Emails from our trip to the South Eastern USA...
to pickup our Honda Element.

Sep 5, 2006  
Sep 8, 2006
Sep 10, 2006
Sep 13, 2006
Sep 15, 2006
Sep 19, 2006
Sep 21, 2006
The Trip Photos...

Email September 5, 2006

Howdy Y'all...

Today (Wednesday) we're in Athens GA (university town)... had dinner last night at The Grit... veggy bistro, the building is owned by Michael Stipes (REM)... mmmm good.

It all began Saturday September 2nd ; a visit with Renee and Darrel in Bellingham... then dined and stayed the night with John and Larry in Seattle... Sunday AM we found a Park and Fly motel near SEATAC... then drove 3 hours east to The Gorge Amphitheatre to see Dave Matthews... Unbelievable show... the lead band was OAR (don't know them, but the 22,000 other fans did.) Dave played from 8:15 to 11:00... Wow... the sunset, the scene, the light show, the sound quality... all first class. Many of the crowd had booked all 3 shows. It was definitely party central!!!

At 11:00 we drove the 3 hours back to Seattle... crashed for 4 hours... caught the 8:20 flight to Atlanta... Rich and Sherri were waiting on time... we travelled the 100 miles north to their small town of Blairsville... stopping on route for a snack at the Steak N Shake... checked into the Best Western... passed out!

Tuesday at 9:00AM Sherri arrived with our bright and shiny 2005 Honda Element EX in Sunset Orange... just under 20,000 miles it's LIKE NEW!!!

We did the transfer thing at City Hall... took a couple of photos... gave them some Saltspring Island Wild Smoked Sockeye... (Rich is a very avid fisherman who's done a lot of Steelehead fishing in BC) hugs and hand shakes and frappe la rue (we hit the road)...

We headed north east up into the Smokey Mountains... plans were to do 2 or 3 nights in the area, but RAIN... so we stopped at Tallulah Gorge (they filmed the river scenes for Deliverance here)... stopped in Clayton to fill the cooler and gas up then headed for Athens... what a beautiful little town... so many bistros... so many bars and night clubs... maybe we'll spend more than 1 night.

See Y'all later...

Email September 8, 2006

Hi y;all...

Tonight we're in Kingsland, GA 3 miles north of the Florida border. As we pulled out of Brunswick we went to a groovy little fresh seafood shack (used to be a gas station). What a great place to buy fresh seafood of all descriptions! We bought 12 small freshly steamed blue crabs (similar to Dungeness). Checked in to a cheap motel, whipped up some coleslaw and voila! What a feast... tried our hardest to eat them all but we had to put some away in our cooler for lunch tomorrow somewhere on the road.

They even had huge frozen Dungeness crabs for $12.00 a pound. Our crabs were worth about a dollar each. Our trusty Leatherman (all purpose tool similar to a Swiss Army knife but better) came in very handy!

We have been travelling down the coastline of Georgia and have just about reached Florida. We have been having a great time in our "Honda Hummer". So comfortable and spacious... great stereo (7 speakers), cruise, air etc etc. Wow... there are a million Elements in Georgia... either young kids or old grannies.

We both fell in love with Athens Georgia... college town with a super great music scene and very good bistros. What a lovely place... about 100,000 people... so nice and easy to walk around. I went on a 2 hour hike along the river in the forest near the Georgia State Botanical Gardens. I disturbed something big... apparently either a deer or an armadillo! Had a great musical evening sitting outside under the stars on a patio listening to Claire Campbell who has just scored the soundtrack for a new movie staring Nick Nolte. Just happened to be seated at the same picnic table with the parents of the films writer/director. Met great people all over town. Beautiful college campus. We were told Athens is a unique oasis in Georgia and all the south for that matter. Loving the moss hanging off all the huge oak trees. In Brunswick we read of a pair of oaks called the "Lovers" (some native myth). They are reputed to be over 800 years old. Georgia and especially the coast is SO lush and green. We didn't see much of Savannah as there were monsoon rains pouring down on us.

We are looking forward to visiting the Okefenokee Swamp tomorrow. Evidently there are between 10 to 15,000 alligators there along with lots of other creatures... carnivorous plants, bears, butterflies, snakes, and who knows what other surprises. We need a Kia Sportage and some guy to teach us how to yell... Yaaa Hoooo!!! There is also a night tour which might be very interesting... ooohhhhh... what are those red eyes looking at us. Six thousand acres of wildlife sanctuary.

We should be in the Florida panhandle sometime on Monday and then we will follow the gulf coast line. Not sure what to expect as Katrina has wiped out a lot of the coast... we will just cruise along and check it out. They say you have to be careful in New Orleans as there are lots of desperate people.

Bob and I are sure impressed with the friendliness of the Georgians... polite.. happy... full of fun and considerate. One lady today asked Bob if anyone had told him he looked like Seann Connery... hmmmm..??

Well time to check out the beach.....

Email September 10, 2006

The Okefenokee was great fun!!!

We went on a hold your hand boat tour from the east entrance just south of Folkston. Managed to see about 50 of the 15,000 resident gators... and a very large (2 foot across) soft shell turtle... as well as some HUGE Great Blue Herons, Ibis and various other cranes. When we arrived at the Okefenokee State Park the first thing we saw was a big fat Alligator with a full protruding belly lounging on the bank... what a trip to see a real live alligator without a fence in between!!!! Thrilling! We got into our flat bottom boat and headed down the Suwannee (yesss it's down the Suwannee river) canal... the water is inky brown from the tannin. The rotting vegetation on the bottom creates amazing amounts of bubbling methane gas. Sections of the peat bog break off the bottom which create little islands that float up. The reflections of the cypress trees dripping long Spanish Moss (believe it or not, the closet relative is the pineapple) are just so gorgeous!!! We were surprised by the number of alligators on the banks and around our boat. One big one was sunning him/her-self and had his mouth wide open as a blustering stance or to cool down... weird to look down his baby pink throat! All the canals were created by slave labour at the turn of the century for the lumber industry who logged off the cypress. I can not imagine how awful that would have been... besides the alligators there were lots of bears, snakes and you name it. While we were in the boat we had a brief encounter with Mayflies (they bite like a horse fly).

We passed three southern fellas in a very small (from our point of view) boat who were fishing. Evidently you can canoe all over the park (NOT our cup of tea) and can spend the night on a very small individual platform built in a hammock (In the southern United States, a hammock can also mean a piece of thickly wooded land, usually covered with bushes and vines). Our guide said it is marvellous with a full moon. Speaking "moon" he said that the revenuers had busted a 600 gallon still about 3 months back. Really quite a different culture. There was an old homestead in the swamp, can you imagine what a trip that would be way back then.

Apparently you can estimate the size of an alligator by judging the distance from the nose to the eyes (yellow eyes) every inch converts to 1 foot in length. We even saw a little baby alligator. I went on 2 mile long walk along a elevated boardwalk. I saw red crested sand cranes, little lizards, even a flying lizard, pitcher plants, spiders, Ibis, blue herons, oozing marsh with lovely ferns and flowering plants,and just missed seeing an owl.

So we said farewell to our prehistoric friends and cruised down to the charming city of Valdosta which is a really old town (same vintage as Victoria Canada) very colonial. Downtown seems somewhat deserted as most folks shop at the mall a few miles down the highway. Saw some fantastic old mansions. Everywhere in Georgia there are grand old houses with the huge columns we all see in the pictures of Gone with the Wind... lots of cute little houses too but many look quite run down with faded white paint and lots of rocking chairs on the ubiquitous front porch. Every little town or village has a local furniture store with all the various styles of rocking chairs displayed... quite picturesque.

There are rocking chairs on every single porch in this state. We've seen lots of southern barbecue's with loads of meat of all descriptions including alligator... (bob tried crocodile in Borneo/Sarawak). You can recognize the barbecue's when you see smoke drifting up into the blue sky with lots of people crowded around. The south is definitely not into tofu and brown rice. We asked today if there was a vegetarian restaurant and the clerk looked like a deer caught in the way!

Tomorrow we're heading for the Florida panhandle.

We are really enjoying ourselves... we have our cooler in the back and are quite comfortable.
Mint Julep and Bubba

Email September 13, 2006

Blasting across Interstate 10... up 45... across 40 to New Mexico... The Element is running like a dream... the XM Satellite radio is coming in clear... the stereo sounds wonderful. (haven't checked the mileage yet Rich)

Left Valdosta on Monday at 9:00AM heading for Gulf Coast south of Tallahassee. En route we took the back roads rather than freeways... the huge oak trees draped with copious amounts of Spanish moss are absolutely everywhere... as are the smoking Bubba Bar-B-Q's. Crossing into Florida seemed like we had crossed into Palm Springs or something similar... can you spell manicured? We skirted Tallahassee and headed down towards the Gulf... Emerald Coast here we come... NOT... tropical depressions abound... the heavens opened and the rain came... I guess that's why it's so lush and green.

Stopped during the deluge for lunch in Apalachicola... this little hamlet is billed as Florida's Forgotten Coastline (at the moment). a very nice working fishing port with great looking cafes and lots of small funky boutiques. Jo had fabo oyster stew, I, a half dozen steamed with garlic, at The Boss cafe... (one caveat... these walnut size oysters don't hold a candle to Fanny Bay oysters... delicious though)

From there we continued west along 98 looking for sunshine and blue water... never did find the sunshine in this "The Sunshine State" and the blue water only gave a slight taste of it's potential. Stopped at SILVER SANDS MALL, North America's largest outlet gathering... picking up a few essentials... then pushed on and ended the day just off I-10 west of Mobile Alabama.

This morning we hit the road at 7:30 that was it for Alabama... waved at Mississippi as it went by... then debated about stopping in at New Orleans for a look... in the end we did... cruised the French Quarter and the Garden District. ZERO tourists... reconstruction abounds... but wide open for business. We'll be back on a junket in the future. Fell in love with New Orleans! Such an amazing city. The devastation from Katrina is still SO obvious... Malls, where the stores are all there but NO walls... you can se right through... who ever sold blue tarps has made a fortune... thousands of house roofs, like a blue patchwork... FEMA trailers everywhere! Looks like someone has dropped the ball.

Tonight we are hold up 20 miles east of Houston... tomorrow we head for central New Mexico... Taos? Santa Fe? Madrid?... we'll see... first there's two days of Texas to get through... Whew!!!

Time to get some shut eye...
Cowboy Bob and Bonanza Jellybean

Email September 15, 2006

Well we'll be back to New Orleans one day. The French quarter has such amazing and wonderful architecture. Shuttered doors and windows, wrought iron, second storey balconies everywhere with lush greenery and brightly coloured flowers. Narrow streets, sidewalk cafes and bars abound. The French quarter was relatively untouched but the rest of the city is still recovering from the terrible loss. We also cruised the Garden district, stopping to see some of the most beautiful houses we've ever seen. We heard first hand stories of refugees housed at the Hilton in Atlanta as well as those who received NO help. As you drive through on Interstate 10 you can see the patch work of blue tarps and trailers (FEMA and private) as people attempt to recover even a year later. The streets are still lined with rubble and piles of debris.

As we left New Orleans en route to Baton Rouge I-10 became an elevated causeway for more that 20 miles kinda like a very long bridge on cement pylons (Rich and Sherri we get the picture) over the swamps and bayous. Getting stuck here during a tropical depression could be no fun with NO place to exit.

I took 2 days to traverse the lone star state of Texas... we've seen prairie dog towns, long-horn cattle, vultures, hawks, mules and even a herd of camels. Road kill from raccoons, armadillos and get this a 10 foot alligator. Love bugs will make an extraordinarily big mess of the grill and windshield. They are swarms of black bugs, male and female locked together in flight, then SPLAT!! can't eve imagine riding a motorcycle on these highways. They stink and stick like GLUE and evidently are good to use as paint remover is you don't wash them off. Speaking of MC's... we've seen very few on the road, but loads of very large Harley-Davidson showrooms. They are definitely the ride of choice in the south.

Whilst zooming along we have been listening to the XM satellite radio. Lovin' it. Everything from news (no Canadian news-let us know what is really going on in Canada please) to old spooky radio shows like "Suspense Theatre" or talking books like Bram Stoker's "Dracula", to all genres of music and weather (including impending hurricanes).

We needed kd Lang in Texas… just saw an advertisement for a free 72 ounce steak if eaten in 1 hour! This is the smoked meat and beef jerky capital of the world. Gas has been as low as $2.17 cents a US gallon here (CAD$0.65 per litre)...started at $2.89 in Seattle.

As we have been driving along we are seeing lots of gorgeous yellow wildflowers which look like small sunflowers... and of course the ubiquitous oil pumps that give a feeling of giant woodpeckers pecking the ground.

All the little towns we travel thru seem to be devastated by the huge 24 hour Wal-Mart Super Stores (including food). Lots of deserted building in the downtown cores while the parking lots of Waymart's are full. Such a shame as these little picturesque towns are dying. Downtown defines a city.

New Mexico
Camped last night and slept in our Honda for the first time. Wonderful... we camped in the Pecos Historic National Forrest (25 mile from Santa Fe). We were 30 feet from this gorgeous little stream so we could hear it as we cosy'd up to each other under our down sleeping bags. Was really fun and it did rain later in the evening and the sound was just like being in a tent only you don't have to worry about touching the sides and having the rain seep in! Now we are off to discover Santa Fe soon but will have to take it slow as Bob is light headed from the altitude which is 7,000 feet (my pacemaker doesn't have the altimeter feature). Then we hope to go north to Taos. Plan also on a little trip south to Madrid.

Thanks for your emails...We sure enjoy them... Jellybean and airhead

Email September 19, 2006

The wonderful journey continues.
I love going to sleep in a tent or van or even our hummer, what I dislike is waking up in the morning so it was get up... throw everything in one heap in the rear and head down the highway 20 miles to the city of Santa Fe. So...jump in the shower and get ready for a new adventure.

The colours here are terra cotta. Everywhere you look you see the distinctive pueblo style home that we've all seen pictures of. Went to a restaurant called "Dave's not here" and to our surprise he wasn't but they did have a poem on the wall which was signed by Cowboy Bob....oooohhh scary. While there we spoke to a lady who said her guests had trouble also with the altitude if they had pacemakers. After 2 days Bob still was light-headed (air) and I walked all over the city while he hung out in our room with his computer (happy Bob). What a great city to see and buy art. Canyon St was amazing... most galleries had huge gorgeous bronzes in their front yards (unusually with lots of greenery and flowers). Looked at some painting done in about 1895... the Indians and the new settlers. The old, old faces all creased and brown with gleaming eyes. The young bucks with their loin cloths astride their horses (smiles). Lots and lots of beautiful paintings... quite overwhelming. There are lots of tourists in Santa Fe... lots of trendy restaurants and bars... lots of older women with their new turquoise jewellery they had just acquired... too many tourists for me. Super fantastic buildings... so different.

So we decided to forgo our visit to the four corners area. Home to Mesa Verde (you all have seen pictures of the village carved in rock set in a cliff), Chaco and Canyon de Chelles... so down we go to the little village of Gallup which was a nice quaint place because it didn't have a Wal-Mart. Felt like we were in a Western Movie with Cowboys and Indians. Somehow Cowboys and First Nations people sounds a bit bazaar.

Zooming down the highway again. we have a new bug that seems to cover almost every square inch of our windscreen. Our bug adventure has been fairly infrequent but when it does happen it's intense. Sort just bug's out!

Went again to a most supernatural drive. Zion Canyon is so wonderful and outstanding in its breathtaking beauty. We drove through near sunset so the cliffs glowed bright orange. When we came out through the other side of the park (west) there were many tasteful business in place that definitely were not there 30 years ago when we last saw it. Also saw the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Marble Canyon which is at the north end. Majestic cliffs with the mighty Colorado river flowing by. Saw the Vermillion cliffs which are awesome... imagine an immense valley spreading out as far as the eye can see and them butting up to a huge plateau with bright red cliffs which rose up about 2,000 feet. Jolly Green giant territory.

Coming out of Arizona saw lovely swirling rounded foothills. They looked like they were covered in soft wheat coloured velvet. "Queue horses... set against such a backdrop the small herds of horses were so unreal... wind whipping up their tails and manes. Tres nice.

Anyway folks… gotta go...on our way home to one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
J Beanhead

Email September 21, 2006

Great to be home... cruised in to the inner harbour on the Coho (Black Ball ferry out of Port Angeles, WA)... what a great vista of our beautiful little city!

Great to be home in the sunshine! Heading up to the Okanagan on the 29th for a few days.

Looking forward to Autumn after our sojourn in the deep south.
Jellybean and Bubba