I changed jobs this year and because of that I had to move. This left
me with only 2 week of vacation, and I took those in October. I wanted
some good weather, so I decided to go to Florida, and the rest of the south
east of the States.
The trek I did this year was called 'Dixieland' and was organized by TrekAmerica. The starting point of the trek was Miami.
The week before I left I had to be in Denmark to do some work. I arrived home on Friday evening, and had to be back at the airport the next morning. That is not a good way to start a vacation!
This trek was mainly Interstates and driving. We drove about 5000 km in 14 days. From that 14 days we had 8 days of travel.
Saturday October 5
Left from Schiphol with Martinair to Miami. Quiet flight, not much to see (except water) or do (except watching the in-flight movie). I met my first trek-mate, Andy from England. Did not do much during the rest of the day.
Sunday October 6
Met the rest of the gang. An international group: Germany, England, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and South Korea.
We left Miami and drove to St. Augustine, a small coastal village, with a "very old" center, a couple of hundred years. We should stay here for 2 nights.
During the day it starts to rain, and it does not stop until we are at the campground. We have just enough time to put up our tents. Then it starts to rain again, even before we can put our stuff inside the tents. We decide to do our shopping, but it continues to rain, even after we are finished with our meals. So we decide to pull down the tents and sleep somewhere else. Finally we end up in the laundry. That is a very good start of the trek!
Monday October 7
Because the weather is still bad we decide to move on and stay an extra night in New Orleans. During the day it continues to rain. We see some exits from the Interstate that are closed down because the connecting roads are flooded! About an hour before we arrive in New Orleans the clouds break and it is clear. From that moment on and during the trek the weather was good.
Tuesday October 8 and Wednesday October 9
2 great days in New Orleans. It was a very good plan to leave St. Augustine early and stay an extra day here! One day is not enough. The first day we made a trip with the Natches and made a trip through the French Quarter. But the days in New Orleans are only there to fill up the time between the nights, and those nights are great! Bourbon Street is just one large party, the music is great, and there was a lot of beer!
The next day we went to the Garden District. Here the houses are build away from the street, with a garden in front. In the French Quarters the house are build without a garden in front of the houses.
We had Cajun food on both days. That was really good, but it was too spicy for some people.
Thursday October 10
First to the Swamps. We made a boat trip to see alligators, but we did not see any (I think they saw us and decided to
hide for us), until we were close to the starting point. There we saw a young alligator. It did not move, so we got the impression that it was a fake, until we came close. Then it suddenly moved very quickly.
Friday October 11
We went to Graceland, to "see" Elvis. That is a real attraction park. You cannot walk directly to Graceland, but you have to take a bus from across the road. It is a ride of about 2 minutes. Once you're inside you they give you the impression that you are on sacred grounds and that Elvis was such a great person, and there will never be someone like him (according to the cassette). He was such a great person, and it was a gigantic loss to humanity when he left us...
In the afternoon we left for Nashville, and we visited the Grand Ole Oprey, and then to Nashville itself to the Wildhorse Saloon, to experience country style dancing.
Saturday October 12
Today we had a drinking day. From Nashville we first went to Lynchburg, the place of Jack Daniel's Whiskey. In the town itself you cannot buy any liquor. That's a remainder from the 30s, when a place was only allowed to sell liquor again if at least a certain number of people voted in favor, but in Lynchburg the total number of people was less than this number. Since a couple of years the souvenir shop is allowed to sell whiskey to the visitors.
After this stop we drove on to Atlanta and there we visited the 'World of Coca Cola', with the history of Coca-Cola (how strange :-). The last stop (before the souvenir shop) was the soda fountain. Here you can taste all the drinks Coca-Cola is producing all over the world. Here you can see how different the taste is all over the world; there were a number of drinks I would never buy!
Close to the Coca-Cola center was a large mall, and here they were selling Olympic souvenirs, but the Olympics were already over, so these souvenirs were very cheap. At that moment I noticed I am still Dutch, so I bought a lot of souvenirs :-) In this mall there was a food court: a lot of small food shops with a large place with tables were you could eat.
Sunday October 13 and Monday October 14
And we went on to Panama City Beach, a beach resort at the Gulf of Mexico. On Monday we rented a number of jet ski's to see the Gulf from the seaside. There were also some dolphins, and they were swimming around our jet ski's.
Tuesday October 15 - Friday October 18
On Tuesday we moved from Panama City Beach to Orlando. We decided to rent 2 cabins instead of staying in tents. In was nice to sleep in a normal bed again after a week, and to have a normal roof over my head.
On Wednesday we visited Disney World. It looks a lot like Disney Land, only the attractions that are based on films have been moved to MGM.
We needed the whole day to explore the park, but it wasn't very busy so the lines weren't very long. They celebrated the 25 anniversary of the park, so they had a large firework after the Electrical Parade.
The next day we visited MGM-studios. Especially the Indiana Jones Stunt
Spectacular is very good. And then you have the studio tour, were you can
see how they make all the stuff they need for a film, you experience a
disaster, and you see all the sets of the famous films.
They had a number of shows. One of them was "The Beauty & the Beast".
We were a bit early and while we were sitting there and chatting a number
of technicians came on stage to finish the audio with a sound check. They
had a very good show. After that we visited the "Tower of Terror". This
is a hotel with a broken elevator: they drop you from the 13th floor down.
On Friday we planned to go to the Florida Keys, but a new tropical storm had the same idea, so we decided to stay in Orlando for another day. I stayed on the campground.
Saturday October 19
This was the last day of the trek, so we went back to Miami. But first we visited the Kennedy Space Center and saw all the large rockets and also a model of the Space Shuttle.
That night we had a party to thank our trek leader. He had to leave very early the next morning to drive a van to New York and from there another one to LA.
Sunday October 20 and Monday October 21
Enjoyed one day of sunshine (the first day of sunbathing) at the pool. In the plane back home I notice that I enjoyed it too much.
We said good bye at the hotel to most people of the group, and I went to the airport with the English, because they had to leave on a flight just ahead of my flight.
Arrived home on Monday.
Tuesday October 22
Planned to start working again at 9 o'clock. But I had to change plans when I woke up at 11 am.
This was a great trek. Because of the unusual start in the laundry we
got a really good start. And then we went to New Orleans to party, and
we went on with that during the whole trek. The tropical storms changed
the plans, but the result was that we had a great time.
The only disadvantage of this trek is the time you have to spend in the van, and the fact that we only saw interstates. But if you want to see a lot you have to drive a lot. But still if you want to see the southeast this is the trek to do.