From Mom’s journal:
July 3, 1970
Old pickup slowed traffic to 30 MPH on open highway. We were behind a Continental Trailways bus so we could see anything until we were able to pass it. We were traveling about 65 MPH when a VW bus full of hippies flashed past us. Their curtains were caught in the door. Texas license plate. Surprising not to see a surfboard on top. But then I realize we haven’t seen any surfboards since leaving Houston.
A car loaded to the max with colored people pulled onto the highway going about 35 and slowed us all down until we could get around them. The road is winding so this was not easy. Thick trees crowd along the roadside. The road is rough. We must slow to 30 in the small towns, which are few.
Not quite to Birmingham and it seems we are traveling through miles of nothing. Not even any rest stops for trucks. The big rigs cram beneath underpasses to sleep in the middle of the day. In Birmingham we stopped at a McDonald’s for hamburgers. (1.81) Took us a good hour to get through the city. They really need a highway around it for through travelers.
Mileage 52,414 Easily 100 degrees at 1:30 bought 13.4 gallons for $5.20. Took US 59 past Gadsden to Springville and stopped for groceries in Bay Springs, Alabama $2.00 included a chicken, potatoes, corn, bananas. There are pretty hills and we found a private camper park where I could cook the chicken for lunch. Jon and Jeff fished in the pretty lake. Becky swam. We are officially 1,019 miles from home. The park is lovely but there were no doors or curtains on the toilet/showers house. The tremendous heat is intolerable.
9:50 AM on July 4. Entering Georgia and it smells bad. Had to stop and get a new radiator cap for $2.33 in the first little town. Cave Springs.
Driving in valleys and then along ridges, all the landscape is bright green and lush. When we passed two silos and a dairy barn with black and white Holstein remind me of Iowa. How I miss Iowa. Rome, Georgia the temperature is 106. We stopped at a new Gulf station. 16.5 gallons for $6.60. We tried to stop at a restaurant but it was closed for July 4th. Found a little place not far down the road. We got barbecue to eat in the car. Bad. The coleslaw was warmer than the beef. Rotten cabbage. But it is gusty outside and the road is winding. I remind the children that I can only take so much of washing and re-washing to get the sauce out of all our clothes. I can see this isn’t going to be good. Sauce everywhere. I’m not feeling too good. I discovered I have some infected bug bites. I’m going to have to stay at a hotel overnight to recover. Robbie isn’t happy with me.
We call ahead to a Holiday Inn but they are full.
Robbie called our friend Jack Innes to see if he could reserve the night for us at a hotel in North Carolina.
We tried to make good time but every town we drove through had celebrations and roads closed so there were a lot of detours. In Commerce, Georgia we found a filling station with “free” coffee and cokes for a 25 cent donation. We entered South Carolina at 4.05 PM (time changed to 1 hour ahead). It was a short drive through the tip of the state. As we entered North Carolina up in the mountains we got stuck behind a big truck going 15 MPH because of the steep grade.
Finally made it to Hendersonville, N.C. Elevation 2,130 ft. at the Eastern Continental Divide. Ate at a Dairy Queen ($2.40) The Innes’ persuaded us to stay with them. Stayed Saturday and Sunday at their house. I’m finally able to sleep without insects.
The sun has set in mountained west
Fingers of light pierce through trees
And fading give way to rainbow hues
Bird songs mute the closing way
And night sounds bloom to end the day
Mary Louise Thompson