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2001 East Coast Vacation - June 3 through 14


My 2001 trip East. 12 days, 4125 miles.

Planning and Background

I took two long vacations in 2001. I was dealing with a lot of stressful things in my life, and had to get away. The first one went East.

I was going East for a reason. At some point, I put a map together which marked all the states I'd been in. There was a block of 6 states in the Northeast I hadn't been to, and I was suddenly on a quest to have been in all 48 mainland United States.

Okay, sounds stupid, but you justify your vacations your way, I'll justify mine my way. :-)

Anyway, my main goal really was to touch the six Northeastern states, and do some time in Orlando.

It was also the first time I'd been to a distillery, one of the most massive in the country. Since then I've been planning a Kentucky Bourbon tour, and since then, Kentucky has come up with something called the Bourbon trail. Someday...

This was a curious transition in my photography as well. I had just completed my Y2K negative scanning project, and didn't want to ever have to scan another negative in my life. Second, I had played with digital video in 2000, and was amazed at the result. So I was shooting more video, taking fewer pictures, and worst of all, started shooting 1MP pictures on my camcorder because it was easier than carrying the 35mm and the camcorder.

While the video led to some fun DVD's, I realized when I got home that the 1MP stills from the camcorder just didn't reach the standards of 35mm. Learning from this, important images during my 2001 trip out West would be taken on 35mm, but more whimsical shots were sill taken on the camcorder. 2002 however, would change all that.

Niagara Falls State Park

I left the morning of the Third, and to tell the truth, there's really nothing of note crossing Indiana and Ohio. Except they're all toll roads.

By that afternoon of the 3rd, I was in Niagara Falls, tourist destination and Honeymoon spot of Western New York, the place where alternating current was invented by some guy named Tesla. I'd already been to Yellowstone, and have heard the comparisons between the Lower Falls and Niagara, so I was here to check it out for myself.

The only comparison I'd make, is both are waterfalls. The lower falls of the Yellowstone is almost twice as tall, 308 feet versus 176 feet, but Niagara is much wider. Of course the Lower Falls is surrounded by stunning landscapes and miles of untouched wilderness, and Niagara is surrounded by an economically depressed city, and some placed called Canada across the river.

Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls, NY
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On the road in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine

After leaving Niagara falls, I zipped across New York down the turnpike. Yet another toll. I got off the tollway at Albany, and took State Route 9 through Vermont and New Hampshire, into Maine.

South through Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and those six states I had to go though were taken off my list...

New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine
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Philadelphia, PA

Independence Hall
Independence Hall from the Liberty Bell. Independence National Historical Park.
I had in some traffic problems in New York. The Brooklyn Bridge was closed due to some idiot who decided to have some issues and climb all over the span and backed up the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) for miles. I had some quiet satisfaction when Emmerich had Godzilla destroy it. Heh.

Why was I going through New York? To get a Nathan's Famous. That's right, a hot dog. You vacation your way, I'll vacation mine. Heh, again.

Anyway, because of the traffic in New York, my time in Philadelphia was limited.

I did visit the US Mint (where half the coinage in the country is produced), but the entire tour was video/photo restricted. Boo. I also visited the Liberty Bell, but by the time I was out of there, all the tours at the Pennsylvania State House (aka Independence Hall) were filled for the day, and most of the other places I wanted to see were closed. Bummer.

I was back in 2006 on a business trip, and took vastly better pictures, and got to see a few more sites.

Philadelphia, PA
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Disney World

I didn't make any other significant stops along the way, except maybe at a raining and wet stop at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From there, a quick zip down the Bee Line to Kissimmee...

Disney World is its own section on this site. Click on the picture below to go there.

Disney Collage
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Jack Daniels Distillery

From Central Florida, I took my standard route home, but detoured off I-24 in Tennessee and visited the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg.

Truth in advertising says I have to disclose that there are pictures here from both June 2001 and March 2002. It was a Sunday when I visited in 2002, and was disappointed to find out that not only do they not distill on Sunday, but most of Lynchburg is closed. What kind of tourist trap are they running, anyway?

Anyway, if you're in the area, they have one of the best factory tours around. I guess it helps if you want to really see how the big guys make their product. Just make sure you're there on a weekday.

Jack Daniels Distillery, Lynchburg, TN (Part 1)
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The safe in the picture below is purported to be the safe that Jack kicked because he couldn't open it, broke his toe, got gangrene, and died from it. There's a moral here someplace.

Jack Daniels Distillery, Lynchburg, TN (Part 2)
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Lynchburg, Tennessee

Ah, you gotta love Tennessee. The truck is now in one of the rooms on the tour.

Lynchburg is about halfway between I-65 and I-24 south of Nashville. After I left Lynchburg, I went toward I-65, just to do a something a little different.

Lynchburg, Tennessee
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But in 2002, I went back to I-24, and later in the trip, tried to get to Makers Mark. Makers Mark, like Jack Daniels, is miles from the closest expressway. By the time I got there, the last tour had departed. A day late and a dollar short. The story of my life...

Lynchburg, TN to I-24 / Makers Mark
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Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site

In December of 1808, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln purchased the 348 acre Sinking Spring farm for $200. Two months later, they had their second child, a kid named Abraham, named after Thomas Lincoln's Dad. The family of four lived in a small 18x16 foot cabin for two years before relocating to another farm 10 miles to the Northeast.

Inside of this building, is supposedly that very cabin. (Unfortunately, the interior is mostly taken up by the cabin, with no good way to shoot photos, so I took video instead. It's very tight inside.)

Fast forward around 85 years to 1894, and a New York businessman named A.W. Dennett, purchased the farm, then sent the cabin on a tour through many American cities, as an attraction.

Around 10 years later, the Lincoln farm association was formed by such people as Robert Collier, Samuel Gompers and Mark Twain. They purchased the farm and cabin, and raised over $350,000 to build the memorial. The cornerstone was laid by Theodore Roosevelt in 1909, and two years later the memorial was dedicated by William Taft.

Very cool, but why all those stairs?

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site
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Final Thoughts

My biggest regret of this trip was not to shoot more film. It became quite obvious in post production that digital was still far inferior to 35mm in terms of color, density and print production. It wasn't ready for prime time.

But I only had three more states to visit to touch all 48 lower United States. And they were all bunched up in the Northwest.

Oh, and next time, I'm detouring around New York City.
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  • 08/06/2013 - Rewrite and update to v3.11
  • 08/31/2014 - Update to v3.2