The Washington Times - October 17, 2008, 09:13AM

HEADING SOUTH ON HIGHWAY 81, SOMEWHERE AROUND NEW MARKET, Va. I’ve set out on another battleground state tour with 18 days left until the nation decides who will be our next president.



The trip will start in Roanoke, where Barack Obama is holding a lunchtime rally.


Joe the Photographer (no relation to Mr. Plumber) and I are enjoying the fall views in the Shenandoah Valley.


It’s been an uneventful drive so far, though we noted with amusement that Burger King has a sign advertising “Joe Coffee.”


One observation so far — we’ve seen not a single political sign for the presidential race so far, a big difference from my drive through Missouri last week. (We saw a sign for Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s reelection, which even though it’s pronounced differently, prompted Joe to crack some nice Starbucks jokes.)


After the rally we’ll hit the road, with plans to visit North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Here’s our general outline, though I’m sure we’ll adjust it along the way.



Tips on good restaurants or must-see stops along the way? Let me know.


After the VP debate earlier this month, I clocked 1,100 miles doing the same thing in the Midwest, finding a lot of what seems to be reflected in the polls - economic hardship, general unrest about the direction of the country and more Republicans than ever leaning toward the Democratic nominee.


Here’s that story.


To see a gallery of the last trip by photo diva Mary Calvert (married to Joe the Photographer), go here and click on “Obama gaining in Midwest.”


Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times


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