Hits & Near Misses in the Southeast

Somewhere along the Ohio River, on the humid June back roads of northern West Virginia and southern Ohio, my wife Cassie spotted a turtle sitting in the middle of the other lane. “You’ve gotta go back and try to save the little guy!”

I gave in, made a U-turn, parked the car, turned on the flashers, and prepared to do my best impression of Ernie the Turtleman. But as I reached down to pick up the dinner-plate-sized creature, it spun around, opened its mouth (beak?), and hissed at me! I could hear my wife and kids screaming with laughter from inside our turtle-proof Hyundai.

Then suddenly, the turtle charged! (You’d be surprised at how fast they can move…) I hopped back in the car and watched the little bugger crawl directly below our vehicle. I had to have my wife watch from her window as I slowly inched forward until the nasty snapper crawled out from beneath the car. He disappeared into the high grass along the road without as much as a “thank you.”


Thus began our two-week Epic Road Trip of the Great American Southeast, the second in what we hoped would become a family vacation tradition of summer road trips. On our two-week driving tour of New England last year, we not only survived being packed into my Hyundai Sonata for two whole weeks, we actually had a blast. Go figure.

Our 2016 journey was equally successful – and not too expensive either. Our most expensive days cost about $225 (mostly lodging, ice cream and beer) while our cheapest stops staying with family and friends topped out at $50.

Aside from the near-miss with that ungrateful turtle, our southeast journey logged mostly hits as we made a counter-clockwise circle from home in Pennsylvania to Tennessee, Pensacola, Amelia Island, Savannah and Charleston before returning home. Read the tales and details about each leg of our trip by clicking on the links below.


charles family


Sleeping with the Band in Nashville: Tales from the road in Kentucky, Tennessee and GeorgiaNashville feature

  • HITS: Boating in an underground cave, staying in a band’s tour bus and hiking Stone Mountain
  • MISSES: Missing Mammoth Cave and enduring Nash-vegas





Pirates & Princesses Hit the Gulf Coast: Family fun near PensacolaSplashPark

  • HITS: Hanging out at the Hang Out, cousin love and doing the Splash Pad
  • MISSES: Stinging sea lice and lots of kid maintenance





Unwinding on Amelia Island: R&R on a lesser-known Florida beachAmelia family

  • HITS: Teaching the kids to bodysurf and wandering a Victorian beach town
  • MISSES: Having to leave




Oh, Savannah! The trees! The parks! The frozen daiquiris!savannah ForsythPark

  • HITS: Loving the trees, the architecture, the open-top on/off tour bus – and the take-away daiquiris
  • MISSES: Thinking we should have stayed more nights




Beating the Charleston Heat: Taking it slow and easy in the Palmetto CityPalmetto Carriage Charleston

  • HITS: Touring historic streets by horse & buggy and splashing at Waterfront Park
  • MISSES: Withering in the sweltering June heat




by Valentine J. Brkich, 2016

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Keywords: family vacation, family travel, travel with kids, road trip with kids, family road trip, florida family vacation, tennessee family vacation, savannah family vacation, charleston family vacation, florida with kids, pensacola with kids, tennessee with kids, nashville with kids, savannah with kids charleston with kids


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