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Traveling Around - The Annual Trip From Florida to Michigan

Updated on April 6, 2017

Beginning Note

A sort of preface. As with the longer trips we've made that have had multiple interesting stops, I'll provide links to reports about those stops sequentially in the report. I'd recommend looking through the links and picking those stops that might be of interest and reading them first.

To me, of course, they are all interesting.

Sunset from our Balcony - Destin, FL
Sunset from our Balcony - Destin, FL | Source

Getting Ready & On The Road

We left Destin on a Wednesday morning so we began packing the car on Monday. By Tuesday evening I had most everything in its own nook or cranny and still could get the trunk closed.

This view of the sunset is our last one (on Tuesday evening) until next winter when we return. We saw this type of sunset quite often and is a major reason for the selection of our apartment.

We were on the road by about 9 AM on Wednesday. Our first stop was going to be the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola where we hoped to spend a couple hours before proceeding.

Our First Stop

When we got to Pensacola, our GPS system directed us to the East Gate of the Naval Air Station. Much security was present. The guard on duty at the guest lane was nice and told us we were at the wrong gate (civilian personnel was not allowed through it) and explained how to get to the West Entrance. That would take us to the Museum and although we could almost see the museum from that gate, he wouldn't let us in the East Entrance.

There was a little winding around and twisted driving to get to the West Entrance but we finallly made it there and got through the security at that gate. I suspect that security has increased at the base in recent years.

The museum was much bigger and more complex than we had anticipated. We gave a cursory once over and got on our way, promising ourselves that next winter we'd really tour the place. It's only an hour or so from Destin if you take the correct roads.

Biloxi and Onward

No highway problems between Pensacola through Mobile and on to Biloxi. Report on the Biloxi stay is at Birthday In Biloxi.

Friday morning we left Biloxi and headed for Ferriday, Louisiana. Stopped at the Cracker Barrel just north of Gulfport to rent an audio book and got back on the road.

I felt like our GPS was probably taking us further west than I would have anticipated but when I've argued with it in the past, it has been correct and I've regretted it. This time I would have been vindicated.

Ferriday, LA, is near Natchez, MS, and by the time I got off the expressway to argue with the GPS, we were in Baton Rouge, LA. Luckily, it was able to reroute us cross country after I won the argument. We drove about 90 miles out of the way.

Ferriday is the growing up town for three cousins - Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, and Jimmy Swaggart. A local museum honors them and I've wanted to stop there for some time. The report is on HubPages.

After we spent a while there, we went down the road a short distance to a Mom and Pop motel that I'd found online. Checked in and when we got to the room, it was unbelievably dirty and not fit for a tenant. Checked back with the desk and it was the only room available. We checked back out, crossed the Mississippi River into Natchez, MS, and found a really nice (albeit more expensive) room at a Hampton Inn.

There is a report about the stay in Natchez.

While in Natchez we found the local casino. It's a riverboat and I wrote a report about it.

Up To Tunica and across Arkansas.

We had decided that we'd spend Sunday & Monday at the Fitz. There's a report about it.

Got away from Tunica on Tuesday morning and drove to Ft. Smith, AR. Stayed in a nice room at a Quality Inn and on Wednesday morning drove on north to Bentonville, AR.

Started out there in the downtown area at the Walmart Museum. There's a small article about the small museum.

Just a few miles north of downtown Bentonville is the Crystal Bridges American Art Museum. It is an outstanding creation of the Walton family (particularly Alice Walton). There's an article about it.

We had lunch in the restaurant there and got on the road to Branson, MO. I've driven the "loneliest road in America" out in Nevada. The road we were on had to be the "twistiest, turningest, narrowest road in America"

Finally arrived at the condo we'd rented in Branson and got the necessary parts of the car unloaded. We'd be a week and so took more in than we would have for an overnight. We sprawled and recovered from a week on the road.

While in Branson, we saw four shows - "Million Dollar Quartet", "Grand Country Jubilee", "Puttin' on the Ritz" and "Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede". Each of the four offered their own brand of entertainment but all were good. I probably enjoyed "Grand Country" the most, followed closely by "Million Dollar Quartet". The "Stampede" was a lot of fun with horses and riders and comedians and each audience member was served a full chicken for dinner that had to be torn apart with the fingers in the absence of utensils. "Puttin' On The Ritz" was a performance chock full of show tunes.

Thursday we went to the "Grand Country" in the midst of storm warnings and no more than got to the theater when tornado sirens started sounding off. They herded all of us into a shelter area where we crouched for about 45 minutes until the all clear sounded. We heard stories of soft ball size hail and heavy wind but I didn't actually see that or the results of it.

We had decided that on Friday we'd drive up to Springfield, MO, which was about 35 miles and go to a museum there and to the zoo. I've written reports about both of those stops.

On Saturday, they had a snow storm in the Branson mountains.

On Wednesday, the 15th, we got everything packed up and hit the road. Stayed overnight in Indianapolis and made it into our driveway about 1:30.


Summary

It seems like it was a long trip. Perhaps we should have spent more time at a couple of the interim places and rested up a little.

Writing the reports was a real chore.

Have started thinking about next year, but haven't really had any great thoughts.

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