That’s my son at Hudson Park. It was windy and rather chilly!
I’m just checking in to let everyone know I arrived in Florida safely.
The 12 hour long car trip was, well, a trip. When I left my house at 4:30 AM the weather was horrible. It was very cold and extremely windy, with a heavy, slushy rain that fortunately wasn’t icy enough to accumulate on the roads but left slushy patches on my windshield that the wipers could barely keep up with.
Driving down out of the mountains was kind of hellish, because I don’t see well driving in the dark to begin with , and it was made worse by the glare of the rain on the roads. The roads weren’t icy, but were slick so I had to drive slowly. The good thing about that was there was no one on the road at that hour.
When I entered South Carolina, the rain stopped, but it was still dark. Early morning traffic was beginning to pick up, and I stopped at a gas station in a tiny village called Joanna. The sky was just beginning to lighten, which is pictured below, taken from the station’s parking lot.
Bizarrely, the gas station specialized in selling New York City souvenirs — coffee mugs, T-shirts, plates, collectibles. I asked the Indian owner (who was running the register) about that and he said it was because he was from New York City. We wound up having a conversation about New York because I grew up and around that area too. Silently I wondered why the heck he had moved to this unknown village in South Carolina that had nothing much going for it.
The sun rose just as I entered Columbia, just in time for early morning rush hour. I stopped a few more times to stretch or use the restroom, but I didn’t have to stop long anywhere because I had brought snacks with me in the car to avoid time wasted eating or purchasing food. Besides, eating too much on a long drive makes me sleepy. High energy snacks like granola bars, pre-wrapped slices of cheese, or cookies work best for me on a long drive. They keep my energy up without making me groggy.
Still, the drive was exhausting. By now the sky was bright blue and clear as a bell. Despite the wind, it was hard to believe I’d left that morning in a slush storm.
By now, it had heated up, although it was still windy (and would remain so all the way down to where I was going). At the Georgia welcome center I stripped off my coat and hoodie, which I hadn’t been able to remove in the car, and changed from boots and socks into sandals. Ah, much better.
By the time I arrived at the Florida welcome center (where they give you a free cup of orange or grapefruit juice), I felt like I’d run a marathon. Why is it that sitting in a car all day is more exhausting than working out for hours?
As I entered Florida, my daughter texted me telling me they were leaving the house. She and her friend planned to drive separately, although we were to all meet at the hotel. Well, they didn’t leave my house until 12:30 — 8 hours after I did! I continued on. The drive into Florida is pretty much a straight shot — I-26, and then I-95. But after Jacksonville it gets hairy, because there are so many road changes and they are easy to miss. Thank goodness I had my GPS! Even so, I missed one turn as I entered the county my son lives in and had to backtrack — in heavy rush hour traffic, which was more than a little scary. I thought of my daughter and her friend and hoped they were safe. I’d asked them to text me every so often to let me know where they were, and for the most part, they did.
I arrived at the hotel and my son was already there waiting — in his new Chevy pickup! Well, it’s not exactly new (it’s a 2006 model) but it looks and runs like new. We went to Wawa (a convenience store chain) and ordered sandwiches. Wawa sandwiches are awesome because you can special order ANYTHING on them via computer. I had my tuna salad done like a Jersey Mike’s sandwich — with spinach, lettuce, oil and vinegar. We got some donuts to take back with us.
He wanted to show me around so we drove a little bit. We went to a park where he plays Pokemon Go! (a game where you actually go outside to capture creatures on your phone) and walked around a bit. A strong wind was blowing off the gulf, and it was COLD! I could hardly believe this was Florida. I was glad I’d decided to bring my hoodie.
Look how strong the wind was blowing. The buildings in the background, including the one with the thatched roof, is a bar/restaurant that plays its music LOUD! I was jamming to it to stay warm.
It was too cold to swim, but when we got back to his apartment, we went in the hot tub and just relaxed and caught up on everything. The hot tub worked wonders on my sore muscles from the long drive. After I dried off, he drove me back to the hotel room where I unpacked and watched TV (not the news, for a change!)
I started to worry about the kids, because it was dark now and I hadn’t heard from them in awhile. Being me, I had visions of them being in a terrible accident.
I called and talked to my daughter’s friend. He said she’d fallen asleep and since he was driving he hadn’t been able to call for awhile. They finally arrived right at midnight. We ate the donuts I’d brought back and went to bed. They were as exhausted as I was!
The weather is supposed to warm up and today as I’m writing this I can already feel the change. I’m not sure yet what we’ll be doing today, but whatever it is should be fun. I’m still a bit sore from the long drive, though!