To make it easier to read about our trip to Ireland, I have made a page that is just for that. There is a tab above for Ireland Trip 2014 or click on the Home tab to read my other posts.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Charlotte/Charleston Trip #1

Yes!  It's another travel series.
This one however will only be a few posts long.
I have a lovely "aunt" in Charlotte, NC
Aunt Marilyn is my Mom's BFF, they have been friends
for over 80 yrs.
Mom is going to be 91 in November and
Aunt Marilyn will be 92 at the end of September.
A year ago this past June, Aunt Marilyn, at the age of 90
had a total hip replacement.
She has done amazing!  She still lives in her own apartment
and does amazingly well.  She has a lovely friend, Monica, who 
drives her around when needed and helps in many ways.
But essentially, she is living on her own and caring for herself.
Anyway, we wanted to visit Aunt Marilyn, and Monica too.
So off we went for a few days travel.
We started off on Tuesday morning, pulling out of our driveway
at 7:15 a.m. for a day of driving.
Most of the drive looks a lot like this.  
Mountains, trees, fields and sky.
When we started out we had rain for about an hour,
then it cleared and we had beautiful weather the rest of the way.

One of my favorite areas on the drive are the 2 tunnels that
we pass through.
Before these tunnels were built, it was quite a drive to get over 
the mountains.  It could be treacherous driving the mountain roads
that took travelers over the mountains that are over 3000 feet high.
Both were traveled on narrow mountain roads that were often closed due to
fog or snow.
The most logical solution to the problem of going north and south
over these mountains was to instead go through them.
In the Bluefield, West Virginia area is the 
East River Mountain Tunnel
This tunnel is 5400 feet long. It was opened in 1974 and 
cost a whopping $40,000,000 to build.
Since the tunnel connects the states of West Virginia to Virginia
the 2 states shared the cost.
Coming out the other side of the tunnel you see more 
beautiful scenery.
A ways down the road you find the next tunnel.
The Big Walker Mountain Tunnel
in Wytheville, Virginia.
This tunnel is 4200 feet long and opened in 1972
and cost the state of Virginia $50,000,000 to complete.
We have driven this route many, many times and the one time
I was driving and my hubby, Dave, was snoozing in the passenger
seat.  He woke up just as we were going into one of these tunnels.
Poor Dave thought we were driving right into a wall or something.
He opened his eyes and all he saw was the "building" looming in front 
of us.  Boy did he let out a scream!
We tease him about it every time we drive south and have 
a little chuckle at his expense.
As you can see, we entered North Carolina!
One of the things that I love in North Carolina is that many of the 
medians in the roadways bloom with flowers.
(If you click on the pictures they will enlarge and you can see them a bit better.)
I had to take these through the windshield while driving at about 70 MPH.
NO!  I wasn't driving, Dave was!
These flowers are just beautiful.
There are even some places where they were planted
so when they bloom they are in wide stripes.
Just beautiful!
Around Charlotte, there are many embankments near overpasses
and exits from highways that have flowering bushes, lilies or other
flowers covering the grounds.
They do a wonderful job bringing beauty to the roadways.
I wish I could have gotten some better pictures, sorry!
I know this is a horrible picture, but it's here for a reason.
Trying to take a picture out the window while traveling at 
70 MPH and get a clear picture is near impossible.
If you look closely you can see that the trees are covered with vines.
Especially to the far left of the picture.
These are Kudzu vines and they are said to be the scourge of the south.
These vines are very invasive and grow rapidly, taking over thousands
of acres of land yearly.
They can cover entire buildings, cars and trees.  
They choke out the natural vegetation, killing 
many trees and other natural flora.
There is some interesting information if you Google
Kudzu.  I have found differing opinions about the Kudzu,
but most of what I have read is that this vine is very destructive
and unwanted.
As you drive along the highways you can see areas of 
trees and other plants that are totally covered in the vines.
Interesting and in an odd way fascinating, but sad all the same.
We arrived in Charlotte at about 6:15 p.m.
We made pretty good time, about 11 hrs with a couple 
bathroom breaks and a stop to fill up the tank.
I wish I could have gotten some better pictures,
but again, I had to take the pictures will flying along the
highway.
Charlotte is really a very pretty city, but getting a picture 
is not so simple.
Here is a link to some much nicer pictures of the city.
We have a little "tradition" with Aunt Marilyn,
when we get close to Charlotte, we call her and let her know
when we'll be arriving.
Once we get to her apartment, we pick her up to go
to The Landmark Restaurant 
for dinner.
We let Monica know when we were arriving and she met 
us for dinner too.
Here is a not so clear picture of 
Aunt Marilyn and Monica at dinner.

Thanks for coming along on our trip south.
Next time I'll tell you a little bit about 
Charleston, South Carolina.

Visit Kristie Kreates again soon,
you never know what I'll be posting about.

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