:

Harry Truman's House, Independence, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

Harry Truman's Home, Independence, MO by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the way to our next destination, we stopped off at Fort Scott, a historic fort from the American frontier days.  Fort Scott was one of a chain of forts intended to protect the new settlers from the Plains Native Americans.  It was also supposed to protect the Native Americans from the settlers, but that didn't work out too well for them.  Information about Fort Scott can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/fosc/index.htm

Fort Scott, Kansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Fort Scott, Kansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 6 - Tulsa, Oklahoma - Nice Place But Just Another Boring Pitstop

Tulsa was just another stopover on the way to someplace else and there wasn't much of anything interesting to see or do.  We stayed at Hilton Home2 Suites in Owasso, information about which can be found here:

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/tulwaht-home2-suites-owasso/?WT.mc_id=zlada0ww1ht2psh3ggl4advbpp5dkt6multibr7_153677698_1003528&gclid=Cj0KCQjwssyJBhDXARIsAK98ITSr8pCN92OCc-_8GkeWGBdcdw0Wky4vnRSKP-6njiQZoTZzKYyTBzwaAocrEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Apparently almost everything in Tulsa is closed on Monday and everything that might have been open was closed because of Covid or for renovations.  We visited the Cherokee Nation Welcome Center where DW picked up a wooden flute made by a native artist named Long Hair.  Little one picked out an Oklahoma magnet with a picture of a tornado.  He was apprehensive about visiting Kansas and Oklahoma because his states book showed that they are known for tornadoes.  Ironically, it wasn't until we were in Washington D.C. that we received a tornado warning on our cell phones.  The Cherokee Nation Welcome Center also housed their DMV office, which had a display showing wait times.  The last person on the list had a wait time of over six hours.  Makes the NY DMV look efficient.

The next day, we visited the Tulsa Historical Society with an exhibit on the race massacre.  Information can be found here:  https://www.tulsahistory.org/ and
DDF discussion here: https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=125020.0

Tulsa Historical Society with the exhibit on the race massacre. by P Bryan, on Flickr

Tulsa Historical Society with the exhibit on the race massacre. by P Bryan, on Flickr

Tulsa Historical Society with the exhibit on the race massacre. by P Bryan, on Flickr

In 1957, Tulsa had a contest to guess its 2007 population.  The winner would receive a 1957 Plymouth, which they called "a priceless antique in 2007."  The car was buried; 50 years later when it was dug up, it was no longer running. 

IMG_20210803_111654 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We also visited the last antebellum plantation home in Oklahoma, where we learned about the Trail of Tears:

Last antebellum house in Oklahoma by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 7 - Little Rock, Arkansas - A Diamond In The Rough, But Only A Pile Of Dirt For Us

Wanting to visit Hot Springs National Park and Crater of Diamonds State Park, we made our way to Arkansas.  We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn Little Rock Downtown, information about which can be found here:

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/litrd-residence-inn-little-rock-downtown/

The hotel was adequate but parking was somewhat of a nuisance.  The hotel parking lot was misused by many individuals, which left no space for hotel guests.  Overflow parking for hotel guests was an indoor garage a block away.  The hotel charges a daily parking fee but we weren't charged after complaining about the parking situation. 

The following day was a busy one, and we first made our way to Crater of Diamonds State Park.  This state park is quite an interesting one, and the world's only diamond bearing site accessible to the public.  Just pay a fee and you can dig for diamonds to your hearts content.  But be forewarned, the summer heat is brutal and there is no shade in the open fields.  Information about this state park can be found here:

https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/parks/crater-diamonds-state-park

We paid the entrance fee and rented a shovel/pick and sifting equipment, with dreams of striking it rich, like most other fools who come here. 

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas (DSC_9858) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We found what looked like tiny specks of diamond dust:

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

And had no trouble finding lots of....dirt:

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

We lingered at Crater of Diamonds State Park for a few hours, but the brutal heat and burning sun were quite oppressive, so it was time to leave.

Our next stop was Hot Springs National Park, another "gem" in the national park system.  I'm not exactly sure why a row of bath houses qualifies as a national park, but it does.  If the quintessential activity is to soak in a bath at one of the two remaining bathhouses, I figured I had to do it.  DW and the kids weren't interested, so I booked a private bath at the Quapaw Bathhouse.  The only other still operating bathhouse, Buckstaff, was fully booked.  However, after reading what their services included, i.e., an in tub scrub of your arms, legs and back by a bath attendant (presumably while you are naked), I was definitely not interested.   I'm not sure if these in tub scrub services are currently being offered due to Covid, but no thanks, I can tub scrub just fine by myself.

Information about the Quapaw Bathhouse can be found here:

https://www.quapawbaths.com/

Quapaw Bathhouse, Hot Springs NP, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Private Bath:

Quapaw Bathhouse, Hot Springs NP, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bell for the attendant:

Quapaw Bathhouse, Hot Springs NP, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

My private room didn't look anything like the ones shown on the website and looked like a veritable dumpy old bathroom.  You get a 20-minute soak and after about a minute I was quite bored.  I'm not really sure what's so special about a soak in the baths, but maybe I just don't know how to relax. 

While I soaked, DW and the kids explored the Fordyce Bathhouse/visitor center:

Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Steam cabinets where people would sit inside with their heads sticking out of the opening.

Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Special tub for physical therapy on non-ambulatory patients:

Fordyce Bathhouse, Hot Springs, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we drove up Hot Springs Mountain to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, where we climbed 306 steps to the top (instead of taking an elevator - DW's idea):

View from top of Hot Springs Mountain Tower, Hot Springs NP, Arkansas by P Bryan, on Flickr

Upon returning to the hotel, we saw the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile parked outside the hotel entrance:

IMG_20210804_195239 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Come to think about it, makes perfect sense - the hotel was right off Bill Clinton Avenue and what a weiner! 

If a national park service site existed nearby, you can bet DW wasn't going to skip it.  On our way out of Little Rock, we stopped at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, where the federal government enforced desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.  Information can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/chsc/index.htm

Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock AK by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 8 - Memphis, Tennessee - Where There Is No Slow Lane

Our next stop was Memphis, Tennessee.  Once again, it was just a stopover on the way to someplace else.  I can't really put a finger on it, but I instantly disliked the place.  The drivers were absolutely insane - they routinely drove 20 miles per hour over the speed limit IN THE SLOW LANE.  Speed limits here are just a suggestion, until the fuzz shows up.  There were no kosher restaurants and the kosher counter at a Kroger's Supermarket was quite lame - nothing like the awesome kosher counter and kosher section at Hen House in Kansas City.  There is also a small kosher bakery - Ricki's Cookie Corner - which bakes challah for Shabbos on Thursday - so you can't even get fresh hot challah on Friday, like we are used to (not that the challah was bad).  Suffice it to say, the place just rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn't wait to get the heck out of there.  We stayed at the Hilton Home2 Suites Memphis-Southaven, just over the state line in Mississippi, information about which can be found here:

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/memmsht-home2-suites-memphis-southaven-ms/

There wasn't much of interest to us.  I would have visited Graceland, but the price of entry was too high to make it worthwhile for us. 

After two Shabbosim of being in convenient hotels with absolutely nothing to do, we were all quite bored.  DW suggested that I take the kids to Barnes & Noble to buy some books to read on Shabbos (although we had taken quite a few along on the trip, the kids had already finished all of them).  This turned out to be quite an expensive activity.  We stayed for Shabbos and moved on, with a quick stop at the Memphis Pyramid, before turning our back on the city.

Chapter 9 - Nashville, Tennessee and Kentucky - Now We're Getting Somewhere

The next stop was Nashville, Tennessee, which we used as a jumping off point to explore various sites in nearby Kentucky.  Unlike Memphis, there was several interesting sites in and around Nashville. 

The older kids had been itching to visit another shooting range, so off we went.  We visited the Royal Range, information about which can be found here:

https://www.royalrangeusa.com/

When we last went shooting at the Adirondack Gun & Range (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=120706.0), we weren't permitted to shoot pistols.  So this is precisely what we wanted to try.  We rented a Glock and Ruger, and went guns a blazing:

Royal Range, Memphis, Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

Royal Range, Memphis, Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

Royal Range, Memphis, Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

Royal Range, Memphis, Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

The older kids had a great time and while the range was willing to let little one try shooting, he wasn't up to it.  Perhaps next time.  I enjoyed it as well and preferred the Glock over the Ruger.

After the Royal Range, we visited the gun loving general's house, The Hermitage - where our seventh president, Andrew Jackson lived.  Information about The Hermitage can be found here:

https://thehermitage.com/

Although Andrew Jackson is certainly a controversial historical figure, he nevertheless had many noteworthy accomplishments.  We took a guided tour of the house and learned some interesting facts about Andrew Jackson.  If you're in the Nashville area, it is a worthwhile visit for history buffs.  Unfortunately, photographs of the interior of the general's house are not permitted.

The Hermitage, Tennessee (DSC_9884) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rear of The Hermitage:

The Hermitage, Tennessee (DSC_9874) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Alfred's Cabin - slave quarters - they wouldn't allow photographs of the interior of Jackson's house, but had no issue with photographs of the interior of Alfred's Cabin.  I'm not really sure what kind of statement this intends to project.  This structure is called Alfred's Cabin because Alfred Jackson, formerly enslaved, lived in it as a free man until his death in 1901.

Alfred's Cabin, The Hermitage, Tennessee (DSC_9879) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Alfred's Cabin, The Hermitage, Tennessee (DSC_9880) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Springhouse - a house constructed over a spring to draw water from and prevent leaves and debris from falling in.  Food was stored in the spring to keep it cold:

The Springhouse at The Hermitage, Tennessee (DSC_9883) by P Bryan, on Flickr

While in Nashville, we drove to Kentucky to visit Mammoth Cave National Park, information about which can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/maca/index.htm

We booked a Modified Historic Tour, which was the only tour we were able to find tickets for.  I'm not really a caveman but the tour was interesting.  While walking through various parts of the cave we had to crouch down and contort ourselves and I kept thinking about how @SomethingFishy would fare on this tour - folded over in half for the short parts.

Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9955) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Entrance to Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9953) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Entrance to Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9952) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old graffiti in the cave - something that was encouraged in the early days:

Old graffiti at Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9915) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old graffiti at Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9936) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9932) by P Bryan, on Flickr

"Fat Man's Misery" at Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9933) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mammoth Cave NP, Kentucky (DSC_9942) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We stopped by Abraham Lincoln's birthplace:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Kentucky (DSC_9963) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The well where Abraham Lincoln likely took his first drink of water - while standing next to this well, we felt a cold breeze as if from an air conditioner:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Kentucky (DSC_9964) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, Kentucky by P Bryan, on Flickr

We wanted to visit the Corvette National Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but it was already late in the day and the museum closes at 5:00 pm.  What we hadn't realized, however, was that driving back towards Nashville, we would be crossing back into the Central Standard Time Zone, and would gain an hour - and that the museum was in the Central Time Zone.  Little one looked at the clock in the van, and pointed out that the time had changed, and since we gained an hour, had time to visit the museum.  Information about the National Corvette Museum can be found here:

https://www.corvettemuseum.org/

We enjoyed exploring the museum and seeing the history of the Corvette:

National Corvette Museum, Kentucky by P Bryan, on Flickr

National Corvette Museum, Kentucky (DSC_9977) by P Bryan, on Flickr

National Corvette Museum, Kentucky (DSC_9979) by P Bryan, on Flickr

National Corvette Museum, Kentucky (DSC_9998) by P Bryan, on Flickr

On February 12, 2014, a sinkhole formed under part of the National Corvette Museum and eight cars were swallowed by the sinkhole, six of which were not able to be repaired.  These six Corvettes are on display in the same condition as they were after being pulled out of the sinkhole:

National Corvette Museum, Kentucky (DSC_9990) by P Bryan, on Flickr

National Corvette Museum, Kentucky (DSC_9994) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Dorky shoes looking into a portal to the sinkhole:

National Corvette Museum, Kentucky (DSC_9996) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Of course, little one had to get a souvenir toy:

PXL_20210811_151706553.MP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 10 - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee - Back to Nature

Wanting to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we chose to park ourselves in Pigeon Forge, which is around 10 miles from the park.  We stayed at the Hilton Home2 Suites, information about which can be found here:

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/pgfhtht-home2-suites-pigeon-forge/

The hotel was standard for a Home2 Suites and adequate for our needs.  The hotel pool was pretty nice and had a kids area, which little one enjoyed:

Home2 Suites, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

Once again, we celebrated middle kid's birthday during our time away - with some store bought cupcakes  - she is getting used to it by now:

IMG_20210811_183325 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following day, wasting no time, was spent at Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0007) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We decided to hike to Cataract Falls, as it was right behind the visitor center, which was not yet open.  Aside from being a pleasant walk in the woods, it wasn't very worthwhile and I didn't bother taking any photographs of the falls:

Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

Spider hard at work:

Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0015) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hiking along the river:

Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0016) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0018) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then drove to the Chimneys Picnic area, which had individual drive-up picnic sites.  Perhaps next time we are in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we'll plan to have a picnic here.  This was a good place to park the car to hike the Cove Hardwood Trail.

Mossy tree:

Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0038) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then hiked the Appalachian Trail...for about a minute:

Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0047) by P Bryan, on Flickr
« Last Edit: October 19, 2021, 12:54:33 AM by PBaruch »
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline PBaruch

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2013
  • Posts: 2179
  • Total likes: 183
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
  • Location: HutzNPlutz
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2021, 11:07:10 PM »
Next stop was Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies - foggy view from the top:

Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0060) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Along the way to the top of Clingmans Dome, I spotted some hummingbirds.  Not wanting to change lenses, I figured to photograph them on the way back.  However, as luck may have it, the hummingbirds decided to retreat to the trees when I was coming down.  Moral of the story - if you see an opportunity, grab it while you are able. 

Wildflowers along the trail:

Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0050) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0072) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0076) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Disappointed at missing out on photographing the hummingbirds, I returned (the following day) and my persistence and patience paid off.  Although I could have spent all day with the hummingbirds, the family was waiting and I lingered as long as I could:

Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0177) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0237) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After Clingmans Dome, we visited the Mountain Farm Museum in the park:

Mountain Farm Museum, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0081) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mountain Farm Museum, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0090) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mountain Farm Museum, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0091) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mountain Farm Museum, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Tennessee (DSC_0085) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Having had our fair share of the summer heat, it was time to head back to the hotel.  The kids, however, weren't content with calling it a day, so we visited Pigeon Forge Snow, where the kids went indoor snow tubing.  Information about Pigeon Forge Snow can be found here:

https://pigeonforgesnow.com/

The setup looks a bit lame but the kids had a great time.  I thought they would get bored real fast but the older ones couldn't get enough.  Little one went twice and didn't want to go again:

Pigeon Forge Snow, Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

Pigeon Forge Snow, Tennessee (DSC_0098) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The kids were itching to go horseback riding, so the following day we went to Smokemont Stables, inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  DW chose this option because the ride included fording a river (twice).  Information about Smokemont Stables can be found here:

http://smokemontridingstable.com/

I decided to sit this one out, as I didn't feel like riding on any בהמה, much to DW's chagrin:

Smokemont Stables, Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0137) by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_0138 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Overheard on the trail:

Little One - Is the ground all wet because the horses make pee all over?
Guide Dawson - Yup.

Dawson - one of the horses gets spooked by deer, while the other horses look at that horse like he's crazy.

The reason they are called Smoky Mountains:

Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0114) by P Bryan, on Flickr

More pretty wildflowers:

Great Smoky Mountains NP (DSC_0132) by P Bryan, on Flickr

On Sunday, while leaving Tennessee, we stopped at the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site (of course), where we learned about our 17th president.  Info can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/anjo/index.htm

A replica of the one-room house that Andrew Johnson was born in:

Replica of Andrew Johnson's Home in Tennessee by P Bryan, on Flickr

Walking the few blocks between the Visitor Center and the Homestead, you get the feeling that the city of Greeneville is maintained just for this historic site.  A jewelry storefront looked as if it had been closed for at least half a century, a lawyer's office door had spider webs on the handles.

Chapter 11 - West Virginia - Wild and Green

Ever since New River Gorge became the newest National Park, you can be sure that DW added a pin to West Virginia, and this was the next stop on our trip. We stayed at Marriott Courtyard in nearby Beckley, information about which can be found here:

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bkwcy-courtyard-beckley/

This hotel was standard for the brand, but lacked a kitchen and refrigerator, which we really needed.  We couldn't find any accommodations (using points/certs) in Beckley that had a kitchen, so we roughed it for a few days.  We managed with our electric cooler, which if left in a cool spot can substitute for a refrigerator. 

While in Beckley, we met up with our friend Alex - yup the Alex who became famous for almost dying in a snowstorm in Hawaii (https://www.nps.gov/havo/learn/news/sverdlov.htm).  He's married with 2 little kids now and still has permanent nerve damage in a bunch of toes.  Alex was working remotely during the day, so our schedules didn't mesh.  However, we did have time to get together one evening for beers while the kids played in the hotel lobby.

The following day was spent at New River Gorge National Park, information about which can be found here:

https://www.nps.gov/neri/index.htm

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0246) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Driving around the twists and bends on the roads through New River Gorge, with rock overhangs over the road and lush greenery, reminded me of the Road to Hana.  In the end, we regretted our decision to stay only two nights in New River Gorge, and as with many places we visit, would like to return for a repeat visit.

The famous bridge:

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0251) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We hiked the Endless Wall Trail, which we all very much enjoyed:

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0258) by P Bryan, on Flickr

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0262) by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_0287 by P Bryan, on Flickr

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0305) by P Bryan, on Flickr

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0312) by P Bryan, on Flickr

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0320) by P Bryan, on Flickr

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia (DSC_0328) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Although the weather was about to take a turn for the worse, and we could see the rain clouds blowing in our direction, we decided to hike the complete trail, which begins at one parking lot and ends at another.  I figured to walk up the road for about half a mile from the end point of the hike to where we parked the van, and come drive back to pick everyone up.  Well, lo and behold, just as we neared the end of the hike, the heavens opened up and it began to pour.  Not having any choice, I trudged up the road getting thoroughly soaked to the bone, to where we had left the van.  No sooner had I gotten to the van, the rain let up and then stopped.  The view I had while walking a half mile along the road in pouring rain:

New River Gorge NP, West Virginia by P Bryan, on Flickr

After driving back to the hotel, I took a really nice long hot shower.  It took a while, but I finally got the bone chilling cold out of my system.

West Virgina is famous for coal and the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine was located mere minutes from our hotel.  The following morning, we were able to get the first tour of the day and still be back in time to check out of the hotel.  Information about the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine can be found here:

https://beckley.org/coal-mine/

On this tour, we rode in a passenger mine cart through the mine, guided by a veteran miner, Gerald.  We heard old time stories about mining in that particular mine and of the hazards encountered by the miners.  One particular story that stayed with me was that some miners had a habit of stealing other miners' food and water.  One enterprising miner figured out a way to prevent others from drinking his water - he simply dropped his false teeth into his water container. 

Photographs of the tour:

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, West Virginia (DSC_0344) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, West Virginia (DSC_0337) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our guide, a veteran miner, demonstrating one of the lamps used by miners:

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine (DSC_0336) by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the grounds were some old miner's houses to explore.  In one of them was an ice box, and without a Paws Off sign, it was interesting to examine:

Icebox at Beckley Exhibition Mine, West Virginia, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The superintendent's house had a 1932 General Electric refrigerator with the motor on top.  This house had a guard/guide who wouldn't let us near and wouldn't even open it.  She claimed that it still worked.

1932 General Electric refrigerator (DSC_0357) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Schoolhouse:

Schoolhouse at Beckley Exhibition Mine, West Virginia, USA (DSC_0366) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Anyone remember the card catalog?

Schoolhouse at Beckley Exhibition Mine, West Virginia, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 12 - Virginia and Washington DC - Meshuganeh Central

The final stop on our month-long odyssey was Washington DC, as DW and the kids wanted to visit several museums.  Middle kid was disappointed at having her class trip to DC cancelled due to the pandemic, so she was especially excited to visit DC.  We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn Downtown, information about which can be found here:

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasdc-residence-inn-washington-dc-downtown/

The room was nice but the hotel had many annoyances.  Parking was around the corner (with access through the lobby) at an underground garage that closed by 8:00 p.m.  To get in or out after 8:00 p.m., you'd have to ask the front desk to call an attendant to open the gate.  The elevators were quite horrible and the laundry facilities were grossly inadequate.  Also, panhandlers and meshuganehs were all around the perimeter, although that seems to be the standard fair in DC these days, especially at the Capitol and on Pennsylvania Avenue.   In the future, we would not stay at this hotel.

Along the way to DC, we stopped off at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, information about which can be found here:

https://www.monticello.org/

Monticello, Virginia (DSC_0400) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monticello, Virginia (DSC_0372) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Books about Captain Cook's voyages...

Monticello, Virginia (DSC_0384) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monticello, Virginia by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monticello, Virginia by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old time indoor toilet:

Monticello, Virginia - Old Time Indoor Toilet by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monticello, Virginia - Old Time Indoor Toilet by P Bryan, on Flickr

Checking out the wine cellar:

Monticello, Virginia by P Bryan, on Flickr

Thomas Jefferson died in debt and the estate had to be sold. Uriah Levy, who rose to the rank of Commodore in the United States Navy, was an admirer of Thomas Jefferson for his support of freedom of religion, purchased the estate.  Two generations of the Levy family subsequently lived on the estate and it was ultimately sold to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation in 1923.  The Levy family not only lived in the house, but spent money to maintain it and opened it to the public as a tribute by private citizens to Jeffersonís legacy.  Uriah's mother, Rachel Levy, is buried on the estate and she died on the 7th of Iyar, 5591:

Monticello, Virginia (DSC_0421) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monticello, Virginia (DSC_0422) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Thomas Jefferson's grave:

Monticello, Virginia (DSC_0434) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monticello, Virginia (DSC_0435) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following day, we visited National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, where Space Shuttle Discovery and many famous airplanes are located.  Admission was free but there is a $15.00 fee for parking.  Information about this Museum can be found here:

https://airandspace.si.edu/udvar-hazy-center

We saw the SR-71A Blackbird:

SR-71A Blackbird (DSC_0447) by P Bryan, on Flickr

SR-71A Blackbird (DSC_0471) by P Bryan, on Flickr

German WW2 Messerschmitt ME 163 B-1 - This is the reason the Germans lost WW2 - small propellers:

German WW2 Messerschmitt ME 163 B-1 (DSC_0452) by P Bryan, on Flickr

German WW2 Messerschmitt ME 163 B-1 by P Bryan, on Flickr

German WW2 Messerschmitt ME 163 B-1 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Freedom 7 Mercury Capsule:

Freedom 7 Mercury Capsule by P Bryan, on Flickr

Space Shuttle Discovery:

Space Shuttle Discovery (DSC_0458) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Space Shuttle Discovery (DSC_0459) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Space Shuttle Discovery (DSC_0462) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Space Shuttle Discovery (DSC_0466) by P Bryan, on Flickr

F14D Tomcat:

F14D Tomcat (DSC_0480) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lockheed P-38J Lightning:

Lockheed P-38J Lightning (DSC_0515) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The famous Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during WW2:

Enola Gay (DSC_0520) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Enola Gay (DSC_0521) by P Bryan, on Flickr

German WW2 Focke-Wulf Fw 190F - what a name - if only I was a fighter pilot in WW2 and could say I shot down one of those Focke's:

German WW2 Focke-Wulf Fw 190F (DSC_0525) by P Bryan, on Flickr

German WW2 Focke-Wulf Fw 190F (DSC_0526) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Russians, however, are the big winners in the airplane naming competition - announcing the Flying Fagot B - no word on what happened to the Flying Fagot A:

Fagot B Airplane by P Bryan, on Flickr

Fagot B Airplane by P Bryan, on Flickr

A new bucket list item for me - to try and stuff @SomethingFishy in here - the Stits SA-2A Sky Baby:

Stits SA-2A Sky Baby (DSC_0548) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Stits SA-2A Sky Baby (DSC_0547) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the Air & Space Museum, we stopped by Ben Yehuda Pizza, in Silver Spring, for lunch.  The food looked good, but tasted quite blah:

Ben Yehuda Pizza, Silver Spring, MD by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ben Yehuda Pizza, Silver Spring, MD by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ben Yehuda Pizza, Silver Spring, MD by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ben Yehuda Pizza, Silver Spring, MD by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we drove back to DC to explore the National Mall. 

The Jefferson Memorial:

Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC (DSC_0549) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Washington Monument:

Washington Monument, Washington DC (DSC_0551) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We visited the National Museum of Natural History, information about which can be found here: 

https://naturalhistory.si.edu/

We saw the Hope Diamond, which should really be called the No Hope Diamond, as it is reputed to bring bad luck to its owners.  Heck, the last guy that owned it couldn't wait to get rid of it and ended up donating it to the Smithsonian:

Hope Diamond (DSC_0574) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hope Diamond (DSC_0573) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Victoria-Transvaal Diamond Necklace:

Victoria-Transvaal Diamond Necklace (DSC_0569) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Victoria-Transvaal Diamond Necklace (DSC_0570) by P Bryan, on Flickr

A rather unusual looking piece of pyrite - can't tell what it looks like:

Pyrite at the National Museum of American History by P Bryan, on Flickr

Of course, little one was wearing the miner's helmet we picked up for him at the coal mine the day before, and fit right in:

IMG_20210818_170339 by P Bryan, on Flickr

When we were done at the museum, I went back to the car with little one, while DW continued on towards the Lincoln Memorial with the girls.  It was blazing hot on the National Mall, but the last time we were in DC was 12 years earlier, and they had been too young to appreciate it. 

Chapter 13 - The Way Home

Before heading back, we stopped at Shalom Kosher (http://www.theshalomgroup.com/shalom-kosher) in Silver Spring and picked up a nice assortment of takeout items.  They had a really nice selection of sushi, too.

We had a couple stops planned to break up the trip home, with Fort McHenry (https://www.nps.gov/fomc/index.htm) being the first.  It's a great place to learn about the writing of the national anthem, and they had an excellent short film on the topic.

If you look closely, you can see that the flag has 15 stars and 15 stripes, just like the one that flew during the War of 1812, when the national anthem was written:

Fort McHenry, Maryland by P Bryan, on Flickr

Desiring to do something in each state, DW wanted to visit the First State National Historical Park in Delaware, but it would be closed by the time we would arrive.  Her backup was to "hike" to the highest point in Delaware, the Ebright Azimuth.  Unless you've hiked to the highest point in the other 49 states, are 80 years old, and want to check off Delaware, don't bother.

Ebright Azimuth - highest point in Delaware by P Bryan, on Flickr

Chapter 14 - Final Thoughts - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

First the good:  upon returning to school in September, middle daughter complained about sitting in a desk and being lectured to.  I believe she was speaking for all, when she said she'd rather be homeschooled and learn like we did on our road trip.  She's learning global history this year---I just bet she'd like to learn it through traveling the world rather than sitting in a classroom all day.

Food-wise, this trip was easier than some of our others.  Kosher wine, meat, and chicken was available in most of the large cities.  The only time we didn't have challah for Shabbos was in Pigeon Forge, when we used matzah we had brought along.

On last year's road trip (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=119570.0), we purchased an America the Beautiful pass to cover entry into the national parks.  Of the seven national parks that we visited this summer, none of them had entrance fees, so even though we still had the pass, it didn't really save us money.  In two of the national parks (Mammoth Cave and Great Smoky Mountains), they were actually charging for Junior Ranger books.

We stayed at 11 hotels in the 31 nights we were away.  Each hotel change stressed me out.  One hotel kept us waiting about an hour for our room to be ready; when we finally got to our room, it appeared the bedding had not been changed, so we asked for sheets and did it ourselves.  Another hotel had a sliding bathroom door that wasn't flush with the wall; we taped up a picnic tablecloth for privacy. 

In conclusion, we were fortunate to see quite a bit of the country, including places that are not deserving of being a destination in and of themselves.

Our Google Maps Timeline:

Google Maps Timeline - July to August 2021 by P Bryan, on Flickr

If you read this through to the end, thanks.  We know it was long.  Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2021, 01:03:23 AM by PBaruch »
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline YitzyS

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 3730
  • Total likes: 7457
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 31
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Lakewood, NJ
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2021, 11:22:44 PM »
Great TR, although the opening paragraph almost made me turn back  :P

The pictures are great - they make the whole TR come alive!
Monkeys don't fly unless you put them on airplanes

Online CountValentine

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 10K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Mar 2013
  • Posts: 10781
  • Total likes: 3616
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips -1
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Location: Poland - Exiled
  • Programs: DAOTYA, DDF Level 3, 5K Lounge
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2021, 11:32:24 PM »
Another great TR!!!
It was our pleasure meeting your whole family.
I owe you two lunches now.  :)
You're so far up Trump's a** you can see Giuliani's feet.  HT Baruch

Offline yitzgar

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2016
  • Posts: 2367
  • Total likes: 695
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2021, 11:39:14 PM »
Thanks for the tr. Don't know how it was while it was happening, but I like the positive spin you put even on the bad stuff, makes it fun to read

Offline TimT

  • Dansdeals Lifetime 20K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 20302
  • Total likes: 3582
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 12
    • View Profile
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2021, 11:44:44 PM »
Read every last word of it. Great TR. Sorry it was so disappointing.
A Very Meh Cleveland
We found Cleveland, generally, to be quite meh.  The restaurants were meh and Unger's Supermarket was meh
If anything happens to you itís been great having you around these parts. 8)

Offline PBaruch

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2013
  • Posts: 2179
  • Total likes: 183
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
  • Location: HutzNPlutz
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2021, 11:49:02 PM »
Read every last word of it. Great TR. Sorry it was so disappointing.If anything happens to you itís been great having you around these parts. 8)

I thought the deer were kind of nice....
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline Cholentfresser

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Mar 2009
  • Posts: 1871
  • Total likes: 33
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2021, 12:06:39 AM »
Wow, what a TR!
In order to understand recursion, you first need to understand recursion.

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7683
  • Total likes: 3267
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2021, 12:20:33 AM »
A new bucket list item for me - to try and stuff @SomethingFishy in here - the Stits SA-2A Sky Baby:

Stits SA-2A Sky Baby (DSC_0548) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Thanks for making me spit up all over my keyboard

Awesome TR as always.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7683
  • Total likes: 3267
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2021, 12:23:11 AM »
While walking through various parts of the cave we had to crouch down and contort ourselves and I kept thinking about how @SomethingFishy would fare on this tour - folded over in half for the short parts.

Let's just say I nearly gave Nearly-Headless Nick a run for his money when I was there.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Divora M

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: Dec 2018
  • Posts: 533
  • Total likes: 68
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2021, 12:30:22 AM »
Thanks for taking the time to write that all up! Sorry that Chicago didnít impress you much!

Offline Dawie

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2015
  • Posts: 1358
  • Total likes: 273
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: KBLM
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2021, 09:28:08 AM »
moral of the story dont try to convince your husband to do something he's not onboard with?

love the style and sarcasm

Offline Joel

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: May 2018
  • Posts: 4150
  • Total likes: 687
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 53
    • View Profile
  • Programs: Hyatt Globalist, Hilton Diamond, Wyndham Diamond, Marriott Gold, IHG Platinum, National EE, Hertz PC, Enterprise Platinum
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2021, 10:07:08 AM »
Great TR!

Offline PBaruch

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2013
  • Posts: 2179
  • Total likes: 183
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
  • Location: HutzNPlutz
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2021, 10:12:46 AM »
moral of the story dont try to convince your husband to do something he's not onboard with?

love the style and sarcasm

 ;D
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline yos9694

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Aug 2012
  • Posts: 1454
  • Total likes: 511
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: in md
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2021, 10:57:58 AM »
The Gateway Arch parking lot is on the other side! I made the same mistake- GPS took me to the riverside street and I had to sit with the car while everyone else went up the steps (we only had 20 minutes to spend). But there's a parking lot that costs only $5 with plenty of spaces

Offline PBaruch

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2013
  • Posts: 2179
  • Total likes: 183
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
  • Location: HutzNPlutz
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2021, 12:06:31 PM »
The Gateway Arch parking lot is on the other side! I made the same mistake- GPS took me to the riverside street and I had to sit with the car while everyone else went up the steps (we only had 20 minutes to spend). But there's a parking lot that costs only $5 with plenty of spaces

Thanks. We actually had to pay to park there. I wasn't aware there was another parking lot.
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7683
  • Total likes: 3267
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2021, 12:07:36 PM »
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline Something Fishy

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Posts: 7683
  • Total likes: 3267
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 44
    • View Profile
    • Kosher Horizons
  • Location: Not Brooklyn
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2021, 12:08:21 PM »
Truth be told it's not a bad place, and going up to the top is extremely cool.

But naming it a national park? Dumbest thing ever.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons

Offline yos9694

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Aug 2012
  • Posts: 1454
  • Total likes: 511
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: in md
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2021, 12:28:44 PM »
Truth be told it's not a bad place, and going up to the top is extremely cool.

But naming it a national park? Dumbest thing ever.

Patterson Falls is dumber. But I agree with your gist

Offline ushdadude

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Apr 2013
  • Posts: 5298
  • Total likes: 333
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 5
    • View Profile
  • Location: Long Island
Re: In Search of America, By PBaruch - July and August, 2021
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2021, 12:31:30 PM »
No distilleries??
Trolls will always post stupid replies