A Favorite Day

... is planning for a trip!

Dorothy O'Connor

I generally enjoy every day of the year, but one of my favorites is when
Russell and I sit down to PLAN A TRIP.  Clearing the dining room table of its
usual debris, we spread out maps, calendars, brochures, tour guide books, a
tape measure, and campground directories.

A few weeks ago we assembled the requisite information for an excursion
which Russell has christened "Following the Flowers."  One of our rules is
that we seldom travel more than 300 miles a day (thus the tape measure).
First day, as always:  get up early, have juice (and pills, being the ages we
are), hitch the Airstream Trailer to the GMC Suburban, and head for Vernon,
Connecticut, a two-hour drive.  There, we stop at Reins' New York Deli, where
I tell the waitress, "The usual for me:  fresh cheese blintzes with sour
cream, a side of three-bean salad, and coffee.  We're celebrating the
beginning of another adventure."

By the end of that day we arrive at the home of my niece in Somerville,
New Jersey, where we enjoy the company of Jen, her husband Rich, and their
children.  The next day we drive to Cape May, NJ, which we explored with other
Airstreamers at a Rally last October.  It is a charming town replete with
Victoriana.  The next morning we board a ferry and cross the mouth of Delaware
Bay to Lewes, Delaware, which puts us in position to drive down the DelMarVa
peninsula to Kiptopeke.

"Would you like to travel over Chesapeake Bay on the 17 1/2-mile
bridge/tunnel?" asked Russell.  "Would I EVER," I responded.  "Another dream

That interesting portion of the trip lands us in Virginia Beach, where
we pick up the road to North Carolina's Outer Banks.  The AAA Tour Book says
of the Outer Banks, "Through years of storms and shipwrecks, the islands have
developed a distinctive culture."  Our itinerary takes us through such
fascinating place names as Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills (site of the Wright
Brothers Museum), and allows us to stay overnight in a campground due east of
Stumpy Point, NC.  I do love those names!

The next day we head inland with the goal of reaching New Bern, NC,
Colonial capital of that state.  At the Royalist governor's home, Tryon
Palace, thousands of tulips in the magnificent gardens will gladden our
winter-weary New England hearts.

From there, it's on to re-visit Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia.
Last February we took a 2-hour boat trip through the Swamp and nearly froze to
death.  When we returned to our trailer, it took a few hours for the combined
efforts of the furnace and an electric heater to thaw us out!  The guide told
us that the Swamp is at its loveliest in April, with an abundance of yellow
flowers in bloom and the songs of birds enriching the atmosphere.

Now we pause in our sight-seeing while we run around the northern
portion of Florida for a few weeks, visiting various friends.  We see them
only once a year and they are treasured visits for all of us.

As we head back to New England, we point our vehicle toward Asheville,
NC, just east of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Friends have urged
us not to miss the Biltmore Estate there.  The gardens are legendary.

"From there," Russell told me as he studied the map, "we can pick up the
Blue Ridge Highway and follow it to Charlottesville, VA, where Jefferson's
Monticello is."  I nearly jumped out of my skin with happiness, since both the
Highway and Monticello have been on my "wish list" for decades.

That puts us in a good position to get to Willamsburg, which we once
visited briefly.  Trying to absorb the sights there in one day is like trying
to pour a quart of water into a teacup; it just can't be done.  So, back to
Williamsburg we go and I get to see again the live oak I fell in love with
five years ago, as well as many other memorable views.

During the trip, of course, we will also explore some of the regional
culinary delights available.  Both of us are curious about peanut soup, a
specialty of Virginia.  Hope we find some!  And it may be that in the Low
Country of South Carolina we will stumble upon another place to buy Frogmore
Stew.  The restaurant where we discovered it has changed hands and, sadly, no
longer serves that delicious entree.

If we get to Charleston we will surely have a meal at 8 1/2 Queen
Street, a delightful restaurant.  There, we usually sit in the courtyard,
surrounded by beautiful plants and being serenaded with bird songs.  The
person who shows us to a table does not say the usual, "Smoking or non-
smoking?" but asks instead, "Shade or sun?"  I get a big kick out of that.
Maybe, in addition to the pleasant ambiance, she-crab soup will be on the menu
the day we're there.  It is delicious and we've not had it for some years.

All in all, what with gorgeous vistas to admire, unusual people to
invigorate us, museum visits to enjoy, reunions with friends, and satisfying
dining experiences to remember, is it any wonder that I love planning such a

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