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Trip Report Ira Visits the North

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Hi All

It has long been known that there are lands outside Georgia. Some of them, such as Southern Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida have been visited by enough travelers that they are familiar to most educated Georgians. For example, we all know that in Florida, "the farther South you go, the further North you get".

Yet, there are “faraway places with strange sounding names calling, calling” us.

We know that Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania were once hotbeds of anti-Southern sentiment. Yet, are they still that way?

Do the peoples of Canada still trade furs for knives, axes and firearms?

Just what is a “buckeye”?

Our purpose, in addition to experiencing the strange practices and behaviors of the exotic peoples outside the South, was to view the country and scenery of the Northeast as the trees took on their Autumn foliage. The key stops along the way were Buffalo, NY, where Roberta was born; the Thousand Islands; Québec City, CN; Middlebury, VT, the Mecca of the leaf-peeping zone; and Frostburg, MD, where the northern tip of the Southern hardwood forest meets the southern edge of the Northern hardwood forest.

We left Madison on Oct 3 and headed North on US441, a secondary road which extends from Southern Florida well into Ohio. Once North of Int85, the route took us through the pleasant scenery of several National Forests, where the trees were just beginning to turn color. Tallulah Gorge, in GA, the drive through the Nantaha National Forest and Rte 71, in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, are particularly worth noting.

Pigeon Forge is a resort destination for those who enjoy discovering such not-to-be-forgotten adventures as Dollywood, The Lumberjack Feud and the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud. Vacationing with the family here and in Gatlinburg, home to Cooter’s Place (remember the Dukes of Hazzard), seems to be a popular goal.

Should you find yourself in Pigeon Forge, the Pigeon River Inn has little balconies facing the river. It is inexpensive and not unpleasant. There are various places in town where you can have a better breakfast than that offered by the motel.

Dinner at the Bistro 109 in Sevierville was very nice: Grilled pork chop with apple/cranberry chutney over Orzo, accompanied by a melange of squash, peppers and onions for me, “Maryland” crab cakes with veggies and baked potato for my Lady Wife. Moderately priced.

Moving on the next morning, we skirted Knoxville, stayed on back roads until we had to get onto Int75, and then left it at London, KY for the pleasant views of the secondary roads through Annville, Beattyville, Pineville (The Natural Bridge State Park is worth a visit) and Frenchburg before stopping for the night outside Morehead, KY.

As Baedeker once said, “There is little here to detain the casual visitor”.

The next day we drove into and through Ohio. With the exception of a few hours in Columbus, where we visited the Children’s Park, the replica of the Santa Maria and the surprisingly intriguing topiary garden, there is nothing to report.

The children’s garden is a delight. Amusing statues of fantastic beasties are sprinkled beneath a caopy of trees that provide a cool and shady spot for play. There are channels of running water and fountains to add to the ambience.

The topiary garden is a reproduction of Seurate’s “A Sunday on the Island of Grande Jatte”. One can walk among the figures as if one were inside the painting. The most provoking aspect is that you can walk to the pond and then look back to the people who are standing “in front”. It’s like being in the painting looking out.

Leaving our serendipitous find behind, we said “Goodbye, Columbus” (See wiki) and headed across the vsast fertile plains of the agrarian and industrial heartland to Mansfield, OH, where we stopped for the night at the Travel Lodge. Nice room, inexpensive, good breakfast.
Dinner was at Skyway East, a pleasant place out of the 1950’s. This is where your mother and father (or your grandmother and grandfather) went on special occasions when you were very young. They still make up matchbooks with your name on them.

When I asked the maitre d’ if they allowed smoking, he said, “No, but we have been doing this for over 50 years”.

Lobster bisque, salad bar and a grilled trilogy of 1/ lobster, prawn and scallops for Roberta, Hawaiian Monchong fish, salad bar and a baked potato for me, an almost for-real Key Lime pie (we can’t resist yellow Key Lime pie), a bottle of “Menage a Trois” and 2 Manhattens – under $100.

For those of you into the newer cocktails, they are famous for their Brandy Alexanders, Grasshoppers and Pink Squirrels.

More to come

((I))

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