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Old 1st August 2017, 22:50   #1
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Default New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip

This trip was done in end of 2015. Somehow I just could not finish the travelogue till now. Finally, here it is!

The two best things about this trip:

1. It was all about the journey and not about the destination. Road trip is indeed the best way to see and experience any place.
2. It was not fully planned. Except for fixing the car pick up and drop day, attending a concert and doing a White House tour, nothing was fixed or booked. The plan was to go with the flow and enjoy the planned randomness.

Background:

I spent 2 years (2008-10) in US for studies. I stayed in Madison, capital of Wisconsin. I got an internship opportunity in Milwaukee which was 80 miles (~130 kms) from Madison. I was supposed to travel to Milwaukee 3 times a week and I needed a car to do that.

First thought of a first-time car buyer Indian student in US: Go for Honda or Toyota. That’s what I did. Searched on Craiglist and found a 2006 model 2 door coupe stick shift (manual) Honda Civic. Picked it up for $6000. I was not keen on 2 door, had heard the term “coupe” for the first time and did not know how special a stick shift is in US. I just picked it up because it was in good condition and I could drive a manual car.

Honda Civic 2 Door Coupe
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The car had 60,000 miles on it when I got it. I managed to add another 20,000 miles on it in the 18 months of ownership before selling it for $4000 and returning back to India.

On returning to India, I joined a job in Bangalore, got married, bought a Honda CBR250R and Toyota Etios Liva. I and my wife started doing a lot of road trips both on the bike and car. 2011 was a year of metamorphosis for us. We graduated from road trip lovers to amateur automotive enthusiasts. I started reading team-bhp posts and watching vehicle reviews from Autocar India and Power Drift. It was the first time that I got to know about things like torque, turbochargers, superchargers, different automatic transmissions, suspension set-ups, steering feedback, ride & handling, exhaust note, cornering etc. Whatever I read and learnt, I transferred a percentage of that to my wife. She was not very excited to hear about all this stuff but nevertheless listened to my monologues. In one such discussion, we began to wonder if we had really “enjoyed” the west coast road trip that we had done in 2010. Yes we had fun in that road trip but did we ignore things that should be appreciated: powerful engines, torque kick-in at specific RPMs, handling and more. No, we had not! We just rented cars, did not care about what engine they had and drove for hours together. It was fun then but we had to do it again now with an enthusiast’s mindset.

It was August 2015. I was changing job at the end of 2015 so had an opportunity to take some days off. My wife was able to get leaves from her office and it was decided to celebrate the New Year at New York City. Now, since we were in “enthusiast” mode, the flight also needed to be enthusiast friendly. Fortunately, Etihad was beginning the service of new Airbus 380 to fly from Abu Dhabi to NY from Dec 2015. The timing was perfect. We booked tickets from Bangalore to NY via Abu Dhabi for 16th Dec 2015 and return flight for 5th Jan 2016. Total fare was around Rs 135k.

Preparations:

Driving License to rent a car in US: My US DL had expired. Some online research and talking to friends in US revealed that Indian DL would work without any international permit as long as everything written on it is in English. Both my wife’s DL and mine were recent so everything was in English.

Booking a car: After several days of discussion, we decided that we would rent a car as soon as we land on 17th Dec, then drive to our friend’s place in NYC, rest for the night and start our road trip the next day. The car return was planned for 28th so it was going to be a 11 days road trip. We wanted to carry most of our stuff with us so we wanted a big car with a big boot. So went ahead and booked a “Full size car” with Alamo. Booking was done online with no advance payment or credit card details. Estimate was $720 including comprehensive insurance, additional drivers, unlimited mileage and all taxes. This price was much better than some other popular rentals like Avis and Hertz. Car promised was Ford Fusion or similar.

Road Trip Plan: The basic plan was to drive from NYC to Keywest (the southern most point of US) and back in 11 days. On the way, we wanted to meet a few friends and visit a few places. It was all about the journey and not about the destination so the road trip was not planned in much detail. No hotels were booked. We would just “go with the flow” was our plan.

Booking another fun car: We wanted to have a fun drive one day. Decided to book a convertible Mustang or Camaro. It was going to be very cold in and around NY so we decided to do this fun driving somewhere in Florida. Since we did not know when we would be in Florida, we decided to book this car later. But it was going to happen for sure.

Stay: Stay in NY was taken care of. A close friend from college days offered us his place. He was visiting India that time so we had his place to ourselves with an overlap of 2 days which meant we could meet him for a couple of days without disturbing him much. He stays on E 34th Street which is just 10 minutes walk from Times Square and 5 minutes from Empire State Building so we were really fortunate to get such a wonderful location to stay and that too free!
Stay during road trips were not planned. We would just book motels and stay anywhere we wanted to.

Phone and GPS: Ordered a sim card from mrsimcard.com to friend's address in NYC. It costed us around $60 and had unlimited 3G data, local calls and call to India for 30 days.

The Trip

Day 0: 16th Dec. 2015.
We were super excited. Our flight from Bangalore was at 9:30 pm and we reached Abu Dhabi at 12:25 am (Abu Dhabi time). There was a layover of 3 hours. The US immigration formalities were done at Abu Dhabi to reduce the congestion at JFK. Good use of layover time but we were tired of standing in the long queue. Well, all the tiredness went away after catching the first glimpse of the massive A380. Huge! 4 massive engines. Wings so wide and beautiful, it reminded me of the episode on National Geographic where they had put cameras on eagles to study their wing behaviour during flight to take inspiration to design wings of the A380 so that it could lift up a plane so heavy while staying within the permissible limits of wing lengths so that it could be operated on all major airports. The plane was new. Interiors were awesome. The take-off was the smoothest I have ever experienced and we could barely hear the engine noise inside, so good was the noise insulation.

The gigantic A380.
New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-airbus.jpg

View on screen from tail mounted camera.
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Day 1: 17th Dec.
We landed at NY at 12 noon. Weather was hazy. We were fatigued, jet lagged but super excited. Picked up our luggage and took the intra airport train to car rental section. A 2 mins walk to reach Alamo showed us what 2 deg C temperature feels like. Things were smooth at Alamo. They checked our DLs. Swiped our credit card which would be charged later once we returned the car. In 10 minutes, we got our car. It was a grey Toyota Camry. 2.5L petrol, 178 Hp and 230 Nm, 6 speed automatic.

New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-camry.jpg

Honestly, I was scared when I first got into the driver’s seat. I had driven in US for more than 1 year but that was 4 years ago and I had never been to NY before. We had used the airport wifi to set the route on google maps on my phone and were going to follow it. Started slow and very soon got into fast traffic on the freeway. Thankfully, there was a traffic jam. I got time to adjust and observe the traffic and recall the rules and driving style of US. Got out of jam but missed an exit and lost the way. Now I was really worried. My wife was trying to figure out the way on the phone but we had no internet connection so it was still showing the route we had set from the airport. I pulled over in a shopping area and we started thinking what options we had now. The route from JFK to NYC downtown was not easy. Suddenly, google maps re-routed and showed us a new route. Without internet connection! Just using the GPS it showed us a new route. Does it always work like this? I don’t know but we were so relieved. We started driving and I again missed a couple of turns and exits but the map kept re-routing and finally led us to our destination in about an hour.

Driving to NYC covered with clouds
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Next challenge was to find parking. But that was not hard if you were ready to spend. We were ready to spend anything that would make life easy for us so we parked in the nearest parking station. It was overnight parking for $48! Walked to the friend’s place, spent some time letting everything sink in and slept early. Our local sim had arrived which I put in my Mi4i phone and after changing some settings, it started working. We used it as a GPS throughout our trip.

Day 2: 18th Dec.
Total distance covered: 651 miles. 1048 kms.

Got up at 5 am easily as our brain was still working in India time zone.
My wife had managed to book an inside tour of White House by writing to a Congresswoman and we were supposed to reach there by 11 am. We were out by 6 am and started driving towards Washington DC.
It was still dark. We were able to avoid the crazy NY traffic. The crazy NY traffic means a lot of cars and lots of signals with people honking and cutting each other. This looked perfectly normal to me though after driving in Bangalore.

We stopped for breakfast at Chesapeak at 8 am. The wind chill and near zero temperature made it utterly cold. We started driving again at 8:30 am and reached Washington DC at 10:30 am. We could find road side parking about 15 mins walk from the White House. It was just $2 an hour and we could pay by swiping our credit card on the road side meter.

Morning drive to Washington
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Hot Corvette Parked in the Street
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We walked to the White House and after some security checks, were allowed to go in and visit different rooms. With all the Christmas celebrations, it was really nice. We did not see Obama in case you are wondering!

First View of the White House
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Christmas Decorations inside White House
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Snowmen in the East Garden
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We were out by 12:30 pm. There were some other monuments around but it was very cold and we just wanted to start driving again. So we drove past Lincoln Memorial and Pentagon and continued south.

Lincoln Memorial
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National Monument
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Our actual destination was Biloxi in Missouri to see live concert of Lil Wayne the next evening. My wife is a fan and I was interested too since Lil Wayne would never ever perform in India and it would be one heck of an experience to see his concert. So we decided to drive as far as we could and then cover the rest of the journey the next day. We had crossed New Jersey, touched Pennsylvania followed by Delaware and Maryland and finally got to North Carolina. Stopped at a rest area. It was getting dark and jet lag was catching up. We took a 15 minutes power nap in the car and started driving again. Reached Durham, had dinner at some restaurant and slept in the car for an hour to regain some energy. We decided to drive for an hour more and finally stopped at 10 pm to sleep over at Super 8 motel in Gastonia.

Somewhere in Virginia
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Day 3 19th Dec.
Total distance covered: 684 miles (1100 kms)

Getting up was again easy. We had breakfast at 6:30 am and started driving at 7 am. There was ice on the windshield and car body so had to heat the inside to melt the icy frost. We entered South Carolina followed by Georgia and then Alabama. We reached Mobile in Alabama at 4 pm after regular breaks for food and rest and checked into America’s Best Inn (misnomer).

On the way to Alabama
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Kia Factory
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It is hardest to stay up in evenings because that is actually early morning in India and sleep starts catching up. So we took a 90 minutes nap and started for Biloxi at 6 pm to attend Lil Wayne’s concert. The concert tickets were $180 for 2 people which we had booked online in advance.

What a concert it was! Queen Diva opened the show. Honestly, that music genre was irritating to say the least. But what was more creepy is that the music started to grow on me and I was listening to that music for the next few days. Oh and by the way, Queen Diva is a man.
That was followed by another rapper and finally the man with diamond teeth worth $150,000. The energy was high and we experienced a once in a lifetime' show. Concert ended at 12 midnight. Found a McDonalds and had dinner and drove back to hotel by 2 am and slept off.

Lil Wayne in action
New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-lil-wayne-1.jpg
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Day 4: 20th Dec.
Total Distance Covered: 345 miles (555 kms)

We woke up at 9 am, had breakfast and lazed around a while before starting the drive again at 12 noon towards Miami. Drove through some amazing highways and finally stopped at Lake City in Florida at 6 pm. Drove around Lake City in the night and had dinner at Little Caesars.

Driving to Lake City
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Cop vehicle to check over-speeding vehicles
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Last edited by anshumandun : 17th October 2017 at 21:49.
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Old 2nd October 2017, 13:56   #2
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Day 5: 21st Dec.
Total Distance Covered: 380 miles (612 kms)

Woke up at 6:30 am and decided to go shopping for some summer clothes for Miami. We did not want to spend much on this so went to a nearby Walmarts and picked up some stuff. By 11 am, we were on the way to Miami.

The weather was amazing and it was a good drive until we started nearing Miami. Traffic density started increasing and we encountered several jams. But we also started seeing a lot of exotic and sports cars.

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There were also a lot of toll booths which were slowing us down so we decided to stop at one of the Florida Welcome Centers and bought a Sun Pass. A Sun Pass is just a prepaid card for paying tolls and the best thing about it is that there is no need to even slow down at the tolls. There are dedicated lanes for Sun Pass and we could just drive through these lanes and the receptor would deduct the amount automatically from the small antenna device that we had stuck on our windshield.

Sunpass App
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One traffic jam proved lucky for us. While we were just sitting inside the car, waiting for the traffic to move, we noticed something moving in the sky. We took a snap, zoomed in and saw that it was the ISS (International Space Station). It was so amazing to see the ISS in reality moving across the sky.

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Zoomed in view
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And then there were some other interesting things like this ad
New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-ad.jpg

By 7 pm we reached Miami. The drive on the MacArthur Causeway, which connects Miami downtown to the South Beach, was mindblowing. Several movies and music videos have been shot on this road.
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We checked in to a cheap hotel ($80) and it actually turned out to be very cheap. We had just underestimated how costly Miami was. We actually got so pissed off with the pathetic hotel that we decided to book a good hotel for next day right then. Booked Hotel Riviera at South Beach for next day for $170.

Day 6: 22nd Dec.
Total Distance Covered: 220 miles (530 kms)


We woke up at 6 am and started discussing what we wanted to do for the day. We decided to drive to Keywest and be back by night. So we started at 7 am and reached Keywest by 12 noon. The drive was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Mustang can pull off this yellow shade better than any other car.
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We had booked hop on-hop off bus the previous night. It was Christmas weekend so the place was crowded. Finding parking was tough and we had to shell out $30 for 6 hours parking. We took a 1 hour city ride in the bus and roamed on the famous Duval Street before starting back at 6 pm.

Harley Merchandise Store in Keywest
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Hard Rock Cafe on Duval Street
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We saw some stray roosters roaming fearlessly on the streets in Keywest. Our bus driver told us a rather amusing story behind this. Rooster fights were a common game in Keywest several years ago. Then suddenly, rooster fights were made illegal so the rooster became a burden for the people instead of money earning assets so the roosters were let loose in the streets of Keywest. Since then the roosters have learned to live in the streets and they are a common sight similar to how we see stray dogs in India.
New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-rooster.jpg

We reached back Miami at 11 pm. Checked into the hotel and again had to pay $35 extra for parking (Apart from the $170 hotel bill). Miami is costly!

Day 7: 23rd Dec.
Total Distance Covered: 150 miles (241 kms)

Next day we decided to explore Miami. We had booked online a hop on-hop off bus the previous night. It costed us $80 for 2 people. There were different buses for different routes. We travelled as much as we could and saw some beautiful places.

Miami Downtown Skyline
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Free Metro Service in Miami Downtown
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Cruise ships
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View from the open top of hop on-hop off bus
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The beautiful Street Twin
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Hummer
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Spot the i3
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Spot the i8
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Beautiful evening at Miami
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At 9 pm, we started driving towards Orlando but we were really tired of roaming in the day so we stopped after 2 hours drive and stayed at a motel. We booked a Ford Mustang/Chevy Camaro car for the next day from Orlando and I could hardly sleep, excited about the fun drive for next day.

Last edited by anshumandun : 17th October 2017 at 21:59.
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Old 3rd October 2017, 22:59   #3
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Default re: New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip

Day 8 24th December:
Total Distance Covered: 320 miles (370 kms)

We started from our hotel at around 9 am and reached Orlando airport in 1 hour. A van from “Sixt” (car rental company) gave us a free ride to their rental facility. The Sixt representative asked us if we wanted to upgrade from Camaro to a BMW 220i convertible for a reasonable fee of $138. He had made an offer that I could not refuse!
So we rented a silver hot-looking Bimmer and drove straight to Daytona Beach that has a drive-in beach. The experience of driving open-top 220i in the pleasant Florida weather was AWESOME! Some photos of the beauty:

New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-welcome-daytona-beach.jpg

Drive in Daytona Beach
New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-dayonta-beach.jpg

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By 7 pm we got back to Orlando and returned the Bimmer. We had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings which serves amazing chicken wings in 10 different sauce options.

New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip-wild-wings.jpg

We then drove to Ocala and checked in to a motel for the night.

Day 9 and 10 25th and 26th December:
Total Distance covered: 363 miles (585 kms)

It was Christmas and we wanted to spend the festival with friends so we drove to Atlanta to meet some college friends and stayed with them. Next day, we set out to explore Atlanta and started with Smoky Mountains. It was holiday season and the place was jam packed. We decided to get out of there and visit the Georgia Aquarium instead.
We spent the evening to see GATECH (Georgia Institute of Technology).

Traffic Jam towards Smoky Mountains
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Some photos from the Aquarium
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GATECH
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Day 10 and 11. 27th and 28th December:
Total Distance Covered: 898 miles (1445 kms)

After having breakfast with friends at a French Bakery, we drove to Winston Salem to meet other friends. We stayed with them for the night. Next day was the last day of our road trip so we decided to make the best out of it. Instead of driving straight back to NYC, we took a detour and went to Philadelphia. We reached the famous Rocky Stairs at 2 pm and spent some time there clicking photos. Then we headed back to NYC, dropped our luggage at our friend’s place and drove to JFK airport to return the car.

On the way to Philadelphia
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Philadelphia
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Rocky
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Rocky Stairs
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View from Rocky Stairs
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Last edited by anshumandun : 17th October 2017 at 22:00.
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Old 16th October 2017, 12:17   #4
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We had 7 more days to spend in NYC. The first day was spent resting and recovering from the fatigue of driving continuously for 11 days. The second day was spent walking around the downtown and doing some shopping. There is no dearth of international cuisines in NYC and we tried out several eating places.

A pizza slice at Rocky Pizza. The cheese, the wood fired thin crust and the perfect sauce, this was one of my favourites.
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Another amazing dish was the cheesecake from Carlos Bakery near Times Square. We had to take a coupon and wait for our turn to place the order. It was mad holiday rush and it took 2 hours before we could place the order and then another 30 minutes to get the cake . But it was all worth the wait.
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Empire State Building at night
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Times Square
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The first Apple Store at 5th Avenue. If you are Steve Job's fan, you'll know about this. The store is underground. These staircases have a floating design which was patented by Apple.
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Near Radio City
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On 31st Dec., we knew that it was going to be crazy. We had heard that people line up in Times Square since morning and wear adult diapers because the area is sealed off and thousands of people just stay there for more than 12 hours to see the famous ball drop at midnight. So we went out for a walk in the morning and saw that people were really already standing in long queues to enter Times Square. There was police everywhere and the entrance to Times Square was already restricted in most places. This was just too crazy and I had no wish of wearing a diaper at this age
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In the evening, we went out again and took a walk around Times Square. It was a fun walk in the beautiful decorated streets. At midnight, Times Square was exploding with noise from the cheering crowd. We experienced everything from a distance and walked back immediately after midnight to avoid the crowd.

We spent the next 2 days with our friends in New Jersey. The last 2 days were spent exploring the other popular places in NYC. We used the NYC subway to travel to different places.

Manhattan skyline as seen from Brooklyn Bridge
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Museum of Natural History
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Intrepid Museum
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Inside the Intrepid
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Concorde displayed aboard Intrepid
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Statue of Liberty
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Site of World Trade Center
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One World Observatory that has been built at the site of WTC
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View of Hudson river from the 102nd floor of One World Observatory. You might remember the incident of a plane that was very skilfully landed into the Hudson River after it lost power due to a bird strike.
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View from 86th floor of Empire State Building
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World's largest Macys Store as seen from Empire State Building
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Finally, the day to fly back to India arrived. And it was again going to be the A380 to fly us back home. As sad as we were that the vacation was ending, there was also some sense of happiness about getting back home.

Last edited by anshumandun : 17th October 2017 at 22:03.
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Old 18th October 2017, 09:51   #5
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th October 2017, 10:49   #6
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Default Re: New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip

Awesome crisp TL there. Looks like you made the most of the weather and of course being flexible about the itinerary is the best way to enjoy a vacation

I am not sure if you just saved me some money by putting up these pictures or instead pushed me to spend some money to do that long pending trip. Thanks again for bringing back some memories of previous trips

Last edited by selfdrive : 18th October 2017 at 10:50.
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Old 18th October 2017, 13:29   #7
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So we rented a silver hot-looking Bimmer and drove straight to Daytona Beach that has a drive-in beach. The experience of driving open-top 220i in the pleasant Florida weather was AWESOME!
That was a fun read, thanks! Was curious about the drive in beach - isen't it easy for cars to get bogged down in the sand? Or is texture of the sand more like gravel?
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Old 18th October 2017, 14:10   #8
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Was curious about the drive in beach - isen't it easy for cars to get bogged down in the sand? Or is texture of the sand more like gravel?
As you see in one of the pictures, there is a specific path on the beach where you are supposed to drive. Because of the regular traffic movement, the sand has become compact and hard there. The sand on either side of this path is the regular sand where the vehicles can get stuck. When we stopped our car in the side for a photoshoot, the tyres did find it difficult to get traction. Fortunately, it wasn't very bad and we managed to get out.
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Old 18th October 2017, 14:41   #9
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Default Re: New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip

Nice travelogue @anshumandun thanks for sharing it. This thread brought back memories of road trip we did back in 2008. We did Atlanta-Miami-Key West-Atlanta and it was fun!

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That was a fun read, thanks! Was curious about the drive in beach - isen't it easy for cars to get bogged down in the sand? Or is texture of the sand more like gravel?
We have one drive-in beach here as well. Team Bhp Bangalore team did an anniversary drive to this beach few years back.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/team-b...-report-6.html
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Old 18th October 2017, 15:08   #10
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One traffic jam proved lucky for us. While we were just sitting inside the car, waiting for the traffic to move, we noticed something moving in the sky. We took a snap, zoomed in and saw that it was the ISS (International Space Station). It was so amazing to see the ISS in reality moving across the sky.
Zoomed in view
Attachment 1681476
Nice report anshumandun. Brings back my memories of the United States.

One point of clarification, that is not the ISS but a commercial aircraft.

Cheers!
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Old 18th October 2017, 15:17   #11
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Default Re: New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip

Awe-inspiring travelogue! It was as if I was experiencing it myself while reading.

I have lived in Europe for 5 years but US is something else when it comes to motoring and the awesome infrastructure it has to offer for the same.

Also thrilled to see Concorde in your travelogue. Only successful supersonic transport (Russian Tupolev Tu-144 didnít last longer) which sadly had to be grounded after Paris accident also due to rising maintenance costs and slump in air travel post 9/11. You also mentioned about Hudson river landing which is considered as a miracle in aviation history.

Thank you for sharing.
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Old 18th October 2017, 16:04   #12
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One point of clarification, that is not the ISS but a commercial aircraft.
It was definitely the ISS.

When we saw something moving in the sky, our initial thought was also that it was an aeroplane. But we had never seen an aeroplane at that altitude move so fast in the sky. That made us suspicious. So we took out our cam, put in the big lens and took a photo and zoomed in. In the camera screen, we saw that it was not an aeroplane. Then it struck to us that it might be the ISS. So we checked online if there was a possibility of ISS sighting in that location at that particular time and the NASA website said that we were in the right location at the right time to spot the ISS. That proved beyond doubt that we had actually seen the ISS.

This is what NASA says about ISS sighting from Earth. Link.
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Watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up.
Visible to the naked eye, it looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster!

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Old 18th October 2017, 17:21   #13
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It was definitely the ISS.
I have seen the ISS many times (as I follow their website too) and it just appears as a small fast moving blob, as it flies much higher than an aircraft.

I can clearly see the fuselage and the wings of the aircraft. Also, the tail seems blue with a yellow logo (possible a United Airlines aircraft).

Also remember, if you are zooming in so much, the moon wont still appear this small in your image. I can barely see the craters. I have a 600mm lens and at full zoom I can easily see craters on the moon.

But I rest my case

Again, nice thread and lovely pics.

Cheers!
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Old 19th October 2017, 01:03   #14
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Default Re: New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip

Great travelogue. Not everyone does this. In my books all the planning is done way too much in advance. I guess it is the OCD factor.

On other note:

Not trying to dampen your spirit but Stratos is right. Check out the Astronomy thread for a detailed image of ISS on a backdrop of moon.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/shifti...ml#post3360040


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Old 19th October 2017, 14:50   #15
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Default Re: New York to Key West - A 5,000 km Road Trip

Very nicely narrated. The way you have done clearly says, how much you have enjoyed the trip!

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Originally Posted by anshumandun View Post
It was definitely the ISS.

When we saw something moving in the sky, our initial thought was also that it was an aeroplane. But we had never seen an aeroplane at that altitude move so fast in the sky. That made us suspicious. So we took out our cam, put in the big lens and took a photo and zoomed in. In the camera screen, we saw that it was not an aeroplane. Then it struck to us that it might be the ISS. So we checked online if there was a possibility of ISS sighting in that location at that particular time and the NASA website said that we were in the right location at the right time to spot the ISS. That proved beyond doubt that we had actually seen the ISS.

This is what NASA says about ISS sighting from Earth. Link.
Thats a surprise gift for you in this trip. Until I read this thread, I had no clue, we could spot it with naked eyes.
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