FLORIDA!

by grace on January 26, 2015

i realize as i type that many of my posts now have a !!! at the end.  it’s funny, because when amy and i text each other, we almost always end our sentences with !!!, but have talked about how we do this with many or most texts, but don’t usually feel the !!! that should accompany it.

anyway…FLORIDA!!!  despite the lingering feelings of dislike for that very very long drive to florida, i’d jump in the car right now and head back, if kevin said “grace, let’s go!”

but i’d change out of my jammies first.

we left at 7:13 in the morning on december 29th, soooo early for me.  i bought my camcorder with me, but the only thing i ended up actually filming was our departure.  so at least i don’t have to worry about editing any videos.

it appeared to be a 17 1/2 hour drive to our destination in fort myers, so we figured it might take 20 hours.  i decided to book a hotel for the night on the road, in macon, GA.  on google maps it said it’d take 10 1/2 hours to get there, so we figured, eleven and a half hours, that wouldn’t be so bad.

it was great, driving into warmer and warmer weather….until we hit chattanooga.

i’ve never had a bucket list, although one of my goals for the year is to get one, but now i do have one thing on the list.  NEVER DRIVE THROUGH CHATTANOOGA AGAIN.

i was at the wheel as we drove down down down the mountains to get into chattanooga.  kevin had me shift down to a lower gear so as to not have to ride the brakes the entire way.  it was also kind of raining.  plus lots of trucks.  most of my worst driving on highways conditions.  at least it wasn’t dark – that would have sent me over the edge.  hopefully not literally.

we finally got into chattanooga and TOTAL GRIDLOCK.  ugh.  we stopped, we crept along, and it was taking forever, so we got off the highway and drove through town as it got darker.  it was nice to be off the highway for a while, anyway.

we got back on, and it was a couple more hours to atlanta, and by that time it was completely dark and thank god kevin was driving because the traffic became so, so horrible, with so many semis zinging all around us.  i was pretty sure that the end of our lives was imminent, as a double-long semi swayed and swerved into our lane and i said MAYBEWE SHOULD GET OUTTA THIS LANE and kevin whipped out of the lane and it was a tense situation and not pretty.

but somehow we made it through,  and after 13 hours in the car we finally got to our hotel.

we were very, very happy to be there.

here’s kevin, enjoying an icy cold near beer after dragging many heavy things including our camping fridge up to our room on the 2nd floor of the hotel.

in the morning i had to take a picture of this waterfall thing in the lobby because it was so cool.  i want one.

meanwhile…we were already missing our darling kitties, and amy sent me this funny photo of les paul.  yawning, he looked like he was ready to bite somebody.

this day of driving was supposed to be seven hours, so we figured that we’d certainly get to our campsite before dark.  we were staying at the Koreshan State Historic Site in Estero, FL, right next to ft. myers, and more about that place later.

traffic wasn’t so bad, but it seemed that once we hit florida, it was nothing but huge campers all driving down to the promised land.

and then…traffic started to crawl.

and then…stopped.  again.  at least now the grass was green and it was in the 70s, but still…stopped on the highway.  we saw a sign that said we could call 511 for a traffic report, which i obsessively started doing every 20 minutes or so.  as we drove, the number of incidents on our highway increased.  i think there had been an accident an hour or so previously, which caused the massive amounts of cars to stop, which caused the ripple effect.

as we inched along we despaired at getting to our camp before dark.  i called the forest ranger there,  who said “don’t rush,” like that was an option, and that we’d be fine if we got there by 6:00; even though the official sunset was 5:45, we’d have plenty of light for setting up if we got there by six.

we finally pulled in at 6:15.  pitch dark.  at least we didn’t have to maneuver one of those huge RVs into our spot, and we did an OK job of setting everything up, and luckily also the popup camper doesn’t have that many steps for the setup.  but the minute we got out of the van, many bugs started attacking my arms.  hmm, when mom and i went to ft. myers last years, we didn’t encounter any flying bugs…but we weren’t deep in the vegetation like we were now.

here’s kevin, happy to be in our camper which continued to be fairly cluttered the whole time we were there.  we had too much stuff for the space, as usual.  but it was fine, we made it alive, and it was warm and fabulous.

yes, i was feeling about like that, completely crazy after all the driving.

before we’d gone on our trip, i’d gone to the doctor and had a checkup with blood work.  as we drove down to florida, the doctor’s office called to say that my LDL cholesterol – the bad one – was pretty high.  so i texted this photo to amy, showing her all the very healthy foods i’d brought with me to help lower that cholesterol!

i took this from bed on wednesday morning.  just a little bit messy.

the view out the back window – can you spot the grapefruit all over the trees?  nice.

there was some vegetation separating us from the camper next door, including palm trees and scrub pine bushes.  we didn’t see much of these neighbors – people in the park seemed to be either inside their air-conditioned motor homes, or gone.

and the view of the other side.  a woman and her dog were in this camper; she did sit outside quite a bit, and we saw her walking on the trail.  she wasn’t that old, and all by herself – i wonder what her story was?

our little home for seven of the nine nights in florida.  we only saw one other popup on all the highways driving to florida, and the park was filled with RVs plus a small number of tents.  nobody else opted for the in-between choice.  one popup did pull in later in the week, but that’s all.

even though i’d brought many summer clothes and all kinds of toiletries and stuff, i didn’t have a hand mirror.  i thought i was very clever, creating this little makeup stand.

we didn’t do a whole lot that day; we took a hike along the trail and quickly realized that there wasn’t much hiking there in the park.  but this was a very pretty path, with lots of huge bamboo trees.

jim sent us a picture of sunset on the lake.  yes it was pretty here in spfld, but OH SO COLD.

that is all for now.  it’s starting to snow.

LET’S GO BACK!!!

ok then,

gh

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bev R. January 26, 2015 at 7:13 pm

The first time I did the Chattanooga drive it was raining, dark, surrounded by semis and in a Ford Escort wagon with 2 kids – so I feel your pain. Did you see the signs for “Runaway Truck Ramps”?

But don’t swear off that area. Take a nice daylight trip up Lookout Mountain. Kevin should really enjoy it as a Civil War Battle Site. Cannons still sit on top of the mountain. The winding road goes in and out of the states of Georgia and Tennessee several times. Very cool.

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grace January 26, 2015 at 11:17 pm

yes, signs for runaway truck ramps!!!

i can’ imagine doing the drive with children in the car!!!

i guess it might be nice, if we were specifically going to chattanooga…but i just don’t see that happening. but you never know!

but never again late in the day…

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Jean Reinhardt February 16, 2017 at 7:11 am

I’m jealous! You camped in December. We live the furthest south you can go in Ireland so driving to a warmer climate is out of the question……….. unless we take a ferry and drive through France to Spain. Did that once – great trip but I think I’ll stay put and wait for warmer weather here. Enjoyed your post, Grace, even though your cat looks scary. 🙂

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grace February 16, 2017 at 7:44 am

but jean, you have the option of taking a ferry and driving in europe!!! plus there’s so much beauty all over ireland (well, so far i’ve only seen a bit of it), plus the uk is a short ferry ride away! i try not to dwell on the fact that in order to go to beautiful spots we have to travel very long distances! and lester does look scary in this post, but only because i caught him yawning…he’s actually the most sweet and loving cat ever, except when he’s killing small animals and birds. thanks for the comment!

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grace February 16, 2017 at 7:44 am

p.s. florida – it was about an 18 hour trip to drive down there! very, very far.

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