T R I P   J O U R N A L

W E E K   # 1 9

ROOSTING IN PIGEON FORGE, TN - Monday, November 8, 2004

Today is pretty much a down day for me. I spend the morning and afternoon chillin' in Pigeon Forge, TN where I while away my time travel writing in the van. Growing bored, to break up the monotony I entertain myself with the van's heater. Evening arrives and I get a warning by the cops, I'm told I cannot overnight at the Wal-Mart parking lot. Rats! When nightfall arrives, I head due west in search of new overnight digs. Soon I find a new van camping spot in Rockville, TN where I settle in for the evening and retire for the night.

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TENNESSEE TOUR - Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Today I'll be served up with a long day of driving. With Memphis, TN as my destination, on my trip docket this day I see 9 hours of driving westward across the southern reaches of Tennessee on the road less-traveled. Promises of experiencing a healthy slice of country living effectively spur me on in pursuit of my goal today. Supported by my selected route, I wish to capture in photos and in words what rural Tennessee is really like.

My drive turns out to be many things. When covering over 350 miles in one shot, one cannot help but encounter a multitide of sights and circumstances, many of which repeat over and over again, and hence, flesh out the true character of any and all visited places. Then the smoke all clears and the day finally surrenders to night, I manage to capture and categorize 12 distinct characteristics of Tennessee that I believe help to paint a picture, albeit a little blurry, of what Tennessee has to offer.

During my travels, aside from searching for common themes and elements within the Tennessee countryside, I happen upon a scenic overlook that has been severly defaced with graffiti. I pull in and spend a little time there, where I theorize about the culprits who perpetrated the act, as well as enjoy the nice, scenic view.

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MEETING THE KING - Wednesday, October 10, 2004

Today I'll spend a full day and evening in Memphis, TN. My first sight of the day is Graceland. I spend a good three hours on the tour, which includes a walk through Graceland Mansion, a tour of the Trophy Building, a gander at Elvis' International and American Award Walls, and a visit to the Meditation Garden, Elvis' final resting place. The tour proves to be spectacular and far exceeds my expectations.

After Graceland, I drive to the Mississippi waterfront in the hopes of catching a Mississippi riverboat ride. Upon arrival, I quickly discover my plans are dashed, the riverboats aren't running today. In place of a boat ride, I make the best of my Mississippi sightseeing, and snap a number of pictures of the river as well as a large tugboat and barge on its way upriver.

I spend the latter part of the afternoon and the entire evening checking out Beale Street, Tennessee's most popular tourist attraction. After touring the three block entertainment complex and taking in an outdoor band, I wait till evening then hit a club to take in some blues.

All tuckered out from a long day of touring, I hop in the van and head south into the northern reaches of Mississippi where I quickly find a van camping spot and retire for the night.

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ROAD TRIP TO NEW ORLEANS - Thursday, November 11, 2004

A full day of driving is in store for me today. After waking to a gloomy day, I immediately set to task with sights set on New Orleans. The lion's share of today's driving will take place through Mississippi's heartland. To hasten my passage, I take the Interstate and see very little of anything interesting along the way. I do encounter a hungry truck on the drive down, however, that threatens my early demise and premature end to my cross-country trip. After nightfall I reach New Orleans and settle in for the evening.

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A FUN DAY IN NEW ORLEANS - Friday, November 12, 2004

Today will be a full touring day for me. My intended target of interest, New Orlean's French Quarter, is the oldest and most famous part of the city. I've visited New Orleans once in the past, but, it was only for two days and both were filled with too much alcohol and partying. Ha! Honestly, I don't really remember much. So, it's a good thing I'm back again to take a sober look at this interesting and incredible place.

After rolling out of bed at 10am, I jump on my mountain bike and ride 2 miles to the French Quarter from my Wal-Mart digs. Upon arrival, I lock up the bike then conduct on a fairly extensive tour of the area on foot. After many hours of touring, I settle into the Cats Meow on Bourbon Street for some Karaoke and beer. While at the bar I meet up with Rene and Charlie, a fun couple who are in town from Mobile, AL to watch a college football.

My evening winds down and midnight arrives, time to go back to the van. With 9 beers in me, I somehow manage to ride my bike back to the van without getting lost. Tired from a long day of touring, I quickly jump into bed and immediately fall fast asleep.

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ROAD TRIP TO HOUSTON, TX - Saturday, November 13, 2004

After coming to terms with my fat, gross stomach, I make plans for a full day of driving. My route today takes me from New Orleans to the heart of Houston. On the way I encounter a boatload of swampy sights, a number of oil refineries, and the mighty Mississippi River. I arrive in Houston in the evening and settle into working on the website before retiring late at night.

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SPACE CENTER HOUSTON TOUR - Sunday, November 14, 2004

Today I have plans to visit Space Center Houston, the official Visitor Center for the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. After a short drive from my van camping digs I arrive at the Visitor Center all rearing and ready for some good ole touring.

The tour itself is rather fun and fascinating. I first partake in the Tram Tour that takes me through the old Mission Control Center, Hanger X, Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, and Rocket Park. Following the Tram Tour I concentrate on the Visitor Center, a large building containing a myriad of space-related exhibits, including spacesuits, a mockup of the Space Shuttle, Moon rocks, actual spacecraft from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Projects, computer flight control simulators, a Lunar Lander, and a variety of interesting informational displays.

After spending more than 5 hours touring the complex, I hop in the van and travel due west to San Antonio, TX where I have plans tomorrow to visit The Alamo. Upon arrival I quickly find a van camping spot where I soon retire for the evening.

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Panda, San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA
Tropical Fish, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, CA
West and East Mitten Butte, Monument Valley, AZ
Central Beach, Indiana Dune National Lakeshore
The Famous Hollywood Sign, Hollywood, CA
United States Botanic Gardens, Washington, DC
Docile Deer, Yosemite National Park, CA
Mount Rushmore, Keystone, SD
Union Pacific Rail Line, Central Utah
Montana dirt road, on the way to Yellowstone
African Bush Elephant, San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA
Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, Mission Beach, CA
Bighorn National Forest, WY
Momma Gorilla with Baby, San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA