New Toys

I love my gadgets. So far:

  • Idol 3New cell phone with better reception for travelling in the boonies and a larger screen for navigation (and more RAM so I can deposit checks on my cell, and Marshmallow Android version)

  • Cell HolderCell phone holder for the car (how has Debbie been doing Waze without this?)

  • Bluetooth Car AdapterBluetooth adapter so cell phone can feed into the car stereo for tunes, and for hands free calling (our car is too old to come with this as standard)

What else do I need? Camouflage?Make America Great


Music for the Road

America by Paul Simon for the New Jersey Turnpike
America cover by Yes
War by Edwin Starr for Gettysburg
Jolene by Dolly Parton for Nashville
Graceland by Paul Simon
Heartbreak Hotel Elvis Presley
We Shall Overcome by Pete Seeger for Selma and Montgomery, plus ten more from NEWSONE
Southern Man by Neil Young
Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by the Band for Richmond, covered by Joan Baez

Any nominations please in comments section

Day 0 – Drop Off at Camp

269 miles. Benjy’s summer sleep away camp bookends our vacations. Summer doesn’t really start until we do the three hour drive up to Frost Valley Y.

On the way up we have four cell phones for three people, but manage to debate how to use them. I want to pipe Google Play through the now Bluetooth enabled car stereo, but this turns into a catastrophe with voice recognition. Eventually we settle down on 10,000 Maniacs from my off-line collection.

On the way back we stop at Quickway Twin Cones, I have an absolutely enormous (medium) rum’n’raisin and maple walnut. Yum! Photos would be nice, but I never seem to think to memorialize my experiences. Will try to do better on the way to Graceland!

Day 1 – Mon 7/11 – Battle of Gettysburg

Day 1 – Mon 7/11

401.2 miles to Harrisonburg via Gettysburg, the high water mark of the Confederacy. General Robert E. Lee’s defeat by General George Meade. 51,000 dead in a convincing demonstration of the 3:1 advantage of defense in modern warfare, a lesson lost on the generals of the First World War.

I was surprised at how little relief there was in the battleground. I had an image of steep slopes, but even the site of Pickett’s Charge was a gently sloping rise. Enough I suppose for the Union to get off a few more fusillades.

I climbed it!
I climbed the tower at Culp’s Hill for a complete view of the battlefield!
Confederate cannon fodder marched unprotected across open ground into the Union artillery
Confederate cannon fodder marched unprotected across open ground into the Union artillery

After the excellent visitor center and self guided auto tour off into a westering sky, through twisty country roads to the sound of the Memphis blues. I love Spotify.

Day 2 – Tues 7/12 – On the Interstate from Virginia to Tenessee

550.2 miles in 9.5 hours of pure driving to Nashville. Nothing but driving. I guess truckers do it all the time, but this is the furhest I remember driving in one go, and certainly by myself.

Nashville country music all the way, now that I have figured out working Spotify and Google Maps together. Haven’t done streaming music up till now because I commute by subway, and there is no reception. Now I have a reason to try it. Also a reason to get an updated Android phone, to get better reception on I-81.

Kind of a shame that Spotify does not understand Google voice commands, it would be really cool if I could just say my music requests and have Spotify serve them up. Maybe in a future version of Android?

Econolodge is kind of a dump. Got buttonholed by a couple of seventeen year olds with some sad tale of woe that they were crossing the country and OOPS I gave them the New Yorker grunt and break eye contact response. Now I regret it, I should probably have told them to call their parents.

Ate at Monell’s Dining and Catering, a fun Southern menu place where you sit together with other guests and pass the all you can eat food around. Met some fun young Ernst and Young types about Jeremy’s age, we reminisced about Pokemon cards.

Monell'sAll You Can Eat

Day 3 – Wed 7/13 – Nashville

Nashville: Country Music Hall of Fame, amazingly interesting. I had no idea that Bob Dylan played with Johnny Cash. And the Grand Ole Opry, which is a complex with hotel and resort, and mall with expensive restaurants. I ate in a cheap burrito place, better than Chipotle. In the seat next to me was an interesting couple from near San Simeon in California, big country music fans, found it kind of funny that country music wasn’t big in Brooklyn.

Grand Ole Opry

Day 4 – Thurs 7/14 – Guns Old and New

Another Civil War battlefield, Shiloh, scene of Ulysses Grant’s first victory over the Confederacy. Very good movie at visitor center, but I got lost several times driving around the battle field.

Seems that Grant really got lucky on this one. He was completely unprepared and defeated on the first day, but by great fortune reinforcements arrived just in time for victory on the second day.

Lunch at a roadside BBQ joint with very friendly people. Grandma was playing with her two year old grand-daughter, who she said had never seen a stranger before, but was very happy to sit in my lap. Once grandma was gone the waitress her niece came over to talk. She is going to the University of Memphis in the fall, and dreams of becoming an English teacher in a foreign land – she desperately wants to escape this “hellhole of a county”. We talk about FAFSAs and saving money with used and rented textbooks, she seems to have a definite plan.

Then into Jackson to a shooting range. Got to find some America. Automatic weaponry. And Jesus- Range USA of Jackson is a family owned small business built and operated on Christian values and faith. Firing an AR-15 is really easy compared to a Lee-Enfield .303. Also fired a Glock19, nothing to compare it to since this was the first time I have fired a handgun.

209 miles for the day.

My first time shooting an AR-15
My first time shooting an AR-15