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Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Old Jun 5th 2016, 12:09 pm
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Default Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Hi

I don’t know if I’m allowed to post this on here as I am not able to LIVE in the US (sigh!) but I am coming for 3 months and hope to be able to meet up with some nice people?

I tried a different forum to this one and wasted a large part of my life arguing with two very aggressive, sarcastic people (one of whom was a moderator!) about visas – which I didn’t even ask about! - so I’m hoping this might be the forum for me?

I am landing in Orlando on the 5th. July 2016 and have a rough “Itinerary” for my road trip which I give below. I am not a history buff, nor a “Must see every wonderful Park possible” person but do love people so I am “looking” for small-town America? What I am hoping to find on this forum is:-

* People who live somewhere near my route who may be willing to meet up for my offered “Tea and Bun”?
* Suggestions for “Things I should see” and “Places I should go” that aren’t already on my plans?
* Any offers or suggestions (beyond Airbnb who are already at the top of my “Favourites” list!) for cheap places I could stay for a night or two on my travels?

The route at the moment is:-

OUT:- Jacksonville (Sally Corp Animatronic Factory, the Federal Reserve Bank and Budweiser), Georgia (Savannah), South Carolina (Coast to Charleston), North Carolina, Tennessee (Nashville), Arkansas, Missouri (South), Kansas (South), Colorado (South), Utah (South, Zion Park), (North) Arizona (Grand Canyon), Nevada (Central/North), California (Coast Highway 101)
back (sigh!):- California (Yosemite), Nevada (Las Vegas) Arizona (Grand Canyon), New Mexico (Santa Fe), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia

Thank you – and I hope to meet some of you soon?

Colin
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 1:24 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Hi Colin, welcome to BE.

While there is a lot of energy around visas here too, so long as your visit doesn't exceed 90 days I don't see any issue for you, and certainly not one worth beating you up over. Just be sure to leave a few days in case of emergency, and not leave it to the very last day to leave, so personally I'd plan to leave after no later than the 87th day, and have a tentative plan to drive day and night to the nearest horder in the event that something like 9/11 shuts down the air system, or an Icelandic volcano cuts off the flight routes to the UK.

It looks like your itinerary will be a memorable journey, but personally I find "small town America" rather dull in most cases, and road trips in the South and East Coast are often rather dull with long periods of uninteresting highways. While small towns can be pleasant places to live, they offer relatively little to the visitor. Restaurants are mostly chain restaurants and the "down town area" just a couple of blocks. If you're lucky and the town is "historic", you might find a small art gallery and an sandwich shop that sells icecream. Most places that are considered to be "historic sites" are going to be civil war battlefields and cemeteries.

On your route you are going to see a lot, and I mean a LOT, of trees east of the Mississippi. Then it's going to be very flat until you reach the Rockies. I have never driven that far west, but I imagine that you're not going to find much to do across most of Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, and those states are big, with long stretches of nothingness between towns.

For example in NC I have often said, here on BE, that when we get visitors from the UK it is tough to find much of anything to do here, and I would be hard pushed to find one notable thing to do every day for a week even if I drove from the mountains to the coast at Wilmington. IMO Biltmore is the only bona fide "world class" tourist attraction, and that is pretty much just an American "Chatsworth House". The historic center of Winston Salem, NC, known as "Old Salem" is interesting if you want to see a folk museum and some old houses - it's a bit like a small, urban St Fagan's. Otherwise in NC I'd take a minibus tour of the speedway (race track) near Charlotte, NC - it is an impressive facility even if you aren't interested in NASCAR/ racing.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jun 5th 2016 at 1:31 pm.
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 5:30 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
I tried a different forum to this one and wasted a large part of my life arguing with two very aggressive, sarcastic people (one of whom was a moderator!) about visas – which I didn’t even ask about! - so I’m hoping this might be the forum for me?
Welcome to BE, I'm sure you'll find good advice here. To be fair to the other forum though, I didn't see any aggression in the posts there, just some good advice about your chances of a B2 and perhaps rethinking your plan to go for 4 months (which it seems you've done!).

We've just come back from a road trip around California, so have done Yosemite (utterly jaw dropping), Grand Canyon (stunning), Highway 101 (take it slowly, some gorgeous places to stop off) and Las Vegas (erm.......I'd skip that one personally!). If you want cheap places, look at camping. The campsites in the National Parks are just incredible and super cheap.

I'm going to move your thread to the main US forum, as I'm not sure many will see it here, best of luck with your trip.
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 5:59 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

You are welcome to stop by when in Tennessee. We are in southern Tennessee about 60 miles south of Nashville. We live near Lynchburg home of Jack Daniels distillery which has a nice free tour. Also very close to Huntsville, Alabama and the Huntsville Space Center and museum. Part of museum is a Saturn 5 rocket on its side elevated on pedestals with the stages separated. If interested in aviation I have a experimental Van's RV 3 and hangar at Tullahoma airport. You could join the wife and I for lunch at a good barbecue joint in Lynchburg. We are both US natives. I am retired (Dentist and Pharmacist)
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 6:05 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Sounds like a fun plan, but I'd second the advice of having a plan to leave a few days before the 90 days for a just in case scenario, especially if there's funky weather putting a hold on flights

I've done a couple of long road trips, but these were to get to a specific location, so we dragged them out to hit a few random sites along the way and they really were random.

Might not work for you, but what I did was plan a rough route, then asked folks for scenic variations along the way and for quite a few stretches, was able to run parallel to the interstate and have some fun views without adding a huge amount of time to the drive depending on the time of day we were going. Also knowing I'd want to limit the drive time to 6 hours a day and pin something to do around the mid point, I'd google "things to do in town x" that looked roughly in the middle. It's how we ended up at the Fagen WW2 air museum and the Dum Dum lollipop factory for instance.

As for places to eat, did much the same thing for those towns as well as asking front desk person at hotel's we stayed at for places in the area, especially for dinners.

We managed to avoid chains in most of the drive or if we did a chain, they were ones we didn't have in the New England area.

If you don't have kids and don't mind camping, you can save a fair bit stopping off at camp sites, especially KoA types, but popular areas will book up in advance over the summer.

After a couple of weeks of driving though, it's massively exhausting and I couldn't imagine doing close to 3 months of it. You'd definitely want to plan to stop off for a few days at some of those locations, perhaps go hiking or what not.
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 6:24 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

You might want to plot your route on a map, along with mile markers.
It is not that your trip is not possible, but you are tying to get a lot of miles in here.
On my first visit to the US a stranger on the airplane seat next to me asked if it was my first visit to the US. I said yes. He said 'Until you visit, I don't think you can comprehend the scale". I brushed off his comments. He was right.

A road trip from Dallas to El Paso is about 10 hours and 650 miles. You will drive non stop all day, will not stop to see anything, and never leave the state of Texas.

One of my most memorable 'small town' experiences was in Calvert (a city in Robertson County, Texas, with a city population of ~1,000). Lots of historic Victorian era homes. A dusty main street they rolled up each evening. Taking photos of one historic home we were concerned when the owner came out to talk to us. Thinking we were being a bit rude photographing her home we were about to head off. She was actually coming to invite us in. We toured her beautiful home and drank sun tea on the wrap around porch. She regaled us and shared tales of 'the other side of the tracks' where poor African American families lived, kept down by the towns white council. One councilmen supplied the propane, a monopoly he exploited by all accounts. It was shocking that life here was how I imagined life was in the Deep South during the 50's and 60's. Little progress had been made.

Enjoy your trip. Try and stay off the beaten path occasionally. Talk to the locals (we found small town cafes, antique shops and the like had interesting people who knew where to visit and what to see).
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 8:06 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

One of my favorite places in Florida is St. Augustine, about 45 mins south of Jacksonville. St. Augustine lays claim to being the oldest city in the U.S., and is known for its Spanish colonial architecture as well as Atlantic Ocean beaches. There's also the "Prince of Wales" (run by an expat) on George St. if you fancy a pint
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 8:45 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Clary's café in Savannah for breakfast is worth a try.

If you do the Biltmore then head from NC to Nashville by including the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially the stretch between SR215 heading North to US74 and then along 441 through the Smokies to Gatlinburg - still lots of trees but some of the most stunning views in the South-Eastern US
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Old Jun 5th 2016, 8:53 pm
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Originally Posted by zzrmark View Post
..... If you do the Biltmore then head from NC to Nashville by including the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially the stretch between SR215 heading North to US74 and then along 441 through the Smokies to Gatlinburg - still lots of trees but some of the most stunning views in the South-Eastern US
Don't worry if the views on the BRP cause you to swoon, the monstrosity that is Gatlinburg will help you recover.
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Old Jun 6th 2016, 12:37 am
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Well, I live in Austin, Texas which looks like it might fit in well with your trip back. It's a nice enough place - very unlike the rest of Texas with lots of live music and pretty fun.. you'd be welcome to stop by and have a cup of tea with us.

South Colorado has Durango which I love. A very pretty, smallish town at 7000 ft surrounded by mountains and beautiful forests. Mesa Verde park is a short drive away on the Arizona border and there is an amazing drive you can take through silver/iron ore mining country high in the mountains . Silverton is worth a visit and 2 places you can camp at = Lightner Creek campsite in Durango is fab, it's where we always stay and Molas Lake campsite (the highest campsite in the US at 10,000 ft) is magical. Both places will need to be booked in advance. You can do a pretty good white water raft expedition on the Animas river down from Silverton to Durango or do what I do with the kids because I'm a cheapskate - buy your own rings and go down through durango and then go back up on the local free bus.
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Old Jun 6th 2016, 3:14 am
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Originally Posted by petitefrancaise View Post
Well, I live in Austin, Texas which looks like it might fit in well with your trip back. It's a nice enough place - very unlike the rest of Texas

Excuse me:....I beg to differ.

There are plenty of much nicer parts of Texas than Austin

The real "hill country" , Boerne, Bandera, Kerrville, Fredricksberg, Comfort to name a few, are lovely places to visit. Alpine, Fort Davis, Marfa in the south west..
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Old Jun 6th 2016, 5:07 am
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Originally Posted by Sugarmooma View Post
Excuse me:....I beg to differ.

There are plenty of much nicer parts of Texas than Austin

The real "hill country" , Boerne, Bandera, Kerrville, Fredricksberg, Comfort to name a few, are lovely places to visit. Alpine, Fort Davis, Marfa in the south west..
Maybe you could actually read what I wrote?

I have also travelled around Texas and haven't come across anywhere like Austin. In fact my new next door neighbours are from Houston (Katy) and tell me how lovely Austin is compared to Houston.. Fort Davis and Marfa are miles and miles out of this guy's way. Like Thinbrit mentioned, a whole day's drive away.

The hill country towns? Tourist shop crap mostly. The countryside around is ok but I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to visit them if I was doing a tour of the US. I think Big Bend and Palo Duro canyon are worth a visit but Big Bend (one of my favourite places) is 10 hours drive from Austin. Since I live fairly close I've been to Fredericksburg a few times and been raher underwhelmed by it. I've tried some Texas wines and don't feel inclined to visit the "winerys" - spoiled by the "vineyards" of France I guess.
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Old Jun 6th 2016, 11:38 am
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

WOW!!!

Does anyone know of a Forum where you can recommend Forums??? This one is fantastic! So many of you have taken the time to reply to me, I am overwhelmed - and very grateful!

Let me try to reply to you all in one go.....

Pulaski – Thanks for your advice on visas and the lack of tourist attractions in small towns, but it’s the PEOPLE I’m more interested in meeting, rather than viewing history or galleries and the like? I have been warned about some stretches being unimaginably boring but I’m hoping that by taking a route that’s like my golf-game, I can find things to keep me going, even if it’s only chatting to people in some out-of-the-way diner? And Charlotte has been added to my list so thanks for that too!

Christmasoompa – I just used the word “Aggression” to describe the other forum rather than go into detail about how I asked a number of questions there which were ignored and instead got answers to questions I hadn’t asked? Thanks for your suggestion about camping…. Does that involve bringing your own equipment like tents and so on, or do they provide that for you? Thank you also for putting my thread where it should be – I do appreciate it!

Ddsrph – I would love to meet up with you and your wife for lunch! When I am getting close to you, perhaps I could contact you on here to make arrangements?

Bob – With 3 months to play with, I’m hoping I can do some driving, find a place I’d like to get to know better and a place to stay while I’m there, have a few days or a week or so not driving at all, and then back on the road when I feel like it? I don’t know what a “KoA” type of camp site is, but again, do they supply equipment? And I hope to avoid as many “popular areas” as I possibly can throughout the whole trip….

Thinbrit – I have been warned by many of my American friends that the States is not like the UK in terms of distances…. But again, I’d be happy to do a day’s driving contemplating life and singing along to the radio if I could find a diner along the way with a few nice people to talk to? I also plan to do lots of stops en route for at least a few days at a time so intend to mix up my experiences? In fact, your experience in Calvert is EXACTLY what I’m looking for and I would count that as a Good Day! And whilst there are some tourist traps I really DO want to “do”, my whole adventure is to otherwise stay as far away from the “beaten path” as I possibly can and talk to as many locals as I can?

DebzinUS – Thanks for your suggestion. I thought long and hard about St. Augustine but I would really like to get out of Florida as quickly as I can, but have been told I MUST see Jacksonville?

Zzrmark – I’m not sure I want to see Biltmore particularly but I have certainly added the route you suggest to my plans! Thank you!

Pulaski – A 2.1 mile aerial cable-car? I will certinaly try to find the courage to give that a go!

Petitefrancaise – I was trying to avoid “Big Cities” as much as possible as my experience of them in Europe is – you’ve got lost in one, you’ve got lost in ‘em all! That said, I’d love to meet up with you? Can I message you on here when I’m getting close to you? I also like the sound of the two campsites you mention (providing you don’t have to take your own tent and stuff?) but I am reluctant to book as I don’t know when and if I’ll get there? But being on my own, by myself, maybe they could squeeze me in if I do make it?

Sugarmooma – Of all the warnings I have been given about becoming bored senseless while driving many parts of the US, most of them have been given about Texas, so it’s great to know that there are some little places I can look forward to visiting?

Once again, thank you to all of you who took the time to reply to me. Your comments have been taken on board and I'm sure, will make my trip more enjoyable? Look forward to meeting a couple of you soon?

Colin
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Old Jun 6th 2016, 11:49 am
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Woe betide anyone critiques Austin. I think some people should try living in a genuine world class city before hyping up their tiny corner of this country

Regarding the op, I've done smaller road trips but been to many of the places you've highlighted, a couple of spots I'd recommend: Mrs Wilkes Dinning Room in Savannha. They don't do reservations and have very limited opening hours, lines out the door long before they open but I would strongly urge you to make the effort to go here. It was the best eating experience of my life and I'm a self confessed foody. Obama has eaten here, it will honestly blow your mind. Proper southern cooking, proper southern hospitality. You won't find anything like this at a chain or pretentious restaurant

Footage of Obama there:

Hominy Grill in Charleston. This little restaurant/cafe has been on numerous food shows, Anthony Bourdain has filmed here. If you've never tried a biscuit or don't even know what one is, have it here

Plan a trip to a local plantation while you're in the south, the one I went to was Magnolia in Charleston. It's one of the biggest and best in the area. Amazing history and scenic beauty here, even saw a wild turtle in the lake. This is the type of history Brits don't tend to take in when they come over here so I would recommend it if you really want a unique experience you won't forget in a hurry

Nashville - plan a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, should go without saying. Doesn't matter if you hate country music, it's a local and national landmark. The strip in Nashville is a great night out, especially if you like country music. Food wise, there's lots of bbq joints and those that do hot chicken which is the local delicacy meaning spicy fried chicken. 2 spots I would recommend for these: Jack's Bar-B-Que, which is on the main strip (can't miss it), and Hattie B's hot chicken, which is further down town

I'm sure you won't need telling but your route completely excludes many of America's greatest cities - New York and Chicago among them. Boston should really be in there as well. Given you're going to Kansas, I'm not sure why you wouldn't at least cram in Chicago - America's 2nd city. If you do decide to come here, I will happily meet you but I'll pass on the tea and buns. I'll treat you to some local pizza pie - the famous Chicago deep dish and pint of Goose pale ale - one of Chicago's best beers

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Old Jun 6th 2016, 11:57 am
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Default Re: Free Cup of Tea (AND a Sticky Bun???)

Originally Posted by Colin Robinson View Post
... I am “looking” for small-town America ....
Originally Posted by themadpooper View Post
.... I'm sure you won't need telling but your route completely excludes many of America's greatest cities - New York and Chicago among them. Boston should really be in there as well. Given you're going to Kansas, I'm not sure why you wouldn't at least cram in Chicago - America's 2nd city. ....
It's good to see you're on-point and relevant, as always.
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