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Monday 4.30-5.00pm
The BBC Radio 4 travel programme that inspires you with ideas for fulfilling holidays.
This week
Monday 20 October 2008
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Route 163
This week:
Backwater USA 
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Studio expert John Bell mentioned new and less publicised routes to the US, which include American Airlines from London Gatwick to Raleigh Durham in North Carolina, and US Airways flights to Philadelphia from London Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester.

Nowhere else but in America? John chose POPS a combined gas station and museum of soda bottles. It’s on Route 66, northeast of Oklahoma City.

Karen Krizanovich mentioned the beauty of her home town Big Rock, Illinois, and the charm of the Illinois Harvest fairs. She also mentioned one of her favourite hotels, Deetjens Big Sur Inn, on Highway 1 in Northern California.

The Roden Crater on the outskirts of Flagstaff, Arizona is being created from an extinct volcano by the artist James Turrell. It is open to visitors, and is expected to be fully open for regular overnight guests by the end of 2009. Details from Flagstaff Tourist office.

John Bell added that The View, also in Arizona, is a new hotel opening on 6 December, which will features views of four states and rooms with glass-ceilings for viewing the desert night sky.

Husband and wife travellers, Paul Wade and Kathy Arnold chose some of their favourite places in America.

Paul mentioned the town of Reading in Berks County, Pennsylvania famous for its Amish community.

For something more energetic: you can board a Windjammer off the coast of Maine to visit the islands.

Or have a go at hang-gliding on the dunes of Kitty Hawk in North Carolina. It costs $99 for three hours.

Paul talked about giant roadside attractions - from the biggest ball of string, to a giant Rhode Island Red chicken. The latest is a giant pink donut outside Springfield Vermont, premiere town of the Simpson’s movie.

Dry Tortugas, on which sits Fort Jefferson, is 70 miles off the Florida Keys and is America’s smallest National Park.

Kathy mentioned the White Mountains of New Hampshire, specifically Mount Lafayette, where you can hike up to the wonderful Greenleaf Hut.

Fly into Minneapolis/St Paul Minnesota and take The Great River Road to the source of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca, near Bemidji, where you can hop over the stepping stones for good luck - but beware of the mosquitoes, and don’t forget the birthplace of Judy Garland in Grand Rapids, Minnesota

In Florida, avoid theme parks and head to Wakulla Springs State Park for a dense everglades experience, featuring the shrieking sound of the Limpkin.

Gavin Esler chose some of his favourite spots across America for enjoying wildernesses. These have included the Sonoran Desert which stretches from Arizona into New Mexico.

Then there was Flaming Gorge in Utah where he swam with ospreys.

And camping with buffalo in Wyoming.

He also enjoyed visiting the famous Bridges of Madison County in Iowa.

For a bit of modern American context, try Gavin Esler’s book United States of Anger, (Penguin).

The travel writer, Jamie Jensen mentioned the “Church of the Golden Hand” in Port Gibson, Mississippi, and how you can stay in old colonial mansions near Natchez which are now run as B&Bs. He also talked about the town of Gibsland, Louisiana where they re-enact the demise of Bonnie and Clyde every May.

His book, Road Trip USA: Cross Country Adventures on America’s Two-lane Highways is published by Avalon Travel books.
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