If you’ve been following my last week of travels you would have seen me cruising around the Southern States of the USA in my bright red Ford #UNMinivan.
Road tripping in the USA is nothing new – in fact, I would say it is the most authentic way to really experience this diverse country. But while it is always something I have wanted to do, until now I hadn’t been given the chance.
Ford invited me out to the States to cruise around in this less than usual vehicle and experience the USA in a much less usual way. The brief was to take the #unminivan and capture #unminivanmoments ….basically, have a blast and share my journey with WOW readers! It’s at this point where I’d like to state the obvious and say just how much I love my job.
Because I had already visited all the tourist hot spots – LA, Vegas, San Francisco, Washington DC, NYC and Boston, I decided to throw myself into something completely different and visit the South.
For whatever reason (I truly cannot pinpoint as to why), but I have always been obsessed with the idea of visiting the Southern States of America. And so it began… my Southern USA Road Trip with Ford!
Let the #unminivan fun begin!
So my 5 day Ford road trip began in New Orleans – home to the beignet (sweet donut pastry), Mardi Gras, and jazz music. I was joined by a video guy to film the 5 day adventure and capture all the WOW moments of the trip…. but here’s the trip from my iPhone perspective!
New Orleans, Louisiana
With just one full day to explore, I set off early in the morning and ate my way through the city whilst battling the tropical weather – rain, heat, and more rain! I purchased a bedazzled mask, some tacky necklaces, ate myself into a sugar-induced coma, and met some very interesting characters in voodoo shops and haunted mansions.
Later in the day I had a lightbulb moment and remembered there were swamps nearby in Louisiana and quickly decided to squeeze in a swamp tour that afternoon – lucky I did because it was one of my favourite things I did in Louisiana!
The next day was an early start as there was lots of driving to do to venture through Mississippi to Alabama. It wasn’t too long before I spotted the ‘world’s largest rocking chair’ in Mississippi on the way through to Alabama. Although it was an incredibly quick stop to get a few photos and carry on with the road trip, I’m glad I can say I saw a small glimpse of Mississippi!
Sweet home Alabama! If there’s one place I was beyond excited to visit, it would be Alabama. The funniest encounter I had was within just moments of arriving…
I pulled into the ‘gas station’ (in Australia it’s a petrol station) and hopped out of the minivan to fill up. When I walked into the petrol station the whole place went dead quiet and it truly was one of those ‘movie moments’.
I stopped to consider for a moment why this may have been – I’m sure my outfit had something to do with it, as the first person who spoke to me pointed out the obvious by proclaiming…
y’all not from around here, so where y’all from then?
Believe me, it was hard not to crack a smile.
I ended up chatting to a few people while I picked out my gas station snacks and it seemed unanimous that I was quite a novelty ‘round these parts’!!!
From there the route went through Mobile, Montgomery, and eventually the day ended in Birmingham, in the North of Alabama. The original plan was to drive through Georgia to South Carolina, but I had other plans…
Somewhere along the ‘freeway’ (again, that’s an American term – in Australia we call it the highway!) I had a sudden realisation – I was in the SOUTH of America and NOT going to the capital of country music. This had to change.
So it was decided – I would reroute the whole trip to go further north to Nashville! It wasn’t a hard decision to make.
Driving into the city, I saw the Bluebird Café, Music Row, and finally ended the day with a night at the Grand Ole Opry. For anyone who isn’t familiar, this was the birthplace of country music and turned out to be one of the best nights of the entire trip! I couldn’t help myself and splurged a little by purchasing a backstage tour before the show and saw a few famous country music singers… perhaps most notable was Jonathan Jackson from the hit tv show Nashville (I’ve seen every episode, hands up if you’re a fan!).
After a short one night visit to Nashville, the new route would take me through North Carolina down to the final destination of the trip – Charleston, South Carolina. I was excited to see the Carolinas after so many readers were giving me tips and places to visit – there seemed to be endless pit stops along the way and this is where the road trip really started to take off!
If there’s one thing I could say whole heartedly from the trip, it’s that I wish I had more time in the Carolinas! I really wanted to see the Biltmore Estate but unfortunately arrived just 15 minutes after tours ended for the day. If you aren’t familiar, that’s the house used in the film Richie Rich —- yeah, I was crazily bummed about that one!
But I made up for it by staying in a cabin in the woods that once served as a temporary home for Scott Fitzgerals – the author of the Great Gatsby! To say I was feeling inspired was an understatement!
The drive through North and South Carolina was undeniably the highlight of the trip. There were so many National Parks, Plantations, and beautiful scenery at every turn. I knew I couldn’t do it justice in just two days so I have vouched to return one day very soon – I’m having a slight love affair with the Carolinas!
When the road trip concluded in Charleston, I was excited to explore the city that is best known for being home to the ‘friendliest people in the States’. It’s true! The town is filled with charming people, architecture, history, and just has the most surreal peaceful vibe – another place I’d love to spend more time!
I want to go back to… Tennessee & the Carolinas
I found the best accent to be in… Alabama! ROLL TIDE!
The friendliest people were… Everywhere in the South. I was blown away by the hospitality, kindness, and friendliness!
Favourite city… Tough call! I think Nashville and Charleston
Best Roadside attraction… The UFO Welcome Centre in Tennessee…. I will never get over that haha!
My best memory… I really loved my night at the Opry!
Favourite food… PRALINES!