The USA – Part 4

We were off again after our interesting week in California. I’m not sure if any of us kept in contact with the girls that we met there. I know I didn’t – we were off to new adventures.

After leaving Newport Beach we drove 300 miles through the outskirts of Los Angeles towards Las Vegas. We arrived there at 2.00am. We had breakfast and cleaned up and then drove down ‘The Strip’ – Downtown Las Vegas. Of course we had very little money so there was no question of any of us thinking of entering these massive casinos

And then we were off in search of a campsite! We found one at about 4.00am a few miles from the Hoover Dam.

Next morning it was very hot and we drove to Lake Mead for a swim and brunch.

Lake Mead

I’m not sure that we realised it at the time but Lake Mead is a massive reservoir. We then explored the Hoover Dam.

By now we were on Route 66.

Remember the song?

“Well if you ever plan to motor east

Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best

Get your kicks on Route 66

Well it goes to St Louis, down to Missouri

Oklahoma City looks so, so pretty”

(Spot the deliberate mistake – answers in ‘comments’ please!)

From the Hoover Dam it was about 200 miles to the Grand Canyon, South Rim. It was dark when we arrived and as it was Labour Day weekend we had problems finding a campsite, but we did eventually.

The next morning we explored the rim. The Canyon is magnificent and plenty of photos were taken.

The boys look a little tired – or possibly it was the fact that they wouldn’t serve us a beer and we had to drink something that tasted revolting!

Later in the day we set off again and joined Route 66 heading towards Albuquerque. We looked in at the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park.

They always seemed to be fighting – or was it a waltz? This was the Petrified Forest and they were “dancing” on rocks that had originally been trees.

The Painted Desert

At this stage, after Arizona, we sped into New Mexico and through Albuquerque. Then it was Amarillo in the northern part of Texas and from there into the state of Oklahoma. During one afternoon after a hard days driving we saw a sign to the Foss State Park.

We thought it was a great find. A large lake with a very good campsite, picnic area and beach.

We decided to stay there for the rest of the day and the night. We swam and later 3 of us were in the very new and clean washroom when suddenly we spotted a large Black Widow spider climbing the wall. We managed to coax it out by throwing water at it. As it moved through the door frame we slammed the door shut and crushed it.

Our plan was to get to Springfield, Missouri the next day. We arrived in Oklahoma City just before noon and spent some time there and had a good lunch.

But we were only 24 hours from Tulsa. Do you remember that? “Dearest darling I write to say that I won’t be home anymore cause something happened to me as I was driving home”. He had met someone else. Gene Pitney sang it.

In the end we were so sad about that song that we bypassed Tulsa! Soon we were in Missouri and arrived in the Springfield area at about 11.00pm. We were on the north side of town and the campsite was to the south so we decided to press on to the Lake of the Ozarks. We arrived there at 3.00am, found a good state campsite and pitched down.

The reason for being in this area of Missouri was that I had met a girl on Queen Mary back in early July. She had been on a European tour with her parents and was returning on Queen Mary with them. I met her on the first day at sea and we spent a great deal of time together during the voyage.

While Julian and I were in Milwaukee, Susan and I corresponded a little and she told me that she would be returning from her home in North Carolina to her college in Columbia, Missouri on the evening of 9 September 1965. By chance we seemed to be in that area at that time!

We spent the day at Lake of the Ozarks. We found a beach and a jetty over the water. There was no one else there but there was a juke box to keep us entertained.

Lake of the Ozarks

We then smartened ourselves up, on the basis that the four us would be meeting up with Susan and three of her friends that evening. We drove to Columbia College and went to Reception and explained who we were and why we were there.

Sorry they said. Susan and her friends new accommodation block has not been finished and they have all been told not to come back for another week. Great. Another romance bites the dust!

We wandered round the campus and then decided to go into town. We parked near a cinema and 2 policeman approached us. They wanted ID. There was much scrabbling about in bags to find passports, but the police were fine once they realised we were Brits and not the crooks they were meant to be locating.

As a postscript, when we arrived in Washington DC some time later, there was a letter for me from Susan at the Cunard Office. It told me that she had been at Columbia College that evening as we had arranged. Despite being told not to come back for another 7 days she had come anyway, knowing that the 4 Englishmen would be there on the 9 September. She had left messages at Reception but they had been missed.

But back to the tour. We left the Lake of the Ozarks next morning and headed for St Louis

St Louis

After exploring the City and buying fresh food in the market, we set off in the direction of Louisville. We found a campsite in the Ferdinand State Forest and we amused the regular campers with our camping equipment – foam, blanket and pillow – they were still serving us well! But we all woke at about 1.00am. Thunder, lightning and rain meant that we all piled into the car for the rest of the night.

Ferdinand State Forest

It was Pete’s birthday that day, 11 September. We stopped for a coffee and a donut to celebrate and then had a long drive through Louisville and then back on our planned route through Lexington and Huntingdon. Kentucky seemed to us to be a clean and tidy state. Large farms all bordered by immaculate white fences.

We were then in West Virginia and drove through Charleston and in fact across the whole of the state before we arrived at the Greenbrier State Forest. We knew that there was a campsite there but we didn’t reach it until 11.30pm.

Greenbrier State Forest

It had been a very long and hard day. It had rained incessantly and we had had to negotiate the very slow and twisting roads over the Appalachians. And the last 100 miles were in the dark.

After a good nights sleep we set off for Richmond, Virginia and Williamsburg with the intention then of turning north to arrive at the end of the day at the state park on the shores of the Potomac.

Richmond was very quiet as we drove through past the Virginia State Capitol Building .

We drove on to Williamsburg which was packed with tourists. You will know the history. English settlers arrived in Jamestown and established the Colony of Virginia in 1607. Jamestown was the capital but was burned down in 1676. It was rebuilt, but in 1698 it was burned down again and thereafter Williamsburg became the capital.

All three are views of the rebuilt Williamsburg.

We then drove up the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown which was the site of the siege and surrender of General Cornwallis to General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. The defeat at Yorktown effectively ended the war in North America.

It was 90 miles to the Westmoreland State Park which was a great campsite but it had started to pour with rain. Julian decided he would sleep in the laundry and the rest of us opted for the car, with Nigel curled up on the floor between the front and back seats!

Julian slept here in amongst the washing machines!

It was still raining when we awoke. As we were going to be in Washington DC by lunchtime and meeting civilised people we showered and shaved. We dug out jackets and smart shirts and ties and then set off on the 90 mile journey to Washington.

That seems to be an appropriate time to finish Part 4. I will be back!


8 Replies to “The USA – Part 4”

    1. Yes Nigel. You are right. The song takes you from Chicago to the West. We were going in the opposite direction. I’m surprised you can remember that far back!

    1. You may be right Valerie but the best part was meeting you, Blanche and that Bialcik fellow and your families and friends.

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