USA 2004 Honeymoon

60 days across North America

New York - New Orleans

Dates : 09/01/2004 to 09/16/2004

Leaving New York was easier than arriving as there only is one highway going South (and what a road, seemed to be as wide as long). Philadelphia being only 2 hours away, we got to the Delaware River quicker than expected. What is interesting is that it is in the State of Pennsylvania that we had left two weeks earlier after visiting Pittsburgh. For a few years, Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States, that’s where the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4 1776 at the sound of Liberty Bell as well as the Constitution eleven years later (Switzerland inspired itself from it to create its own). Amongst the authors were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin who would all have been beheaded had the British troops won the war. Philadelphia can be proud of it’s historical past and seems to be a nice place to live. In addition to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, we also visited City Hall, a reception place with its 700 rooms that had ambitioned to be the tallest building in the world but the Eiffel Tower surpassed it just before its completion in 1901. At its top (547 feet), we can see the statue of William Penn (son of William Penn), founder of the colony 200 years earlier. He was the one to name it Philadelphia: “city of brotherly love”.

national security at its best

Williamsburg, VA

Washington is situated within a District (not within a State) on the Potomac river and is really an incredible city with its government buildings everywhere, institutions/buildings that we hear about on a daily basis (the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol,…) grand monuments/memorials (Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial, …) and the free Smithsonian museums that are incredible. To summarize, a destination that we strongly recommend and that forces us to reopen our 19th/20th century history books too often forgotten in Switzerland where we spend hours in school learning about the fabulous eras of Louis, Francis, William, etc…

« Liberty Bell » and Independance Hall

Philadelphia, PA

When leaving Washington, we entered the “South”. We took the scenic route to Tennessee: the Blue Ridge Parkway, a road of over. 500 miles that follows the rim of the Appalachian Mountains and joins the national parks of Shenandoah and of the Great Smoky Mountains. The decision to build this beautiful road, lost in the middle of the forest, was taken by Roosevelt during the great depression of the 1930s to help the economy and provide work to the States surrounding the Appalachian Mountains. Today, because of the remains of Hurricane Frances (that passed a day before us) and Ivan, there is again work to clean up and repair some washed out roads… We took advantage of our route to do a well worth detour through Charlottesville, the campus-city of the University of Virginia, where we visited Monticello the house of Thomas Jefferson well known governor, ambassador, secretary of state, vice-president and 3rd president of the USA as well as being an architect, musician and naturalist (days must have been longer in the 18th century…). For the anecdote, Jefferson and John Adams (2nd president) both passed away on July 4th 1826, 50 years day to day after the signature of the declaration of Independence that he was the main author of.

We finally arrived at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The name of this park was well chosen as clouds wipe and wrap the forests giving it a blue smoky appearance, but with our legendary luck the clouds were very much present when we finished our hike to the top of the mountain… We did hike a few yards on the “Appalachian Trail” that stretches over 2,000 miles from Alabama to Maine. We left the park through a winding dirt side road (cool!) and drove all the way to Huntsville Alabama. The only purpose of going there was to visit the NASA Space Center, specialized in the construction, testing and engineering of different space and military vehicles. The museum was very interesting and we were even able to take a tour (actually several) in a centrifuge machine at 4G (nothing beats having the impression our brains weigh a ton). We did not regret that little detour of 300 miles and returned to Tennessee.


We arrived in Nashville, capital of Country Music. We were not overly impressed by the city, but enjoyed the multitude of artists that play in the streets at night (musicians that are not (well) known but often talented). The next day we visited the Country Music Hall of Fame that retraces the history of Country Music and its most renowned artists.

We then took the “Music Highway” to Memphis. As with the Egyptian city that inspired its name, Memphis is situated on a grand River: the Mississippi and became a cultural and commercial center. It is also know as the city of Blues and the home town to Rock’n Roll, and we obviously went to visit the property of its most famous citizen: Elvis Presley. We took the very musical audio tour of “Graceland” which gave us the desire to see his Hawaii concert that was retransmitted live on TV in January 1973 and that more people watched than the first steps on the Moon 4 years prior! Memphis was also, in 1968, the somber setting for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., incredible figure of the fight for civil rights in the US. His story is extremely well told at the National Civil Rights Museum that is strategically located in the hotel where Dr. King was shot. We spent our 2 evenings on Beale Street enjoying the rhythm of the local Blues, amongst others at the BB King Bar. Before continuing south, we toured Mud Island (as in the film “The Firm”) where the entire Mississippi River, from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico, is carved in the ground.

A fan

« Graceland », Memphis, TN

Along the Mississippi River, we halted in Natchez which has preserved numerous houses dating to the time of the great plantations. In the 19th century, it was the region that encompassed the most millionaires in the USA after New York. Most of them having come from the East Coast to make money (often by exploiting others). The southern accent allowed us to always seem very interested in what people were telling us…

The final destination of this leg was New Orleans, but the city was evacuated due to hurricane Ivan that was supposed to arrive the next day. We stayed in Baton Rouge, also in Louisiana but further North-West, where we got a warm welcome by the Phelps and Rich’s famous homemade Gumbo. Mmmmm…. Finally, New Orleans was not touched, Baton Rouge did not even get a rain drop, but the 8 plus hours of traffic to get back into New Orleans did not sound like a good idea so off to Texas…

« Longmont »

Natchez, MS

Good ol’ bench

Natchez, MS

After visiting a few big cities, we went closer to the beaches by descending along the coast of Maryland. The road is situated on a long stretch of sand that isn’t more than 1,500 feet wide (we could see the water on both sides) and that brings you to Ocean City, a very popular beach resort on the Atlantic Ocean. We did not stop (had to keep our pace) and arrived at Chesapeake Bay. There are not many options to cross the bay: you either swim across or drive over the bridge-tunnel. Since we were in a rush, we opted for the bridge… and what a bridge! 18 miles across the Ocean, nothing on the horizon apart for the bridge itself, and water, water and more water on either side. 2,500 pillars to hold you up (and that many for the road going the other direction – it’s only in Switzerland that we don’t do things in double right away: i.e. Gothard, Loetschberg) and a few tunnels to allow tankers to pass. The bridge-tunnel was completed in 1964, our generation (couch potato, e-mail, TV, etc…) really has no merit… After that exhausting crossing of the Ocean, we arrived in Norfolk where we spent the night near the largest naval base in the world.


The next morning we headed to Washington DC via the picturesque “Colonial Parkway”, with a few passages through history with stops in Yorktown (a crucial victory of the American troops against the British in 1781 with the help of our dear friends the French!) and in Williamsburg where an entire 18th century village has been reconstructed and inhabitants are dressed in costumes of that time. We arrived in Washington at the end of the day and stayed three nights with George and Judith Moose-Kaufmann who spoiled us with great home cooking and by playing personalized tour guides.

Our private guides at Mount Vernon

Washington DC

some tourists

Washington DC

Improvised lunch

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA

Future renters (moving around Nov timeframe)

White House, Washington DC

One of Saturn V’s numerous engines

Huntsville, AL

A taxi for the moon

Huntsville, AL

One of the main sources of the Mississipi River

Mud Island, Memphis, TN