Presidential Road Trips You Can Take This Weekend

road trips

Road trips taken over the weekend can get us away from our normal routine and surroundings without a lot of planning or cost involved. Some people would like to get away from election season ads on television, websites, newspapers and magazines. Others are really into the process of selecting the next president of the United States and look for ways to feed their addiction. Here are some easy fixes for travelers who just can’t get enough of the election year hoopla.

Stop by any 7-11 store and cast your vote by simply buying a drink to participate in their 7-Election. A blue or red cup choice counts as your vote for either candidate and can contribute to a historically precise way of predicting the election outcome.

2004, the 7-Election predicted Bush would defeat Kerry 51 to 49 percent.
Actual vote: Bush 50.7 percent, Kerry 48.3 percent.

2008, the 7-Election Obama would defeat McCain 52 to 46

2012 election running totals are posted on the 7-11 website.

The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas, features exhibits, special events, and educational programs. Like other presidential libraries and museums, replicas of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room are a highlight of a day-trip visit.

Permanent exhibits utilize documents, photographs, videos and interactive stations. The National Archives has information on all the presidential libraries, mostly located east of the Rocky Mountains.

The Sixth Floor Museum At Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, formerly known as the Texas School Book Depository has a permanent exhibit featuring films, photographs and artifacts that chronicle President John F. Kennedy’s life, death and legacy.

Another exhibit in Dealey Plaza, has been designated as a national landmark. The grassy knoll of Dealey Plaza is a small, sloping hill inside the plaza that became infamous following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The birthplace of President Grover Cleveland in Caldwell, New Jersey, has historical significance dating back to 1881 when Cleveland was running for governor of New York. Like other presidential birthplaces, the Grover Cleveland site preserves artifacts from Cleveland’s early years including his cradle and original family portraits.

Even those with no plans to travel (except out of the United States if their candidate does not win) have some help. JetBlue’s Election Protection will fly about 1,000 disappointed voters out of the country (and back) the day after the election.

“We decided to give people a chance to follow through on their claim to skip town if their candidate comes up short,” Marty St. George, senior VP of Marketing for JetBlue said in a Time report.

Still, if a road trip this weekend is in your plans, here are some tips for making it a great one.



[Photo Credit: 7-eleven]

10 Florida Road Trips That Do Not Include Theme Parks

It seems that whenever we think of Florida and travel, beaches and theme parks come to mind. True, there are a bunch of them in the sunshine state. Also true is that Florida offers one of the best places for a good road trip in the country. Year-round mild weather and a well-kept highway system can take travelers to an interesting variety of places at a leisurely pace.

A first stop when considering a Florida road trip should be America’s Byways, a website that offers good planning resources, suggested day-trip routes and background information on a variety of possible road trips.

In Florida, it’s hard not to run into something interesting to see by just heading out in any given direction. Here we have 10 of probably hundreds of possibilities for Florida road trips that do not include theme parks.


Gulfside Highway 19
- Homosassa, Florida
On the west coast, start at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to see West Indian Manatees, black bears, bobcats and gators. Continue north to the city of Crystal River to swim with Manatees or just have lunch. End the day in Cedar Key, an island known far and wide for seafood. Better yet, do it this month and check out the 43rd Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival, Saturday Oct 20, and Sunday, Oct 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pensacola In the Panhandle- Pensacola
Up north, the 11-mile Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Highway lets travelers drive atop the unique bluffs, which provide scenic views of Escambia Bay and are the highest point along the entire coastline of Florida. Part of the National Scenic Byways Program, the Gulf Breeze Zoo covers 50 acres and has over 900 animals throughout a botanical garden with more than 100 unique species of botanical plants and flowers.

Tamiami Trail -Tampa
Explore the natural splendor of the Everglades between Tampa with Miami with a drive across the Tamiami Trail, a highway time machine of sorts that passes through a primeval forest with toothy animals as well as canyons of strip-malls and heart-stopping traffic. The 275-mile trail is part of highway US 41, and connects Tampa with Miami.

Florida Natural’s Grove House- Lake Wales
A visit to the Sunshine State wouldn’t be complete without a taste of Florida’s Natural brand orange juice. The company’s Lake Wales grove in central Florida offers a private glimpse of its juice making and provides a history lesson for the kids in the guise of a fun stop.

Black Bear Scenic Byway
The Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway goes through one of Florida’s most distinctive ecosystems, known as the Big Scrub. The 60-mile corridor along SR 40 serves as the backbone for a network of scenic roads and interpretive trails that include the Ocala National Forest, Lake George State Forest, Heart Island Conservation Area and Tiger Bay State Forest. The Florida black bear is at its highest population density here, so look out for them!

Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway- Merritt Island
Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Highway is an estuary that provides habitat to more species than anywhere in North America. The 166-mile loop along Florida’s Space Coast starts at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and draws history buffs, bird watchers, anglers, surfers, swimmers, boaters and vacationers

Old Florida Heritage Highway
- Gainesville
The Old Florida Heritage Highway goes along countryside, lakes, wetlands, prairies and rural homesteads. Scenic U.S. 441 takes travelers back in time as a good example of one of the more well preserved sections of the Florida Highway as it was before the interstates came along.


The Florida Keys
- Key West
The 113-mile (181-kilometer) drive on Highway 1 from mainland Florida to Key West has route-tidal flats and teal waters dotted by distant islands as you drive over the ocean. Highway 1′s concrete stretches across with the Atlantic spreading out to the left, the Gulf to the right.

Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail- Ormond Beach
The Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail is a loop of roadways with quick access to the Atlantic Ocean and North Peninsula along with several state and public parks. Museums and historic public buildings and homes can be found in Tomoka State Park. Recreational opportunities include parks and trails offering boating, fishing, hiking, swimming, bicycling or just a walk on the beach.

A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway- St Augustine
A drive up or down A1A takes travelers between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway on a narrow barrier island with breath-taking views. Along the way, see a variety of wildlife including 50 endangered species. Stop in St. Augustine, the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the United States.

Want to know more about Florida Road Trips? Freddy and Kendra Holliday from TV’s “The Amazing Race” have a show of their own, aptly called “Florida Road Trips,” featuring fast-paced excursions to intriguing, historic and natural must-see attractions around the state.


Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in Florida


[Flickr image via faungg]

Songs That Fit The Moment: When Music And Travel Meld

paris with loveHas science or popular culture coined a term for the phenomenon of the random playing of a song that perfectly describes a travel situation or mood? Probably. But whatever it is or isn’t called, this scenario is something that, once in a great while, happens to all of us when we’re traveling.

I’m not talking about favorite road trip songs or music you queue up to fit the destination. Allow me to provide you with three key examples from my own experience. Note that sometimes it’s not so much the meaning of the song, but its title.

Exhibit A: My college boyfriend, and first love, had just dumped me, and I was despondent. A good friend had invited me to seek refuge at his family’s gorgeous homestead in Santa Cruz; as I tooled up Highway 101, I felt hopeful for the first time in weeks. Dusk fell, and I approached the wooded exit for my friend’s house, when Temple of the Dog’s “Say Hello to Heaven” came on. I literally had to pull over, I was so blown. As a side note, shortly before we broke up, my ex and I were driving to a concert, and Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” played. Hmmm.

Exhibit B: One year later, I made the colossal decision to leave a stagnant life earning minimum wage in California, and go to culinary school in Vail, Colorado. No sooner had I crossed the LA County line when X’s “Los Angeles (She had to leave/Los Angeles)” blasted from my radio.

Exhibit C: Five days later, I descended the steep pass into Vail, gaping at the slender waterfalls cascading onto the valley floor. “Follow Your Bliss” by the B-52′s began to play. To this day, I’ve never felt so much certainty about a life choice. That year in Vail was incredible, and ultimately, led to a career in food and travel writing.

I asked my fellow Gadlingers what songs define travel moments for them, and their answers were all over the (ahem) map. For more on Pam Mandel’s exile in not-quite post-Soviet Leningrad and Robin Whitney’s quest for a fresh start, read on after the jump:hotelPam Mandel: “Hotel California.” Just click on the link; you’ll be glad you did.

Jessica Marati: “Under Pressure,” by David Bowie, while walking the streets of New York City.

Robin Whitney: I’d been eyeing a move to California for some time, but everyone in Chicago would tell me awful stories about the “fakeness” of LA, or some other negative opinion about how sick I’d get of the good weather [Laurel here. As a recent refugee of Seattle, I find it hard to believe these Chicagoans actually love their climate. Sun: Good. Gray, cold and wind: Bad.] and, in their words, “lack of culture.”

In late April, I was visiting my brother in North Hollywood, stuck in epic traffic, and feeling defeated. Then a preview of Best Coast’s new CD came on, featuring “The Only Place (Why would you live anywhere else/We’ve got the ocean, got the babes/Got the sun, we’ve got the waves).” It lifted my spirits instantly, and I decided I deserve a year of exploring a new city, so I’ll be looking at apartments soon.

Sean McLachlan: My first solo road trip was also my first cross-country trip. I was driving across the Sonora Desert, when Blue Oyster Cult’s “Last Days of May” came on (Parched land no desert sand/Sun was just a dot/And a little bit of water goes a long way, ’cause it’s hot/Three good buddies were laughing and smoking in the back/Of a rented ford/They couldn’t know they weren’t going far). If you read all the lyrics to the song, you’ll learn why it likely made an impression on young Sean.

Melanie Renzulli: Just about every time I drive into New York, “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z starts to play. I’ll also always associate Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” with the first time I visited Germany, because it was playing in the shuttle on the way to ground transportation in Frankfurt. I was an exchange student, it was my first trip overseas, and Springsteen was on? It blew my mind.

Got any defining travel song moments? Share them with us!

[Photo credits: Paris With Love, Flickr user Epiclectic; Hotel California, Flickr user saguayo]


A Drive Through Rural Oxfordshire And Buckinghamshire

Oxfordshire
England is so much more than its cities.

Most itineraries take in London and one or two more: Oxford or Cambridge, Brighton or Bath. While I love all these places, and live part time in Oxford, it’s the countryside that I truly enjoy. Glimpsed from the motorway it makes a pretty backdrop, but get off onto the country lanes and you’ll find villages filled with history, old inns with great beer, and amazing stretches of natural space.

Oxfordshire is one of my favorite parts of England. While it’s more built upon than the northern counties it is rich in antiquarian landmarks. Yesterday my wife and I set out to explore them with the same two friends who took us out on our last rural ride through Oxfordshire. While I have a ton of work to do this week and next, I can never pass up the offer of a road trip through England.

I thought I knew Oxford University inside and out, but our first stop proved me wrong when we arrived at the university’s Harcourt Arboretum a few miles outside town. Peacocks strutted amid a forest of trees gathered from all around the world. I can’t say I’m a big arboretum goer, and while I prefer natural forests to artificial ones, I did enjoy it. The sight of power lines and the distant hum of the motorway did nothing to reduce the feeling of calm that settled on me. Thoughts of my book deadline and the thousand other things on my to-do list disappeared.

Soon we were off to something I know a bit more about – medieval history. Passing down narrow country lanes flanked by hedges and old, lichen-covered stone walls, we came to the village of Ewelme (pronounced “you elm”). Like many English villages, nobody knows just how old this cluster of thatched-roof relics and Victorian trophy homes is. Ewelme became prominent in the middle of the 15th century when Alice, wife of the Duke of Suffolk and granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer, built a church, school and almshouses here.

The church is one of those magnificent little houses of worship you find all over England, such as in Dorchester or Binsey. Like with most of my visits to rural churches, we had it to ourselves, and we wandered at leisure admiring the heraldic carvings, fragments of original stained glass, and the alabaster tomb of Alice herself. The tomb is a bit grim even by tombish standards. In addition to carving her lying in state with her hands clasped in prayer in true medieval piety, the sculptor added a second image of Alice at the base showing her decayed and rotting. This was supposed to be a reminder of the way of all flesh. The creepiness still works six centuries on.

%Gallery-163241%Through a narrow doorway and down a flight of steps we entered a small cloister surrounded by 13 little houses. The charity that Alice set up is still in operation and needy people from the parish still live in houses paid for by Alice’s original donation. They are snug, tidy little homes and worlds apart from the grim concrete monoliths many of England’s poor live in.

The third building is a school that’s said to hold the record for the oldest continually operating school in the country, according to whoever it is who keeps track of such things. Sadly it was shut up for the summer, so we were left studying the worn medieval carvings on the wooden door and wondering what lay on the other side.

Suddenly this peaceful village scene was interrupted by the roar of jet engines. Seven red fighters shot overhead, trailing colored smoke. They were the Red Arrows, putting on a show at the nearby RAF airfield. They banked and looped and resisted all attempts at a decent photograph. After a while I stopped trying and simply watched. As we retired to a nearby pub for lunch (fish and chips and real ale, what else?) the Red Arrows were replaced by noisy relics from World War II that flew so low we could see the pilots. It was good to know the pub was safe from the Luftwaffe.

One-and-a-half pints and 50000 calories later, we headed out through more winding little lanes past curious cows and old cottages to neighboring Buckinghamshire, where we climbed a steep hill to Brill, a village that has one of the region’s oldest surviving mills. The mill has been standing here since the 1680s and while it no longer makes flour, it offers a fine backdrop from which to look out at the surrounding countryside.

The hill itself is pitted and gouged with steep clefts. Brick makers in centuries past dug out great chunks of the terrain in search of clay. This provided a great opportunity for a group of local boys. One half of the crowd tried to kick a football over to their friends on the other side. Each attempt ended with the ball plummeting into the pit and one poor kid scrambling down to get it. They weren’t deterred, though. I got the feeling that whoever managed to kick a football over that crevasse would become a village legend, his boyish exploits repeated and exaggerated for generations at the local pub until he took on the legendary stature of a Robin Hood or King Arthur. Or maybe he’d just impress the local girls. Either way, they kept trying.

A day spent away from the cities reveals England at its best. So if you’re in this or any other part of the country, it would be worth your while to rent a car and see the lesser-known rural sights. Just be careful driving on the left.

Video: Old West Ghost Town Of Bodie, California


Here’s a double dose of American nostalgia for you. Back in the 1950s, Maxwell House coffee had an “American Scene” series of TV shorts. This episode takes us to the ghost town of Bodie, California.

Gold was discovered in Bodie in 1859 and soon it became a boomtown with more than a dozen large mines and countless smaller claims. Some $80 million in gold was extracted from the surrounding hills, a huge amount for the 19th century.

Bodie is a popular destination these days and is lovingly preserved by the California State Parks. Back when Maxwell House filmed there, it was still not quite a ghost town. It had a population of nine, and one rugged miner was still looking for a big strike. The few diehards hoped that Bodie would become a boomtown once again. It was not to be.

So sit back and enjoy this show from the early days of television, talking about the early days of the Old West.