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Road Trip to Montreal - 19 June 2018

Tuesday - 19 June
Patty and I need to be in Montreal next week, so we decided to make this an extended road trip with sightseeing along the way. Today we got away from Largo about 10:00 with plans to follow I-75, US-301, I-10 and I-95 to near Fayetteville, NC. By the end of the day, we had covered 567 miles in under 10 hours, including a stop for lunch, 2 stops for gas, and a potty stop. Dinner was at the Cracker Barrel near the hotel.

Wednesday - 20 June
Today's plan is to drive to Appomattox Court House in Virginia, tour the park, and then drive on to Fishersville, VA, near the southern end of the Skyline Drive. Appomattox was the site of the last battle of the Civil War, and the Court House is where Gen Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen U.S. Grant to end the war. We got away around 9:05 and headed for Appomattox. Signs on the interstate said that there was a wreck and the road was closed, but WAZE already had a detour for us. We did that, lost only a little time, and were back on route quickly. We got to the park around 1:30, talked with a park ranger for a little, and then listened to a "local" tell about life in 1865 at the end of the war. Another two hours on the road and we're in Fishersville, VA for the night.

Thursday - 21 June
Today's plan is to follow the Skyline Drive from Rockfish Gap in the south to Front Royal in the north, then move on to Manassas for more Civil War history, before landing in Alexandria, VA, just outside of DC. We got away a few minutes early, used a NPS Senior Pass to enter the park and proceeded north from Rockfish Gap. There are something over 100 turn-outs and places to stop to see the beauty of Shenandoah National Park, and we took a number of them, which slowed the journey. After stopping halfway to change drivers, we kept at it until exiting the park at Front Royal. Proceeding on to Manassas Battlefied, we saw areas where some of the first battles of the Civil War were fought. Another 30 miles and we were at the Embassy Suites in Alexandria, VA. After resting during happy hour at the hotel, and a nice dinner at the Table Top restaurant, we headed to the National Mall in DC for some photos. We got off the Metro near the Washington Monument, walked down the south side of the Reflecting Pool past the World War II Memorial all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. We got some pictures of the sights at night and finally found the Metro stop at Foggy Bottom for the ride back to the hotel.

Friday - 22 June
Today was for visiting museums of the Smithsonian Institute. We started with the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, moved on to the National Archives, and finished the day at the Hirshorn Museum. At the National Archives we saw the actual Declaration of Independence (one page), the Constitution (all 4 pages), and the Bill of Rights (one page). It is amazing to me that the founding documents for our entire country took only 6 pages to record, but today simple things take sometines hundreds of pages to describe all of the "control" that the government requires. Anyway, back to the hotel for happy hour again, and then to a local restaurant for pizza.

Saturday - 23 June
Today we decided to ride a hop-on-hop-off bus around the city to see what we could see. What we didn't plan for was the "Smithsonian Solstice Saturday" that had streets blocked and brought lots of people into the city to celebrate another summer. The HOHO routes and schedules were impacted which limited what we could see and do. We did ride around almost all of the "Red Route", got off at the White House Visitor Center for some time, got on a "Yellow Route" bus and rode to the Phillips Collection, decided not to go in there, and found a nice burger joint near DuPont Circle. It was a good burger for a great price. Finally we caught the Red Line Metro (2 different trains, see below), and transferred to the Yellow Line Metro to get us back to the hotel and another happy hour. And, check this, while boarding the Red Line, Patty got through the doors just as they were closing, and I got left behind. Luckily, another train came along about two minutes later and I caught up with Patty at the transfer station. It was kind of strange watching the train leave the station with Patty aboard, while I stood on the platform, unable to do anything about it but wait for the next train. Well, it worked out OK in the end.

Sunday - 24 June
We decided to not do any additional exploring of Alexandria, so after a full free breakfast from the Embassy Suites, we got on the road about 11:30. For whatever reason, traffic was really bad in Virginia and Maryland and Delaware (all 10 miles of it) and New Jersey and New York and, yes, Connecticut. A trip that should have taken less than 6 hours ended up taking nearly 8 and a half hours. And we almost outran a thunderstorm, pulling into the hotel just as it started raining. We waited a bit before going out to Chili's for dinner.

Monday - 25 June
The plan was to visit the Submarine Force Museum, the Old North Church, and the Salem Maritime Museum, and then travel to Portsmouth, NH. Actually, we decided to not visit the Old North Church before leaving this morning, so we were later than planned leaving the hotel. The Submarine Force Museum was certainly worth the stop - lots of interesting stuff to see about submarines. And they have the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) tied up outside on the river, and allow visitors to walk through some of its spaces to see what life was like on the world's first nuclear submarine. We enjoyed this visit. (By the way, this museum is near Groton, Connecticut.) Later in the day, we went to Salem, MA in search of the Maritime Museum. Such a place may not exist, but we did find the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, which included some buildings and a couple of wharfs. There were no ships here today, so the visit was not as good as it could have been. However, we did walk around a bit and found the House of the Seven Gables. So it was interesting to walk around in old Salem, pretty close to where the witches practiced.

Tuesday - 26 June
Today's plan was to travel to Mt. Washington, drive to the summit, and then overnight in Gorham, NH. And due to our good planning, it went exactly according to plan. We started with another good Fairfield breakfast, got on the road around 9:30, and headed to the Mt. Washington Auto Road. There was some traffic and a gas stop during the journey, and we entered the State Park just after noon. Patty drove up the hill, at times scared and tense, because the road is quite narrow, but we made it to the summit with nothing bad happening. We had lunch at the top and saw all there is to see, and then I brought us back down, again with no problems. We're staying at the Top Notch Inn in Gorham, an enjoyable place. By the way, the car's outside temperature reading at the top of the mountain was 51 degrees with mid seventies back down in the valley. Opinion - Everyone should make the drive to the top of Mt. Washington at least once, and appreciate the technical achievement of the road and the beauty of the views from 6,288 feet above sea level (that's a thousand feet higher than a mile high).

Wednesday, 27 June
We got away around 10:00 and got to the ferry dock about 1:15. Ferry dock? Yes we took a ferry across Lake Champlain, between Vermont and New York. we did this to get to the Plattsburgh airport to pick up Patty's sister Jackie, her two daughters Angie and Sami, who were on their way to Montreal as well. They were close to on-time. Patty's daughter, Kristie, also came into town while we were on the road, and was picked up by Marc. Next stop was at the Vignali house in Montreal, arriving around 5:15. Total miles travelled so far are 2022. Mario had a spaghetti dinner for us to enjoy.

Thursday - 28 June
The purpose of this whole trip was a memorial service for Patty's older sister Cheryl, held today. Marc had us over for snacks after the service.

Friday - 29 June
Visited Old Montreal and had dinner at Peter's Cape Cod Restaurant on the St. Lawrence River.

Saturday - 30 June
Watched France beat Argentina in World Cup action 4-2. Marc had us over to their house for a cookout and extended visit. Took Kristie to the airport about 5:00.

Sunday - 1 July
Today was the start of our return trip from Canada to Largo. We got away from Mario's house at 9:20. Then we were delayed about 25 minutes at the border by traffic; no problem getting back into the U.S. After crossing the Hudson River on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, we stopped at the Vanderbilt Mansion near Hype Park, NY. Not too much to see here, so we moved on to the FDR Home and Library 3 miles down the road, where we watched a nice film about the life of FDR. We then crossed back to the western side of the Hudson and continued on down the New York Thruway and the New Jersey Turnpike to New Castle, DE for the night.

Monday - 2 July
Today was an easy day, or a not so easy day, depending on your point of view. We got away from the hotel in New Castle, found the Interstate highway and proceeded south. No problems. Along the way there were tolls that we had planned for and car crashes that we didn't plan for. The first crash was while we were still in Maryland and caused about a 40 minute delay. It seemed to be a truck of some kind that had gone off the road and into a ditch. Even though the truck was way off the road, the cops had lanes blocked for the emergency vehicles. Heading toward Baltimore that time of day, there were a lot of cars and trucks to merge to get around it. The second crash was in North Carolina and cost us about 20 minutes. This one seemed to involve two cars and a truck that was on its side in the median. Again the cops had lanes closed making it hard to get past. With all that, we covered about 640 miles in a little less than 12 hours (2 gas stops, 2 food stops), and we're in North Charleston, SC with reservations to tour Ft Sumter in the morning.

Tuesday - 3 July
Early morning today - our tickets to the Ft. Sumter tour require check-in by 9:00, which we made easily. After some waiting, we were on our way to the island fort where the Civil War started in 1861. We watched the raising of a huge flag and explored the fort before getting back on the ferry to Liberty Park in Charleston. Once in the car, we finished off SC, GA and FL with some rain along the way. It was interesting to me that the outside air temperatures along the coast from NY to FL were in the middle to high 90s, but the temps in FL were less than 90, and down to 81 in rain. We're home again after 15 days on the road. Now for the rest of the summer.

I took a couple of hours of video along the way, and have created a movie of the highlights of the trip. You can click the play button (right facing triangle, lower left) to start the video, click the full-screen button (four outward facing arrows, lower right) to watch it on your full screen, and make sure that you have your sound turned on.