Florida, Here We Come!

It’s Snow Bird time for the D’Elias, and Susie and I leave the cold and inhospitable beach in Ocean City, for what we hope will be a warm and inviting, Gulf of Mexico beach in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida!

We left OC yesterday morning, and our friend the Waze GPS App took us in a way that we’ve never gone before. Rather than across the 9th Street Bride to the Garden State Parkway to the Atlantic City Expressway, it had us go south to 34th Street, and across the Roosevelt Blvd bridge. Then it took us on back road, after back road, after back road (some we’d been on during one of our “Sunday Drives”, and eventually dumped up on the New Jersey Turnpike a couple of miles from the Delaware Memorial Bridge (or DELMEMBR)! Perhaps it was because we left the house at 7:45 and this was to avoid rush hour traffic heading towards Philly, but honestly, it wasn’t a bad way to go!

Traffic once on I-95 was good, and we hit Baltimore and Washington, DC at the perfect time to sneak right through, before the traffic Gods knew we were even there! As we approached Washington, Susie was driving and got this great Instant MPG reading on the Honda CRV! Not bad for driving 60-80 most of the way in a fully loaded SUV!

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Everything was going along fine, till we started seeing overhead signs talking about a “major accident” by mile marker 103 in Virginia with the right lane closed!! What a colossal waste of our time, directly related, I think to the (sorry but) CRAPPY way so many people drive today!! Speaking about that, if anything, Americans’ Driving Skills are even worse that we’ve seen on other car trips we’ve taken! Driving 20-30 miles above the speed limit, tailgating at speeds in excess of 70 MPH, cutting you off as they change lanes, weaving in and out of 2-3 lanes, just to get ahead of a car…you name it, we’ve seen it! Amazed there aren’t more accidents!! Well, the Waze took us off 95 to a ridiculous detour, that was backed-up FOREVER, because of a traffic light within the first 1/2 mile, that only let 3 people turn at each sequence! We lost 40 minutes and I was pissed, till getting back on 95, we came upon people who were right next to us when we exited 95! The age old question…get off or stay the course! Looks like it didn’t matter!

We ended up getting to Billy and Lori’s new house in Wake Forest, NC a bit after 5, but once we got hugs from the littlest D’Elias, all was right with the world! They’ve been in the house since just a bit after New Years, and have done a wonderful job getting new furniture, and making the house into a real home! So proud of the two of them and happy for their new house and their great success!!

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Susie and our 4th Grandchild, Beatrice!  A wonderful, loving soul!

We took off this morning about 9 and it was 36 degrees and overcast. No rain, but that would come before our day was half over! Of course, we had to take our obligatory, yearly South of the Border pictures, as we passed from North Carolina to South Carolina. It continues to be very sad, and we won’t be surprised to drive by and find it abandoned one day!

img_2476We enjoyed our “Traveling Guilty Pleasure” of Arby’s for lunch again today…we did it yesterday too…but since we get the roast beef sandwich without the bun, accompany it with a side salad with ranch dressing, and a diet soda, our carb intake is very low, (under 5) so do we really have anything to feel guilty about anymore?? Wonder why we never drive down to Cape May Courthouse to have it for lunch back home???

Then the rain came! Cold, yucky, light to heavy and everything in between! We usually love getting to the one rest area in southern South Carolina, where we first see palm trees! Those trees were very sad today in the cold, driving rain!! No dreams of shorts and flip flops there today!!!

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Our stop tonight is in Darien, Georgia for one of our favorite stops along the way, B&J’s Steak and Seafood for our first shrimp meal of the trip, the 1/2 pound Fried Shrimp Basket! Tonight was also the Friday Night Seafood Buffet, which all looked great, but we’d only eat too much and suffer tonight!

Tomorrow we’re out of here and head to Florida. We are 49 miles from the Florida/Georgia border tonight in the Darien Hampton Inn, and just 300 miles and about 4 and a half hours away from our condo in Indian Rocks Beach, and what we hope will be our preview of the Summer of 2020!

Stay tuned!!

Guilty Pleasures

We got up and left the hotel in Darien, Georgia at 9:05 this morning, without partaking in the free breakfast. We did that because this is a scheduled day of “Guilty Pleasures”…food wise that is!

Our plan was to drive for about 3 hours, and get to Florence, South Carolina a little after 12 noon. A perfect time to partake in Guilty Pleasure #1…lunch at Arbys!

Unfortunately, the nearest Arby’s to us in Ocean City, is down in Cape May Courthouse on Route 9, and it’s someplace we’ve never eaten. Easier to partake when we are on the road, and find one right off an exit of I-95. We’ve decided that if we leave the cheese off the roast beef sandwich, it’s a lot easier to eat! Lets just say, we enjoyed it!

A lot of I-95 was two lanes today, which although more scenic, is kind of a pain if you run into slow drivers who roadblock the left lane, or trucks passing slower trucks.

We did a total of 426 miles today, one of our two long days of driving till we are home in Ocean City. Since I slept 8 1/2 hours last night (according to my FitBit), I had no problem driving a good hour and a half out of the hotel this morning. Susie and I have always shared driving, switching pretty much every hour to hour and a half, and it works great for us. We think that, combined with all the weekends we did the Mineola to Ocean City and back trip, make driving in the car relatively easy for us. We did however lose at least a half hour because of horrible traffic. We stopped and then crawled for miles because they are re-building the bridge over the Great Pee Dee River. It seems to me, that when we went to Florida last year, the same thing happened on the southbound side. Oh well, the Great Pee Dee River didn’t look like some place you’d like to walk across!

825C067C-31B5-4A3B-B13D-A58187C4D138We’ve seen in the news, and via friends on Facebook, that the recent Nor’easter (and no…it doesn’t have a name! The Weather Channel is not who names storms! Stupid hype!) did some major damage in many areas, and that many are still without power, and will be for days. We were, therefore not surprised when we passed close to 3 dozen utility trucks heading north. We saw trucks from 3 or 4 companies, some in caravans, some all alone, but all heading north on I-95.

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We saw something else today, we haven’t seen in about 3 weeks….the Sonata’s temperature display reading in the 50s! Yikes!! Goodbye 70s and 80s, and good-bye to our shorts and capris! We did however compromise…Winter Pants with Summer Shoes!

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So, now that we are safely in the Hampton Inn in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, it’s time for guilty pleasure #2 of the day, and it’s right across the parking lot!

Sorry, we don’t eat here often, in fact, the last time was 3+ weeks ago, when we were in Roanoke Rapids, and had our first dinner of our trip, in this exact Cracker Barrel. Call it book ends, if you will, but it’s one of our Guilty Pleasures, that we try to do a couple of times, when we are on the road. Tonight’s special was Chicken and Rice, which we had. Add a couple of iced teas, some vegetables (Susie had corn and fried okra and I had their delicious green beans and fried okra) and their biscuits, and it’s dinner for under $30! Who knows when we will be dining with them again????

While we were eating, Susie saw a number of utility trucks go by the restaurant. Here are just a few that are our neighbors tonight!

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This is the last night of our trip, and therefore our last night in a hotel, as tomorrow night we will be sleeping in our own bed at 854 Pennlyn Place. No Innkeepers Club (I believe that’s Susie), no bartenders (that would be me), and no fancy meal (Chinese Take Out??). Google maps says we’ve got about 380 miles to home tomorrow, but we have a detour to make. We will be stopping in Columbia, Maryland, and have lunch with Krissi’s boyfriend Mike’s parents, Paula and Jerry. We haven’t seen them since we were guests at their house for Hanukkah, and we’re looking forward to seeing them, but looking forward to getting home too! It’s been a great trip, but hell, now that it’s cold, we’d rather be in Ocean City… sitting by the fireplace, catching up on some TV shows. (We rarely turn on TV while on vacation!) Of course, we will have to unpack, do laundry, and go food shopping, but no rush…hell, we are retired!

You may not hear from us tomorrow, but rest assured, we will get back to you and wrap up what has been for us, a wonderful trip to Summer!

Have a good night!

 

Welcome to the Sunshine State!

We had a lazy morning in Darien, sleeping in a little, and not even bothering to go down for breakfast, and left the hotel about 10:30. 205 miles later, we are in the Crystal River, Florida Hampton Inn, enjoying our first Rum and Coke (or Cuba Libre) of the trip!

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The weather was party cloudy and warm when we left Darien. After filling up with gas, Southbound I-95 was again our route. A little over 70 miles later, we’d crossed into Florida, approached Jacksonville, and said good bye to I-95, as we headed towards the western part of the sate.

We were on a couple of Interstates, as we passed around Jacksonville, but spent the rest of the day on Florida State roads. We drove through some gorgeous country, that looked to be mostly ranches. We saw lots of cattle and horses, and had another cheap thrill…since we had no breakfast, we lunched at another Arby’s!

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The weather is sunny and warm, and we love being on the west coast of Florida. Our days of long drives are over, and for the next week or so, we have a couple of two night stops planned. There will be lots of sightseeing, with short drives between stops, and as always, wonderful things to do along the water (perhaps even a drink at a beach bar or two). Right now, we hear that back in the Northeast it’s a cold rainy day. Not to rub it in, but wanted to share with you this picture of the Sonata’s temperature display as we approached the hotel!

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We’re looking at a Mexican Restaurant for tonight, but wherever we go, we’re loving it, because it’s summer for us!

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See you tomorrow!