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Day 27 – July 27, 2016 – Lenoir – Charlotte – Carolina Beach – Mileage 297.8

I wake up early at mom’s house and work for the day.   It sure feels weird to not be on the road – Yea I’m still not home but I’m starting to have reality hit me.  Tim, Pam’s husband decides to wash the van before returning it.  Wow, we thought we had cleaned it out last night, but he still found 4 or more pens, water bottle tops and blue chips.   We found a lot of that last night when we unpacked it all.

About 3:30, Susan, Pam and I take off for Charlotte to return the van.  I drive my car as I want to leave from CLT to head back to the beach.  Susan drives her van so that she and Pam have a way home and Pam drives the van.  We take one last selfie before heading out.

we did it. 7707 miles later

we did it. 7707 miles later

The drive to Charlotte, seems boring.  No one to talk with…  We get to the airport and turn in the car.  You should have seen their face when they realized we returned the van with 7707 miles on it.  Well, it was unlimited mileage.  😉   And we told them we had even done an oil change in the middle of the trip.

Susan, Pam and I then hugged and departed.

This part of the drive seemed even lonelier.  I can’t even see their cars.   Well, my car decided to reset a bunch of things while it wasn’t in use for a month and one of those was setting the GPS back into Eco mode.  What does that mean?  It means that the GPS will put you on interstates at all costs.  I tell it to take me to Carolina Beach and it chooses a route via Columbia SC.   I wouldn’t have gotten in until close to midnight.   I couldn’t figure out how to change it so I pulled the phone out and let Dorothy lead the way.   She takes me into Charlotte and then comes up with, “I’ve found a faster route that will save you 33 minutes”.  I said accept.   On the trip, Dorothy did that a lot but it was when she would try to put us back on interstates.  I think she was happy I said yes.   She did pick a great route.  For 40 miles I was on back country roads and it reminded me of our trip.  The only unfortunate thing was getting behind a commercial van whose driver really didn’t know how to drive it and just enough traffic and very short passing zones to not have a chance to pass.  That driver would go anywhere from 40 – 65.  Of course he would do 65 when I had a slight chance of passing.   But still, the views were great and I got to go thru a couple of small towns.  Finally, I got to hwy 74.  This is the Andrew Jackson highway, so again I was on an old road, but not the “original” old road.  I could see that one on my gps and it did go thru small towns.  By this time though, I just wanted to get home so I stayed on the faster route even though it felt wrong.

It seemed so lonely on the trip back.  No one to talk with, no laughs.  I even hear the song “alone again, naturally”.  I did feel so alone after having such a great time with my sisters.

I pulled into Carolina Beach around 9:45pm and started to unpack.  Boy there was a lot of stuff. Today’s mileage is what I drove from Lenoir to CB.

We were so lucky during our trip.  We really didn’t have rain.  Yes, the 2 and 3 days we had a bit but the real bad rain then was just 20-30 miles south of us.   The rest of the time, the rain would be in short bursts or at night and really, that wasn’t enough to be counted.  I truly thought we would have days were it rained all day.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather (yea, we wished it were a bit cooler in places – but we lived with the heat).  The extreme heat followed behind us the whole route so we didn’t have to deal with that either.  We also had the best of luck in other areas.  We would be riding on a road and pass a sign that the road was closing the next day for 3 days.  Really, we had made the decision to push further that day and got to miss the road closure which would have caused us to change our route.  We missed all the fires that are happening in areas of our route.  They occurred days after we left.    It just seemed like we were being followed with good luck on this trip.

We are already trying to plan for our next trip together.   Last year with did the North East with Mom and Sally too.  Next year we are thinking National Parks, Mississippi River or … suggestions.  We have made it our goal to see all 50 states together.    I’m only missing 5 – Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wisconsin.  Pam is missing the most but has 2 states I don’t have.  We will see what occurs over our next trips.

green is the North East trip and Purple is our trip this year

green is the North East trip and Purple is our trip this year

I hope you enjoyed our travels – I know you couldn’t have enjoyed them as much as we did.  Oh, and I still have points for more hotels.  I’ll roll them into next year’s travel.  I’ll also start Susan and Pam up with credit cards to get the bonuses that sure helped with my totals and we can all contribute next year.


Things we learned.

  • Don’t pack too much. We had a lot of stuff we didn’t ever use but now we know what we will need for future trips.
  • Larger Tupperware containers are great for getting ice and using them to cool collapsible coolers.
  • Take a charge for the car. I found one before this trip that plugged into the cigarette lighter.  It has 2 standard 3 prong plugs and 2 USB ports to charge with.  It worked great to keep computers and phones alive.
  • I have to find a GPS that lets us program the exact route with multiple points and THE ROADS we want to take. Yes, google maps is great but I don’t want to be staring at my phone to follow the routes.
  • The trip advisor app is great but don’t trust the directions all the time. They are sometimes wrong
  • Roadside America is great for finding odd ball things to do but their app is only good on iPhone so I had to look at it on the computer
  • You can make hotel reservations using points the same day – most of the time. Just watch out on the weekend as they only have so many points / reward night rooms and you could miss out on the ones that don’t require as many points.
  • Back roads are fun and the sights are much prettier. Yes, they take longer but sometimes – who cares.
  • Bring plenty of paper to take notes on. It’s much easier to do the blog if you have notes from the day.  Take a lot of pens too as they disappear all day long into the black hole of the van.  But you can replenish your supply in the hotels.  Susan was amazed at the pile of pens on her table as we unpacked the van.
  • Stop and get fruit, snacks, sandwich fixins, water, drinks … for the car because on some of those roads you just want find places to eat and being able to just pull over and eat.
  • Have fun – find things to laugh at.
  • I’m sure there is more items for the list but I can’t think of them right now.


Finding license tags on the back roads is hard.  We found all but Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware,  New Hampshire and Washington Dc.  I found Rhode Island here on the island yesterday.    We also saw  Ontario, British Columbia, Guam, Quebec, Alberta, Sonora Mexico, Baja California, Chihuahua, Manitoba, Tamaulipas, Morelos, and Nuevo Leon.

We spent just under $800 in gas.  Our biggest expense was going out to eat but with the hotels mostly free, we did great on this trip.