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Trip Report Road trip Florida to New Jersey

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This past week my partner, Peter, and I flew down to my place in Naples, Florida for a few days, then spent five days driving my little 2 seater convertible up to NJ. It was our first real road trip together and we had a great time.

Leaving Naples on Tuesday morning, we stopped for lunch in Ocala. All my friends know my "interstate driving routine". At lunch I will be stopped at whatever KFC I can find and have my standard travel lunch of two grilled chicken thighs, green beans, cole slaw and unsweetened Iced tea. It's just what I do. So how surprised I was when Peter said, "why don't we stop at a KFC". Guess what HIS standard travel meal is -- two fried KFC chicken thighs, green beans, cole slaw, and unsweetened iced tea. Wow! Are we compatible. So that's what we did three different days on the road traveling -- except for the day we couldn't find a KFC and settled for a Popeye's. We agreed that KFC is better.

We arrived at Savannah around 4:30, checking into the rather new Hyatt Avia Hotel in the historic district. I had two free Hyatt nights and the Regency on the river wasn't available. This was a lovely hotel, beautifully decorated and very friendly and comfortable. Avia is apparently a new group of Hyatt Hotels, but according to the receptionist they are changing the name to something else soon.

We did a nice walk along the river and downtown, before changing for dinner at The Pink House. I had requested a "smaller, quieter dining room" than the big dining room which always seemed more like a convention hotel dining experience to me. It was delightful, the service was very polished, and the food was good. Perhaps the only disappointment was a "peach and blackberry cobbler" that had no taste of peaches at all, and in fact was pretty much a tart full of crust and lots of crumbs. There was almost no "filling" and had a few blackberries on the plate.

On Wednesday, after a light breakfast at Goosefeathers, we started off on our own historic district walking tour. I loved my croissant filled with spinach and feta -- a perfect breakfast for me. About noon we arrived at the Mercer-Williams House and did a tour there. I didn't realize it was open for tours. Afterwards we headed to the nearby Mrs. Wilkes, but with about an hour and a half wait, we decided not to do it. Instead we walked back towards the center and did the buffet at Lady and Sons. I know many people say Paula Deen's is just awful, but I have no idea what they are expecting. The fried chicken is wonderful, the creamed corn was fantastic and all the other sides were good. We even loved the simple peach cobbler -- so much better than that attempt at Pink House the night before. But we left stuffed! I love the "experience" at Mrs. Wilkes and wanted Peter to experience it, but it just isn't worth the long, hot, uncomfortable sidewalk wait as far as I'm concerned.

Did some shopping and gallery hopping -- and as always marveled at the friendliness in Savannah.

That evening we had a reservation at Vic's on the River -- and off we went. Sadly we really weren't hungry after that huge lunch so we couldn't enjoy the meal as we should have, but it was really great. Peter had the crispy flounder at both The Pink House and Vic's and preferred Vic's version -- at least for the presentation and sides, although the fish seemed a little dryer than it was at Pink House. The fried green tomato appetizer at Vic's was amazing and much better than the one we had at Pink House. I had a fantastic fried pork chop stuffed with wild mushrooms and brie and served over grits and collard greens. How I wish I could have eaten the whole thing!

On Thursday we headed to Charleston, but decided to go by way of Beaufort, which I remembered as a charming little town. It is indeed, and we got sidetracked in some art galleries until almost noon when I had to call Magnolia's in Charleston and cancel our lunch reservation! Instead we had BLTs at a little ice cream shop in town.

We had just half an afternoon left to explore Charleston so we did our own walk, and by the end decided that was just enough. Dinner was at 82 Queen, almost right across the street from The Mills House where we were staying. We ate outside. While the garden is pretty and the tables for the most part are well spaced and the twinkling lights in the trees give a great atmosphere, a large bridal shower group was so rowdy, it really detracted from the evening. Why do so many southern gals have such piercing voices and feel it necessary to scream instead of just talk? I had crispy flounder here and we decided it was the best of the three versions we had experienced in the same number of days.

Friday morning we set off for Richmond. We found ourselves driving all morning each day with the top down. The weather was spectacular all the way. But around noon we would decide we really had too much sun -- so would put the top up for the rest of the day. Still, we both got quite sunburned over the trip! This was the Popeye's day -- our only real diversion of the long drive for the day.

We spent the night in Richmond (arriving about 4:30) at the Crown Plaza downtown. We walked the canal walk and had dinner at The Tobacco Company. Loved the atmosphere and the food. But we quickly decided we were going to be rushed -- the waiter asked us three times within about 5 minutes if we had made a wine selection yet. Finally we did and ordered two appetizers to share with it. We decided not to order entrees yet as we feared they would come too quickly. Sure enough, within a couple minutes of ordering, our appetizers arrived -- we hadn't even gotten our wine yet. So we waited until we were finished with those before even ordering our main courses. Good decision as they entrees arrived within a couple minutes of ordering. This place really rushed you. We took our time and refused to order our dessert despite being asked three times until we finished our wine. Then we ordered and shared the "immediately arriving" butter cake for two. It was divine! In fact all the food was. We walked downtown for about an hour afterwards, circling the state capital, but somehow never making it to the Jefferson Hotel which had been our plan. We also had decided we really didn't want any more to drink, so that was OK.

Saturday we completed the drive -- another KFC lunch enroute, and we arrived home in Lambertville about 3 PM, sunburned, stuffed with Southern cooking, and delightfully happy!

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