The Road South

I made my escape last Saturday. From the Midwestern February cold. From a big approaching snowstorm. From the winter blahs. 

And I headed toward my long-anticipated annual visit with son and daughter-in-law amid warm temps and sunny days in Florida. Through southern Illinois there were still large patches of white remaining. As I drove out of snow-dotted ground, 6-8 inches of snow was bearing down on St. Louis and the Metro East. I crossed the Ohio River, the Tennessee River, and the Cumberland River, and watched as the last small snow patches disappeared.

Nashville is a good first day's drive and I had made a cabin reservation at the Nashville Music City KOA. My first time staying at this KOA, I found it was one of the nicest I've ever encountered and definitely rates first place for entrance sign. No keyboards in the cabins, however. Darn. "Bring your own linens, pillows, and sheet music." 

On Sunday, my second day on the road through Tennessee gave me the familiar sights of lovely blue mountains and mist, with fireworks signs and Confederate flags sprinkled here and there like occasional punctuation. 

The temperature remained a constant 50 degrees all day, which seemed like a real heat wave after the extreme cold of Illinois the past month. In the eastern third of Tennessee the beautiful mountains - part of the Appalachian system - always present a picturesque scene, with some of the water gushing from the rock and some still frozen.

In Chattanooga, the Hillbilly BBQ (the place with the BBQ possum sign - no worries, I always have the turkey) is closed on Sunday. A ho-hum sandwich from another place while I stretched my legs in the parking lot sufficed for lunch.

In northern Georgia, the traffic continued to be light and I went straight through Atlanta instead of taking the bypass. For Atlanta, traffic was extremely light and I was just congratulating myself on my good timing when one of the digital highway signs announced a wreck up ahead with lane closures. "Miss Manners" - that's my GPS - started beeping and confirmed the traffic jam. The wreck took quite awhile to inch past, while crumpled semis were being loaded up. Then the fog set in. I had intended to make Tifton ("think Tifton" - sort of like "Tucumcari tonight.") But I gave up as I had some work to do anyway and checked in at the Forsyth KOA. This campground is not far from Macon and nestled into hillsides surrounding a small lake. It's older and shabbier than some, but I was comfortable and the staff was accommodating.

On my third day, I tackled the rest of the long stretch through Georgia and enjoyed another change of landscape. The day was thankfully uneventful but it was another good driving day with overcast skies and mild temperatures that rose as my trusty Prius carried me south. I love the tall pines along the road and also the first sight of pine trees closer to the Florida line.

I don't know what it is with me and mailboxes, but I can drive around a city or suburb for hours and never find one. But you drive into any little bitty old-fashioned town and bingo! there's the post office. Vienna, Georgia, didn't let me down and I mailed my letters and took photos before leaving town.

At the first rest area/travel stop in Florida, my light jacket went into the back of the car with my heavy winter coat. I spotted a young couple taking a selfie standing in the sun. "Dear folks, here we are in Florida at last!" As I pulled out, I spotted the "Caution - Venomous Snakes" sign. Yikes.

On Monday night, I stayed at the Wildwood KOA. The staff was super nice, they had this really cute bench in front of the office, and I kept my cabin windows open and enjoyed the fresh air until bedtime.

On Tuesday:  Plans don't always work out. One set of my cousins is on the east coast of Florida for a month and another couple live in the Orlando area. A loose plan (due to my never knowing exactly when I'm going to show up somewhere) didn't materialize (due to car trouble on the part of the cousins on the east coast and already having house guests on the part of the Orlando ones).

And so I made tracks south for the Fort Lauderdale area. I arrived late in the afternoon, so we three people had all evening to visit and the two grand-dogs had plenty of time to go crazy and settle back down again. I'm looking forward to two weeks in this beautiful place and assistance from the pups with my projects. It's good to escape once in awhile.


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