Category: Travel to USA

We have had a lovely time exploring Poughkeepsie And Hyde Park area with our grandson Ashley. Norm collected him from the train on Friday and we hired a car and walked the foot bridge over the Hudson River and then visited the Franklin D Roosevelt Home (Springwood) Museum and Library on Saturday and then the Vanderbilt Mansion and some of the surrounding area on Sunday before delivering Ashley back to the station. We were grateful of the car Saturday with a fair amount of rain while today the sky has been blue and the day just beautiful. It was a treat to spend some one on one time with Ashley, we don’t get the opportunity to do a lot of that individually with our grandchildren, and given Ashley’s work is as demanding as it is we were particularly grateful also knowing it will be some time before we catch up in person again.


Norm and Ashley about to set out on our walk of the Highland Railroad Bridge which was originally considered the great connector for rail traffic being the only bridge between New York City and Albany (Capital of New Yor State) but failing industry and increasing use of interstates saw the decline of rail travel and after a fire on the bridge it looked like it would be demolished but the community fought that and it is now a shared linear park and trailway commenced 1992 and completed 2009. Thankfully we decided to walk it Saturday as it was going to be closed Sunday with a function on.

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Walking bridge.

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Poughkeepsie Railway Station from the bridge.

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Mid-Hudson Bridge from the walking bridge.

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View of the bridge from the elevator platform.

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Almost across the bridge.


The details.


Teamwork approaching one of the entry gates to the Marist University. It was the stonework in these entrances which enticed us in for a look.

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Our Saturday lunchtime Diner.

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The FDR Museum and Library. Some great displays.


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The FDR residence – Springwood.


FDR’s library (in the residence) almost empty of books as major restoration is going to start next year and things are already being packed up.

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Vanderbilt Mansion.

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The Man Cave (smoking room).


And a view in the garden.

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And another.

And more of the garden itself largely established before the mansion was built as this was on a site of a previous mansion unsound to restore.

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A view from the overlook across the Hudson River on our way through the yard.

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And our Sunday lunch Diner.


And inside. All kinds of cute,

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A shot in the Marist University. Beautiful stonework.

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Mid-Hudson Bridge.

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Some Highland area real estate.

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And another.

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Crossing the Mid-Hudson bridge.

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And finally a farewell shot at the Poughkeepsie Railway Station with Ashley.

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Category: Travel to USA

Without trying to stick to country roads we did anyway because we headed for the country township of Bethel which was where the Woodstock Music Festival was held in 1969 and found a largely sparsely settled old area which I doubt would have survived without the festival apart from a few farms. Woodstock was held on a dairy farm on the edge of town which is now a terraced community space used for all sorts of functions. It reminded us of Lardner Park plus it has a Museum to all things Woodstock and the arts as well.

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We diverted off the road to check out the Dingmans Falls which were a comfortable walk on a recycled plastic boardwalk and even though it is the end of summer there was still some water coming over the top.

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The forest was predominantly Hemlock trees with lower coverage of rhododendrons. It must look magnificent when they are in bloom. They are also under attack by a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) an aphid like insect from Asia responsible for the severe decline and mortality of up to 80% of Hemlock Trees in the Shenandoah National Park! But enough doom and gloom this is a still section of water on the way to the falls.

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We came across a picturesque little village of Milford and this is the Community Centre.


And then it was off on the road again.


And then it was off to find Woodstock territory, and this is some of what we saw. A Hippie VW … sort of.

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The only serious looking farm we saw.

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A photo of a poster in our lunch spot.

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And an Ariel view ….. unbelievable.

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Lunch was at a little country store which is depicted in the board outside. At the time of Woodstock, it was a store with petrol as well as being the Post Office. Just a little store and café now.

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The board with pics from the day.


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A plaque outside the museum.

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About to head through the toll booth before Poughkeepsie.


The walking bridge from the station.

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And the station itself.


And Norm found Ashley at the station and brought him back to the Inn.

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The Marriott Residence Inn, where we will stay for 3 nights. A lovely 2-bedroom apartment and couldn’t be more opposite in all respects to last nights’ accommodation (all of which have been our choice).

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Category: Travel to USA

We  set out this morning aware that there were forecasts for scattered thunderstorms in all the areas we would be travelling through so were relieved and somewhat surprised that we didn’t encounter any rain until about 30kms before our destination so we decided to forego lunch and make a run for it and soon changed direction from the storm before getting really wet and didn’t get any more rain until after we were in. Yay! We enjoyed the ride through picturesque Pennsylvania farmland and forested hills with all sorts and sizes of communities along Route 209. Very nice travelling, lots of windy bits and not much traffic.

We doubled back from Hershey to Harrisburg at the start of the day to find route 209 which gave us a perfect opportunity to check out the Rockville Bridge which is the longest stone masonry arch railroad bridge in the world built between 1900 & 1902 by Pennsylvania Rail. It has 48 arches, is 3,820 feet long and replaced an iron one built in 1877 which replaced a timber one built between 1847 to 1849.

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Great timing. A coal train crossing. Was still crossing when we turned around and came back.

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And the other side.

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Lots of little towns along the way, many of them several kms long with houses right on the street like these and only 2 – 3 streets deep..

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Coffee at a Diner in Pottsville on this little square.


Many ups and downs in roads in the country as well as the towns.

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Nearly in and so is the rain.


We had a genuine American hotdog for a late lunch which was yummy.


And of course, it started to rain while we ate. My handbag served as a very inefficient umbrella on the way back to the motel.

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The Pocono Plaza Inn, under restoration…….

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Category: Travel to USA

We didn’t have a very big day of riding lined up toady and had planned to call into the Flight 93 Memorial to pay our respects and hadn’t realised until last night that today was in fact the 18th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks so we visited along with several thousand others. We enjoyed a lovely ride there through fields of corn and many small farming communities which was peaceful. Then we arrived at the memorial and considering this wasn’t a public holiday here the numbers were impressive. Much work has been done since we were last here and the trees have grown incredibly so softening the edges of things somewhat. The Vice President, other dignitaries and family members of those on the plane were in attendance so security was tight with Secret Service, State Troopers and local Police all in attendance. We couldn’t go as far as the memorial site and left our bikes some distance away, were cleared by the secret service then transported by shuttle bus. Was quick on our way to the memorial but we waited in line for over an hour for a shuttle on our return. We were pleased to see the incredible number of motorbikes in attendance and the demeanour of all in attendance was respectful and patient. Our not so big day got to be a very big one.

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Heading out of Cumberland.

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Pennsylvania farming land.

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Country roads.

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Corn corn and more corn.

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A real general store where we grabbed an iced coffee.


Flight 93 Memorial.

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What happened.

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The Investigation.

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‘We’re going to do something’.

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Since 9/11.

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The Tower of Voices and a couple of Aussies coming to pay their respects and despite some of the chimes being readjusted we did hear the chimes.

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A common field one day, a field of honour forever. What looks like a path heading up between the 'field of' is the path from the memorial to the impact site.


Interstate hold up on our way in. We went from 120kmh to stopped in a matter of metres and managed not to get run over with both of us heading over the fog line and  a 4 wheel drive finally stopping beside me not to mention many cars off the sides of the road and choking smoke from all the truck tyres.  2 lanes into 1 and snail pace for around 5kms. We were hugely hot by the time we got past that!


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And the Econo Lodge Hershey where we will lay our heads down tonight. Sorry we couldn’t pick up a Hershey bar this afternoon, it would have melted by the time we got it here so would have been a waste ….and a very messy pannier / saddle bag.

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Category: Travel to USA

Another cool start with comfortable travel throughout the day, partly due to the temperature and partly to being in the shade for most of the day travelling on country roads with only the last 2kms on an Interstate. Yay. We rode through mountainous hillsides, forested hills and open farmland. Even saw a few cattle and sheep and with or without the scattered settlements we saw the ride would have been magnificent with dappled shade, rugged rocky outcrops, rippling streams and more leaf confetti and leaves on the ground to swirl through. It would seem the fall / autumn has arrived in these here parts even if it isn’t official until September 21st over here. Norm spent some time exploring Downtown Cumberland this afternoon while I caught up on some NTC work.

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Part of the Old Dairy at Warm Springs. It is an intriguing historic little settlement which has had many historic buildings retained and well maintained. Very nice.

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And quite the oppsite, a bit down at heel later in the morning.

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A little bit of country delight.


Lovely country roads.

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A specie house in Franklin.

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A cute little tractor sign finally got a pic.


My next ride…a Slingshot. Nah,

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More country roads and even more rugged rocks in them thar hills.


The Mall Downtown Cumberland.

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The historic West Maryland Station.


An impressive tribute to the developent of travel in front of the West Maryland Station.


And our hotel for the night The Ramada by Wyndham. Can't get much closer parking than that!

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Category: Travel to USA

The day was cooler than we have had since heading north and warmed slowly and was comfortable overall. We have continued riding through the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia and a slight change in colour is becoming slightly more obvious and this afternoon leaf litter on the ground was getting evident and we were enjoying a confetti effect on the quieter roads. Lovely. We spent a good part of the day on Route 311 which was a treat. Lots of little settlements of varying size and stature. We even saw a small number of cattle grazing and one very small flock of sheep. Getting into more country where one’s efforts need to be self-sustaining I suspect. We were told if we went to White Sulphur Springs we would be able to find the boneyard for the ‘Barnyard Builders’ show. We found the town but not the timber but loved the roads.

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An unusual truck and axle configuration. No idea what it is or what it does.

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Morning coffee in Salem and we were impressed with the Roanoke College Buildings everywhere

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Great hills to climb up and down, yum.

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Lovely country view USA style.

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And another one.

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Paint Banks settlement had some lovely buildings and a quirky Swing Bridge café at the general store for lunch.

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Great barns still in use.

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Quirky bridge … and Norm in place obviously … wondered where he got to.

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Village of Bacya, all kinds of cute and quirky. Loved a roadside sign which said, ‘Drive like your Kids live here’.

And tonight, we are staying in the Barley Suite in the Millers House at the Inn at Gristmill Square. This is the restaurant where I plan to have a well-deserved drink very soon.

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Category: Travel to USA

he day started comfortably cool but warmed up rapidly though not as hot overall as yesterday. We travelled largely on country roads though a few were dual lane, even so we encountered very little traffic until we were on the Interstate and heading for Marion this afternoon. We loved travelling through the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina and then on into Virginia. Amazed at how much grass and farmland we have seen including hay bales in evidence and no cattle at all. Okay the countryside was predominantly forest but even so, it feels weird for us. At one stage we doubled back for a few kilometres not being able to find the connection to a town we were headed for but were rewarded with travelling along the Windy Gap Lane. What a treat! It was so pretty and at least as windy as the Dragon Tail yesterday just not for the same distance and there were heaps of little settlements barns and buildings …. Again, no cattle but saw one property with 3 donkeys so we suspect tree changer rather than long term local. Sort of confirms the feedlot beef theory except for big Texas country perhaps.

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This one’s for Norm. A bad ass ute he saw in the carpark with all sorts of things that wouldn’t be allowed at home.


Some of many specie cars in the hotel carpark this morning. The owner of the Ford introduced himself as Joe Hatfield, the great grandson of William Anderson ‘Devil Anse’ Hatfield who was part of the original Hatfield & McCoy feud. He told me Kevin Costner played his Great Grandfather in the movie.

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And not to be outdone one of the theatre dinner options in Pigeon Forge is the feud itself.

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Beyond Lens, typical of some of the ‘out there’ family entertainment in town.


Heading out of town Norm was impressed with this.

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The sign is self-explanatory, in the town where we stopped or a cold drink.

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A stretch of wildflowers sown along one of the dual lanes in the median strip.

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One of many barns, all timber in all sorts of condition.

Typical of the views on the Windy Gap Lane.

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A view from an Overlook in North Carolina. Was a specie bit of road, steep grades and 2 runaway truck runoffs. The first was in line with the road but the second headed off at such an angle if a runaway truck tried to get in it laying it on its ide would be inevitable. A bit weird.


We’ve seen the start of some colour showing in trees and Norm returned from the Overlook with some evidence of it.

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We’re staying tonight in an Historic Hotel, the Francis Marion Hotel, a lovely old building in a quaint little town of approximately 6,000 people.

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Category: Travel to USA

Today we headed off with a plan to find a famous road / ride for motorcycles called the Dragon / Tail of the Dragon (US129) situated in North Carolina and Tennessee which has a staggering 380 curves in an 11mile stretch with 12% grades and 15 – 20mph corners. All kinds of awesome. Not surprisingly we found all the motorcycles we hadn’t seen since we got here and the road to and from it were also some of our favourites with sweeping corners, gentle grades and beautiful shaded green surrounds. Very reminiscent of our previous ride down the Skyline Drive / Ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains. We were grateful for the shade as it was quite hot.

We were surprised to get into Pigeon Ford and find a massively bustling Gold Coast on Steroids! There are theme parks and musical and theatre options with meals all over the place, but I think we will opt for a quiet dinner in. Felt like it was a big day.


As we headed off to find our road we rode alongside the Ocoee River and multiple dams and hydro facilities. Lots of white-water rafting opportunities and Zip lines available. This was an opportunity to get close enough for photos.  


And again.


Fuel stop and we discovered Doc from the Cars movie. Unfortunately to quote his owner and restorer “she just laid down on me”.

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We found green surrounds and shade nearly all day but had our hands full on the Dragon Tail, so this is a shot before we got there.


The Tail of the Dragon.

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Some only of the 100 plus bikes parked up at the Den....and look at that a Triumph Rocket converted to a trike!

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The Tree of Shame commemorating silliness and tragedy.

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The Sculpted depiction of the Dragon.

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Signs to Motorcycle Heaven, well somewhere to stay and eat called the Den.


One of the Dam walls from an Overlook (scenic outlook) as we start to descend.

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Some of the silliness in Pigeon Forge, King Kong.

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We are staying the night at the Music Road Resort, Pigeon Forge and as you see you don’t have to go to Cuba to see old cars. There were quite a few here.

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Category: Travel to USA

We have had a quiet day as well as exploring just a little. We were treated to a personal tour of the Chattanooga Station by Marvin a concierge who has worked here forever and was delighted to say he visited Sydney 2 years ago. The whole station and hotel are fascinating and so much of the city here has obviously been laid out around the many rail lines and associated infrastructure that came with that. Chattanooga has a population of approximately 175,00 compared to Bendigo approximately 140,000 and Birmingham yesterday of approximately 300,000.

We discovered the free electric shuttle literally outside the door of the hotel so that meant we got to explore much of the city highlights in comfort. The temperature is hot again today (in the 90’sF) but not as humid as it was further south thank heavens.

We plan to have dinner in the Brewhouse in the Terminal building beside out hotel. A very quirky shaped building as many are having been constructed around the railway transport hub. In the civil war the North tried on several occasions to take over the city so they would control the railway but didn’t manage to do so. Was no doubt a huge strategic advantage for the South although as history shows it wasn’t enough.


The NEW station (1907) with12 platforms and 14 lines coming into it. The plans were on the wall of our room.


This photo was in the lobby and shows the massive turntable complex used.


Breakfast at the Frothy Monkey (& lunch) great use of some of the station space.


Tennessee Aquarium.


Statue beside the river commemorating the Cherokee Nation who lived in the area for 10,000 years before they were evicted reservations in Florida along what came to be called the ‘Trail of Tears’. Very sad.


There is an Incline Railway from the base of Lookout Mountain which is steep and then the last part before the summit is a 72.7% incline so seriously steep. This is halfway up where the cars pass.


Warehouse Row, once warehouses, now very specie department store.


And some great silos, wouldn’t they look great painted up like they are at home!


Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. The tag line is More than a Hotel and indeed it is. You can stay in a rail carriage or opt for the hotel rooms like we did and the gardens where the platforms and rail lines used to be are called the Glen Miller Gardens and are the location for concerts during the summer, Jazz I suspect.

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Category: Travel to USA

Well we started out trying to get onto country roads again but after several false starts and detours with closed exits for roadworks we headed out on the Interstate for a bit. We were amazed to see 2 separate wide loads in the city of Birmingham under Police Escort at 8.30am … wouldn’t happen at home but it was no great disruption so clearly the authorities don’t get as precious here … or they have a better appreciation that industry needs to be able to operate to enhance productivity.

We soon got onto country roads and had a lovely ride through lovely leafy glades and farmlands. It seems weird seeing lots of grass and yet not seeing cattle grazing!  We travelled through Anniston, Cedartown, Rome and Sommerville on the way into Chattanooga and what a treat it was to arrive at the hotel with the reception in the old Railway Station and several suites in old carriages as well as rooms behind where we are. There were originally 12 platforms here which must have been awesome. Thankfully a lot of the platforms have been preserved and courtyard gardens now replace some of the lines, but it still has great character.

Feeling for the people down the North and South Carolina coastline today with Hurricane Dorian impacting them with lots of wind rain and storm surges. Glad we rode down there last week and are the other side of the Appalachians this week so safely out of reach.


On the Interstate.


A water view, one of many.

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Great Patriotism in view everywhere we travel.

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Rome was a quirky place … note the serious rumble strip beside the fog line. They are gouged out of the surface and are all over the place and only vary in size between the states.

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Norm has a theory that the shortest possible measurable time is between when a red traffic light lights up and someone toots their horn, he has also stated that the next shortest possible time is between when a green light lights up and I shout ‘go go’. Not to be outdone today when a light turned green and I was beside him he shouted ‘go go’ at the top of his lungs and frightened the living crap out of me. I was compelled to overtake him at the first available opportunity and give him the finger… as one would expect.


At the hotel, quite an entrance and thankfully in the shade … it was VERY hot.


The dome within the entry.





Looking from the foyer out to the courtyard between platforms.


More of the courtyard.


Chattanooga Station complete with steam train.


And in the American brewed beer carriage doing the blog. Someone must support the local industry and we were happy to do it.

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