Inspiration on the Road
The much anticipated road trip started in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, June 30, 2009. We planned to travel from Toronto, Canada in the province of Ontario through Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and then back home.
After making the necessary preparations, we filled up the gas tank, the first of many times and headed south. We planned to take a break after every three hours of driving. Our first stop was Toledo, Ohio; population 313, 619, the fourth largest city in Ohio (Wikipedia). My impression of Toledo, the Glass City was of urban decline. Once an automotive city, Toledo looks as if it is trapped in a state of arrested development.
Then it was on to Cincinnati, Ohio. This city is known to have one of the largest collection of nineteenth century Germany architecture in the USA. (Wikipedia). It has a mix of modern and post modern architecture, creating a modern feel and look to the city's downtown. The population is about 333, 336 (Wikipedia) During our very quick drive and brief walk in the downtown core of this city, we noticed the cultural diversity in the population. Despite the historical tensions in race relations as evidenced with the abolitionists and those against, the races were peacefully cohabiting. The Great American Ball Park and the Cincinnati Reds and Freedom Way were our primary focus of this city. Loved it!
Two hours drive away from Cincinnati heading south we arrived in the city of Louisville, Kentucky; home of the Kentucky Derby and birthplace of the greatest boxer, Muhammed Ali, Tom Cruise and Diane Sawyer. This was the city of our first overnight stop. Louisville is Kentucky largest city, population 1, 268,328 in the metropolitan area and is considered one of the safest city in the USA. (Wikipedia). Louisville is known for its medical innovations, such as the first self-contained artificial heart transplant, the first hand transplant and the first cervical cancer vaccine. (Wikipedia)
The University of Louisville and the Churchill Downs are two of the places of interest in the city. We visited the Muhammed Ali Centre and found personal inspiration. I will be doing a hub on lessons learnt from Muhammed Ali's life. We also visited the Kentucky Centre. Our experience in Louisville was interesting and we enjoyed interacting with the people we met as we walked on 4th High Street. It was fun!
After a good night rest and a quick visit to some of the Louisville attractions, we headed further south to Nashville, Tennessee. The capital of Tennessee and home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Opryland Hotel and Country Music Hall of Fame. The population of Nashville is about 569, 891 (Wikipedia) and is fairly diverse; second largest city in Tennessee. We spent about two hours looking around this city. The people appeared fairly friendly. We will be returning to Tennessee to visit Memphis and savour its music, foods and art.
The drive from Nashville to Atlanta was about 4 hours long, and my husband was driving like a bat out of hell in order to get there before 9:30pm. We arrived in Atlanta on schedule and was immediately impressed with evidences of a large metropolitan city. Atlanta is the third largest city in the USA, with a population of 5,37, 958; of which 56.8% are African Americans. The population of the combined areas is 5, 729, 304. (Wikipedia). Atlanta was host of the 1996 Summer Olympics; it is the birthplace of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and home of Coca Cola, CNN among other Fortune 500 companies.
We spent 2 days in Atlanta as there were many things to do and see. After finding a local restaurant and having a hearty meal we settled down for the night. We were up and ready early the next day as we wanted to get some of our sightseeing done before the mid-day sun. We visited the High Museum, The CNN and the Apex Museum among others. We drove by the Coca Cola building as well as the Georgia Aquarium. We visited the Underground and sampled some of what it had to offer and finally we did the Freedom Walk. This was historical, spiritual and inspirational as we walked from Dr. Martin Luther King's home along the path to the Ebenezer Baptist Church. As I walked with my six year old son, I tried to explain with a sense of pride the essence of MLK's non-violence movement. My son didn't understand the significance of the man, he mainly wanted to know if he had friends and where he played as a child.
Atlanta was more than I anticipated it to be. My interest in historical events that define us as North Americans was satisfied. It was stimulating!
The next stop on our road trip was Charlotte, North Carolina. We travelled through Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina. The drive from Atlanta to Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, North Carolina was one of the shortest on our trip so far. We were immediately impressed with the lush green landscape in the Carolinas. It reminded us of Eastern Canada. The Queen city is the largest one in North Carolina; with population of 569, 891; with Bank of America headquarters, Time Warner Cable, NASCAR as well as the Charlotte Hornett. The Carolinas were spiritual!
We left Charlotte behind and head towards Richmond Virginia, which was about 4 hours away. When we arrived in the downtown core at about 2pm on Saturday, July 4th, Richmond was like a ghost town. We visited the Virginia Capitol building and some of the surrounding areas. Richmond has a population of about 197, 790 of racial diverse people with about 57.19% African Americans (Wikipedia). The racial diversity of Richmond has roots in the history of slavery and agriculture in the southeast regions of USA.
Takoma Park, Maryland was our next stop. We drove through Washington DC, which was buzzing with activities in preparation for fireworks later that night of July 4th. Since we had visited Washington on a previous visit in 2007, we did not stop in the city. We were spending 2 nights with relatives in Maryland and Philadelphia. It was great to get a home cooked meal and take a break from hotel and restaurants.
Takoma Park is located in Maryland and is a suburb of Washington DC and part of the Washington Metropolitan area. (Wikipedia) The population of Takoma Park is 17,299 and is a culturally diverse suburb. It is about 2 hours away from Philadelphia, the location of our next stop. To get there we passed through part of the state of Delaware. Maryland was peaceful!
Philadelphia was bought by William Penn in 1681. It is known as the City of Brotherly love and is the sixth most populous city in the USA, with a population of 1.4 million and 5.8 million in the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area. 44.9% of the population of Philly is African American, the fourth largest in the country. (Wikipedia) The form of slaveholding in Pennsylvania was said to be less dehumanizing than the southern states.
Philly is where ideas of the American Revolution and American Independence began. It was also the nation's first capital. (Wikipedia) On previous visits to Philadelphia, we went to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the African Americam Museum among other main Philly attractions.
Our visit on this trip was spent with family members who live in Upper Darby, a suburb of Philly. We had a family barbecue and relived stories of the "good old days". It was very relaxing after driving through parts of twelve states so far. Philly was relaxing!
New York City, the Big Apple, the City that Never Sleeps was our final destination. This is the most populous city in the USA. The city consists of five boroughs, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. The population of New York City is about 8.3 million and the metropolitan area comprise of about 18.8 million people, speaking about 170 different languages. (Wikipedia) New York City is ethnically diverse, comprising of immigrants and people who have migrated from other parts of the country.
We spent a night in Manhattan, at Broadway and 46th Street. Even though we have relatives in New York city, we wanted to experience the city as tourists, so we spent the night in a hotel in the Broadway District. We didn't see a Broadway show, as we wanted to take the tour of the city. We also walked many blocks as far as 34th street and 49th in the other direction. We spent some time in Times Square, which was magical!
We headed home, driving through New Jersey and part of Pennsylvania, then unto Buffaloo. As we drove home toward Toronto, we reflected on the lessons leant on our trip through south-eastern America. These lessons were inspirational. It was a successful trip and I am a better person after taking this trip.
Look out for the next hub on Lessons Learnt while Travelling through South-eastern USA.