Houston Highlights – Day 14

Day 14 — April 14, 2003 — Monday

Houston Highlights

I love Texas, especially small-town Texas.  So, I decided to change the itinerary.  I am adding a few days between now and when we reach San Diego.  I am splitting today’s itinerary in two; I will go to Corpus Christi tonight and then on to McAllen on Tuesday.  This will allow the time to drive to small towns and really see them rather than just breezing past them on the road through town.


The world’s best wife/mother/grandmother/navigator flew back to Atlanta for a week as scheduled, so I am alone on the road.  I had a great time today, but it would have been twice as good with Bozzie Jane.  She’ll meet up with me in San Diego in a little over a week.  As happy as she will be to see our daughter, granddaughter, and cat, Boz has really gotten into the trip, so I know she was sad to get on the plane.


The day began in Houston.  Big place.  Lots of big, busy roads.  Big cities like Houston are not the focus of our trip, but it was on the route from Louisiana to South Texas.  Having lived in Texas for many years, I have been to Houston a number of times.  It’s always hot, and because of the very high humidity, it always seems hotter than anywhere else.  Nothing has changed.

We stayed at the Candlewood Suites – great place especially when you need to do the wash as they have nice (free) washers and dryers.  We told the three ladies at the front desk a little about the trip, and none of them had been to the two places that I chose to see in Houston, so they will be reading and seeing the photos on this page.


Boz provided the directions to Houston Hobby Airport and then on to my two Houston stops, so she was navigating even after she was on the plane.


I stopped at Mary Lee Donuts for breakfast.  As I was taking a picture, a man came running out.  It seemed like he felt I was trying to steal trade secrets or something.  I gave a two sentence explanation of the trip, and he relaxed.  Once inside, all of the customers were talking; they all thought I had come to buy him out or something.  I guess convertibles can have that effect on some people; they see money.  The donuts were very good.


The Orange Show is one of the quirky attractions that I have most wanted to see on this trip.  I read a lot about it during my research.  The Orange Show used to be a home in a residential neighborhood.  It is shocking to drive down a street with homes to the left and to the right, and then see The Orange Show towering above the homes all around it.  Nina was kind enough to let me in The Orange Show, even though they were not open.  I also met Christine, the Marketing Coordinator, and she provided me with extensive information.


The Orange Show is a giant sculpture garden (for lack of better words to describe what it is) that fills a residential lot.  It was constructed from 1954 to 1979 by Jeff McKissack, a retired postal worker.  He built it to encourage people to eat oranges, drink oranges, and be highly amused.  Jeff felt The Orange Show would become a bigger tourist attraction than the Grand Canyon or Disneyland.  He was sadly disappointed when the crowds he predicted never materialized.  He died at age 78, just eight short months after his 25 year project opened to the public.  The Orange Show is now seen by over 30,000 visitors annually.  Even more significant, The Orange Show is the focal point for a foundation that produces a variety of folk art events in the city

The Orange Show is maintained by The Orange Show Foundation.  See www.orangeshow.org.  We will write much more about The Orange Show in our book.


I took a picture of the home next door to The Orange Show.  I wondered what in the world they must think about living right next door to this massive orange development.


My next Houston stop was at the Beer Can House.  Like The Orange Show, the Beer Can House was a man’s home right smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  John Milkovisch began decorating his home in 1968, and he stayed at it for 18 years, incorporating a six-pack a day into the décor.  The property is covered with beer cans, metal beer labels, pull tops, beer bottles – everything beer can-related.  He flattened beer cans and used them as aluminum siding.  He linked pull-tabs into long streamers to make curtains.  He used cans and bottles to build fences.


As I looked at the homes all around the Beer Can House, I again wondered what in the world these folks must think of having this in their neighborhood.  The odd shape of the apartments on one side told their story; the apartments don’t face the street – but in the opposite direction from the Beer Can House.  On the other side of the house, I noticed some folks on the front porch, so I walked over to ask a few questions.  I met Leticia and her mother Maria Hernandez.  Leticia was very nice, and she said the house has been no problem to them.  She related a story about Hurricane Alicia.  Everyone was wondering when the hurricane would hit Houston, but she says they knew early as all the beer tabs and beer stuff dangling from the house let them know.  Everything was all hanging horizontally rather than vertically and making quite a noise.  The house and visitors may not bother her, but I did notice they have a loud dog and a Beware of Dog sign….


When I was at Texas Tech, Arne Ray, Mike Tate, and some other fraternity brothers lived in a home at 29th and Flint in Lubbock where they developed a huge “Beer Garden” by throwing all of the beer cans from innumerable parties into a big pile in the backyard.  They had rodeo banners hanging from the eaves of the house and a rubber chicken decorated the picture window.  The neighbors were less than thrilled.  If only Arne had thought of the beer can motif, he could have turned 29th and Flint into a real beer palace, and it wouldn’t have taken 18 years.

Highway 59 was my route out of Houston, but after seeing a sign that said I was leaving Sugar Land and then passing Richmond (where I know they have some nice historic homes) and I hadn’t seen a thing but cement, I realized that I needed to get off this four-lane divided highway.  I couldn’t identify a two-lane route from the map provided by the State of Texas, so I began exiting to take the Business 59 route; the business routes go through the hearts of the towns, and that’s the route we prefer.


So down Business 59 I went to Hungerford.  I hoped to find a place to eat as I thought it would be fun to eat in HUNGERford.  I didn’t find any place with food, but just a few miles down Business 59 just outside Wharton, I came across the fabulous Tee Pee Motel.  This is exciting to me, as the few remaining tee pee motels are prized sights by folks who enjoy roadside history and architecture.  I have identified two or three tee pee motels that we plan to see, but I had never heard of this one.  Abandoned and out in the middle of nowhere with nothing near it.  The exterior of the tee pees appeared to be in very good shape.  The thought that these amazing pieces of Americana might get torn down is a horrible thought.


I made my way into Wharton.  I stopped in the For All Seasons Antique Shop on the square in Wharton and met Victoria.  I asked about the Tee Pee Motel, and she told me all about it (and was then kind enough to email me with more information and offers of help).  The Tee Pee Motel outside Richmond was originally developed in 1946.  I was delighted to learn that someone bought the motel and plans to restore it!  As I walked around the town square, I met Angie McCrae of Blue Moon Antiques, and she directed me to the Chamber of Commerce office.  Ron Sanders of the Wharton Journal-Spectator newspaper was kind enough to give me a copy of the March 15, 2003 edition of the paper with a front page story about Wortham Smith and his plans to move the tee pees to Highway 59 and restore them.  Hooray for Wortham!

When I did a Yahoo search tonight, I learned that Wortham is trying to raise money for the project.  See http://www.thevillagesofwhartoncounty.com/investor.htm.  I sure hope he can pull it off.  Here are more details about his development project — http://www.thevillagesofwhartoncounty.com/project_review.htm.


Wharton is a lovely little town that is very actively working to restore the county courthouse and train depot.  There are classic-looking old buildings on all sides of the town square.  As I headed out of town, I slammed on the brakes to take a picture of a dinosaur – not sure the story on that.  They also have a great-looking bridge over the picturesque Colorado River.  I can’t believe I have never heard of Wharton, Texas.


While at the Wharton newspaper office, I bought a huge map that shows all the little roads in Texas.  I may have to add more days to the trip as now I can find even more little spots in the road.


Glen Fora was next.  A little spot, but they had a cute café and post office.  I was in Glen Fora for one specific reason; it is the town you have to pass through to go to Egypt.  That’s right, Egypt, Texas.  It’s entertainment to just read a list of the names of cities in Texas.  When I spotted Egypt on the map when planning the trip, I immediately added it to the itinerary.

My goal was to take a photo of the Egypt City Limits sign, but when I got there, I found a historic plantation and some great old architecture, including slave houses, the plantation house, and the Northington Saloon (built in 1874).  I liked Egypt.


El Campo calls itself the “Pearl of the Prairie.”  The town features 20 historic murals painted on buildings all around town.  I stopped at the place where the locals eat, The Duson Café.  I had a delicious piece of Chocolate Pecan Pie – good old southern pecan pie with a chocolate pudding on top.  I’ve never had anything quite like it, and it was very good.  My waitress, Elizabeth, was a really sweet young girl.  I asked her what was special about El Campo, and when she learned that I had photographed some of the murals, she directed me to the best mural in town.  It was painted by the mother of one of her friends.  She told me the mural has train tracks on it, and when you drive by – from either direction – it appears that the train tracks are pointing in your direction.  It’s like you are seeing two different paintings depending upon which end of the street you are on.  I walked back and forth past it several times trying to figure out how it does what it does, but I couldn’t figure it out.  It is truly something special to see!


I saw Edna, Inez, and Victoria today, but I didn’t see Louise.  I exited, but when I came off the highway, I came to a road that went in two directions, but no indication of which way to go for the town of Louise.  I figure not many people go to Louise, but those who do must know where they are going.  I decided to get back on the highway and try the next town…but then I wondered if Louise was just hiding something good from tourists like me.  I’ll never know.

Edna was next.  Then Inez…on the way to Victoria.  Barbara and I have talked at length about who it is that names things – towns, parks, bridges, etc.  Someone who liked women must have named all of these towns.


Edna was a great stop.  Since I am in search of good patriotic photo opportunities each day, Edna was a real find since it is the “Flag City.”  The city has permanent poles all over town, and each pole has an American flag in it.  An Edna police car passed me, and it was painted with an American flag design.


I was pleased to see the police car pass me; it is now Day 12 on the DWAT Meter (Days Without A Ticket).  I never speed, and the driving in the right hand lane has been a big help, though I have to keep my eyes peeled all the time as the speed limits change so quickly as we go in and out of little towns.


There isn’t much in Inez.  All I could find were a school and a neat little baseball diamond that reminded me of years of playing baseball on little fields like that as a grade schooler in Texarkana, Texas.  My brother and I played baseball for six years with Frank Sterle.  Frank lives in Houston now and was kind enough to call and try to meet Barbara and me last night, but we got into Houston too late to get together.


Victoria is a good-sized small town, and I really enjoyed seeing the wide variety of homes in the historic district.  I also drove through Riverfront Park and took some photos of the meandering Guadalupe River.  There are a lot of rivers in this part of the state.


I landed in Refugio when the sun was about gone.  Refugio is old — founded in 1795.

When I hit the outskirts of Corpus Christi, I stopped at the Roadhouse.  I was attracted by a parking lot full of cars and a great classic car on the side of the building.  I can’t figure out where all the cars came from as there weren’t many people eating – perhaps a clever marketing ploy by the owner to fill the lot with cars so folks would think it was busy.  Vanessa was an excellent waitress.


There is a lot of oil and gas activity in Corpus Christi – the equipment fills the skyline.


Sonja took good care of me when I reached the Embassy Suites.


I learned a few things today, but my main thought as I call it a day is how lucky I am to have such a special wife.  I had a great time today, but it just wasn’t the same alone.




Weatherwise, it was another great day — sunny with blue skies and a degree or two over 80.  We have now been on the road for 14 days, and we’ve had less than 30 minutes of light rainfall in 376 hours – fantastic weather!  It was a little cool for two days, but 12 of 14 days of sun tan weather is mighty nice in April.


I’ve received a number of emails from newspapers and radio stations about interviews.  I need to devote some time to getting back to these people.  I also need to send out a news release with some highlights thus far.


Huge thanks to my baby sister, Marty, who has come up with a way for me to process my photos every night that will save at least an hour a night.  Thanks Murt!


We’ve driven over 3,500 miles in the first two weeks.  Tomorrow marks the start of Week 3.



April 14th 31303 10:33am We’re leaving The Candlewood. We talked to Shawna and the ladies at the front desk. We sent a Fed Ex to Harry Perkins, and we have directions so we’re rolling. There is blue skies, scattered cumulus clouds. 72 degrees

31319 11:00 I just left Bozzie Jane off at the airport at Hobby. It’s really sad to see her leave for a while.

At 11:40 I stopped at Mary Lee Donuts and took a picture of the place. An Indian man came running out wanting to know what I was doing. I told him I was driving around the country. He was the owner and thought I was coming to buy him out. The donuts were very good too.

I couldn’t find Munger Street so I stopped at a gas station and they had no idea. The same went for the people in the restaurant.

I made it to The Beer Can House; it was a fascinating place. I met Nina and the lady in charge of marketing who gave me her card. It took this man 25 years to build it, and I have a bunch of information on it. I took a picture of the house next door because I think that is equally amazing. This is built right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. You just have to wonder what these folks think.

I met the nextdoor neighbors to the Beer Can House, Latisha and Maria Hernandez. Maria let me take her picture; Latisha just had a baby so she didn’t want her picture taken. They were really sweet ladies and said they had lived here for a long time as has almost everybody on this street. They told me a great story that everybody was wondering when Hurricane Alicia was going to hit. They had all these things dangling on the house which let them know when it was time.

31338 1:04 I’m leaving the area of the Beer Can House and I miss my navigator.

It’s 83 degrees in Houston, and of course because of the humidity it feels hotter than anywhere we’ve been.

Brazos River 31368 1:31pm

BrazosBendState Park

George Ranch Historical Park

I just saw a sign that said “leaving Sugarland City Limits” 31370 1:33pm This 59 has a four lane divided highway so I can tell I’m going to be looking for another road though the map doesn’t seem to indicate I will have that option for a while.

I’m exiting at Hwy 762 for Richmond because Richmond has supposedly some historic homes.

Richmond population 11,081 31375 1:37pm

Rosenberg 31378 1:46pm

Most of Texas is flat and this is certainly one of the flat parts. You can take a picture of a field here and it would look just like a field in West Texas or anywhere else.

I just left Beasley 31390 1:57pm

Latisha Hernandez did have a loud dog and a “beware of dog” sign, so I wonder if they would have had that if they didn’t live nextdoor to the Beer Can House.

Kindleton 31394 2:02pm

Crossing the Sand Bernard River 31397 2:04pm

Exiting on Business 59 for Hungerford

Hungerford 31401 2:08pm

There are a lot of farm and county roads in Texas, but unfortunately they’re not on the map we have so we couldn’t figure out how to follow them. I’ll have to see if I can get another map.

I took a picture of an old black man’s shack between Hungerford and Horton.

I was hoping to eat in Hungerford but I didn’t find any restaurants.

31406  Between Hungerford and Horton I came across the fabulous Teepee Motel

I’m in Horton 31407 2:23pm

I took a picture of a mural in Horton and I’m trying to get into downtown but it’s one way in the wrong direction.

I met Victoria at the Four All Seasons Antique Shop in the Square of Horton. She told me there was information I could get about the Teepee Village. Then I stopped at the Blue Moons Antiques where Angie McCray was very helpful and told me how to get to the Chamber of Commerce, and then I happened to spot the local newspaper, went in and met Ron Sanders. He was kind enough to give me a copy of the newspaper that had a story about it. I have very good information on the Teepee Motel. It was a cute little town; they’re restoring things. They have a Horton Plaza Theater (www.hortonplazatheater.org). Horton County Courthouse is being restored, and also the train depot. Horton even has a dinosaur and a great bridge going over the Colorado River.

Mackay 31414 3:06pm

I stopped to take a picture of the Mackay sign for Melinda Mackay.

I need to always travel on the business routes; if there’s a 59 and a 59 Business, I need to take the 59 Business.

Glen Flora

I’m on Farmroad 102 in Glen Flora. I took a picture of the post office and the Fina’s Tex Mex Café.

I saw a real old shack, just run down as could be but it had a dish on the side of it. When you think about it, I guess they don’t have cable TV in places like Glen Flora.

Egypt 31431 3:30pm

Egypt apparently has or was or does has or did have a plantation. You see homes along the road that have clearly looking slave homes.

I’m going back to 59 now because the only reason to come to Egypt was to be able to say “I was here.”

Northington Saloon 1874 It’s really cool.

I had to back track on 59 to get to 102 after seeing beautiful downtown Horton. The trip over to Egypt was well worth it.

I’m leaving Egypt at 31436 3:48pm

I took a mailbox just outside Egypt. I took a picture of the Disco 9000 in Glen Flora.

This looks like it’s a peach growing area.

Horton 31445 4:00pm

I’m passing through the outskirts of Pierce 31454 4:08pm

I’m back on 59 to Business 59 to go to El Campo to see the murals.

El Campo is called “pearl of the prairie.” Or at least that’s what they call themselves.

I’m at the Zduson Diner and had a delicious chocolate pecan pie. It was pecan pie with chocolate pudding on top; it was very tasty. Elizabeth was the waitress. She was a real sweet young girl, and she told me the best mural to take a picture of. She told me the mural just down the street was painted by her friend’s mother. She said when you look at it in one direction, the train tracks go one way; when you look at it in the other direction, the train tracks go in the exact opposite way. I walked down the street and had no earthly idea how it was done that way, but that’s exactly the way it is.

Still in El Campo 31461 4:45pm 80 degrees

I’m passing by Hillje on the highway 31466 4:50pm

I exited the highway to go to the town of Louise. I came off the off-ramp, come to a road which goes in two different directions with no indication of where Louise might be. I guess a lot of people don’t go to Louise, and those that do know where they’re going.

Navidad River 31487 5:15pm

One of the cities I pulled into is Edna. It turns out Edna is the flag city; they had poles all over town, and every pole has an American flag. I also saw some folks who went crazy over the car. I turned back around. They were a group of nice young people who had never seen a Porsche in their life I guess and thought I was a movie star.

La Vaca River 31501 5:36pm

I got off at Inez but I found was a school.

Inez 31509 5:45pm

I took a picture of Duncan’s Park in Inez; it’s a little baseball field.

I passed by Telferner 31519 5:57pm

Victoria 31521 5:59pm It’s 77 degrees

Riverside Park in Victoria. I took pictures of the Guadalupe River 31528 6:38pm

I just toured the beautiful Victoria historical district which had gorgeous homes with a real variety of colonial, Spanish, Victorian style.

I’m passing over the Guadalupe River 31530 6:54pm

Crossing the San Antonio River 31551 7:24pm

I’ve seen two trains today so that puts us up to 5 ice cream cones. When the sun starts going down, the focus shifts to the horizon to try to get a good sunset picture.

I don’t believe there’s anyway I can capture it on film because it’s only occasionally that I get glimpses of it through the trees, but the horizon looks like it is on fire. There are these wispy bottomed clouds with the orange glow of the sunset underneath them, and it looks like the shining of fire through smoke.

Refugio is an historic town that has existed since 1795.

Refugio 31572 7:44 The sun is almost gone.

I’m going over the Michen River 31574 7:53pm

I saw another train, I think that’s 6.

Woodsborough 31579 7:57pm

I’m crossing the Oranzes River 31589 8:06pm

Welder Wildlife Refuge—Welder is the name of the interlocked WW brand on the home that I saw back in Victoria.

Sinton 31596 8:11pm

Odem 31606 8:20pm

Nueces 31611 8:26pm I just connected where 77 and highway interstate 37 run on the same road. I’m going to head to Corpus Christi.

I’m in the city limits of Corpus Christi 31611 8:27pm

Corpus Christi is the home town of What-a-Burger

As I was driving down the highway, I saw on the opposite side of the road a restaurant with a cool looking classic car coming off the side of the building. It’s called a Roadhouse. It didn’t sound like a chain, so I exited and cut back. The parking lot was full of cars, but when I came in there was hardly anybody in there. They were all in the bar. I had a red snapper; Vanessa was the waitress and was very sweet. It certainly wasn’t anything great, but it was a cute little place. They have done a decent job of decorating it on a local level.

9:22pm 31618 I am looking for my hotel.

There’s lots of oil and gas activity in Corpus Christi. You see these big refineries with lights up and down them all along the skyline.

Corpus Christi has a Greyhound Racetrack.

I stopped at the Embassy Suites and got a room. There was a very nice receptionist; she asked about Round America. We had a nice chat, her name was Sonya.

Donut Shop in Louisiana – Day 13

Day 13 — April 13, 2003 — Sunday

Donut Shop in Louisiana

We had absolutely nothing planned for today except to drive from New Orleans to Houston and do the wash.  Other than one nature trail scenic drive area in Louisiana, the page was clean.

We got some rest while in New Orleans, and I was able to get the website work brought up to date.  We both wanted beignets, but we didn’t want to walk back through The Quarter to stand in line at Café DuMond, so we were pleased to learn that the Fairmont Hotel had beignets.  Kathy was our waitress.  We split an order of four (three for me and one for Boz), and they were very good.  The coffee was strong.  The little straps that I am now using on my sunglasses are great, but I haven’t mastered eating with them hanging around my neck.  The inside of the lenses were filled with powdered sugar from the beignets this morning…and assorted other items over the last few days.


As we carried our bags to the front of the hotel to wait for the valet to bring our car, we overheard one of the bellmen, Michael, say that Richard Pryor was checking out.  I had my camera poised and ready.  We introduced ourselves, but he turned out to be a white guy named Richard Pryor.  I took a photo of Richard and Michael.


We met a nice couple in the elevator, Norton and Summer from Walker, Louisiana.  We discussed how more people should speak to each other in elevators.  And we met two University of Texas students – Liz and Bryan — while waiting for our car.


We got lost while trying to find our two-lane road as we left New Orleans.  I’m convinced it was a signage deficiency that should be charged to either the State of Louisiana or the City of New Orleans…certainly not an error to be charged to Ace Navigator Bozzie Jane.

Once we found Highway 90, it turned out to be a four-lane divided highway.  We drove on it for a while, but we were seeing nothing, so we made a mid-course correction and headed for a nearby two-lane road.  The scenery improved dramatically.


Southern Louisiana isn’t very pretty, and there isn’t a lot to see, but today was more like the “Pie Trip” as we originally envisioned it.  We were just driving from small town to small town, so we enjoyed the heck out of it.  We saw towns with little or nothing in them.  We saw some industrial towns.  We saw a sugar town and a hot sauce town.  We saw a lot of snow cone stands.  In the town of Paradis, we saw a number of old parade floats stored in yards along the highway.  In Morgan City, we saw a monument to the first offshore oil well in Louisiana (completed November 14, 1947 — 43 miles to the south), and we stopped to get donuts from Amber and Sarah.   Then we came across an area with beautiful antebellum mansions and real honest-to-goodness pre-Civil War plantations.  I didn’t realize bears inhabited southern Louisiana, but we saw a bear crossing warning sign, though the only bear we saw was 200 miles down the road in front of a casino on the Louisiana-Texas border.  During the day, we happened upon what must be the world’s largest spark plug as well as the world’s largest crawfish.


When I bought donuts at The Donut Shop, I asked Sarah and Amber what life was like in Morgan City.  “Boring.”  Sarah and Amber looked like they were 16 or 17 years old.  Amber appeared to be a trainee; she was wearing a hair net.  I asked what they did for fun, and they couldn’t come up with much.  I told them a little about the trip and the book, and it seemed exciting to them.  They seemed pleased that their names would be in the book.  I told them I would take a picture of the shop as well.  Barbara noted that Amber quickly removed her hair net as I stepped back 50 feet or so to snap the photo.  I regret that I didn’t get a good close-up of them.  I also regret that we didn’t stop to buy snow cones for every youngster we saw on a bicycle at or near a snow cone stand.  We can and will fix these mistakes as we travel on!

Once again, the sights, sounds, and smells reminded us of vacations and trips we took as children.  The look of a bridge or a small town; the sound of a train whistle that, in Barbara’s family, meant you got an ice cream cone; the smell of freshly-cut grass and food being cooked.  Neither of us are sure why so many memories of our childhood are being brought to mind, but we are mighty glad they are.


I received an email from my Dad (84 years young), and here was were his thoughts:

“Okay, so I’ve finally gotten caught up on the Journal.  A wonderful account of your unique adventure.  Makes me recall the trips we took when you were a kid, through many of the same areas, but paying no attention along the way, only interested in the destination.  Are we there yet?”


We are paying attention, though we could spend far more time in each area.  Life is full of trade offs, and it’s hard to justify spending more time as the trip will take over 100 days as it is.

The sun set before we crossed from Louisiana into Texas.  I wish we could get our hands on some of those night vision goggles that the troops have in Iraq as we hate the thought of what we may be missing alongside the road as we drive after dark.  I am going to extend the trip by a few days so I can break up some of the longer days to give us more time to see the sights and explore.

There was no Welcome to Texas sign on the highway — so much for the plan to have 50 of those signs in our photo portfolio.  🙁


We’ve told ourselves “no regrets,” but it’s impossible.  “Few regrets” is a much better approach.

We stopped in Beaumont at the Crockett Street Entertainment District.  We had a very good Mexican dinner at Rio Rita’s.  We rolled into Houston about 10:30.


Boz and I are having a lot of fun.  We are really relaxed.  Since we aren’t looking at a calendar or watching TV, we sometimes are confused about what day of the week it is.  As we drive, we talk and reminisce and laugh a lot; we’re just enjoying each other and everything about the trip.

The lesson we took from today is the value of realistic expectations.  We didn’t have any particular expectations about today; we viewed it as basically a travel day.  Not a lot happened, but we really enjoyed what we saw and experienced.  If we had psyched ourselves up to be expecting more, today would have been a disappointment.




We’re saving a shampoo from every hotel/motel.  We think we’ll sell them on ebay.



The 13th 30875 12 noon. We met Liz and Dave from UT; we took their picture. We also got a picture of Richard Pryor, and we talked with Michael the bellman who helped us. (Michael is the black guy, Richard is the white guy).

I’m going to start collecting a shampoo from every hotel we visit. We’ll just fake it on the 12 days that we’ve missed. It’ll be a great photo at the end to show the pile of shampoos.

We’re on I 10 looking for Hwy 90 and Bozzie’s scanning the horizon and saw half a lobster coming over a building. Unfortunately, it’s a construction zone, we’re on the wrong side of the highway, and there’s no way to get a picture of that. So if anyone is reading this from New Orleans, if you could send us a copy of that lobster we would much appreciate it.

We met a nice man named Keith at the Shell station. He and his family are getting ready to go out in a nice big boat. They tried to help us with directions to where we need to go.

30888 12:29 We’re still trying to figure out how to get out of New Orleans. We are, however, conveniently next to a Palm and Tarot card reader.

We took Hwy 310 off of 10 because Bozzie Jane’s pretty sure it will hit 49. That’s the BPS, the Bozzie Positioning System.

We’re in the town of Destrahan. We have no idea if we’re supposed to be here.

The convertible top is now functioning and totally affecting our trip. We’re going over a big giant suspension bridge over some unknown, unnamed body of water. My best guess is that it is the Mississippi.

30901 12:46 Our navigator is a star. We’re coming up on the road to Bootahoma—Hwy 90. We drove about 2 hours in order to get here, but we got here. I’m just teasing on the 2 hour part; it was just a half hour or so.

Paradise 20907 12:53pm

We saw an interesting road side display that apparently was a tribute to somebody’s who’s back. It said “guess who’s back…” It looks like poster boards mounted on wood. At first we saw about 7 or 8 of them, then we saw another 15 or 20. Somebody went through a lot of trouble to welcome somebody in or near Paradise back.

This is an oil and gas area of the country. There is equipment with flames burning and stuff.

I took a picture of a parade float sitting on the side of the highway in Paradise.

Desallemandes 30912 1:11 We sat on the side of the road for 10 or 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get our top down.

We’re going over the Bayou Desallemandes 30913 1:12

We’re passing The Grand Isle State Park and we’re at the exit for Raceland 30922 1:25pm

20926 We’re seeing some cattle on both sides of the road on farm and ranch land.

We’re feeling kind of short changed on Hwy 90; It’s a four lane divided highway with absolutely nothing to see. I don’t think there’s a lot of roads down in southern Louisiana. We pulled off in Chokahula because we liked the way it sounds and we’re going to kind of check out its downtown area.

We took a picture of an old abandoned gas station in Chokahula but that’s about it.

81 degrees 30947 1:49 We’re exiting Chokahula.

30957 1:57 We’re exiting Hwy 90 which is very boring, and we’re cutting over to 182 because our navigator determined it travels the same route and appears to be a two lane.

We’re going on Louisiana 662 to connect to the 182.

We appear to be in West Gibson according to the water tower. 30963 2:05pm

We’re going over a bridge and an unidentified body of water 30966 2:09pm All of a sudden we’re in an industrialized poor area. That may have been the town of Amelia.

Barbara “I have found it very interesting that you can pull into these little towns, scruffy or not, and they’ll have basically a gas station, probably some sort of a postal facility, and an adult paraphernalia store.”

Morgan City 30972 2:18

We just stopped at the donut shop in Morgan City, and Amber and Sarah helped us with some donuts. I told them about the trip and gave them a business card. I took a picture of the shop. Barbara was sitting in the parking lot and noticed that Amber had a hair net on. When I took the picture, she pulled her hair net off. Although, I was about 20 feet away and you probably can’t even tell she was in the shot. I asked her how life was here in Morgan City, and they said “fine, but boring.”

In Morgan City we took a picture of a statue commemorating that the first off-shore oil well was built about 30 miles or so south of here.

We’re going over the Achafalia River on a narrow bridge. 30974 2:33pm

As you go over these bridges in Louisiana, they’re of course all dedicated to Hughie P. Long.

Just outside of Morgan City we saw a bear crossing sign for 9 miles. I never would’ve thought there would be bears in the swamps of Louisiana.

Patterson 30980 2:48pm

Patterson was the winner of the 2002 competition for the state’s cleanest city.

Calumet 30983 2:51pm

Ricohoc 30986 2:55

30989 2:58 We seem to be in kind of a plantation area. We’re obviously driving along where the slaves lived, not the plantation owners.

Verdunville 30990 2:59pm

30993 3:04 We stopped to take a picture of a gorgeous plantation home, Bocage circa 1845.

The next home we took was the Frances Plantation circa 1810.

We’re in Garden City 30995 3:10pm

Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge Area

We just passed a house with a badminton court which is a 50’s, small town, go-to-your-grandma’s house.

We just saw the Arlington Plantation circa 1861, and we just entered Franklin 30997


We were stopped looking at one of the plantation homes, this gentlemen walks by, turns around and says “hey, have you seen the governor’s house?” He gave us special directions to turn off the road and see it.

Franklin Historic District It has cute little old tiny looking lights in the middle of the street. There are gorgeous trees and a bed-and-breakfast called Handsome House.

This town was named after Benjamin Franklin.

We’re in Baldwin 31003 3:32pm

Snow cone stands are a big deal in this part of the world.

We took a picture of the snow cone stand in Baldwin. It’s a very patriotic city with flags flying from every light pole. This is clearly another area that has porch swings and rockers on the front porches of the houses.

When you see a water tower, you know you got a town but we don’t see a sign.

We haven’t seen a lot of trains or even that many train tracks. We’ve been gone 13 days and have only seen 3 trains, and one of those might have been at an amusement park.

We hit the big time, we’re actually hearing the train noise.

31012 3:48pm We just took a picture of the Spooky House.

Jeanerette 31013 3:49pm

Every little town of some size seems to have a lot—elk, moose, Society of Woodmen. What do these things do?

We just passed by Movie Magic. Little towns like this just don’t have Blockbuster. They have a local place that looks like it was hand painted by a grade schooler.

We took a picture of the Jeanerette Sugar Mill. We commented today that today is really more of what the pie trip was supposed to be all about where you just drive around to small towns and see what you see, think what you think. Once we got off 90 we’ve seen some interesting things. We’d especially love to know what the story is behind that Spooky House. It would be a great movie set.

New Iberia 31023 4:06pm 82 degrees There is completely clear blue skies and sunshine.

In New Iberia we took a picture of what could be the world’s largest spark plug, and Barbara said the gorilla was a bonus. The city has a great row of lovely century type homes and has a nice feel to it.

We took the Evangeline Theater in New Iberia’s downtown. We stopped at a mobile station in New Iberia after we got lost. Mary hand wrote out on a sheet of notebook paper the directions for us to get back to where we needed to be. How sweet.

We’re in Era  31048 5:03

Abbeyville 31053 miles 5:09pm

Bayou Vermillion 31056 5:15pm

Nunez 31062 5:21pm

Kaplan 31065 5:24pm

Wright 31075 5:35pm

Gueydan 31080 5:41pm

Lake Arthur 31093 5:57pm

We took a picture of a coffee sign on the wall of a building in Lake Arthur. We just took a photo of what may be the world’s largest crawfish at Knox Corner Seafood and Deli in Lake Arthur.

Hayes 31113 6:23pm

Bell City 31116 6:27pm

Freshly cut grass in the country is a definite old time, family vacation smell.

Holmwood 31124 6:36pm

Lake Charles 6:51pm

Sulfur 31144 7:05 pm

Vintas 31160 7:19pm

Pine Hurst 31175 7:38pm We have not seen a Welcome to Texas sign.

Orange 31175 7:38 Only 857 miles to El Paso if you are going straight.

We just crossed the Cow Bayou and we’re in Vidor 31185 7:46pm

Rose City 31192 7:53pm

Neches River 31196 7:56pm

Vermont City Limits 31196 7:57pm

31198 8:01pm We stopped to get downtown Beaumont.

We had dinner at Rio Rita’s. Jaice was our waitress; she was not very good.

We’re off at 8:45pm

We just crossed the Taylor Bayou 31218 9:04

Turtle Bayou 31242 9:25pm

Trinity River 31249 9:31pm

Lost River 31251 9:32pm

We just crossed the Cedar Bayou 31258 9:39pm

We’re passing by a bunch of oil refineries.

San Jacinto River 31268 9:48pm


Red and Black and Green – Day 12

Day 12 — April 12, 2003 — Saturday

Red and Black…and Green

We slept later than usual today as we have just 80 miles or so to our next stop, New Orleans.   Sunny and 70 degrees with a blue sky with light cirrus clouds.  After two days of cool weather and the top up, we looked forward to getting the top down and soaking some rays.


When Boz checked us out of the hotel, she asked directions to Highway 90, and the desk clerk said, “Well, you turn right out of the parking lot.”  It seems we were on 90.  Hey, it was late when we checked in, and we were pooped.  The clerk asked where we were headed, and when Boz said New Orleans, he said “You don’t want to take 90; it will take you three hours to get there on 90, while it will be just an hour or so on the Interstate.”  Bozzie just smiled.


Since we didn’t get to Biloxi in time to hit the casinos last night, we stopped at Copa Casino.  The Copa is about as far removed as you can get from the glamour and glitter of Vegas; they tried to hide the acres of Dole Pineapple and Chiquita Banana trucks on the land either side of the entrance drive, but didn’t succeed.


Just inside the door, we came to a security station where we met Mary and Mary, two nice security ladies.  We stopped to introduce ourselves and chat.  We joked that we were going to be big winners and would be needing an armed escort to our car.  The uniformed Mary with a gun strapped to her hip assured us in the most serious of tones that she would do so.  She said she had done it just once before.  A 28-year-old man won $10,000 playing the slots, and he asked for a security escort to his pickup truck.  (Ah the contrasts from big cities to smaller towns!)  We told the Marys that we were going to place one big bet, and that was it.  We then walked straight to the roulette wheel.


Now for a little history.  In 1977, Boz and I took a six-week driving trip around Europe.  We had big plans to finance part of our trip costs with gambling success in Monaco.  We set aside a little money, and walked into the very snooty casino there, and we went to a roulette table and put all of our money (probably just $250 or so) on red.  It came up black, and they took our money.  We went back to our little green Ford Fiesta and felt devastated.  We planned to win and then let it ride and win again and live happily ever after.  The truth is that we had spent a lot more than we had planned, and we could have really used some cash.  We didn’t have much money, and thinking back, we have no idea how we could afford the time or the money for the trip.  Back to the Ford Fiesta…we sat there and discussed whether we should take our last $250 and go back in and put it on red.  We finally decided that Bozzie would go back in and do just that.  She returned  in a few seconds.  It came up GREEN!  Losing was bad enough, but there’s only one GREEN spot and tons of red and black spots on a roulette wheel, and we hit GREEN.  The next day, we learned how you can get a cash advance on a MasterCard.  We swore off gambling, though every time we hit an area with a casino, we bet on red, and we always lose.


So, there we were at the $1.00 roulette wheel in Biloxi, Mississippi.  Barbara thought I was going to make a BIG bet on red as I had commented that it would be nice to win enough money to pay for our travel expenses thus far.  I hate to lose money, so I just tossed $100 on the table and asked for a $100 chip.  Onto red it went.  The $1 betters at the table were stunned to see such a big bet.  I told the folks seated at the table that they’d be wise to put their money on black.  No one laughed or took my advice.  Lisa the roulette lady gave the wheel a mighty spin, and we were really happy gamblers when the little white ball found a home in a red slot.  We grabbed our winnings, and went straight to the cashier where we got two $100 bills.  We stopped to say goodbye to the Marys and to let them know we had won but wouldn’t really need the armed guard escort to the car.  It’s so nice to leave a casino as winners!  From the time we headed to the roulette wheel to the time we left was probably no more than three minutes, so we figure that’s a mighty good “hourly wage.”  We may never gamble again…at least not until we hit Vegas and Atlantic City or a bingo parlor somewhere along the way.


When we reached Pass Christian, Mississippi, we were blown away by the miles of gorgeous old southern colonial-style homes along the highway facing the beach and Gulf.  There’s a lot of old money in Pass Christian!


Just a few miles further down the road, we saw some of the poorest areas that we have seen yet.  What a stark contrast from the mansions just a few miles away.


Literally out in the middle of nowhere, a massive alligator (maybe 100-feet tall) loomed on the horizon.  It appears to be a sign for a casino, but there is no casino.  We’ll try to find out the story behind this.


Unfortunately, there was neither a sign to announce that we had reached Louisiana nor a sign to officially announce that we had reached New Orleans.  I guess that’s one of the few disadvantages of taking the road less traveled.  I knew we were in Louisiana when I saw a 504 area code on a sign for a swamp tour place on a bayou.  I stopped to take some pictures; it was like something out of a movie, though my photos don’t do it justice.


As we rolled on, we passed a really interesting area with mile after mile of houses built on stilts.  That’s to try to keep the water from getting in the houses when the area floods.  This was a lower income area as well.  It’s the first place on the trip that was dirty, though it also appeared to be garbage day, and I’m sure that affected our perception.


The scenery in this area is definitely interesting to see – low, swampy areas, flat with a lot of reed-like trees and shrubs.  There were some cool-looking old bridges as well as some pretty bays and intriguing bayous and rivers.


When we reached New Orleans, it appeared to be a rough part of town.  It’s the first place we’ve been where I felt vulnerable when we pulled up to a red light with cars on either side of us.  I would have felt safer if the top had been up and the windows had been closed.  I was relieved to hit I-10 so we could follow the directions to the hotel.


When we pulled up at the beautiful, old Fairmont Hotel and walked in, we were immediately struck by the contrast between the old, seen-better-days of the Biloxi Holiday Inn and the old, fabulously maintained Fairmont in New Orleans.


We wanted to tour New Orleans rather than just walk around The Quarter (I refuse to call it The French Quarter).  Unfortunately, the only tours appear to be in vans or on foot around The Quarter.  So, we hoofed it over to Bourbon Street on our own.  Up and down the streets we went.  We aren’t really into drinking, so we felt out of place.  The streets were packed with people.  There was massive drinking going on already, and it was just noonish.  We stopped at Papa Joe’s for a muffaletta sandwich.  Then we went up and down the streets some more.  We did enjoy seeing the street performer statues – quite a contrast between them and the painted cement statues that we saw all across Florida.  Our favorite was the sock monkey.


There must have been a hundred psychics scattered all about The Quarter – palm readers, tarot card readers, you name it.  We enjoyed looking in the Rodrique Studio; he’s the artist who paints a blue dog in all of his pieces.  We also walked through the antique gallery area of town.  It has been a number of years since we have been to New Orleans, and it does look better now than it did a number of years ago when we saw one T-shirt shop and sex show after another.  Today, we saw mainly bars, restaurants, and shops.  The architecture is fabulous, and if there hadn’t been so many people, I would have loved to take more pictures of the buildings and architectural elements.  Again, the contrast between beautiful, quiet Savannah and New Orleans is significant.  Similar architecture, but world’s apart.  It is great to see that The Quarter has tight controls on development that protects the old and keeps the new out or hidden.


By 4 o’clock, truth be told, we were both bored.  So we went back to the room and took a nap.  We ordered room service (disappointing pecan pie that tasted like something bought in the frozen section at Piggly Wiggly) and watched TV.


The Fairmont only has CNN – no Fox News, so we saw distorted reports on the Iraqi War.  The contrast between Fox News and CNN and various newspapers continues to amaze us.  Prior to the Iraqi War, we assumed we were seeing impartial news reports, but we now realize that the TV networks and newspapers are very partisan in their coverage.  I guess we’ve been mighty naïve.  Our country is far from perfect, just like us, but we are mighty proud to be Americans, and we enthusiastically support our President and our troops!


So, New Orleans hasn’t been that much fun.  Perhaps it’s because we had two very long days without much rest.  Perhaps it’s because we are seeing what all the tourists see, and we prefer the road less traveled.  Perhaps it’s colored just a little bit by being in a place called The French Quarter now that we feel France is an enemy of the US.  (Boycott France.)


Our observation of the day has been that of contrast.  Big cities and small towns.  Rich and poor.  Clean and dirty.  Sophisticated and naïve.  Old and new.  Bad and good.  Common and unusual.  Live and dead.  Drinkers and non-drinkers.  $1 and $100.  Losing and winning.  Convention and unconventional.  Tired and rested.  Cool and warm.  Oceans and swamps.  Loud and quiet.  Expected and unexpected.  Quirky and “normal.”  Back roads and interstate.  Mansions and shacks.  Pickup trucks and limousines.  Haves and have nots.  Happy and unhappy.  Drunk and sober.  Tourists and locals.  International destination and roadside attraction.  Homes on stilts and on dry land.  Savannah and New Orleans.  Fox and CNN.  Republicans and Democrats.  Left and right.  White and black.  Red and black and green.  We’re seeing it all.  We’re all different.



We’re leaving the Holiday Inn which would rank as the worst hotel that we’ve stayed in. The Ramada Inn ranks as worst hotel, but we need to tell Cathy Denton to stay away from Holiday Inns, they’re just nasty. 30777 63 degrees We’re getting away at 10:15am because we got in around midnight last night. We needed a little rest; I wasn’t able to update the website so I’ll try to do that tonight.

Gulf Port has a cute little Easter display all along the median to the road as you drive along 90.

We feel sorry for Mississippi and Alabama, we didn’t do that much in them and they are states that deserve more than they get.

We’re stopping at the Copa Casino for a little gambling. The entrance is past acres and acres of Dole pineapple trucks.

We had a great time at the Copa Casino where we walked in and they had a security guard who checks things as people come in. Both ladies were named Mary, and we took their picture. We told them a little bit about the trip, they thought it was cool and said they would check the website. We told them we were probably going to need a police escort because we were planning to win big. Mary the security guard lady said she had done that. They had had a big winner there, a young 28-year old won $10,000 with 3 coins. That was a pretty big victory for here so he asked for a police escort to his pick-up truck so she went out and made sure he was safe taking his money out to his truck. We told them we were going to place 1 bet; we walked straight to the roulette wheel, bought $100 worth of chips, Barbara regrets we didn’t buy $1000 worth. I placed the $100 chip on red, it came up red, we won $100 bucks, cashed it with Laura the roulette wheel operator, and we walked over to the cashier, Judy, and she proudly presented us with $200 for our 2 chips. We walked out, took a photo, and now we’re on the road. The total elapsed time from leaving the entrance ladies to the casino to cashing out was probably 3 minutes. It’s clearly the best hourly wage we’ve ever earned. 10:43 30779 67 degrees

It turns out we were wrong about the entrance going by the Dole plant. It goes by the Dole on one side and the Chiquita banana on the other side. They’ve got this big ugly hedge that tries to block off your view of the acres and acres of trucks with fruit painted on the side of them.

We just took a picture of a souvenir shop built beside a 72 foot tugboat that washed ashore during hurricane Camille.

Long Beach 30781 10:55am

Pass Christian Mississippi 30787 11:04am

As we enter Pass Christian, we’re seeing really huge gorgeous homes back up on a little hill setting back about 200-300 feet from the beach. There’s nothing between them and the sand but the highway. There’s a surprising number of big trees still standing; you can imagine there must have been many thousands torn up in hurricanes over the years.

By the way, it’s another really pretty day today—blue skies, sunshine, wispy cirrus clouds and 72 degrees

We’ve gone mile after mile now seeing gorgeous southern colonial style white houses mainly with white picket fences. When Barbara was at the Holiday Inn checking out and asking directions how to get to Hwy 90, they said pull out of the parking lot, turn right (we were on Hwy 90). They asked where we were going, and she said New Orleans. They said we didn’t want to go on Hwy 90 because it would take us a couple hours longer to get there. She just smiled and walked out.

The stretch of homes along the beach Pass Christian were the prettiest set of homes as either of us can ever recall seeing in one little stretch of road at one time.

We’re going over a long bridge, several miles as we leave Pass Christian.

Bay St. Louis—It’s historic and we’re currently looking for the history. 30796 11:20am

Barbara said Mississippi looks different than other places we’ve been.

Two new questions: What is a body of water called when there’s no sign on the bridge?, What does guaranteed payouts mean at a casino?

We just saw the Texas Motel here in Mississippi

30805 11:37am We’re at a giant sign of a alligator in the middle of nowhere.

This alligator sign out in the middle of nowhere with just a little building next to it, has got to be 100 feet tall at least.

We’re blazing down the highway at 30816 11:48am, and all of a sudden we see a sign that says “no through traffic.” So, we’re trying to figure out what’s shaking.

We’re on Hwy 607; we apparently missed turning off on 90.

30823 11:59 We just went through a herd of bugs, and now our windshield is covered with 40 or 50 bug smears. That was strange.

We’re passing over White’s Bayou 30830 12:06pm 76 degrees sunny, blue sky

Cowan Bayou 30831 12:07pm

30832 12:09pm We took a picture of a great classic looking old green bridge. Barbara said that reminds her of vacations as a child.

We believe we’re still in Mississippi; we’ve never seen a Louisiana sign. We keep over funky bridges over bayous.

We just took a real interesting bridge and a bunch of swamp pictures at the West Pearl River; they do swamp tours.

We’ve reached Rigolets 30841 12:26. Rigolets starts at a bridge, a long cement bridge, and then a steel trussell bridge. It appears to be mainly water, but I’m sure there’ll be some land here somewhere.

The Rigolets Bridge could easily win the narrowest bridge award.

Fort Pike, a state historic site—30842 12:27pm. We don’t know what state, but we’re there.

We appear to be on an island, there’s water to the left and water to the right; if not, we’re on one hell of a peninsula.

This is a major stilt home area. I don’t think there’s any homes built on the ground.

It’s trash day here; there’s lots of piles of trash out by the road. We think they’re intended to be picked up by a garbage man.

The folks along here have a pretty good sense of humor. There’s all kinds of things called “camps” which I assume are little, not very fancy homes along the beach that are maybe used part of the time and rented the other part. They have names like Camp Big Shot, Camp Can’t, etc.

The first place we’ve been where there’s a reasonable amount of litter on the highway, and it wouldn’t get the cleanliness award.

30849 12:36 We’re obviously going through little communities, but none of them have signs to indicate that.

We’re at another trussell bridge 30851—Chef Mentur 12:37pm

The other side of the bridge is distinctively more upscale than what we just passed through. What we just passed through was pretty low.

Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge area

There’s certainly not a lot to see driving along Hwy 90 from Pass Christian, Mississippi to the direction of New Orleans. It’s low lying, swampy, skinny trees; slum-like might be a better word to describe it. The homes are not very nice. I wish I’d taken a picture of one of those homes on stilts in the run down area of “camps.”

We’re still in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge

There’s some places where you say to yourself “wow, I wonder what it would be like to live there,” and then there’s the other areas where you think “oooh, I’m glad I don’t live here!”

We’ve entered something that looks like a town; there’s several gas stations and restaurants. It doesn’t say what it is though. We’re discussing that the lesson for the day maybe something related to contrast because there’s such tremendous contrast between Pass Christian and down the road where it’s “Deliverance-like” when considering the quality of the homes and the people.

30864 12:57 We’re going through a part of New Orleans that is not very nice. It’s definitely the rough part of town.

We were never welcomed to Louisiana much less to New Orleans.

We took Highway 10 West when we hit it off Hwy 90. We’re in New Orleans 30868 1:05pm 76 degrees

New Orleans has, though it’s a big city it’s not too big, a big skyline.

As we reach our exit, which is clearly in the French Quarter area, Barbara said you can smell the food. And you can smell great food in the air.

We’ve arrived at the Fairmont Hotel 30873 1:19pm 75 degrees



Melissa Keeney Day – Day 11

Melissa Keeney Day

Day 11 – April 11, 2003 – Friday


A story about our trip was on the news on Channel 7 in Panama City, Florida today, and we took a bit of a detour to visit the war memorial in Bagdad.  Today was a special day – one of the very best we’ve had so far.

Today was Melissa Keeney Day!  Melissa was introduced to us yesterday by my brother, Tony.  Melissa is a client of Tony’s company, News Directions (www.news-directions.com), and she is the top reporter at NBC Channel 7 in Panama City.  Melissa expressed interest in doing a news story about our trip Round America as we stopped in Panama City to see the sights.  We began a cell phone discussion as we rolled down the highway between Fort Myers and Tallahassee, and then we continued the conversation as we traveled from Tallahassee to Panama City today.  We explained what we are trying to accomplish with the trip, and Melissa really got into it.  She did some research and came back to us with recommendations for some sights we could see (that we probably would have missed) and a great place for lunch and pie.  Then when we got together, she mentioned two other places during our conversation, and we ended up visiting both later in the day.  As a result, Melissa made our day!  It would have been a completely different experience with different sights and different results if it hadn’t been for the “Fork in the Road” that led us to Melissa.  Boz and I both believe it would have been an okay day, but likely nothing special.  Instead, it was a day that we rank as one of the very best so far.

We arrived in Tallahassee after dark last night, so we didn’t see much.  But as we drove off this morning, we both commented that Tallahassee is a very pretty city.  The hills are something we’ve never seen anywhere else in Florida.  We saw the old Capitol Building and we passed right by the American Folk Art Museum & Gallery as we raced out of the city.  A quick U-turn.  Unfortunately, the outdoor “museum” was closed, and there were three loud dogs standing guard.  This is an extremely funky place put together by a missionary, and sign after sign with spiritual messages were the main thing we could see.  The “centerpieces” we could see from the road were a solid gold limousine and a statue constructed totally from bicycle wheels and tires.  We would have loved to see inside, but tours are by appointment only.  We’ll publish the phone number in our book so others can see what we missed.

We passed an older woman riding a bicycle along the highway.  The bike had a hand-lettered posterboard sign on the front.  It appeared to be some type of protest; the only word I could read was “revoked.”  We regret not stopping to see what the sign said and to ask her about it.  Now we will forever wonder what her story is; same goes for Lance on Day 8.  We’ve pledged that we will not let these stories pass us by in the future.  Same goes for the sunsets.

We took a scenic drive along the coast.  I wholeheartedly recommend scenic drives to folks who want to take road trips.  With a little research, you can identify scenic routes and get reports of things to look for along the way.

The Gulf and beach are very pretty once we reached it south of Tallahassee all the way over to Pensacola.  White sand and pretty water.  We stopped a couple of times, and I walked into the backyard of a home for sale to take a picture of the boat dock and water.  I also took a photo of a classic 50’s-era roadside park.  There are a number of things such as the older roadside parks, Smokey the Bear signs, bumpy two-lane bridges, old motels, and essentially unchanged homes and shops and natural areas that have brought back wonderful memories of family vacations when we were children.  I’d have to say that this is one of the very best parts of the trip.  Bozzie Jane and I feel that we grew up in one of the best times ever – the 50’s.  It was a special time, with great cars, great music, wonderful architecture, family car vacations, and much more.  We are fortunate to have wonderful parents and great families.  As we drive, we talk a lot about days gone by.  Like sunsets, memories are free, and we both treasure our memories.

Carabelle was an important stop for us today, as I had learned that the world’s smallest police station was there.  As we entered the town, we came to a fork in the road, and we went left off the highway to what appeared to be the downtown area in this very small town.  We drove right by a small police station – maybe 12-feet wide, so I took a picture.  From what I had read, however, I knew the “world’s smallest police station” was supposed to be phone booth sized.  So when we got back to the highway and saw the phone booth “police station” with an old police car parked next to it, it was a little disappointing.  But at least Carabelle has done something to put its little town on the map, so we can celebrate that.

We grabbed a couple of bagels at Carabelle Junction.  Buying bagels in a tiny town isn’t such a good idea as you know they don’t have bagel-making equipment.

As we crossed a bridge over an especially pretty bay, we found ourselves in the picturesque community of Apilachicola.  We stopped in downtown for a few photos – some great-looking storefronts and an Elvis statue.  As I stepped out of the car to take another photo, I met Danny, the owner of Tamara’s Floridita Café, and Ed, a local newspaperman.  They introduced me to Susan, another local just back from vacation.  Nice, nice people.

Melissa called again as we left Apilachicola, and we made arrangements to meet.  She mentioned the town of Lynn Haven and told us that the only statue of a Union soldier south of the Mason Dixon line is in a little park in the town.  It was about 15 miles off our route, but the car headed there like it was on autopilot.  Very few tourists even know this statue exists, and most could care less…making this an ideal stop for us.

We met Melissa Keeney at The Treasure Ship in Panama City – a huge wooden sailing ship structure.  We had never heard of it, but it’s a landmark in Panama City.  Clearly we would have missed it if it wasn’t for our new friend, Melissa.  The folks at The Treasure Ship were great.  We had a nice conversation with Chloe, the hostess.  Our waitress, Jessica (who looks a lot like gymnast Marylou Retton), is clearly the best waitress so far!  When she brought the dessert – a massive pie called Coca Mocha — she brought four forks, one more than Melissa, Bozzie Jane, and I needed.  She “joked” that the fourth fork was for her, so we had her sit down and join us.  We talked with Melissa at length about the trip, and we learned a lot about her.  She is a doll, and Boz and I really liked her.  We feel like we have a great new friend, and we are excited to follow her career, as we expect to see her as a network reporter or anchor in the not too distant future (hopefully on Fox News).

After Melissa filmed us eating the great pie, she took us to see the massive statue of King Neptune.  It’s 50 to 60-feet tall – got to be the world’s largest King Neptune statue.  And, it’s for sale!  If I just had a place to put it….

We would have never even known about King Neptune, but after spending time on our website, Melissa realized that we were into statues, so we really appreciated this find.  She filmed us there.

Panama City has an extensive variety of miniature golf courses, and Melissa knew we wanted to see Goofy Golf, one of the first (1959) and one of the best in the country.   Goofy Golf has a fabulous selection of statues, so I had a field day taking photos.  We stood in the parking lot, and Melissa interviewed us on camera.  She asked great questions, so we look forward to seeing the story.  It aired tonight, but we had to get down the road, so she is sending us a videotape.  Melissa wanted to film her closing for the story, so she let me run the camera.  That was fun.

We loved being on TV – not your everyday or every vacation experience!  After three hours, we hugged Melissa goodbye and drove along Panama City’s beach headed west.  It was Spring Break, so there were kids and cars and miniature golf courses everywhere.

Melissa mentioned that their station had recently done a story about the little town of Bagdad, Florida.  I didn’t realize it was so close to our route, so as soon as Bozzie the navigator spotted Bagdad on the map, we knew where we were headed.  Off the main highway we went…headed for Bagdad.  It’s a little bitty place, and as we drove past a few homes toward the town, we could see that it had enjoyed better days.  We drove right up to the Bagdad Elementary School where we saw their War Memorial; it listed the brave men from Bagdad who lost their lives in World War I and World War II.  We took a photo of the only real business we saw – a dumpling “factory.”  But the prize photo was of the First Baptist Church sign that says “Bagdad is praying for Baghdad.”

Back to the highway, the sun was setting.  Really spectacular sunset views as we drove along.  I was able to get one, but it’s hard to pull over on most roads as there just isn’t a safe place to stop.

We do regret that Francis Burgess was not at home when we drove through Panama City.  She was like the Windsor kids’ second mother when we were children.  And we just missed meeting close Orlando friend, Ned Woolfolk, who had been working in Fort Walton Beach earlier the day we passed through.

We had a long ways to go to the Holiday Inn in Biloxi, Mississippi.  It was almost dark when we finally bid a very fond farewell to Florida; we drove over 2,000 miles around the border of Florida.  As we pulled off the highway in Alabama to get gas, Boz THOUGHT she saw a billboard that said something about throwing rolls.  Melissa had mentioned a restaurant where the waiters threw rolls to the customers.  Boz asked the folks at the gas station, and they gave us directions to Lambert’s Café.  Well off the route, but we just had to go to a place where they throw the rolls at you.

We were blown away when we pulled up to a huge restaurant.  It was 8:30 pm, and there was still a half hour wait.  We could tell we were going to love it long before we got to enter the building.  Lambert’s Café (see www.throwedrolls.com) was started in Missouri in 1942 by Earl and Agnes Lambert.  They have two locations in Missouri and this one in Foley, Alabama.  It is a wonderful family business that celebrates the family that started it and the family members who are no longer with us.  Earl and Agnes had 14 cents between them when they started Lambert’s, and the story of the growth and success of the business is a great American success story.  We’ve never seen anything else like it in terms of the family focus or the food.  It was one of the most enjoyable meals we have ever had anywhere.  Lambert’s specializes in country cooking, and the chicken fried steak and vegetables were simply spectacular.  For $9.99, you get a huge steak, baked potato, and two other vegetables of your choice.  The portions are gigantic.  And THEN, they come around with big buckets of other vegetables throughout the meal, and give you all you want.  The fried potatoes and onions were especially tasty.  Our waiter, Andrew, was great – handsome young guy with a delightful smile and a great personality!  And then there are the rolls – big, hot rolls.  A guy wheels a cart through the aisles, and you raise your hand if you want one, and he fires one at you.  Loads of fun!  They also have folks coming around playing jokes on you, so it is one laugh after another.  The philosophy of Lambert’s is: “We prefer that you come hungry, leave full, and have a laugh or two.”  Andrew gave us a book that tells the history and a lot of interesting information about Lambert’s Café.  What a great experience – even more enjoyable because three unexpected “forks in the road” led us there – the casual mention of a restaurant where the waiters throw rolls, a brief glimpse of a billboard, and some bad directions given to us by a restaurant that we had planned to visit but couldn’t find a half hour earlier in Pensacola, Florida.  I wish we had a photo of the look on Andrew’s face when we asked him for the dessert menu.  He thought we were serious.  We were uncomfortably full as we rolled out of Lambert’s dessertless.

Pascagoula Mississippi: 
Welcome to Mississippi. State #4.

I managed to get a photo of the Welcome to Mississippi sign, but it was late.  It was midnight by the time we reached the Holiday Inn in Biloxi.  The Ramada Inn somewhere in the general vicinity of Daytona Beach (Day 3) is still the leader in the clubhouse for the worst hotel that we didn’t stay at, but the Holiday Inn just became the nominee for the worst we did stay in.  It was probably nice 40 years ago.  Our “lovely” room was located just outside the ice machine, and gamblers returning from the nearby casinos hit the ice machine all night long.  But after such a fun day, it didn’t bother us.  We are having such a great time!

Our lesson or observation of the day is the impact of the “Forks in the Road.”  Virtually our entire day was changed because of the chance meeting of Melissa Keeney, and in a couple of cases, physically taking one fork in the road rather than another that led us to truly special experiences.  It could have gone the other way just as easily…as we still remember Day 3 when we were always a day late and a dollar short and almost all of the forks were “dead ends.”  When you think about your life, it is really interesting to think about the various Forks you have reached and how your life was changed by the path you took.  My Dad has written an autobiography titled “Forks in the Road,” and it is really interesting to think about how his (and my) life would have been completely different if another choice had been made at specific points.  I think it would make a great movie to show several ways one life might have gone had different forks in the road been chosen.  Perhaps I will try writing a screenplay after we write the book about this trip.

Thanks to Tony and Melissa for giving us a special day!!!


We want to thank all of you who have emailed to say you are following the trip Round America!  We really appreciate the emails, and we thoroughly enjoy reading them.  I do want you all to know that every waking moment seems to be consumed by writing the Daily Journal and processing the day’s photos once we reach a hotel at night.  As a result, we just don’t have time to reply.  Please keep emailing, and we will use the Daily Journal to reply to questions and thoughts rather than in individual email responses.

Many of you have commented about how you are living vicariously on the trip and “taking the trip with us” via the Internet.  This delights us to no end!  We hoped some folks would follow the trip online now and in the future.  We never dreamed as many people would follow along every day!  We get a significant number of emails each day from friends and relatives and from complete total strangers!  A number of you have made suggestions about places to go, sights to see, restaurants to visit, pie to eat, etc., and we REALLY appreciate all of this information.  Some of our most enjoyable experiences thus far have come as a result of these tips.

We have decided to add a page to the website where we will list those who are “taking the trip with us.”  So, please do us a favor.  Email us, and give us your name, city, and state, so we can add you to the list at www.roundamerica.com/online-travelers.htm.  Several of you have emailed to say that you have told others about the trip and that they are now following us as well.  We understand one school class is using it as a daily geography, history, and sociology lesson!  Please share a link to www.roundamerica with any of your family and friends who might enjoy the trip.


Notes from the Tape Recorder that was working this day:

8:51am after printing out some stuff to mail to Seafoot Shaw? On the Platinum

49 degrees as we get away from the Marriott; I have on shorts and a coat. I’m hoping it will get warmer at the beach.

The Marriott here had a desk printer so I was able to print out our hotel reservations for the next week, and do some business printing that I needed. It was a really nice amenity.

We just saw the old state capital building in Tallahassee which has a lot of hills which I’ve never seen in Florida.

Last night, Barbara went to bed about 11; I continued to work on the daily journal until about midnight. I turned out the lights, crawled into bed, and immediately “what are you doing!” “well I’m getting into bed” “you’ve got your own bed over there (we had 2 queen size beds)” I said “Well I’d like to sleep with you” “Ahhhhhhh” “It was a strange deal, she was just out of it.” Being on the road for 10 days, this woman has lost it.

Temperature is dropping—we’re down to 48

We’re at the American Soul Cart? Museum and Gallery. Unfortunately, it’s closed. They’re normally open 7 days a week by appointment or by chance. It has an amazing assortment of amateur art, lots of signs and religious messages. “Hope, Love, God Cares for You.” Also, spiritual but not religious messages.

Among the things that are here is a giant gold Cadillac limousine, old tools, odds and ends, beer kegs. There’s a sign that says “Grandmas are more valuable than silver or gold.” There’s old washing machines in there, you name it and it’s probably in there.

They have 3 dogs here doing an excellent job of keeping people away. “3919 Woodville Highway Missionary Mary L. Proctor 850-656-2879 if you want to make an appointment”

30310 9:10 as we’re leaving

Apalachicola National Forest 30315 9:17 Barbara and I were just discussing the fact that I said I thought it was really special that the two of us will enjoy things even more after they’re over. For example, yesterday wasn’t exactly the greatest day because it was so long and we couldn’t exactly get out that much, and the weather was bad, but as I wrote about what we did it was a lot more fun. As the days go on, we’ll probably tell more stories about Spong-o-rama than anything else. A lot of people probably can’t look back on things and see them better than what they were, maybe that’s the difference between an optimist and a pessimist.

We need to write to people at “My Big Fat Greek Life” and suggest they do an episode of a trip to the great community of Tarpon Springs and visiting Spong-o-rama.

9:20am The sun’s coming up, the sky looks like it will be blue, and it’s warming up. 51 degrees

Bozzie has a new title suggestion: Baby Boomers Round America

We’re driving along just outside of Crawfordville and we saw an elder lady in her 50’s riding along on a bicycle with a poster in the front of it with some type of message that we couldn’t really read. She just waved as she rode by. Today’s Lance.

We’re going to have to get a little more brave so that we ask people like that what’s going on because now we regret not asking. I guess it’s probably because you get afraid of hitchhikers and stuff and it puts you off.  Barbara thinks Lance is probably a serial killer. I think the lady on the bike is a millionaire and her sign says she’ll give you a million dollars if you stop and talk to her. But of course, nobody can read the sign and they don’t do it. The nice thing about asking is that you get to make up your own stuff.

Crawfordville 30329 9:37am The home of Smokey the Bear and also the home of the cow mailbox.

In Crawfordville, we stopped for gas at a BP station that’s also a garden center and tanning salon. It’s also an upholstery shop. I’m sure they probably do some other things here that we don’t have any idea about. Home-cooked meals to go, upholstery, tractors and equipment trailers and carports, and portable buildings. But they did not have a sink in their restroom.

We’re going through this little Crawfordville area; I think we might be in the next town by now, but they’re doing what would appear to be minor roadwork yet they have these crews stopping traffic like it’s a big deal.

Medart 30334 9:53 The temperature is up to 54 degrees.

Sadly, we’re a day early for the Worm Grutten Festival in South Chapy, Florida. It’s April 12th and this is the 11th. It’s very very disappointing; probably our biggest disappointment so far.

It’s interesting that when you travel on these 2 lane roads, there are times when there isn’t a car in sight for miles. Barbara finds that very interesting.

Pannasea 30340 10:02 am The temperature continues to rise—56 degrees.

We just passed by the Pannasea Mineral Springs which looked to be a roadside cut-off.

The nice thing about small towns is that you just have so much innocence. People doing the best that they can with what they’ve got.

Ocholocknee Bay

VFW Hall just outside of Pannasea where we just took a picture of something that I don’t know if it’s an airplane or not but it’s got USAF on it.

Ocholocknee Bay was not on our list, so we may be lost.

We have reached the Ocholocknee Bay which is a great big bay with a bunch of water and a big bridge.

We took a picture of the home of the 1999 Florida Dixie Used Ponytail Fast food Softball State Champions sign. We’re out in the middle of nowhere; the speed limit is 55.

St. Teresa 30351 10:19am

The gulf appeared through the trees at just about 10:15, and it’s real pretty.

We’re in a little town, we don’t know what the name of it is.

We just got a big kick out of seeing a sign with a waterfall flowing through it that looked like it was made by a descendant of the guy who did Spong-o-rama. There were two of them that were facing each other. It doesn’t take a lot to please us, and that’s good.

Gulf Terrace 30361 10:36am

Today’s lesson: You have to celebrate what you have.

We took a picture off the boat dock of the gulf and wherever we are, somewhere near Carabel.

We appear to have reached Land Ark Village 30362 10:39am

We’re at another spot in the road with state prisoner’s working, and you some guys out there doing their thing. Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear the story of some of those folks?

City limits of Carabel 30367 10:45am

We took a picture of a dinosaur as we entered Carabel.

In Carabel we saw the real police station and then we saw what’s billed as the world’s smallest police station which is a phone booth with a regular desk style phone in it with no cord, and there’s a police car parked out beside. When you look real closely, you see the tires are bald, the equipment’s been stripped out of it, and there’s grass growing up among the wheel wells and the like. I asked Ruth and Cindy at the post office and they told me that it’s just there all the time as a tourist attraction. It’s a small town, you’ve got to celebrate what you’ve got, and you have to do anything you can to put yourself on the map. We got bagel at a not particular interesting place because Barbara didn’t comment on it. We did mail a letter, I took a couple of interesting fish boat pictures. I took a picture of the place where Barbara got us the delicious breakfast of two bagels.

Carabel Beach 30370 11:07am

I wonder how much trouble you have in this area selling your home when it isn’t on stilts and all the ones around are on stilts.

We just passed Tates Hell State Forest 30374 11:14

It’s definitely a nice drive along here because you actually get to drive right next to the water and see the water through the trees past the little houses, or you get to be right next to the water and just see grass, trees, sand, water, and sky.

We’re about to enter East Port where Cindy, the lady who works at the post office in Carabel, lives. Carabel and East Port are 14 miles apart. You’d guess Carabel probably has a population of a few hundred people; you never stop to think that someone would commute 14 miles to work in a town with a population of 200 people. Cindy does it every day through rain and sleet and snow.

We’re in East Point 30383 11:25am

Magnolia Bluff 30386 11:29am The temperature has warmed up to 65 degrees.

We just reached Apalachicola 30391 11:35am It’s a cute little place.

I got some good pictures in Apalachicola. We have Shay Funk, got a great Elvis, and some nice flags and yellow ribbons. The buildings here are real cute; it looks like it’s a real kind of town. There are fishing boats on the water.

Some folks saw me stopping to take a picture, and they came over (Ed and Danny). Danny owns Tomorrow’s Café; Ed runs the local newspaper. Susan came over; she’d been on a trip and was telling us all about it. They’re real nice folks. Ed got his lenses out because he liked my camera, and he was showing me what all the different lenses would do.

We didn’t realize it, but the town changes right about here in Panama City. Instead of 11:51, it’s now 10:51. We’re going to get to Panama City earlier than we planned. That would be a first on the entire trip here on day 11. Bozzie has an upset stomach and feels like she’s going to throw up, but we’re hoping she’ll be okay.

Bozzie Jane commented that it’s a pretty drive here. There are big pine trees and green grass and plants and palm trees of different types. We’ve gone over 2200 miles and we haven’t seen anywhere in America that wasn’t clean.

Port St. Joe 30411 11:13am

We’ve gone over a number of bridges, almost all of them are named. We have not come across any nearly as good as the one we saw earlier—Harry B. Gone Bridge.

Carabel is not known for its bagels. The toaster looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in about 25 years. Bozzie should’ve known better than to get a bagel there. I got a bagel too but it didn’t make me sick; I don’t know what that says.

This is our first time change; we need to keep track of each one to see how many we get. When I’m in the middle of nowhere somewhere and the time changes and Bozzie Jane isn’t with me and we aren’t spending these days where we drive like crazy, I may drive in circles back and forth across the time change. Maybe I’ll get in the Guinness Book of World Records as the person to take a trip with the most time changes.

St. Joe Beach 30422 11:26am

Beacon Hill 30424 11:29am

Town of Mexico Beach 30425 11:31am

Mexico Beach is pretty; you have a nice stretch of white sand without a bunch of folks with houses across the highway and no motels or restaurants. There is just water and waves coming in with pretty sand.

Tyndall Airforce Bace 30431 11:49am We’ve seen a lot of interesting planes flying overhead that don’t look like your average plane.

Parker 30434 11:53

City limits of Callaway 30446 11:55am

We’re passing by Sil’s Mobile Homes—Florida’s oldest manufactured home dealer since 1957.

We have reached Springfield 30449 12:04pm

We just spotted a place that sells single-wide, double-wide, and triple-wide (the first ever triple-wide that we’ve seen) trailers. It might give you an idea what this whole stretch of highway is like.

Highland Park 30452 12:10pm We’ve taken a slight detour on 389 in order to go to Lyn Haven to see the only Union soldier statue south of the Mason-Dixon line. Melissa Keety of news Channel 7 told us about it.

We just saw the memorial to the Union soldier. It’s at 8th street just off Ohio in Lyn Haven.

Panama City city limits 30467 12:42pm after at least a half hour detour to Lyn Haven.

12:54 73 degrees We have the top down again, and we’re still making our way into Panama City.

We’ve seen not one, but two Spud Nuts donut shops in Panama City. We thought Spud Nuts were dead but they are alive and living in Panama City.

We’re at the Treasure Ship which is great. Chloe was the hostess, Jessica was our waitress and was just delightful and a lot of fun. We’ve been on TV and we’re going to be on TV some more. Our Cocha Mocha dessert was wonderful.

The TV station is WJHG channel 7 Panama City. Our new friend and reporter is Melissa Keeney, her children’s names will be Madison Paige and Hunter Courtland Cline.

Our waitress, Jessica, brought four forks when she came with the gigantic dessert. We saw what’s the fork for? She said for herself. We invited her to sit down and have a bite of the dessert, and she did. We took a picture of her and Barbara.

We just passed by Club La Vela, the largest nightclub in the USA.

Panama City has to be giving Myrtle Beach a run for its money in terms of the number of miniature golf courses. We’ve already passed by tons.

King Neptune, and he’s available for purchase. We just came from the King Neptune statue, formerly known as Sir Lowan. It’s 70 feet tall, and the biggest thing I’ve ever seen; it’s for sale. We would have never found that on our own. It’s so great that she knew about it and told us so we could go and take pictures.

Panama City has been home of Girls Gone Wild but we understand the guy was recently busted for pornography charges so he may have picked a new beach.

It’s 4:00pm in Panama City and 73 degrees 30485 miles. We just finished a fun 3 hours with Melissa Keeney and we can’t wait to see the video.

They asked us great questions so we should try to remember what they were because we probably had really great answers. She asked us what our favorite thing was, how the pie fit into it, what were the rules of the road, had we broken any, what was the favorite thing we’d seen, how important was the laughter, how Barbara felt when Bill first suggested the trip, how we’ll feel when the trip is over, why did we do it and what was the idea behind it, etc.

Laguna Beach 30491 4:17pm 67 degrees and blue skies

Santa Monica 30493 4:20pm

Sunnyside 30493 4:23pm The two cities were about ¼ of a mile apart.

We’ll create a new category for biggest pie and put the Cocha Mocha in that category.

We’re going to add a best TV reporter category if we don’t already have it.

Inlet Beach 30497 4:25pm

Santa Rosa Beach 30514 4:45pm

Mira Mar Beach 30520 4:56pm

Destin 30524 5:01pm

Destin is really nice. It’s very attractive, clean, modern, and upscale.

Gulf Islands National Seashore It’s very pretty with sand dunes on the left, blue sky, and sunshine 75 degrees and 5:21 pm

Another question for the question list: What do elk do?

Gulf-areum? 30537 5:24pm

You don’t see as many of the old motels; as a matter of fact, you see very few, ever since we hit Panama City. According to Melissa, they’ve been tearing them down to put up big condominiums. It’s kind of sad.

Fort Walton Beach 30537 5:27pm

Fort Walton Beach is patriotic; there a lot of flags here.

Indian Temple Mound Museum in Fort Walton Beach

We’re in a place called Mary Esther 30540 5:42pm

Hurlbert Field 30543 5:46pm I believed that’s where the lady who e-mailed me was from

Florosa 30544 5:49pm

Wynhaven Beach 30548 5:52

Navarre 30553 5:59pm

We’re cutting over from the originally planned route 98 on 87 so we can get over to 10 so that we can get to Baghdad.

We just crossed the East River.

This is a river in Baghdad, we’re just not sure if it’s called the Tigris or Euphrates.

Barbara noted that the healthiest part of Baghdad was the churches. When you some of the houses and everything here, they’re run down and lots of trailers, it makes you realize that that’s pretty special.

As we pull into Pensacola, this is the best sunset we’ve seen. It’s kind of hard to take a picture so we’re just enjoying it.

Alabama 30613 7:17pm

The new category is best sky and we’re giving it to sunset and dusk on the 11th of April unless we see a better one.

Locksley, AL on our way to throw some rolls

Robertsdale 30643 8:01pm

We have just had a great meal at Lamberts Café; we have a book that tells all about it. It’s home of the throwed roll. The website is throwedrolls.com; they have a giant mural on the length of their building. When you come up you don’t realize it’s anything but a country mural, but it’s a real family place and there have been some people dying so they have memorials to them. The place is huge and unbelievable. This place has to be about 150 feet by 100 feet. It seats a million people, has probably an hour wait a lot of the time. They have unbelievable food; it makes Lady and Sons look like Arby’s. It makes Cracker Barrel look crummy and we’ve always though Cracker Barrel was pretty good. You order a regular meal and they keep coming around with bowls and bowls of what they call “passed food.” Then they throw the rolls. The kids working there are just as cute as they can be; they come around with a bunch of humor. Their slogan is “we want you to come hungry, leave full, and have some laughs.” It was a real special experience. We had kind of heard about a place that threw rolls, and then Barbara happened to spot a billboard otherwise we would’ve missed it. We drove way the heck out of the way in order to get there in Foley, AL, but it was a treat. Treat is an understatement, it was special.

Our waiter, Andrew, was excellent. I still think Jessica might get just barely over him, but he was nice as could be, gave us a free book, was really funny, and took good care of us. He was tipped accordingly.

We have trouble figuring out what day of the week it is when you’re not looking at a calendar, and you aren’t watching regular TV shows. We’ve come to realize you don’t really need to know what day of the week it is. You just go and you do stuff and eat, sleep, and don’t really need to know.


Different Strokes for Different Folks – Day 10

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Day 10 – April 10, 2003 – Thursday

I am posting a short Different Strokes for Different Folks report for now, as we are on a tight schedule tomorrow.  We need to be in Panama City for an interview with a television station.  I’ll supplement this report tomorrow night.

This is Day 10 of approximately 100 days, so 10% down and 90% to go.  It was the second day in a row of overcast skies, and it sprinkled on us several times throughout the day.  The temperature was in the low 60’s and dropped to 50 when we rolled into Tallahassee.  At this rate, we’ll lose our tans by Texas.

Today should have been two days.  I simply scheduled too many miles to be covered in one day.  It took us five hours to go the first 100 miles.  It seemed like stoplights were every few feet along Highway 41 from Fort Myers to Tampa, and the traffic was terrible.  I will look again at the remainder of the schedule and see where I need to add a day here and there.

We had some Different Strokes for Different Folks fun today, but we couldn’t see as much as we would have liked.

Fort Myers Florida: Worlds Largest Retailer of Sea Shells - The Shell Factory - Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 10. 2003-04-10.
The Shell Factory in Fort Myers Florida – Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 10. 2003-04-10.

The day started with a bang at the world’s largest shell factory in Fort Myers.  The Shell Factory must sell every souvenir item ever made, and if that’s not enough, they have people making new ones every day!  The place occupies 18 acres; it looks like the size facility needed to mass produce jumbo jets.  A Super Wal-Mart seems tiny in comparison to the Shell Factory.  We were there early in the day, and there weren’t many customers, but it has been in business since long before I was a little boy, so they must do a good business.

Fort Myers Florida: Tervis Tumbler. Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 10. 2003-04-10.

As we drove on, I noticed a manufacturing facility called Tervis Tumbler.  We went into their factory store to discover that Tervis is indeed the manufacturer of fabulous insulated glassware that we were given by Barbara’s parents.  These glasses will keep a drink cold like nothing else will, and the glassware is virtually indestructible.  We toured the place and bought an American Flag tumbler and a Texas Tech tumbler.  Amanda helped us.  If you want some great glassware, buy some online from www.tervis.com.

Fort Myers Florida: Big Doggs for Lunch - Round America 50-State Trip 2003. Day 10. 2003-04-10.

Lunch was a treat as I spotted a little place that a tourist would never visit, Big Dogg’s, and Barbara agreed to stop.  We had a great Philly Cheese Steak.  Holly was our window waitress.

All day long, we saw one 50s era motel after another.  It continues to be both amazing and gratifying that these places still exist… and most are still operating.  I could have taken a hundred pictures of “classic” motel architecture and signage, but time was not on our side, so I just snapped a few.  The Cadillac Motel featured an old Cadillac out front, and the Warm Springs Motel had an especially flat-roofed look.

I do regret that we were unable to see the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame in St. Petersburg.

We stopped a number of times for mailboxes, to photograph other roadside stuff, and at Warm Mineral Springs (where you can swim in 87-degree water), but our next big stop was in Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs Florida: Sponge-O-Rama in Tarpon Springs Florida - Round America 50-State Trip 2003.

Tarpon Springs is a predominantly Greek community that was originally established for sponge fishing.  And we were there to see Sponge-O-Rama.  Words cannot really describe Sponge-O-Rama.  At the risk of sounding insensitive, Sponge-O-Rama has the worst-looking displays of any attraction we have ever seen anywhere.  It was a very amateurish job when it was constructed 50 years or so ago (almost any grade schooler’s science fair project would be more professional these days).  But what is amazing is that the windows to the displays do not appear to have been cleaned in 50 years, and there are burned out light bulbs, and parts of the displays have deteriorated.  It would be fascinating to speak with the owners to ascertain why the place looks like it does.  Is it that they don’t realize it’s so bad?  Is it that they don’t care?  Or is it that they now consider the displays to be camp, realizing that a lot of people will come because they’ve heard how bad it is?  We fall into the latter group, but we somehow doubt that the owners see it that way.  We went to Tarpon Springs to see Sponge-O-Rama just because we had read that it was so bad that it was funny.  As we exited, we passed by a young family, and the mother was reading all about how sponges are harvested from the ocean, and she was dead serious about the experience and the information.  Different Strokes for Different Folks.  Boz and I felt bad about sharing looks and whispers of disbelief.

There are a lot of ways to say it, but our lesson for the day is to remember “different strokes for different folks.”  One of the most amazing things about us humans is that we are all so very different.  Some of us find places like Sponge-O-Rama to be funny while others take it as a serious educational experience.  I’ve always preached to salespeople how important it is to recognize that everyone is different, to find out what is important to someone, and then tailor the sales presentation to deliver the appropriate appeal.  I call this The Platinum Rule – “Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.”  It’s important to realize that everyone is different and to celebrate this rather than belittle it.  As we all know, this is far easier to say than it is to do.

Photo Gallery:

These are all the worthwhile photos from Day 10.  When you click on a thumbnail photo of interest, it will open the photo in a larger size.  When you hover your cursor over a thumbnail, it displays a caption that identifies the photo.

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Our tape recorder seems to be working well now.  It had better be, as we record about 20 minutes worth of thoughts, observations, and information each day.  More of the book material is on tape than in these daily reports.  We’ve driven 2,270 miles so far, and we aren’t even out of Florida yet.  We haven’t gotten lost in several days.

It’s April 10 29872 9:25am after we did a lot of website work. We’re off from Fort Myers.

We’re going over the Kalussahatchee River?  29877 9:37am It started out kind of a little bit of blue sky, but it’s pretty much overcast and windy 66 degrees

29880 9:43am We have little sprinkles on our windshield.

29882 9:48am It sprinkled until just a minute ago when we pulled into the world’s largest shell factory.

We just finished the Fort Myers Shell Factory. It was truly a treat; the place is about the size of a building in which they would manufacture the space shuttle. It’s just immense and they have every tacky souvenir item ever made. And then they have folks sitting around, because there weren’t that many customers there, making other stuff. There was an entire normal size souvenir store filled just with magnets.

Tropical Golf Acres 29894 10:26am We have blue skies and scattered clouds.

South Punta Gorda Heights 29897 10:33am

We just passed the Cadillac Motel 29900 10:38am

Charlotte Harbor 29906 10:47am

Peace River Health Massage and Spa 29908 10:52 Their entire roof is an American flag.

Murdock 29912 11:01am

We saw a bowling alley in the Keys that was closed, unfortunately, but it was called The Fish Bowl. It probably gets best name for a bowling alley.

North Port 29917 11:10am

29921 11:24 We’re at Warm Mineral Springs. We’re taking a picture of the Warm Mineral Springs Hotel which is like one of your classic roadside motels, architectural magnificent pieces.

We just paid a brief visit to the Warm Springs International Spa Resort and Wellness Institute where you can swim in 87 degree water. They had evidence of pre-historic man having been here 10,000 years ago.

We never saw a sign, but we’re in Venice 29935 11:54am We saw the My-Way Diner; they sell hot Cubans. Unfortunately, Barbara said it looked a little dirty and she wouldn’t eat there. Then we noticed it had been closed, probably by the Health Department.

Before I do another one of these trips, I need to investigate whether it’s possible to finder mount a camera and then that way I could just point the car in the direction of what I wanted to shoot. I wouldn’t have to get out of the car and take my glasses off and stuff.

67 degrees. We haven’t put the top down because we’d freeze. It’s definitely cool up here. I’m hoping this will go away because our tans will fade fast.

I just saw the Venice City Limit sign 29936 11:57am

Nocomas? 29938 12:03

29940 12:27 We just had an excellent philly cheesesteak at Big Dogs. Sadly, I lost my information on several restaurants we’ve been to. I have a business card for Harriette’s and one other place. Big Dogg’s was definitely not a tourist trap; it was just a little hole-in-the-wall place on the side of the road. There were local construction and landscape workers eating there.

Oscar Scherer State Park 29943 12:32pm I’m not sure what they have there, but they have palm trees on the way in.

We were driving down the road at 29945 12:40 and saw a sign for Tervis? Tumblers. I just thought that it possibly could be the plastic glassware that I like so well to drink out of. So we pulled in, and indeed it is the original. It’s been in business since 1942, and they make this insulated tumbler. I have a Texas Tech one and an American flag one. We have the website: www.tervis.com. Amanda was the person who helped us at Tervis Tumbler.

Ospry 29946 12:53pm

Spanish Point, it says it’s a historic point 29947 12:55pm

Sarasota 29954 1:10pm

Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota 29957 1:23pm

29960 and 1:30 We just took a picture of Mel’s Twisty Treat. It’s a building built like a vanilla ice cream.

We’re turning left onto Myrtle Street to see Sarasota Jungle Gardens. It’s two blocks off Hwy 41 on Myrtle Street just passed the Twisty Treat.

University Street where you turn left to go the the Ringling Museum. We are at the Classic Car Museum in Sarasota. There are lots of great old cars.

Hwy 41 has heavy traffic and tons of stoplights; we’re moving awfully slow.

Bradonton 29970 2:00pm

Zolfo Springs 29972 2:04pm We’re looking for a farm that grows fruit and makes pies.

We’re crossing the Manatee River

I believe we crossed the Little Manatee River and then the Hillsborough River

We’re getting off exit 275 on the 75 at Hwy 56 so we can cut over Tarpon Springs

61 degrees 3:02pm We have some more sprinkles.

30061 3:37 We’re at Tarpon Springs

We just visited Sponge-orama. It’s free. The exhibit is as described in the book. It’s kind of sad to think that somebody thought that was really good when they made it.

Tarpon Springs is a great community and it looks like it’s a place that would be fun to walk around for an hour or two, but we don’t have the time so we’re on the road again.

It’s been really overcast with ominous looking clouds all day. We had a few little raindrops at 4:13; we probably had 3 or 4 minutes worth of raindrops earlier.

The lesson for the day is going to be that “there are different strokes for different folks,” “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” “there’s an ass for every saddle,” “whatever floats your boat,” “I like tomatoes, you like tomatos,”

We’re probably in Anclote? 30072 4:16pm

Port Richie, the little city by the river, and we just crossed some river named Huskahatchee? or something like that

Bayonet Point 30079 4:32pm

Hudson 30081 4:35pm

We just passed the Sideshow Museum and Gallery 30083 4:38pm

We’ve reached Spring Hill 30088 4:48pm I just took a picture of the “Get Bin Ladin” weapon of mass destruction

30095 5:00pm We’re at Wiki Watchie which is much bigger than it was when were here as little kids. They also have Buccaneer Bay Water Park as part of Wiki Watchie

It’s 54 degrees and a little after 5:00pm in Florida.

Sugar Mill Woods, a deed restricted community. 30111 5:18pm We’re making good time here on this US 19.

We’ve reached Homasassa Springs 30116 5:31pm We just hit Circle K for a nutritious meal of Fritos, cheddar cheese sauce, a chocolate bar, and Canada Dry Ginger Ale for 2.

The Eully Sugar Mill Ruins State Historic Site, 2 ½ miles off the road, but we’re going to have to skip it because we’re running so far behind today.

Homasassa Springs Wildlife State Park is on our left we’re also skipping it  because we’re behind and as Barbara said “It is nearly raining.”

Homosassa Springs is the manatee capital of the world.

Crystal River 30132 5:40pm

There is very good patriotism in Crystal River; they have a flag on every light pole for miles it seems. We’re very impressed.

Red Level 30129 5:55pm

Just going over the With Lacoochie River, entering the city limits of Ingliss 30134 5:59

Because of the time factor and weather, I’ve skipped several very good picture opportunities. I could’ve taken a thousand motels that have been here for 80 years or so, a great big gigantic dinosaur, a few other things.

Because we’re running late, we’re going to give up cutting to Gainesville for dinner. We’re going to stay on 19 and we’ll have to record the cities so we have them for posterity.

We just passed over the Wakassa or Wakasassa River 30155 6:21

City limits of Otter Creek 30158 6:24pm

Usher 30165 6:30pm

Chiefland 30170 6:34pm

Chiefland’s the kind of town that you definitely would have driven through going somewhere else on a vacation as a child in the 50’s.

We appear to be in a town called Fanning Springs 30179 6:46pm

We passed by a bar called Big Dawg’s with a trailer sign out front saying “Karaoke by Stacy tonight.” It would have been fun to stop but it seems like it might be too early.

We’re passing over the historic Suwanee River 30181 6:49pm

We have seen a lot of fruit stands and peanut stands, but we haven’t stopped or taken pictures. We don’t have room in the car to put any fruit so we skipped these places.

We’re in the town of Old Town 30184 6:53

We’re in the town of Eugene 30190 6:59pm

We just met a couple of young ladies. They waved when they saw the sign on the car.

Cross City 30193 7:01pm

When you go to these small towns that are off the tourist roads, the biggest business is clearly religion.

Shermont 30194 7:04

On this stretch of highway, it’s important to remember when you get to these small towns to really slow down. Having driven this from Orlando a number of times during college, you see a lot of guys getting tickets.

Just crossed the Steinhachee? River, so we must be in the own of Tennille 30211 7:20

Salem 30320 7:28pm

We took a sunset picture just outside of  Perry, Fl. It wasn’t a very good sunset picture but as they say since it’s free sometimes you get what you pay for. We also got a call from a girl at a television station in Panama City and they want to do a story about the trip Round America.

We just crossed the Fenholloway River

Town of Perry 30236 7:44pm

One of the things I like best about driving these roads is that you see these classic old motels that are still in business. You seem them in every town. You see them even in the bigger towns and as Barbara says “you can’t imagine anyone would stay in them.” I’m sure a lot of them are nice for what they are, but they are classic to look at with unusual architecture, great signage usually.

Econfina River 30252 8:05pm 50 degrees

We just entered the town of Iddo 30254 8:07pm

Eridu—we’re into these “do’s” around here 30257 8:09pm

Ucilla River 30263 8:14pm

We just entered the town of Lamont 30263 8:15pm

We reached the town of Capps 30270 8:21pm

Waukeenah 30272 8:23pm

We cut up to I 10 on Hwy 59; this will make it easier to find a hotel. We’re 14 miles from Tallahassee 30283 8:35pm

We rented a hotel at about 9:15pm 30306

Mailboxes are Fun – Day 9

Mailboxes are Fun

Day 9 – April 9, 2003 – Wednesday


Today was an “off day” – basically a travel day.  “All” we saw were three world’s largest; two world’s smallest; highways with warning signs for crocodiles, panthers, and endangered deer; roadside gorillas (2), a fish, a camel, and a panther; a wide variety of funky mailboxes; the African Queen in Key Largo; two world capitals; the Everglades; and suspected Weapons of Mass Destruction.  It was a Quirky day!


This is the first morning that we walked out to see an overcast sky; it was that way virtually all day.  Key West was in the rearview mirror about 9 am.  On the drive down, we missed several “attractions,” so we made a point to see as many as possible as we headed back to the mainland – 125 miles from Key West to the Everglades on the Overseas Highway.


The first stop was a sight that was high on my list of things I wanted to see on the trip – the Perky Bat Tower.  So, when we reached Sugarloaf Key, we began the search for the Perky Bat Tower.  We didn’t have good directions, so we cruised the island for a while with no luck.  After asking three different people for directions, we finally found it – out in the middle of a swamp-like nowhere.  The 35-foot tall tower was built by Mr. Perky in 1929 to fight mosquitoes.  His plan was for the tower to house a colony of bats to eat the many mosquitoes in the area, but the bats stayed away, and the mosquitoes stayed put.  This odd structure is a National Historic Landmark.  We enjoyed seeing it.  I figure the Perky Bat Tower qualifies as the world’s largest mosquito tower.


We drove right through the National Key Deer Refuge as we headed up Highway 1 in Big Pine Key.  The world’s smallest deer (only three feet tall) are on the Endangered Species List, so there are warning signs on the road.  There are 250 Key Deer on the island, but we didn’t spot a one.

We stopped at the roadside area for the Historic Seven Mile Bridge and photographed both the old bridge and the new.  We also stopped in Islamorada, sport fishing capital of the world, to see the Hurricane Memorial.  On September 2, 1935, over 400 refugees drowned from 200-mile-per-hour hurricane winds.


One of the many emails that I received from people before we began the trip was from a man who collects photos of unique mailboxes.  As a result, I have tried to pull over to take photos of the more unusual mailboxes that we see.  Today, we snapped a porpoise, Uncle Sam, fishing lure, alligator, and seahorse.


We passed by several attractions that we just couldn’t stop to see – too much quirky stuff still on the itinerary.


In Islamorada, we stopped for photos of the world’s largest lobster – a really well done statue.  There we saw a Dad with his camera trying to get his reluctant young teenage sons to pose in front of the lobster.  I yelled to them that, if they are lucky, when they get much older, they will actually be glad they had their picture taken in front of the world’s largest lobster.  They laughed, and Dad got his photo.


In Key Largo, dive capital of the world, we were excited to stop to see the African Queen, the boat from the movie “African Queen.”  Sadly, there was a sign that said “I am not available to take any tours at this time.”  Another stop in Key Largo was to see the very unique Jules’ Undersea Lodge, a hotel located 22 feet beneath the sea.  Neither Boz nor I are certified scuba divers, so we were happy to just take a picture of the sign out front.


As we ended the drive through the Keys, we saw a warning sign “Crocodile Crossing – Next 8 Miles.”  Unfortunately, there was no shoulder to pull off onto to enable Bozzie Jane (not me!) to get out to take a photo of the sign.  We had the same problem in the Everglades when we saw a “Panther Crossing” warning sign.  Barbara didn’t feel there was room for me to pull over.  In the Everglades, we also saw signs that looked like warning signs to keep your arms inside your car, so we did.


As we drove through Homestead on the way to the Everglades, I screeched to a stop when I saw several missiles on the side of the road.  I’m not sure, but these may be Weapons of Mass Destruction that the Iraqis are hiding out in this remote area of South Florida.


The drive on the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades is not very exciting – no cool mailboxes – just a lot of places that take folks on airboat rides.  They could use a Perky Bat Tower up there – wall-to-wall mosquitoes no doubt.  When we reached Ochopee, one of the few towns we saw in the Everglades, we pulled over to find the world’s smallest post office – a little 5-foot by 8-foot building that serves as the post office and a Trailways Bus Terminal.  There was one postal lady inside at a tiny desk.


After the Everglades, we drove through Marco Island, and then we drove through downtown Naples, one of the most upscale (aka wealthy) areas in Florida.  We passed through Bonita Springs and ended the day in Fort Myers.  The sun was big and orange on the horizon, but we couldn’t get over to the coast for another coastal sunset photo, but I got a pretty good picture from the side of the road.


We had three excellent waitresses today and some excellent grub.  We spotted Harriette’s in Key Largo – a small, roadside restaurant with a parking lot full of cars, so we figured it had to be popular with the locals, and it was.  A waitress out back on a smoke break encouraged us to come on in, and she (Lisa) ended up being our waitress.  Harriette’s was great – a classic small-town café, decorated accordingly.  Not an attempt to make a restaurant look like a small town café, this was the real deal.  I’ve never eaten dolphin, but I had a fantastic blackened dolphin sandwich today.  I was relieved to learn that my dolphin was a fish while those loveable creatures we see on TV and at marine parks are mammals.  A little further down the road, we spotted a really cool alligator mailbox, and when we stopped, we found ourselves at the Crack’d Conch, a restaurant that we heard had excellent Key Lime Pie.  Our waitress, Kathy, gave us two pieces of pie for the price of one as she felt the slices were a little small.  Then when Boz asked if they had some food she could give to the skinny cats she spotted on the way in, Kathy had the cook fry up some fish for Boz to feed the cats.  Two pieces of pie and food for a half dozen cats for $3.19.  Nice lady and perhaps the best deal we will find on the trip (other than the sunsets, as we all know sunsets are free)!  We reached Bonita Springs about 6 pm, and we saw a shiny stainless steel diner called Mel’s, so we pulled in.  Our waitress, Rebecca, was delightful – by far the most enthusiastic waitress/waiter about our trip, so she is the leader in the clubhouse for Best Waitress in our Best & Worst Competition.  I happen to love hot dogs, so I had the foot long Cadillac Dog, and it was the best hot dog I have ever eaten.


Small towns are so wonderful.  In Key Largo, I skimmed through the local weekly newspaper, and I happened to read a story about the opening of a new location for the local American Legion Hall.  The article said “After a nine year odyssey, the American Legion has a new home.”  Oh to have such an uncomplicated life that the trials and tribulations of finding a new home for the American Legion Hall is an “odyssey!”


It was a funny day.


We had three minutes of sprinkles today, so with the three seconds of raindrops on Day 6, the weather has been mighty nice.


The lesson we learned today is that if you can have a great time seeing little more than unusual mailboxes, you can have fun anywhere in our 50 states.  Barbara noticed an older, retired couple sitting near us at dinner.  They never spoke – never even made eye contact with each other.  We have no idea what their life was all about, but perhaps they would have been happier if they had learned to enjoy the fun of a mailbox.



Stan the Pink Flamingo Man – Day 8

Stan the Pink Flamingo Man

Day 8 – April 8, 2003 – Tuesday

We thoroughly enjoyed Key West today, and Stan the Pink Flamingo Man was one of many highlights.  Second best day so far (still rank Day 2 in Savannah as the best).

Sunny, beautiful blue sky, and 82 degrees.  We have enjoyed fabulous weather!  In eight days, we saw only two or three raindrops late one afternoon in Miami.  The sky was SO BLUE today that I took a photo of it just to be able to remember.


We walked through town this morning looking at the shops, bars, and restaurants.  We stopped at the Key West Candy Company where we had breakfast of a chocolate-covered, frozen Key Lime Pie-on-a-Stick.  Yummy!  We also bought a half pound cookie at a cookie kitchen.  The lesson of the day certainly won’t be about nutrition.


Our destination was the Ernest Hemingway Home – the most anticipated sight on Bozzie Jane’s list, because of the Hemingway cats.  Hemingway was introduced to cats by one of his sons.  Gregory Hemingway had a cat named Snowball, and Snowball had extra toes.  The Hemingway cat herd grew over the years, with all of the cats descendants of Snowball.  There are now 61 Hemingway cats living at the home, and half have at least one extra toe.  We toured the home, with Carl the guide.  It was interesting to see his home and hear great stories about Hemingway, but the cats were the stars of the show for us.  The cats have the names of famous people for the most part, and there is a cat cemetery on the property where the cats are buried when they go to cat heaven.  There are a number of great stories that we want to relate, so I will try to write more about this later.


After the cats, it was roosters.  Several people recommended Blue Heaven Restaurant to us, and we found it on a side street.  It was like walking into someone’s back yard out in the country.  There were roosters and other critters wandering around, and the tables sit out in the dirt.  By now you know that we like “quirky” stuff, and Blue Heaven had quirky with a capital Q.  My Shrimp Quesadilla was fabulous.  Our waiter, Robby McClung, recommended the Banana Heaven for dessert, so Boz and I split one.  It was absolutely amazing.  From what we could tell, the chef starts with bananas, butter, rum, and perhaps brown sugar, and the bananas are sautéed in that concoction.  The hot bananas and syrup mixture is then poured over a delicious banana bread, and if that isn’t enough, homemade vanilla ice cream is scooped onto the side.  It was OUT of this world, and so rich that we barely made a dent in it.  Best dessert by far!


We saw the Key West Lighthouse Museum and the Harry Truman Little White House.


We spent a lot of time just walking and looking at the over 300 bars as well as restaurants and shops.  We went in Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and I was blown away with the variety of items, the quality of the items, and the graphics.  Jimmy Buffett is one sharp cookie!


The Strand Theatre is closed down, but what an amazing-looking building.  Then we just about croaked when we saw a sign that says a Walgreen’s Drug Store will be moving into that spot.  This would be criminal.  Someone needs to stop this from happening.  Key West is overly commercialized for the tourists, but at least most of the tourist area has maintained the great old buildings and proper look and feel.


Key West Florida - Pink Flamingo Display in Key West Florida.  Round America 2003; Florida; Day 8; 2003-04-08
Pink Flamingo Display in Key West Florida.  Round America 2003; Florida; Day 8; 2003-04-08

One of the highlights of the day was stopping at the Key West Gift Shop.  We were drawn in by a fabulous pink flamingo display in the window.  Inside, we met Stan the Pink Flamingo Man.  We have thoroughly enjoyed Key West, but it isn’t what we expected.  Stan summed it up for us.  He said: “Key West is a fantasy of a place and time that has long since died.”  Stan has decided to leave Key West.  Guess where he has decided to move?  Savannah.  (See Day 2, and you’ll know why.)


Walking through a residential area was also a treat as we saw some lovely old homes.

Sloppy Joe’s was Hemingway’s favorite bar, so we stopped in for a tall cool one.  The singer/piano player was excellent.  He looked just like Jerry Springer and played and sang like Randy Newman.  The next thing we knew, a young 13-year-old boy was up on stage playing ragtime piano like crazy.  It was quite a show.  Little Boy Flowers was his name, and he recorded his first CD at age 9.  One of those great surprises that make a trip special.


We saw a few other interesting surprises today – a jalapeno pepper-shaped car and a big seashell at a Texaco station.  The car was cool, and we decided e shell surely must be the world’s largest sea shell at a Texaco station.


After walking around and seeing the sights all day, we made our way to the waterfront for the Sunset Celebration.  Every day, Key West celebrates the sunset.  A massive cruise ship docked late in the day, and the wharf was packed with thousands of people.  We met some nice folks, including Ray and Shirley from Massachusetts, Karen and her mother from Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Robin and Tom from Lucky, Ohio.  I was tickled with several of the sunset photos that I took.


Once the sun set, we joined a huge street crowd to watch Dexter the juggler entertain.  I have never seen such a big crowd for a street entertainer anywhere.  Young Dexter is a  sharp cookie, and he really knew how to work the crowd.  He racked in a bundle in tips.

We were still full from Banana Heaven and various and sundry other things, so we just grabbed a few slices of pizza at Billie’s Bar & Restaurant.  It was quite good.  We popped across the street for dessert at Key Lime Pie Heaven.  We had a Key Lime Cookie and a Key Lime Slushie.  Different.


We did a little shopping and called it a day.  I am now the proud owner of a Belly Bag and eyeglass straps that will enable me to suspend my sunglasses and glasses from my neck when I remove them to take photos.


The most important lesson that we learned today is that when things are really good, it makes a lot of sense to just relax and enjoy it.  Take the Hemingway Cats for example.  They could leave; there is no way to stop them.  One of our fellow tourists asked Carl the guide about this, and he said why in the world would any of them want to leave when they have such a great life there.  A never-ending bowl of food, plenty of water, unrestricted access to a fabulous home and grounds, constant rubbing, weekly housecalls from the vet, etc.  Life is good, so why mess with the status quo.  Bozzie Jane said if she was a cat, she would want to be a Hemingway Cat.

I guess I’d go for Stan the Pink Flamingo Man.




We have been getting great emails from people we know and people we don’t know who have heard about the trip somehow.  Today, we enjoyed email from strangers Bob and Linda Cambell, and they gave us several places to see as we head back to mainland Florida.  We are still laughing about the email from our dear friend Berlinda Shanklin who suggests that we will have an even greater need for the new wide angle lens for the camera if we keep eating so much dessert.


On the political front, I am shocked and appalled by this joker Jacques Cherac of France.  Perhaps our troops should head to Paris next.  Seriously, I hope our government ends any and all discussions with France about anything.  France is no longer an ally of the US, and they should be so treated.


I did get an email from the nice folks at French’s Mustard.  “We at the French’s Company wish to put an end to statements that our product is manufactured in France.  There is no relationship, nor has there ever been a relationship, between our mustard and the country of France.  Indeed, our mustard is manufactured in Rochester, NY.  The only thing we have in common is that we are both yellow.”  So don’t boycott French’s Mustard – just all of the French companies and products.  And let’s ship this bozo John Kerry to France.  What an idiot this would-be President is.


Searching for Jimmy Buffett – Day 7

Searching for Jimmy Buffett but finding Huey Lewis

Day 7 – April 7, 2003 – Monday

We went Searching for Jimmy Buffett but finding Huey Lewis

The drive from Miami to Key West was enjoyable – not nearly as long as we thought it would be.  Our timing was lucky, however, as the weekends are much busier.

Searching for Jimmy Buffett

We saw the biggest American flag we have ever seen at a used car dealer in Miami.  We’ll see the world’s largest in Long Beach, California, but this one was mighty big.  We hit a car wash to get a week’s worth of dirt blasted off the AmericaMobile, and we finally found a really nice American flag license plate at Discount Auto Parts.  So we were standing tall as we began our search for Jimmy Buffett.  It’s about 150 miles from Miami to Key West.


We visited two tourist attractions before we headed south.  Searching for Jimmy Buffett.  We started the day at Monkey Jungle.  Boz loves monkeys, and we enjoyed seeing and feeding the monkeys.  At Monkey Jungle, the animals run free, and the guests walk through cages.  It was very interesting to learn a little about monkeys; they are very much like humans.  For example, they eat fruit like we do – just the good part, while I would have thought “animals” would eat the whole thing.


The guide introduced Ray and May, two orangutans, and a silverback gorilla, King.  Ray and May were funny.  King was a little sad.  He had been rescued from a circus where he was mistreated.  The circus pulled his two front teeth, so King has been rejected by potential mates and has lived his life alone.  He has also gained a lot of weight, and they’ve put him on a diet to lose 100 pounds.  You could see how bummed he was when the guide threw him a bag of diet food – carrots, celery, lettuce – rather than tasty fruit.


We got the biggest kick out of the variety of monkeys who run wild over the cages through which the guests walk.  There are bowls on chains every 20-feet or so, and they haul these up to grab food the minute any is dropped in.  There is a very distinct pecking order among monkeys, and it was interesting to observe this in action.  We were also struck by what amazing athletes monkeys are.  It was nice to learn that monkeys live much longer in captivity than they do in the wild.


Monkey Jungle was established by the DuMond family in 1932, and they still own and operate it today.  We thought it was very expensive ($15.95 each), but the fee really seemed to be more of a donation for the care of the animals, the rainforest, and research, so we didn’t mind.  It isn’t a busy tourist attraction; there weren’t over a dozen cars in the parking lot when we pulled in.  It seemed like Monkey Jungle is a labor of love by the family and staff.  www.monkeyjungle.com

A little further down the road was Coral Castle, a most unusual labor of love.  I had read a lot about this place, so I knew what to expect, but it is still amazing to see.  Coral Castle is a home, furnishings, and property constructed entirely out of coral.  One tiny little 5-foot tall 100 pound man, Ed Leedskalnin, built it all singlehandedly.  He built it as a monument to the woman he loved, Agnes Scuffs, who called off the wedding just hours before the ceremony.  Some of the coral sculptures in the “garden” weigh as much as 30 tons, and the story is that Ed somehow managed to work with these massive pieces and move them into place without help as he “understood the laws of balance and leverage.”  There are over 1100 tons of rock!  It’s hard to believe, but Coral Castle is not as impressive unless that part of the story is true, so we choose to believe.  I probably wouldn’t have doubted it if there hadn’t been a staff member trying to convince us that there were energy fields in the ground there.  I didn’t buy that.  Coral Castle opened in 1923.  Some call it “America’s Stonehenge.”  Coral Castle is right on Highway 1, so it was easy to see as we headed south to Key West.  www.coralcastle.com


The drive was very pleasant and didn’t take nearly as long as we thought it would.  Most of the drive is on narrow stretches of island land, and the islands are connected by little bridges.  Then there is the big 7-mile bridge.  We were immediately struck by the color of the water; it was an unusual greenish blue near Key Largo and then it became an amazing turquoise a little further south.  In one of my pictures, you can get a sense of the color, but the color is even more vibrant in real life.


There are many more keys than I thought.  I couldn’t tell how many there were from all that I had read in preparing for the trip.  Now I know why; you get tired of counting.

Key Largo is the dive capital of the US, because of the coral reef.  Key Largo has Jules’ Undersea Lodge, an underwater hotel.  There are a few other “attractions” along the way, but nothing too significant as far as we could tell.


We had a list of a half dozen restaurants, so we kept looking for them.  Then I spotted Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen and slammed on the brakes.  Mrs. Mac’s is exactly the kind of restaurant we are searching for on the trip – a place where the locals eat (and those tourists lucky enough to have heard about it).  It has a truck-stop-like appearance on the outside and a wide variety of license plate décor on the inside.  Flying Saucers are their specialty – delicious sandwiches in round pita bread pockets.  For dessert, we had “frozen” key lime pie, and boy was it good – very refreshing.

We were excited when we reached Key West.  It’s always more exciting (to us at least) to visit someplace new, and neither of us had ever been to the Keys.  Key West is much bigger and more commercialized than we expected, and it is busy.  Since Monday is a slow day here, we are so thankful that we didn’t hit it on a Saturday!  Searching for Jimmy Buffett….


We just drove around at first, and we drove right up to the Southernmost Point statue.  Barbara took my picture, and I took a picture of Cuba (at least I pointed the camera in that general direction).  Cuba is just 90 miles from Key West.  We hit Duval Street – where most of the action is – one tourist-oriented restaurant, bar, and shop after another.  It’s a cool-looking place, but talk about commercialized – WOW!  We expected to see Jimmy Buffett relaxing in the corner of a thatched roof shack of a bar, but that’s not what we found.  Searching for Jimmy Buffett


We checked into the hotel (two nights in the same room is a real luxury), rested just a bit, and then raced back downtown to try to catch the sunset.  We saw an incredible sun from the road, but just had remnants of the sun behind some clouds when I managed to get past the crowds to get a camera angle.  I got a decent photo, but we will get their earlier tomorrow.  The sunset is a BIG deal here.  Key West is advertised as THE place the sun sets.


A man we met at The Museum at Ragtops in Palm Beach recommended a restaurant, but we couldn’t find it.  When a timeshare salesman on a street corner indicated the restaurant catered to a certain type of clientele other than husbands and wives, we decided to find another spot for dinner.  Key West is known for great restaurants, but we didn’t have our book with us, so we just stopped at the Hog’s Breath (www.hogsbreath.com).  We enjoyed the Hog’s Breath in Carmel many years ago.  It was fine – nothing special – much more of a bar than a restaurant.

The message that Boz and I got from Monkey Jungle and Coral Castle was that the power of love can accomplish amazing things.




It would be great if we could all vacation and just tune out business, but that’s never been possible for me.  There’s not a lot going on, but two or three business matters have to be dealt with periodically.


I’ve taken 511 photographs in 7 days.  At this pace, I’ll take over 7,000 photographs over the course of the trip.  I’m using a Sony DSC-F717 digital camera with a 10x zoom lens and a UV filter.  I’ll use my wide angle lens for the first time tomorrow when I shoot the sunset.  With a 128 MB memory stick, I can take about 50 large format pictures before I have to download.  I simply download the photos to my laptop every night and recharge the camera for the next day.

The first week is now history.  We had a great time — only one less than pleasant day.

Searching for Jimmy Buffett. 

Beauty Everywhere – Day 6

Beauty Everywhere

Day 6 – April 6, 2003 – Sunday

Beauty Everywhere!

The Miami area is much prettier than we expected, and it is big and busy.  It’s also very clean — not the picture I had of it in my mind’s eye.  I haven’t been in Miami as a tourist since I was a child.

Miami Beach Florida - Blue Moon Hotel in Miami Beach Florida.  Round America Trip - Day 6 - 2003-04-06.

The entire South Beach area is an Art Deco District with one building after another done in great art deco style.

Our hotel, the Blue Moon, was nice and well-located, though a Marriott Courtyard is even nicer for half the rate.


We met Michael, Belen, and Ernesto — all staff at the Blue Moon.  (I give everyone we meet our Round America card and encourage them to check out the website.)

Miami Beach Florida - Sandcastle in Miami Beach Florida.  Round America Trip - Day 6 - 2003-04-06.
Sandcastle in Miami Beach Florida.  Round America Trip – Day 6 – 2003-04-06.

Our day began with a walk up and down Collins Avenue (A1A) and Ocean Drive – the street next to the beach, as well as a walk along the beach.  Lots of action of all types – a very busy place.  We saw beautiful beach areas, beautifully designed buildings, an amazing sandcastle, and a wide variety of people.

We saw a big group of what appeared to be weekend bikers, and we spent a few minutes speaking to Jay and Rich.  They gave us several suggestions for our next two days in Key West.  Nice guys and great-looking motorcycles.

Miami Beach is a real melting pot.  There were times when we rarely heard English being spoken.  While we saw people of all races, religions, and from many different ethnic origins, everyone seemed to get along fine, and the differences were essentially invisible.  It’s an up-tempo place, and you would never know our country was at war.

We looked for a place for brunch, and after walking past sidewalk café after sidewalk café with mainly empty tables, we came upon a big place that was standing-room-only.  True to the herd instinct that affects most of us, we followed the crowd and grabbed a table the second we saw some folks leave.  Without realizing it, we were at the News Cafe, one of the places I had hoped we could eat.  The News Café has newspapers and magazines from anywhere and everywhere and a big menu.  The café opened in 1992, and for the last nine years, it has been named the Best Outdoor Café.  The café originally had seats for eight, but it now seats 350.  True to one of the Rules of the Road that we established, I tried something new – Eggs Florentine (eggs benedict with spinach).  It was good though not served hot;  our waiter (Mark H according to the bill) had (sadly) the personality of a wet dishrag; and the service was very slow.  Some places are spectacular successes in spite of themselves.  The people watching at the News Café was extreme.  At the table next to us was a 65 to 70-year-old man cuddling with a teenage girl, and she wasn’t his daughter.

After brunch, we went to the Wolfsonian Museum.  It had been highly recommended by several books that I had read, and we really enjoyed it.  The Wolfsonian is primarily a museum of design, and it was great fun to see everything from London subway signs to 1940s-era electric fans and appreciate them from a focus on the design.  It makes you realize how strongly the sales of all products are affected by the design and packaging.  Surprise, surprise, we especially enjoyed a patriotic display.  The Wolfsonian also had a portrait exhibit, and the most interesting piece was a sculpture that is a 360-degree profile of Mussolini.  It was displayed right next to a bust of Mussolini, and the 360-degree profile was truly amazing.

We then walked the rest of the scenic part of Ocean Drive, visited Jerry’s World Famous Deli, and then walked throughout the Lincoln Road area of sidewalk cafes, galleries, and shops.  A street market was being held, so we saw all types of stuff.

Miami Beach Florida - Romero Britto Art Gallery in Miami Beach Florida.  Round America Trip - Day 6 - 2003-04-06.
Romero Britto Art Gallery in Miami Beach Florida.  Round America Trip – Day 6 – 2003-04-06.

We walked through the Romero Britto gallery.  He is a Brazilian artist, and both Boz and I were really taken with the incredibly vibrant colors in his art.  We have never owned anything like it, but we both loved his work.

In the Lincoln Road area, it was nice to see that places like Starbucks were blending into the art deco surroundings.  Beauty Everywhere.

Our next stop was Coral Gables.  This community has changed very little from the 20’s, and it was really enjoyable to drive through the residential areas and see great-looking 1920s-era Florida-style homes.  The developer of the area had a very strong plan for how the area should look and be maintained, and even the water tower is themed.  The Alhambra Water Tower looks like an ornate lighthouse – truly unique.  Beauty Everywhere  We also saw the most impressive Biltmore Hotel and the University of Miami.

We didn’t meet a lot of people today, but in addition to the folks at the Blue Moon and the bikers, we met Geeta from Guyana and Pat from Antarctica at our hotel, and we met Marvin from America at dinner.  We also appreciate the free admission to The Wolfsonian provided by our new friend, Oscar Alvarez; he comped us because we are members of the press.

Tonight is laundry night, so we are staying at the Candlewood Suites, a very nice and very affordable chain that we got to know in the Orlando area.  Our room and the amenities here are much better than the Blue Moon at less than half the price.  I’m not knocking the Blue Moon — just singing the praises of nice, much more affordable places to stay while spending over 100 days on the road.

It was a very enjoyable day.   We’ll tend to have a better time on the days when we aren’t driving several hundred miles and can relax enjoying a stop.

The lesson we learned today is that you can find beauty in all types of people, places, and things.  The Wolfsonian certainly demonstrated the beauty in the design of everything from war bond advertising to electric fans to underground (subway) signs.  The entire Art Deco District was certainly very beautiful – though we don’t always think of areas and buildings as beautiful.  Even Starbucks was beautiful by blending into its art deco surroundings rather than sticking out like a sore thumb.  Coral Gables was filled with beauty because the area was so well designed and has been largely insulated in appearance from the development of the last 75 years.  And we saw a lot of “beautiful people” today – people from a wide variety of places and backgrounds.  Beauty Everywhere.


If any of your friends or relatives want to join us at any point, please do!  Bring your own car if it is before May 15 as we will be in a two-seater until we switch to an SUV in mid-May.  Once we switch to the SUV, we will have room for two to join us.

We received more emails from folks who read about our trip in their local newspaper!  That’s exciting!  Today we received two more invitations to come by for pie.

I may move my political commentary to a page that links from this page, since this certainly isn’t the purpose of our trip or our writing.  That way, those of you who are anti-war, Democrats, or not as patriotic as we are will not have to read what we talk about and believe.  I would have never thought to discuss politics as one of the topics on my daily report, but when you have as much time as we have to be side-by-side talking and listening to reports about the war on the radio, the discussion of political issues does occupy some of our time every day….  I continue to receive a number of emails each week from people encouraging a Boycott of France.  I’m all for it.  Many Americans lost their lives helping France in times of war, so I find it absolutely despicable that the French would campaign so hard to hurt our country.  The French hate Americans, so who needs ’em?  I strongly agree with those who feel the French no longer deserve any business or help of any type from Americans.  We will never go to France again, and we will do everything possible to avoid buying any French products.  On the flipside, we will do anything and everything we can to support our friends in the United Kingdom!  Click here if you’d like to see a list of French companies and products to avoid.

One of the most important things we have done in each major tourist town is stop at an information center or hotel to pick up brochures for every attraction of interest.  Excellent resources.

Harry and The Natives – Day 5

Harry and The Natives

Day 5 – April 5, 2003 – Saturday

An eclectic bar, a bald star, hanging chads, rich people’s pads, 60 rag tops, and the ultimate rag — The National Enquirer, Harry and the Natives.  The joy of the unexpected!  We had a great time today…mainly because we so enjoyed a number of things that we just stumbled upon.

We got up and at ’em early (very important since there is far more to see and do each day than we have time).  I opened the window of our room to get a very interesting sunrise over the ocean photo.  I then discovered our shiny, new Panasonic tape recorder (purchased yesterday from Tiffany, the young lady with two legal identities who we met at Staples) was filled with tape in places tape was not supposed to be.  I lack the patience for such problems, but Bozzie Jane calmly dealt with it.  We lost about half of the day’s recording.  This slowed us up a bit as I posted the reports for Day 3 and Day 4.  We finally got out the door at 9:04 am.  80-degrees, blue sky, and hardly any clouds.

We are all decked out in our new Round America sportswear today – caps and shirts.  Thanks to Rod Smith and the crew at Atlas for doing such a nice job and shipping them to us at the hotel in Jensen Beach.

Jensen Beach, Florida is a beautiful, lush spot with a nice long beach.  We drove down the A1A (the highway that runs north/south along the Atlantic Ocean for much of the way through the state).

Hobe Sound Florida - Giant Robot at Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida - Round America Trip - Day 5 - 2003-04-05.
Giant Robot at Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida – Round America Trip – Day 5 – 2003-04-05.

We weren’t expecting to see much for a while as our list of attractions was rather short until we got further south, so we were just scanning the roadway (mainly looking for speed limit signs, I’m afraid) when I saw a giant robot – probably 40-feet tall.  I made one of my now-patented U-turns, and we found ourselves in the wacky parking lot of “Harry and the Natives” in Hobe Sound, Florida.  We weren’t sure what it was at first, but we saw a lot of people coming in and out, and we soon realized it was a bar/restaurant.  The “yard” was filled with an assortment of wacky things, and the front of the restaurant had funny signs and odd décor.  The interior was even better – hats stapled to the ceiling, lots of funny signs, and an incredible assortment of eclectic stuff.  The restrooms really are outside in “out” houses.  Boz ordered eggs and orange juice, but I felt Key Lime Pie and a Coke was the appropriate breakfast for Harry and the Natives.  Boz and I both agree that the Key Lime Pie is the best pie so far!

Hobe Sound Florida - Harry of Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida - Round America Trip - Day 5 - 2003-04-05.
Harry of Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound Florida – Round America Trip – Day 5 – 2003-04-05.

Our waitress, Kayla, introduced Harry, and we had an enjoyable chat.  Harry and the Natives has been in business since 1949.  Harry’s 89-year-old mom still handles the cash register.  I could write pages about the clever things we saw and heard at Harry and the Natives, but you can just check their website at www.harryandthenatives.com.  We found Harry’s to be totally unique and enjoyable, and if you ever get anywhere near Hobe Sound, Florida, GO!

Harry would have to like Christopher Guest, producer/writer/director/actor known for “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show,” two of our favorite movies of all times.

Boz commented that the creativity and originality of American entrepreneurs is truly amazing, and it is so gratifying to see businesses like this that have grown and morphed and flourished for over 50 years.  We will see a lot of this on our trip.

We were laughing and smiling for miles after leaving Harry and the Natives.  Then we saw a sign for the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum.  We’d never heard of a Burt Reynolds museum, but another U-turn, and I was knocking at the door.  Unfortunately, Burt and his friends are apparently late sleepers and the museum doesn’t open until 11 am.  We took a photo so we could say we were there, and down the road we went.

The next stop was “Shipping Plus,” a shipping place where we shipped extra clothes and many pounds of brochures back to Hotlanta.  There, I met the owner, Lou, and a customer, Pat.

We made several stops over the first five days of the trip trying to find an American flag license plate for the front of our car.  We got a free one at the Pelican Plaza Car Wash in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  There I met a young lady who should easily win “worst name” in our Best & Worst competition.  I gave her our Round America card, thanked her for the free license plate, and asked her name.  She said it was “Shithead.”  People can be strange…. Maybe she saw the sign on our car.  🙂

On we drove… looking for the rich people’s houses (something the Palm Beach area is known for).  Before we found the houses, we found ourselves in downtown Palm Beach, and I spotted the Palm Beach County Courthouse – home of hanging chads.  Another U-turn, and I had a prized photo.  As you have probably long since determined, Boz and I enjoy “quirky” things, so seeing the courthouse was right down our alley.

Boz hollered for me to pull over, and I did.  She spotted a place called the “The Museum at Ragtops.”  We went in to find a great assortment of antique and classic convertibles (rag tops) and a wide variety of memorabilia.  We took a tour with guide Peter and met a half dozen fellow tourers, including Stephen Goldstein who turned out to be the cousin of Ed Aster, who I worked for in England from 1992 to 1994.  Small world.  Ragtops was great fun.  We especially liked Jimmy Buffett’s 1962 Nash Metropolitan convertible and a 1967 Amphicar, a car that will drive on the road or motor across a body of water.  See www.ragtopsmotorcars.com.


We saw a lot of rich people’s houses and boats today.  There are a bunch of them along the coast in southern Florida.  We saw one home that was the size of a mall.


When we reached Lantana, Florida, I knew it to be the home of The National Enquirer, so we set out to find their office for a photo.  We couldn’t find it, so we stopped three times to ask at a gas station, a 7-11, and then finally at a place that we were sure knows where everything is – Domino’s Pizza.  No cigar.  No one knew where their office was.  We decided The National Enquirer is out of business (the kind of thing they would write about someone else), so down the road we went.


We probably saw the world’s smallest restaurant today, but Bozzie Jane wouldn’t let me take a picture.  It was a guy in a lawn chair with a backyard-style smoker outside of a convenience store with a sign that said “Rufus Ribs.”


Boz noted that we saw an incredible number of chiropractors and furniture and clothing consignment stores today.  She also commented that there is an interesting comparison between the architecture and people with whom we’ve come in contact – the buildings are really tired old worn out buildings or shiny and new, and the people are old or quite young and there’s not a lot in between.


We saw Fort Lauderdale beach – Spring Break Capital of the World!  A real party place.  Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale are really interesting with canals like streets and rich people with big yachts docked out front.


We rolled into Miami Beach at about 5:00 and checked into the Blue Moon Hotel in the art deco district in South Beach.  More quirky stuff!  We ordered Chinese from a nearby Chinese Take-Away, Sum Yum Gai, and we had a quiet evening as we prepared to hit the sightseeing trail in Miami all day tomorrow.


We did not see as many displays of patriotism today as we have seen in previous days.

It’s interesting to see what happens to your body when you drive eight to 10 hours a day in a convertible in bright sunshine.  I have a great tan on my face, but raccoon eyes from my sunglasses; my left arm is extremely tan from the elbow down to my fingertips with a lily white strip where I wear my watch and an even whiter arm above the elbow.  My right arm is similar, though not quite as tan.  And I am getting extremely tan kneecaps.  My uniquely colored body may qualify as a tourist attraction after a couple of months of this.


We’ve had perfect weather – not a drop of rain in five days.  We’re really happy about Daylight Savings Time tomorrow; we can use an extra hour each day.


Our lesson for the day was very clear: Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them.  We were pleasantly surprised five times today, and it absolutely made for a great day on the highway of life.




My political commentary for the day: I was distressed today to learn that Julia Roberts, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Aniston, and George Clooney have made rude comments about the President and our government leaders in regard to the Iraq war.  It may be hard to give up Julia Roberts movies, but I guess I will have to.  I believe actors and actresses get paid grotesque amounts of money for their looks and their skill at pretending to be someone they aren’t.  While they have freedom of speech, so do I.  And I choose to exercise mine by refusing to spend any more money with any of them…and by encouraging others to do the same.  I prefer to spend my money with people I like, and I don’t like anyone who makes what I consider to be anti-American comments.  Others on my Actors to Avoid List include Michael Moore, The Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, two Mexican guys on the Academy Awards whose names I didn’t catch, Barbra Streisand, Salma Hayek, Sean Penn (this generation’s Jane Fonda), Martin Sheen, Josh Brolin, Colin Farrell, Richard Gere, Mike Farrell, Kate Hudson, and Jane Fonda.  I’m sure there are many others.  Sadly, it appears that most of the actors and actresses are what I consider to be anti-American.


We’ve driven 1300 miles so far.  Just 19,000 miles or so to go.


This news flash just in:  We have begun receiving emails from nice folks in places like Jamestown, North Dakota inviting us over for dinner and pie as we drive through.  It seems several newspapers around the country have run a story about our trip.  We will certainly try to meet up with some of these nice folks.



It’s 9:04 a.m., 29166, We’re just leaving the Marriott after taking a picture of the restaurant, and we’re headed south.

We lost our tape recording after Daytona so one thing I remember is 7:11 p.m., is when we arrived at the hotel. We did overshoot the hotel a little bit by about 5 miles. We had to come back because we missed the sign. There really wasn’t a lot to see. We stayed on 1 rather than A1A because we got on A1A once and it turned out it went to nowhere. We did change over to A1A in Port St. Lucy so that we could come down because our hotel was on A1A. We stayed on 1 and saw some biker bars of different types. We saw the Kennedy Space Center from Titusville and took a photo there. We took the Cocoa Water Tower and went through a number of little towns that aren’t on maps. We’ve now lost those names unless we repeat the trip in order to pick up the additional cities but I don’t think Barbara’s up for repeating the trip. We probably had some wonderful thoughts relative to things on the right but those may come back. We did call our hotel to confirm our reservation. They gave good directions, and we found out that our box was there. We’re very excited to have our new Round America caps and shirts on. So, if we think of anything else that happened on that little stretch of the road we’ll put it down. Basically, it was just driving along traditional Florida. There was a wide assortment of stuff in terms of architecture. I will be sure to get a picture today of golfer’s tan and my sunburned elbow, but it’s not too bad.


Another beautiful day as we start 78 degrees. Blue sky, hardly any clouds.

Indian River 29170 9:10am People fishing off the bridge.

Sewalls Point 29171 9:11am

St Lucy River 29172 9:13am

Stewart Florida 29172 9:14am No trucks has been a really nice part of the drive on these two lane roads.

It’s 29186 miles 10:19am as we leave Harry and The Natives which is a place to spend in Hoby Town since 1949. Harry’s mother is still in there working with a calculator. She miscalculated my change but I didn’t have the heart to tell her. We met Harry, our waitress was named Kyla. Harry’s a nut. It’s just an unbelievable assortment of stuff, funny things, signs. There’s a gas pump outside. Inside there was a thing inside that said ‘no sex is bad for your eyes.’ There was everything imaginable. There bathrooms really are outside. They’re in an outhouse. It’s just incredible. There’s a bunch of cabins out here. They have outdoor seating as well as indoor seating. As I look in the back, they have the front of a truck parked out in front of one of these cabins.  They have a complete stage and greyhounds racing on the wall. They have a volleyball court back here. It looks like there’s an airplane stuck in the ground. It’s just incredibly eclectic bunch of stuff. Old posters and signs and movie memorabilia. We had no idea it was here. We just came by and happened to see a giant robot. I looked and saw some other funky stuff and said hey we gotta pull in. I had a delicious breakfast of key lime pie and Coke. It was the best key lime pie I’ve ever had. It turns out key lime pie was invented just a few miles from here in Stuart, Florida. That was a treat and a half like Barbara said. It was certainly the best surprise so far. I can’t imagine going to a much better place ever. Harry and the Natives is on Mars Street and Hwy 1.

We enjoyed Harry so much because it was so interesting to see the originality and creativity of people, and their way of expressing themselves to their business. It has been around for 50 plus years, and the history that’s there is so incredible to see.


Tequesta 21193 10:31am Still rockin and rollin from Harry’s.

I took a photo of the Tequesta Lighthouse at 21195

Burt Reynold’s Park 29196 10:38am

I guess Burt’s fans don’t get started before noon because the place doesn’t open until 11. At least we got a picture of the outside of the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum.

Barbara thinks we should do a documentary because that would really be interesting to people. But I asked if she would be willing to be the documenteraryerist, and she turned me down just as she turns me down for being editor everytime I want to start a new magazine. So that means that the documentary would be a huge hit, but unfortunately she wouldn’t be willing to do it. I wish we did have a video camera, but we’d probably add another 100 days to the trip.

Opening of the brook. It might be interesting to start the book off how when he  was age 9 or 12 or whatever it was, he sat down and wrote down his goals and the things he wanted to accomplish in life, one of which was to visit or be in everyone of the 50 states. When he got down to the last 2, he decided to start over.

This is certainly a pretty area of Florida on Hwy 1. It’s upscale, clean, modern. I like old stuff, but it’s also nice to see clean, modern, and new as well. We continue to pass through a lot of places. They’re obviously cities, but they don’t have the sense to put a sign out on the road to say it’s their city.

Juneau Beach. They’re one of the ones who don’t have the sense to do a sign. 29202 10:56am I’m not sure if we should credit them in the book since they are so delinquent.

Maybe they want to keep it a secret that they are a city, and keep tourists away. That is possible.

Unlike family vacations, I have not heard Barbara once utter the words “Are we there yet?”

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park 29204 10:58am

It strikes me that Harry would have to like Christopher Guest.

I met Lou Montalbano; I got his card as well as a nice lady Pat at the shipping spot. We shipped our box back.

We’d like to thank the Pelican Plaza Car Wash for giving us the free proud to be an American license plate for the front of our vehicle. I asked the young lady behind the counter how much the license plate was and she said it was free. I said let me give you my card. I asked her name and she said “shithead.” I said “oh that’s a pretty name.”