Here is the Best and the Worst of the last two months of 2004. Highlights include entering the last of the 48 states that Michael has seen (Alabama), seeing friends and family from home, numerous celebrity sightings and an unbeatable winning streak on NTN Trivia.
Low points include big rocks falling from trucks and puncturing one of our tires, necessitating an emergency stop in Mobile, Ala. In these months of thanksgiving, we were most thankful for the Fix-A-Flat in the bag of emergency supplies given to us by Gabs brother and the gift card to Pep Boys which was a departing gift from the Board of Directors at PAR.
So the Tima has a new set of tires. We think shes earned them, dont you?
Miles Traveled (in Altima) since Oct. 31st 6,156 miles, almost spanning the entire width of the continental U.S.
Miles Traveled (in Altima) for 2004 33,338 miles.
Best Giant Statue Smiling Peanut, Plains, Ga.
Most Effective Billboard Slogan "A reminder about going near power lines. DONT!" Seen on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail a.k.a. the Jefferson Davis Highway in Ala.
Funniest Bumper Sticker "EAT RICE. Potatoes Make Your Butt BIG". Pick-up truck leaving the Rice Mill parking lot in Crowley, La.
Most Inappropriately Named Convenience Store Hit-N-Run, Baton Rouge, La. We still havent decided if we averted a hold-up with our timely entrance.
Most Interesting Sign The Best Little Warehouse in Texas, Mini-storage facility, Brownsville, Tex.
Proof that Texas thinks its its own country Lone Star Beer The National Beer of Texas God Bless America and Texas - Sign on I-45 between Houston and Galveston
Ugliest Capitol Building Tallahassee, Fla. By far the least attractive of the four skyscraper capitols.
Most Unusual Place to Upload www.usa-c2c.com In the dark on a picnic bench about 15 feet from a resting gator at Monument Lake Campground, Big Cypress N PRES, Fla.
Biggest Disappointment All out of jalapeno ice cream free samples at the McIllheny Tabasco Factory, Avery Island, Louisiana.
Most Pleasant Surprise Tie * Finding our friend Josie in Bradenton, Fla. * Gab can still speak Spanish. Of all the people in the Atlanta airport, a lost man chose Gab and started pointing at his ticket and asking (in Spanish) just where he was supposed to be. Gab calmed him and showed him the way to the Southwest Gates, leaving Michael and a woman in line slightly stunned. Unfortunately, the directions Gab gave turned out to be completely wrong.
Most Unpleasant Surprise Forgetting that we cant afford Las Vegas, Nev. on a weekend. How is it that the hotel room we Pricelined for $40 on a Thursday has a $278 value the next day? On to Laughlin.
Worst Hotel Experience The Flamingo Hotel and Casino, Laughlin, Nev. Hotel hi jinks included a midnight fire alarm, loud knocking housekeepers at 6 am and someone running and screaming, REDRUM! through the halls around 8 am. This is what you get when you cant afford Vegas on a weekend all of the excitement; none of the fun.
Biggest Stretch located just across the street from the Galleria, claims the Fairfield Inn in Houston, Tex. That street is an un-crossable, under-construction, six lane highway of doom. We watched two fender benders take place while waiting for the hotel shuttle to take us to said Galleria.
Worst Driving Experience Houston, Tex. See also Biggest Stretch.
The Fancy Meeting You Here Award * The SCA volunteer from Wupatki NM is now a Ranger at the Jean Lafitte NHP in Thibodaux, La. * The Ranger from the Home of FDR NHS in Hyde Park, N.Y. is now stationed at the Jimmy Carter Birthplace NHS in Plains, Ga.
Cheapest Ballgame Ticket $15 Arizona State University v. Washington State, Tempe, Ariz. Our apologies to the man who sold us the tickets who swore that they were great seats and that we would get free food. We scoffed and nearly walked away until he lowered the price to under face value. 4 hamburgers, 2 bags of popcorn and an uncountable amount of ice tea later, we felt really bad for doubting him.
Most Expensive Ballgame Ticket $20 each. I-AA Championship Football Game, Chattanooga, Tenn. Worth every penny, even with the loss.
Best Sporting Experience Spending time with 2000+ Montana Grizzlies in Chattanooga, Tenn. especially our new pals Curt and Jill.
Best American Kabuki Popeye and Bluto at Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla. Monte from Montana won a few months ago, and these guys had some anatomically challenging costumes. With a huge head, bulging arms and legs stuck on a shoestring body, how did Popeye stay standing?
Most (un)Scenic Drive (Highways) Tie * Tuscon, Ariz to El Paso, Tex. on I-10. 5 hours through New Mexico. Oh look, theres a tumbleweed. * Mobile, Ala. to Selma, Ala. on 43. Is there really no place we can get coffee?
Highest Price for Gas $1.99 on November 13th at the Pilot, Lake Havasu, Ariz.
Lowest Price for Gas $1.46 on December 18th at the Citgo, Adairsville, Ga. This is the cheapest gas of the trip.
Best Pizza Magpies Gourmet Pizza, winning best pizza in Tuscon, Ariz. every year since 1989 for good reason.
Best Local Cuisine Tie * Bill Millers BBQ, San Antonio, Tex. Full plate of meat, beans, slaw and potatoes plus a full fixins bar with brown bread, rolls, sauce, pickles and salsa. * Blue Dog Cafι, Lafayette, La. spicy Andouille sausage, Crawfish Etouffee, Chicken Bayou Teche (seafood stuffed chicken breast) and bread with garlic honey butter made us so full we couldnt even contemplate bread pudding or pecan pie, although we tried.
Best Bartender(s) The Chimes, Baton Rouge, La. 25 cent oysters on the half shell, shucked to order, was just one of the menu items that kept us coming back to the Chimes.
Worst Acting in a National Park Service Film The Union and Confederate soldiers/narrators of the multi-media experience at Chickamauga National Battlefield Park, Chattanooga, Tenn. The premise was a reunion 130 years after the battle. From what weve seen in our own travels, we doubt whether these two would be so chummy, even with so much water under the bridge.
Most Unexpected Local Pronunciation Thibodaux, La. [TEE-buh-doh].
Best Doughnuts Beignets at Cafι du Monde, New Orleans, La. Covered in powdered sugar and washed down with coffee you could cut with a knife.
Best Smelling Factory Tie McIllheny Tabasco Factory, Avery Island, La. Tropicana canning factory south of Bradenton, Fla.
Celebrity Sightings Jimmy Carter, Maranatha Baptist Church, Plains, Ga.
Runners up: * Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd en route to Primm, Nev. We werent crazy about sharing the same plane with a member of a band who had lost three of its founders in a fiery crash, but we enjoyed talking with Rickey as we waited out the flight delays plaguing Atlanta that evening. * Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville, New Orleans, La. Some of our friends travel across the country on the rumor that Jimmy will appear at one of his restaurants. We were on our way back to our hotel and to bed when we heard the ruckus across the street. Jimmy sang three songs to the adoring audience and then went home himself. Have faith, Parrotheads sometimes the rumors are true!
Almost Celebrity Sighting Jimmy Carter (again!) visiting the Clyde Butcher Big Cypress Gallery along the Tamiani Trail through Big Cypress N PRES.
Worst Campground The Colliers-Seminole State Park, southeast of Naples, Fla. At $18 a night, it was the most we have paid to get crunched between large groups spilling out of their assigned spaces and a horrible smelling bathroom. State parks have minimal restriction on RVs, so generators ran all night, at least drowning out the sounds of yipping dogs and the highway behind the trees.
Best Campground Monument Lake Campground, Big Cypress N PRES. 30 miles down the road from the Colliers-Seminole State Park, but a world away. We shared a man-made lake with a few alligators and a handful of snowbirds, all of them friendly. A beautiful spot you could speed right past on Rt. 41 if you werent looking. We stayed here on three separate occasions.
Las Vegas, NV Laughlin, NV Bullhead City, NV Needles, CA Lake Havasu City, AZ Phoenix, AZ Tempe, AZ Tucson, AZ El Paso, TX Ciudad Juarez CHIH Fort Davis, TX Alpine, TX Del Rio, TX Uvalde, TX San Antonio, TX Alice, TX South Padre Island, TX Brownsville, TX Corpus Christi, TX Victoria, TX Houston, TX Galveston, TX Beaumont, TX Kountze, TX Lafayette, LA Opelousas, LA Eunice, LA Abbeville, LA New Iberia, LA Jeanerette, LA Charenton, LA Morgan City, LA Thibodaux, LA Houma, LA Donaldsville, LA Baton Rouge, LA Vacherie, LA New Orleans, LA Marrero, LA Barataria, LA Arabi, LA Chalmette, LA Gulfport, MS Biloxi, MS Ocean Springs, MS Mobile, AL Jackson, AL Selma, AL Montgomery, AL Tuskegee, AL Auburn, AL Alexander City, AL Birmingham, AL Huntsville, AL Fayetteville, TN Lynchburg, TN Winchester, TN Sewanee, TN Chattanooga, TN Fort Oglethorpe, GA Macon, GA Americus, GA Plains, GA Andersonville, GA Albany, GA Cairo, GA Tallahassee, FL Gainesville, FL Salt Springs, FL Altamonte Springs, FL Orlando, FL Lake Buena Vista, FL Bradenton, FL Marco Island, FL Everglades City, FL Ochopee, FL Naples, FL Fort Myers, FL Punta Gorda, FL Port Charlotte, FL Venice, FL Sarasota, FL Tampa, FL Ybor City, FL
Chamizal N MEM Fort Davis NHS Amistad NRA Palo Alto Battlefield NHS Padre Island NS Big Thicket N PRES Acadian Cultural Center (Jean Lafitte NHP) Prairie Acadian Cultural Center (Jean Lafitte NHP) Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center (Jean Lafitte NHP) French Quarter (Jean Lafitte NHP) New Orleans Jazz NHP Barataria Preserve (Jean Lafitte NHP) Chalmette Battlefield (Jean Lafitte NHP) Gulf Islands NS Tuskegee Institute NHS Tuskegee Airmen NHS Horseshoe Bend NMP Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP Ocmulgee NM Jimmy Carter NHS Andersonville NHS DeSoto N MEM Big Cypress N PRES
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