This was a trip of trips — overnight in Chattanooga, TN, a few days in New Orleans, a drive through the Gulf coast to Pensacola Beach, stopover in Durham NC and home. It was a wonderful trip — really enjoyed it even though I had a horrible cold that I had to muster through. So many parts to it that I thought I would break it up in chunks.
Part 1 – To New Orleans, LA! 1304 miles
In attempts to get to NOLA quickly, I stayed only overnight in Chattanooga, TN (a ‘halfway’ point at around 812 miles) BUT would definitely want to go back. There is a lot of outdoor activities to do and the area around it is so pretty. I took a very scenic route 59 — recommend it to anyone.
On to New Orleans from Chattanooga, TN — 491 miles
I came in via Route 10 and Lake Pontchartrain . Specifically, the Pontchartrain Expressway. Very very big when you actually drive over it. But driving into the city this way, you see a lot more than you do when you fly. While this shouldn’t be a surprise, you see Palm trees along one of the highways, Tulane University, the Metrodome. When you drive in, you feel like you actually see the city and get a sense of geography.
I have been to New Orleans several times so — with the limited ‘touring’ time I had – I chose to see the National World War II Museum. It’s huge and amazing. Newer museums — like this one – use multimedia to not only explain what is going on but to ‘enable’ the visitor to almost get somewhat of a sense of how it felt.
Clearly, any museum can’t replicate the war, but this museum offers a feeling of the scope of the war. To quote the museum –it’s a six-acre campus, where five soaring pavilions house historical exhibits, on-site restoration work, a period dinner theater, and restaurants. It showcases the various theaters of the war and the services.
But it also highlights how much work it took at the home front for the US to gear up to fight — from the manufacturing escalation to the women (e.g., Rosey the Riveter) who took on the jobs more traditionally held by men to the businessmen who helped drive the US forward. The manufacturing numbers alone are amazing…27 aircraft carriers, more than 96,000 bombers, more than 2.6 million machine guns. Also highlighted were the contributions of special populations — Latinos, African-Americans, including the Tuskegee Airmen, and Native Americans with an emphasis on the Code Talkers. Importantly, it also highlighted the internment of the Japanese.
On another note, it offered the USS Naval Submarine experience where you are placed aboard the most successful submarine in World War II for its fifth and final war patrol on October 25, 1944. You are assigned the role of an actual submariner on the USS Tang on its last battle. Most of these men did not survive the last battle and after going through the ‘experience,’ I’m not sure how any actually did survive.
It also highlighted ammunition, materials, paraphernalia.
But the numbers of military involved and the impact was pretty severe as well and they did highlight that.
Before I left New Orleans, I was able to capture a few shots of some other interesting things.
Part 2 – To Pensacola Beach via route 90 and the Gulf Coast — @215 miles
Not a long drive by far, so was glad to take a more scenic route to get to Pensacola Beach. I really wanted to get a good sense of what the coast was like and fortunately there is a beautiful drive along the Gulf Coast. In effect, you drive down a good, solid road with beautiful white sands on the “right” and homes primarily set back on the left. I wasn’t able to stop, but if I do go through again, I definitely will plan to spend more time to see what the towns are like. Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi — all white sand beaches. Biloxi was a little different in that the casinos were on the right side.
The GPS in my car had a little bit of a hard time finding the Holiday Inn Resort at Pensacola Beach, but my rule of thumb is to head in the direction and you’ll figure it out when you need to. That definitely was the case here. You go over a couple of bridges to get to Pensacola Beach (i.e., NOT Pensacola) so beware of that.
You can only drive as far as the water anyway. The hotel was great – pretty much what I needed. The restaurant was decent and served all day; coin laundry (which makes a huge difference when traveling for a while and trying not to bring too many clothes); free parking (I always look for that); a wonderful swimming pool and tiki bar; and easy access to a beautiful Gulf.
As I had a nasty cold, I didn’t do all the things I wanted to do…but I did drive down the main strip on Pensacola Beach literally until the road stopped. I also drove through the main part of Pensacola, which was very nice. But the most exciting thing I did was toured the National Naval Aviation Museum. It was great — on Pensacola Naval Air Station and it was free! What I did learn was that as the Blue Angels are stationed at NAS Pensacola, the public can see them a couple of mornings a week (for free). I happened to come upon it. They were so loud and the museum shook when they flew overhead. So amazing!
The museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum. There you can see more than 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation on display inside and outside on its 37-acre grounds. There are movies, a flight simulator and a 4-D (don’t know what that is) Blue Angels theater. So if you decide to go — a couple of things you need to know:
a) They will search your bags; you need a valid photo ID (16 and up)
b) You aren’t allowed to take pictures outside but I took plenty in the museum
c) If you’re as lucky as I was, you’ll see the Blue Angels in an exhibition right over your head. Amazing!
The rest of the day I kind of took it easy (nasty cold) but was able to see a bit more of beautiful Pensacola Beach..as you can see.
Some video of the beach
The Finish! — To New Jersey with an overnight in Durham, NC (@1213 miles)
Not much more to describe — wasn’t feeling great because of the cold but the
ride was fine. I put the bulk of the driving on the front side — Pensacola to Durham (717 miles). Much shorter then to New Jersey (496 miles). In total, I put a little more than 2740 miles on my car. Paid only $1 in tolls and that was when I crossed into Pennsylvania through the Delaware Water Gap. It was a great trip and I could have stayed a lot longer in each part but life and work were calling so I needed to finish it up.
Next stop — Orlando but I will have company!
1000 Lindsay Street Tennessee, United States of America
7013 Shallowford Road Tennessee, United States of America
|Hilton Garden Inn|
1001 North Peters Street Louisiana, United States of America
|National World War II Museum|
945 Magazine Street Louisiana, United States of America
|New Orleans, Louisiana|
New Orleans United States of America
|Through Gulfport, Mississippi|
Gulfport Mississippi, United States of America
|Through Bay St. Louis, Mississippi|
Bay St. Louis Mississippi, United States of America
|Through Biloxi, Mississippi|
Biloxi Mississippi, United States of America
|Through Mobile, Alabama|
Mobile Alabama, United States of America
|Staying at Pensacola Beach, FL|
Pensacola Beach Florida, United States of America
|The table above is listing 10 out of 12 markers (sorted by ID ascending)|