Florida and Southeast US Tour 2007

For the 2007 holiday season, we decided to do something a little different. We went all out: Uptight over increasing airfare and imposssible security measures at US airports, we decided to do an autmobile tour of the southeastern United States, including the obligatory stop for the Marathon condo during week 50.

Here's our "v-blog", our vacation weblog of our journey, which lasted nearly fourteen days and included passing through nine of the eastern states.

Tour itinerary

Day 1 - Friday, Dec. 14 [Point #1 on map above] Our adventure began just pasted 6 am, before dawn's early light.  Our first stop: Bob Evans, near Waynesburgh, PA. Along the way, we had lunch at Shoneys. We continued to push on, finally arriving at a rest area in North Carolina.  The weather was very pleasant, somewhere in the 60s in full sunshine. This was our first taste of favorable weather!  After an unscheduled stop in Charlotte, NC, we stopped for the night  at a Sleep Inn in Orangeburg, SC [point #2] after dinner at Ruby Tuesday.

Day 2 - Saturday, Dec. 15 We pushed on to get to Jupiter at a reasonable hour, flying through Savannah, GA and stopping in Jacksonville for a "snack" at Cracker Barrel. Only four hours (+/-) to go! Finally made it to Jupiter at Uncle Ronnie's condo [point #3] around 5:30.  There was a one hour wait at Nick's Tomato Pie, so we ended up having dinner at Heidelberg restaurant in Tequesta. For once, I felt I was home again.

Days 3-8 - Dec. 16-21 [point #4] Well, the days always seem to blend together in the Florida Keys as time passes by so slowly. Of course, we did the standard fare: Making the way down to Key West, eating at the Key Colony Beach restaurant, etc.  One great find this time: The Turtle Hospital, which has been located on the old Hidden Harbor Motel property since 1986. Admission is $15 and you will learn everything you want to know about the hospital and the threats to turtles. We returned to Uncle Ronnie's [point #3] on Friday for the night and were able to eat at Nick's Tomato Pie, showing up just past 5 pm to avoid the rush.

Video: A walk along Anne's Beach Park boardwalk

Day 9 - Dec. 22 Our itinerary at this point was completely unplanned and we just "winged" it from this point forward. We headed over to Tampa [map point #5] and, taking our time, arrived well after dark. Stayed in a relatively new Holiday Inn Express outside the city.

Day 10 - Dec. 23 Spent the day touring St. Petersburgh beaches and Clearwater. Gradually began heading north, attempting to make it to Tallahassee, but stopping for the night at a La Quinta in Gainesville [map point #6].

Day 11 - Dec. 24 Toured the campus of the University of Florida, which was mostly abandoned due to the holidays. It is truly an impressive campus. Made Tallahassee by lunchtime (lunch at TGI Fridays) and was able to see the capitol building downtown. Tallahassee is a charming town and certainly a retirement candidate. Continued on to our final destination: Pensacola Beach [map, #7], where we had reservations at the Hilton Beach Front Hotel for the excellent rate of $92. Not much open as it was Christmas Eve.  Had dinner next door at Crabs seafood (probably the only one open besides Hilton restaurant).

Day 12 - Dec. 25 Drove straight through Alabama - note the only restaurants open on Christmas day are the Waffle House chain. We decided to stop in at the Birmingham Sheraton, hoping to get a decent lunch/dinner, but were disappointed to find only the cafe open and not serving a great selection.  Continued on to Chattanooga, TN [map, #8] for the night, winding up at the Hampton Inn.

Day 13 - Dec. 26 Stopped ever so briefly in Chattanooga, TN - this is really a town worth visiting (the aquarium is among the least expensive in the US and of course, there's the Chattanooga Choo Choo (now a Holiday Inn). Continued on to Knoxville, but was relatively unimpressed.  Trudged on through a smidget of Georgia arriving at our destination for the day in Wytheville, VA [map, #9]. Overnight at the La Quinta there -- truly a superb value.

Day 14 - Dec. 27 Conquered the remaining 300 or so miles back home [map, #1], wrapping up nearly two weeks of on the road travel.  Naturally, Pennsylvania greated us with the usual gloomy cloudy skies and rain later in the day.

Southeast Tour 2007

This is probably the greatest road adventure we have ever undertaken!