US Eastcoast, 2005

Photos © R.Leeuw

The start of this trip proved to be an unpleasant one: Atlanta-Hartsfield IAP is the 2nd busiest airport of the USA (may well be: in the World !) and with current security measures in place it has become a true hell-hole for the travelling public ... No wonder the TSA (Transport Security Administration) is nicknamed "Tourism Suppression Agency" (other nicknames are "Thousands Standing Around" or "The Senseless Agency").
It took us almost 3 hours to get to our rental car from the moment our flight had arrived. It did not help that KLM left one of our bags back in Amsterdam (we were reunited later). I was tempted to go back to Amsterdam straight away !
But we pressed on, fled from ATL and headed east: to Savannah,GA.


Savannah 2005
Savannah is a beautiful town with plenty of impressive houses in Colonial style, many pleasant parks (or "squares") and the Spanish Moss hanging in those huge trees really add to the atmosphere. The Historic District deserves spending a day, strolling in awe. . But we did not have that time, instead we went on a tour by trolleybus (Kathleen, our driver/guide, did an excellent job) and in an hour and half we saw and learned a lot.

Jeff Cochran has a website with a huge amount of photos of Savannah.
History of Savannah,GA and History of the State of Georgia


Sundayschool brought these kids out in the playground: all dressed up, walking and singing in this city playground.

The parks are inspirational for some and an oasis of rest to others.

We drove a nice wildlife looproad in the Savannah River NWR, just across the border.
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and Savannah NWR
It came as surprise to us this area had been a rice plantation. Apparently, by the mid-eighteenth century, rice planters were farming much of the land that is now part of the refuge. The old rice levees (built by hand!) form the basis for the current impoundment dikes. A number of water control structures and narrow dikes are still visible in some places.
Rice and Indigo in South Carolina

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alligator We enjoyed the rich birdlife, but like most people probably, we were on the lookout for alligators and we were not disappointed.

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Beaufort, SC While moving north, next was the charming little town of Beaufort,SC. It is also on the seaboard and the nice thing here is that is small-scale and one can walk around as there is also little car traffic in the Historic District. Really nice.

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Servant in doorway Graveyard Tree low over road

Restaurants plenty in the US !
A diner
We liked this classic "Diner" interior

An abandoned gas station: abandoned structures like these will see me slam my brakes and go for my camera !
What stories hide behind these walls, when did people decide to abandon this enterprise, what caused it, where did they go...?
I think this was on Route SC9, a lovely scenic road.

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In Fayetteville we visited the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and enjoyed it very much.
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I was disappointed not to be able to visit the air museums on Charleston AFB,SC and Ft.Bragg,NC: extensive security checks since 9/11 now necessitate appointments or a "sponsor" (military relative on the base) to get on.

Oden's Store We started heading back towards the coast again, drove a very nice route from Washington,NC to Roanoke Island (NC264).
Came across this store, Oden's Store (founded 1896 !) but found it closed: too early in the season or just an off-day ?

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Church In itself a nice church, but the unfinished paintjob really caught my eye.


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We arrived at Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island and learned about "The Lost Colony"
A sad tale; little remains of the fort: some of the palisade has been able to withstand the times (if not the attacks by Indians).

Being an aviation enthusiast as well as a self-proclaimed historian, I simply had to pay tribute to the site at Kill Devil Hill near Kitty Hawk,NC: the first successful powered flights, in a heavier-than-air machine, were made here by Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903.
A plaque of the brothers and the monument 
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Wright Brothers Photographs, 1900-1911

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Jamestown remains  filmcrew
The weather turned against us a little here, but we were able to enjoy most of what is left of the first permanent setllement in the US: Jamestown.
On May 14, 1607, the Virginia Company explorers landed on Jamestown Island, to establish the Virginia English colony on the banks of the James River 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Palisade  How it must have looked  Old fence on banks of James River
History of Jamestown

Plenty more to visit in the area, but the rain kept pouring down that day, so we headed for Maryland by crossing the Potomac.

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Amish village,Maryland We had a very pleasant stay with friends, getting a little tired of moving from motel to motel and in need of some good conversation. They took us to an Amish settlement and we bought some wood products at the Yoder farm (don't think you will see them advertising their products on the internet !).
I always thought the siding of these houses were made of wooden planks, but vinyl siding is commonly used here in the US.

More on the Amish people

The horse-drawn carriages are typical for the Amish community; must be dangerous to use them on the country roads after dark, moving slowly compared to cars and motorcycles.

Maryland State House Maryland State House in Annapolis.
It was built during 1772-1779. This was the Capitol for the USA from Nov.26th, 1783 - Aug.13th, 1784.
Gen. George Washington resigned his commission before the Continental Congress on dec.23rd,1783.
On Jan.14th, 1784 Congress ratified here the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War and on May 07th, 1784 appointed Thomas Jefferson as "Minister Plenipotentiary".

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Some more images taken in Annapolis, the harbor has many historic houses in the vicinity.
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Colourful street  The Harbor  Military from Naval Academy 

Middleton Tavern, Est.1750 Middleton Historic Tavern is a nice, busy place to visit for a meal. It sits on the harbor.
And no, that isn't our car....

We crossed the Potomac again, returning to Virginia.

The birthplace of George Washington, on a plantation on the banks of the Potomac. The white building is the kitchen, while The Memorial House is an example of a house which the family could have afforded in those days; the foundations of the original house were found after this had been built.
George Washington lived here only the first few years of his youth, being born on Feb.22nd, 1732. His father died before he could follow his brothers for an education abroad, he never travelled outside the United States. Bob, the Park Ranger, painted a realistic but nevertheless compelling picture of this early US Commander in Chief. Thanks Bob !
George Washington Birthplace
George Washington

The kitchen Kitchens were built as a seperate building, to ban the commotion from the house but also as a measure of safety: kitchens lasted around 3 years as by then the wooden building would have been extremely dry by the heat it generated and an accident by fire was bound to happen.
Groundhog A groundhog showed itself, but Spring was as hesitant to show itself as this little animal.
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Back on the road again....
The photo on the left inspired Judith Frohreich to make a painting...

(c) J.Frohreich
Isn't it amazing ?!

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We headed for a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but ........

....found a thick fog creating an eerie atmosphere.
Not many people around, but this contributed to the atmosphere.

Click to enlarge Couldn't bypass this abandoned restaurant !
Another enterprise that has its failure hidden in history.

We went to the Natural Bridge of Virginia, "Awesome Natural Wonder", near Lexington. But we found it a veritable tourist trap with unacceptable entrance fees and kept going.

I much prefer to spend my time photographing abandoned structures like these:
Restaurant sign, hidden by trees  Part of a motel, seems also abandoned
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The next day the wind had cleared the sky and we continued on the
Blue Ridge Parkway
Click to enlarge; Poages Mill Overlook
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Blue Ridge Parkway, National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway Association

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Deer on the side of the road We were fortunate to see some deer at the side of the road.

The Blue Ridge Parkway has no commercial traffic and is a winding road, which will also be avoided by those who are in a hurry.

The views were breathtaking... the wind too !
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It was also a great relief to be able to drive for miles and miles without having to drive through these landscape "eyesores" of socalled business districts, swamped with fast food restaurants, gas stations and shopping malls.

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The Mill
Along the road was this fine looking Mill.
The Mabry Mill was operated by E.B.Mabry from 1910-1935. A trail leads to his gristmill, sawmill, blacksmith shop and other exhibits.
A pity was that along the route the facilities (toilets, trash) had not opened yet: too early in the season

We detoured to Charlotte,NC to visit the Carolinas Air Museum and spent a lovely morning there.

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The sun sets on the historic grounds of Cowpens Battlefield... and our trip too. After our visit here we continued on the scenic SC11, through the Cherokee Foothills but the next day brought foul weather and we decided to cut our holidays 2 days short and fly home; it was fitting to end this trip with a visit to a battlefield, as the US is clearly still hemorrhaging under the attack endured on 9/11 (2001).

In many respects we had an excellent trip: Alamo provided us with a Pontiac GrandAm, a comfortable car for the 3600 kms we drove in 13 days; roadtrips such as these are easy in the US for motels and restaurants are easily found and plenty of them. We enjoyed dabbling in US history, we feasted our eyes and minds on landscapes, sceneries and enjoyed many reruns of Seinfeld, lounging in our motelrooms.
But in the 20-odd years we visited the US, we also noted a significant change: there is (still) freedom of speech, but these days it better be "politically correct". There is a widespread fear for The Law, while police officers apply an attitude copied from their collegues in Latin American countries in the 1960s. Tourists, when questioned by Law Enforcement Officers or Security Staff (including those in entertainment parks such as Disney World and other famous American attractions) must realize they will be treated as "guilty until proven innocent".
ANGRY!!Police stopped me at Myrtle Beach Airport for having driven into a "restricted area": I had passed a sign "Employees Only" on a small road leading up to a parking lot for employees (though I had not passed the barrier to the actual parking lot and had turned around). At one point I was instructed "to talk to my wife or continue this investigation in jail", while he put his hand on his holstered gun: she had refused (talked back even !) to close the cardoor, for it was getting hot in the car (I had switched of the engine).
Morons with a badge. Plenty of them around. SEE ALSO MY BLOG PAGE
There is a lasting impression of many (if not most) people in the US having abandoned all sense of proportion; the 1950s with McCarthy's witch hunt came clearly to mind.ANGRY!!!
Should you be planning a vacation to the US, you may want to reconsider.