Monday, July 29, 2013

The Avoid I-95 Road Trip Part 2


 Day One of our road trip ended and our small group still had far to go. North Carolina is distant from New Jersey, our starting point. It is also far from Florida, especially south Florida, our destination.

Day two travel meandered through North Carolina and into South Carolina. We discovered a log cabin restaurant and enjoyed lunch, our main meal that day, feasting on hush puppies and grilled local fish. The drive proceeded along scenic roads, whizzing past farm fields and small towns, encountering little traffic, well-maintained roads, and no construction.

We spent the second night at another dog-friendly motel, a Sleep Inn in Mt. Pleasant, just outside Charleston.

Another I-95 Avoidance Day on the Road!

The following morning Hailey enjoyed some outdoor pool time before we climbed back in the car – hub, Hailey, Charlie, the very well behaved golden retriever, and me.

Day three was a long day on the road. Our goal for the evening was Melbourne, Florida, where we were meeting friends for dinner. We started across an impressive new eight-lane bridge spanning the Cooper River, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, opened in 2005. The previous two-lane structure, completed in 1929, became too narrow for modern cars and proved daunting for drivers (like me, experienced decades ago but not forgotten).
 
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge across the Cooper River, Charleston, SC.
The first part of the morning we continued along Route 17, but our pleasurable road trip was nearing an end as we approached the I-95 on ramp south of Charleston. The remainder of day three’s trip – a bit of South Carolina, all of Georgia and a large chunk of Florida, was on that dreaded road.

There was a nice surprise, however. The Georgia section of I-95 is a new six-lane parkway, except around the Brunswick metropolis, where four lanes in each direction reduces traffic congestion. And no construction! The new highway was completed in 2010.

We encountered no bumper-to-bumper traffic, but viewed a lot of cars and trucks. Big trucks. Too many trucks. I realize, economically for the country, that is a good thing – commerce reigns! – but loads of trucks make the trip more stressful and definitely les fun for car drivers and passengers.

About an hour outside Melbourne hub got tired – he did most of the driving by choice. We entered a rest stop, switched drivers, and as we exited saw our first construction mess of the entire trip, lasting almost to Melbourne.

We checked into our third dog-friendly motel, leaving Charlie behind as we headed out to meet our friends. We dined at a restaurant in Cocoa Beach, an informal open-air place serving good food, a family-friendly atmosphere, and a band singing Jimmy Buffett and other sing-along summer tunes.
 
Hailey took this picture of the Atlantic Ocean from our restaurant table in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Following another morning of a motel breakfast (not highly recommended, but how can you pass them up when breakfast is part of the deal?) and pool time, we journeyed a short distance on I-95 before leaving the thoroughfare for another, more expensive one – the Florida Turnpike. It was a couple of hours drive to our journey’s end, Hailey and Charlie’s new home.

One game played to pass the time was Travel Bingo. An item to find along our route was a cow. We looked carefully, but did not see one cow the entire trip – except for a bogus bovine on a Chick-fil-A billboard.

We drove 1,250 miles in 3 1/2 days, stayed in three dog-friendly, none-budget-busting hotels, enjoyed some delicious meals and some not so much (think unmemorable breakfasts), braved an unending narrative from our granddaughter, and arrived at our endpoint in time for Hailey’s dentist appointment.

The Spirit plane ride home the following day was tight with every seat occupied, but it was wonderful to arrive home to peace and quiet – at least temporarily.

Until the next incursion. It is summertime at the shore… 
It is good to be home.

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like it was a pretty good trip, considering. That's a lot of distance to cover with the whole crew. And now you're back to normal, right? :-)

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  2. As a former Florida turnpike employee, I can understand avoiding I-95. The turnpike is expensive but it is a ton safer and quicker. The saying was that there was an accident every 45 minutes on 95. Enjoy Florida.

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  3. That was quite a trip in 3 1/2 days! I love that you took your well behaved golden with you. They do travel nicely, don't they? They also limit some of your activities while traveling. I prefer not to take ours with us when we travel, but there are times when it is necessary.

    Those trucks on the road can be such a challenge. I agree with you. I always start my complaining about the trucks by saying, "Why aren't we shipping by rail?" I'm an old railroader's daughter, so I am saddened by the loss of this method of shipping. I also think it sure would save our highways a lot of wear and tear, but then, no one listens to me. ;)

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