Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Roadtrip - The South

Now that a couple months have past since my latest roadtrip, how about I actually post about it?

Procrastinate much? This will pretty much be a photo tour, cause that's how I roll.

The Route
A giant loop starting and ending in Atlanta. 
Main points in order:
  • Asheville
  • Gatlinburg - Smoky Mountains - Cades Cove
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Dallas
  • San Antonio
  • New Orleans
Basically the plan was to take our time in each place, and not push ourselves to go too many places. We both prefer not having to stay in a different place each night the entire trip - as we pretty much did our first trip. Lesson learned! If you are looking for a really good travel book, we like Lonely Planet.

Asheville: Photo fail. I don't think I have any, except many from antique stores from a prior day trip I took there. Very cool little city, good vibes, some great coffee houses - pretty much the little Portland equivalent of the southeast. One of those places I'd be down with living in.

Grotto Falls trail Smoky Mountains Tennessee by Heather ApplegateGatlinburg: The city itself we could do without. Way to touristy. The surrounding area is the Smoky Mountain National Park, so outdoor adventure and pretty scenery for the win! I specifically wanted a fall trip because of this. We stayed a couple days, driving the Roaring Fork Motor Trail and hiking the trail to Grotto Falls, and driving the Cades Cove Loop.

Roaring Fork Motor Trail autumn trees by Heather ApplegateThe motor trail is an explosion of color in the fall. Basically it looks like someone took a highlighter to the trees and went mental.

Grotto Falls Smoky Mountains by Heather ApplegateLots of pull over areas to take
pictures of the trees and little waterfalls. The trail head to Grotto Falls is along this road. It's not a difficult trail, but I imagine it gets really muddy after even a halfhearted rain. I highly recommend it, and also advise just pulling over in random spots to have a wonder through the bright colors.

Cades Cove is gorgeous. Historic buildings are dotted along it, great panoramic vistas, fields of deer... just be prepared for bumper to bumper traffic in the fall. About half way through we just wished it was over.
Cades Cove panorama by Heather applegate
Roaring Fork Waterfalls Smoky Mountains by Heather Applegate

Natchez Trace Parkway: Doesn't take much longer than the highway to get from Tupelo to Jackson using the parkway, but is a far superior drive. Its just plain relaxing. We were pretty much the only car on the road, very peaceful, and there's a visitors center to stop in.
Side note: Careful if you get off in Jackson for a break - the roads are probably the worst I've ever driven on. Your car will thank you for avoiding it.

From here we went on to Shreveport (Bossier City to be exact), LA. Family lives there and it made a good stopping point for a couple nights before carrying on to TX.
The Majestic in Dallas by Heather Applegate
Dallas: This was not in the original plan. But the navigator saw that the Mavericks happened to be playing a home game against the Lakers the night we were driving by, so we made a day of it. Headed into Dallas midday, ate some good pizza, went to the art museum then onto the game.

Of the 4 games we went to, this was my favorite - the Mavs put on a good show and the fans were the most entertaining!


cathedral of san fernando by heather applegate San Antonio: Again, not in the original plan. But Austin was flooded a day or so before, and (again!) the navigator saw basketball games he could attend (two Spurs games in a row!).

The Alamo at Night by Heather ApplegateVery happy with the resulting roadtrip detour - the Riverwalk is awesome.We pretty much spent the next few days walking every inch of it. Really good restaurants, really really good pubs and great scenery. On the last night we stayed at a hotel right next to the Alamo - so I scooted over there to photo it at night.
San Antonio Riverwalk by Heather Applegate

 Pirate Alley New Orleans by Heather ApplegateNew Orleans: The final landmark of the trip. I've been a couple times - once for Mardi Gras. I recommend people who come from outside the US visit here because it's just unlike any other part of the US. The culture, architecture, food & drinks... all very unique to New Orleans. We stuck to the French Quarter, which has plenty to see and do on its own.  Coffee at Cafe du Monde, Hurricanes at Pat O'Briens, beignets, fried aligator, and a little too much punch involving 151.
St Louis Cathedral by Heather Applegate

The highlight of New Orleans for me was the pharmacy museum. Medical history, diseases, old stuff I could take pictures of... it was pretty much my mecca. It's a tiny museum, dark, yet I managed to take about 200 pictures. I could have spent all day in there if the upstairs had been open (it's being refurbished).
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum by Heather Applegate

And back to Atlanta for the navigator's flight back to London 
(and where he managed to fit in a fourth bball game.... )

If you'd like hotel, restaurant or bar recommendations put it in the comments and I'll do my best!

Next roadtrip will be back out west in April 2014 - so stay tuned. 
Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Coachella and more. 

And if you want to help me get there, all my photographs are available to purchase.

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