Friday, March 4, 2011

Retrospect Piece #3. Drive: Vermont - Florida.

So I left Vermont on Friday the 21st.  I had a bit of a deadline to make (meet mom at the Ft Lauderdale airport at 1PM on Sunday) making me fairly motivated to make it from VT to VA in one day.  Barriers in the way of my goal:  I had to stop in the place of my birth to pick up a certified copy of my birth certificate and my car wasn't packed yet.

There's more after the jump if you want to read it...

Northern Taconic State - Photo by Daniel Case
Fortunately it wouldn't take long to pack the car, and I was on the road around 9.  It was snowing lightly when I left, and the roads were kind of slick so I took it easy until I got to New York.  My stop required I drive one of the prettiest roads in the country (at least the northern end anyway) - the Taconic State Parkway.

Unlike the photo to the left, the road was slick with snow and the trees had a beautiful coat - really quite a spectacular drive. I took a picture myself, but deleted the image from my camera.  Oh well.

I got off the highway and drove to the town hall to pick up my certificate.  A pleasant little town, for sure.  Many east coast towns still have small businesses in them.  The street was lined with shops and the town hall seemed like it was chipped out of another time.  I asked the clerk there for my certificate and she asked for my 10 dollars.  I had to go to an atm and she had to find the original in the vault.

Jackson and I took a walk down the main street while she worked and I located my cash.  Jackson was quite the hit among the locals.  He was praised for being a well behaved attractive dog on at least 3 notable occasions.  Good dog.

Once I had paper in hand I drove.
and drove
and drove until it seemed the highway hung with median strips and the dividers had become my world around

Kind of brutal.  What's weird is that while running I always find long runs on new trails seem to go by faster than the same distance run on a familiar one, but when driving the effort seems interminable.  When the hell am I going to get to VA?  The question repeated itself over and over in my head.  Friday, I never did.

Ugh.  I eventually called it quits close to Harrisburg, PA around 8 PM.  I ordered some food and attempted to figure out where I'd end up the next night.  I had to be pretty far south in GA in order to make my 1PM deadline in Ft. Lauderdale.  Depending on where I ended up, it was doable for sure.  I even toyed with the idea of hopping onto the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit, but would make that a "gametime" decision.

I was on the road much earlier on Saturday than Friday and was very quickly in Maryland (for some reason I forgot about that little town - er...).   I was also very quickly out of Maryland.  Thanks for the memories.

There were 2 really remarkable parts of the drive on Saturday.

  1. Just how many trucks were on the road - truly an experience that.
  2. The area around Roanoke Virginia is really quite pretty.
I made it to Roanoke early enough that I thought I might just try and find a way onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  A highway sign told me the exit to get off on and away I went.  That was the good news.

The bad news?  The parkway was closed heading south from the random point I chose to get onto it.

I decided that I'd continue on blindly and try to find another "on ramp".  That didn't happen.  What did result was me pulling into the parking lot of a "Bo Jangles" restaurant and using the navigation feature of my phone to get me to Savannah.  For some reason my phone seemed to know I'd had enough interstate driving and kept me on "blue highways" for the better part of the remainder of the day.

I drove through North Carolina, South Carolina and some bit of Georgia on secondary highways.  I found the places I got to see all quite nice.  It's remarkable because I've always had a very negative association with places south of the Mason Dixon line, and this help dispel that feeling.  Politics and bigotry aside the countryside is quite pleasant.  Maybe someday we'll end up in one of those places and I'll discover that the people aren't all that bad either.

By the time I stopped driving Saturday, I'd made it to some town called Brunswick Georgia, very close to the border with Florida.  I was exhausted, ate the leftovers of the night before and went to sleep quickly.  I had to get up pretty early the next day to make it to Fort Lauderdale.

The drive on Sunday was particularly excruciating.  Drivers in Florida are freaking lunatics.  They make New York drivers look sane. Top that with the fact that the McDonalds (next to the Starbucks which was closed) wouldn't fill my reusable coffee cup, prompting me to cancel my order.  I was a grumpy boy for much of the day.

I eventually found a Starbucks in downtown Jacksonville and bought 2 extra large coffees.  It was the closest one to my route.  Jacksonville seemed absolutely empty given all the crazy traffic on the highway.  Oh well.

One crazy thing of note.  I'm driving along and finally see a hill.  I'd been thinking that there was no way I'd move to Florida and continue running.  Average elevation of 3 feet or something and absolutely pan flat.  Just ridiculous - not ideal training grounds.  As I approached the hill I noted that the birds must like it because it provided them a good vantage from which to scan the countryside surrounding for meals and such.

I ended up arriving at FLL a bit late.  45 minutes or so, but as luck would have it my Mom's flight was delayed too.  We arrived at almost exactly the same time.  We had a couple of hours to kill before I had to perform the remainder of my taxi duties - Nataly and Deneb were going to be arriving around 5PM.  So, I drove Mom and Jackson to the hotel we'd be staying in, dropped them and our gear off and turned around and drove back to MIA.That's when it occurred to me that the birds were all seagulls.  The "hill" was actually a landfill.  The relief on the thing was something like 100-200 feet.  Hideous.

Here's a good place to say, that Miami may very well be the worst place on Earth.  Right now, I think I'd rather be in Tripoli.  Every road seemed to be under construction and every driver seemed to completely ignore that fact.  I was absolutely miserable there.  I expected to be run off the road at any minute and I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.

I got to MIA around when I was supposed to to pick Nataly up, but I had no idea where to go to get her.  Turns out, I got there exactly when she did, but I spent the better part of 45 minutes trying to find International Arrivals.  Not only are the Highways in Miami under construction the main airport is too.  Simply hell.

I finally got to see Nataly and Deneb and for some reason they weren't too angry.  It wasn't the ideal reunion, but we were glad to see one another again.  We all finally got back to the hotel around 7:30, Mom ordered some delivery and I killed a couple of beers.

The next retrospect piece:  Everglades.

thanks for reading


  1. Makes my Thanksgiving drive from Denver to Little Rock look like a vacation in paradise.

  2. I do kind of dig the long drive, esp when it's just me and my dog - I can set the music and just cruise. This multi part epic was a tad much.


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