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Monday, February 16, 2015

Florida.....We are Here!

Left after church on 2/15/15 at 7:38.  First destination, Savannah, GA.  It is a 5 hour trip.

We went to Enterprise to rent a SUV for the trip.  They only had a Ford Expedition and a Chevy Captiva.  We took a Chevy Captiva last year on our trip to Florida.  Tim opted for the Expedition this time.  The rental was the same price.  Rental and insurance for the week was only $459 after our 15% AAA discount.  That is for 8 days.  I meant to check our records from last year because I could have sworn that we paid almost $1000 last year!  I’ll still check when I think of it.

We spent 10 minutes in the parking lot before we left trying to figure out how to set the GPS on the car.  We gave up and are using our Monica.

News on the Ben Ferguson radio show is about Kayla Mueller who was captured by ISIS and “killed during the Jordanian air strike” after ISIS burned alive a captured Jordanian air pilot.

As we travel south on 52/85, it looks like they have already treated the roads with brine in anticipation of the winter storm they warned about coming tomorrow, which is one of the reasons we wanted to go ahead and leave tonight.

We hit South Carolina at 8:52, so we are making pretty good time!  There has been a lot of traffic coming North.  Just saw 6 planes coming in to land at Charlotte International, all at different heights and angles.

We’ve had our first round of snacks.  Tim ate a bowl of chili before church tonight, but I still was not too hungry from the Chicken Parmigana I ate at lunch that I brought home as leftovers from our meal at Cagney’s Restaurant last night.  So I ate 3/4 of a turkey burger after we got home and changed our clothes and while Tim was turning off the water and setting the water heater to vacation mode.  We turn off the water now because of the water pipe that broke in my bathroom one time while I was spending time with one of the kids and he came back from somewhere to find water everywhere.

10:35 p.m. and just passed the Orangeburg, SC exit where we lost the transmission to the old van back in 1995 or 1996 on our way to Kim’s.  We had purchased that van from some ministry friends who had returned from England (or were returning to England, I forget which) where they were missionaries, Frank and Elaine Schwartz.  Kim ended up driving up from Melbourne, FL to get the kids while Tim and I stayed in a Days Inn for 4 days while the transmission was being fixed.  I remember when it was time for church on Sunday that we walked to a Baptist church not too far from the hotel.  Turned out to be a black Baptist church.  They greeted us warmly and even invited us to stay for lunch.  They were having lunch on the grounds for their youth group who was going on a mission trip or something.  I don’t remember exactly.  I know I sure enjoyed listening to their youth choir sing during the services!  They sang like they believed it!  After lunch, I believe one of the members drove us back to the hotel.  I think we finally got to Kim’s on Tuesday and then had to  head back to Addyston, OH on Friday.  That was an expensive, short vacation for us!  The kids had a blast, however!  We still had the van when we left Addyston and moved to Buffalo, WV.

Getting ready to get onto I-95 to begin the south bound leg!  We should hit Savannah around 12:30 a.m.  10:55 and 95 miles to Savannah.  Gas for $1.99.  Monica has us getting to our Treasure Island resort at 6 a.m.  So, when we stop, we will be about half way to our destination!

We entered Georgia at 12:02.  Savannah is about 15 miles away.  Just got a gas gauge warning that we can travel 50 more miles before we run out of gas!  :D

Monday, February 16, 2015
So, we stopped at our favorite hotel, Holiday Inn Express, for the night, or rest-of-the night I should say.  The exit we took must have been the exit for the airport as there were hotels all over the place and they were all pretty full!  Plus, the name of the road was Air Express or something or another, which is just about a dead giveaway.  Anyway, Tim hopped out of the car to go in and see if they had a room available.  He reached into the pocket on the driver’s side door to get his wallet…….no wallet!!!  OK, so we spend the next 5 minutes moving things around, checking under stuff, under the seat…….nothing!  Now, on short trips, like to the grocery store sometimes, I do not always take my purse.  But, this being a long trip, I have my purse with me AND my credit card!  So, it looks like I will be driving this trip, right?  No problem, man! (say that in the Jamaican lingo, which is man pronounced, m-ah-n!)

OK, so we get settled into our nice, king-sized room and Tim sends Calvin a text to ask him to please stop by the church when he is out to see if his wallet is laying in the parking lot.  And then we settle in for a SHORT, winter’s nap.  Even a nap would have been better than what I got, I’m thinking.  :D

At 6 a.m. Calvin sent Tim a text this morning and said he was going right out to check to see if the wallet was in the parking lot.  And then, a little later, maybe 6:15, sent him another text saying, “Pastor, take 5 deep breaths and relax…..I have the wallet!”  Yes, we did breathe a sigh of relief!  He is going to over-night it to the resort.  Praise the Lord AND THANK YOU, Calvin!!!

Tim hopped out of bed and got his shower, then I got mine.  I straightened my hair, we went down to the lobby to have breakfast, grabbed a coffee to go, packed up and left.  Stepped outside to load the car and I would say the temperature was around 50.  I took a picture of the palm trees across and into the other hotel’s parking lot.  We stopped at BP to fill up the car before we got back on the road.  9:30ish and $2.49.9/gal and $60 later we are ready to hit the road, Jack!

Palm trees across the way

Here's my chauffeur and our ride

First fill up at 5 hours into the trip on 3/4 tank of gas.
We did have sunshine, but it didn’t take long for it to disappear and the clouds are moving in.  Monica says we will arrive at the resort at 2:54 p.m.  Oh!  And, by the way, guess who is driving?  WRONG!  Tim is!  He better mind his P’s and Q’s and stop the weaving and drifting in this car that he is not used to driving, however!  :D  The police are alive and active on I-95 this morning!

So, back to the breakfast.  I think I figured out today why the sausage gravy at Holiday Inn does not taste the same as Hardee’s sausage gravy…..Holiday Inn uses turkey sausage.  I don’t have a problem with eating turkey stuff, but in the gravy it just isn’t the same as regular pork sausage.  Tim said the flavor of the patties was good, for turkey sausage, but it was a little tough like it had sat under the lamps too long or had cooked too long.  He liked the scrambled eggs with some cheese sprinkled over and melted.  I thought the cheese could have been left off, even though I do like an egg and cheese sandwich sometimes.  And the OJ seemed to be very watered-down, compared to the OJ we get at Walmart.  Can you tell I wasn’t impressed with the breakfast this morning?  I’m not much of a breakfast-eater, anyway, the coffee was good!  I remembered to add hot water to it to weaken it and added French vanilla flavoring.  YUM! 

Coffee for the trip
We are seeing more and more water the further south we head on I-95.  But in about 50 miles we will be taking I-295 eastward.  We are thinking that might be when we will start heading across and down the gulf side of Florida.  We shall see.  We are at the Jekyll Island exit at 10:24 a.m.  Making good time.  Crossed into Florida around 10:45.  Stopped at the Welcome center to find out if we would need the Sunshine Pass for the toll roads and to get some brochures.

Welcome Center
The Sunshine Pass is for traveling the toll roads, which are kinda crazy!  If you don’t have a pass on the toll roads, they take a picture of your license plate and then send you a bill!  Last year on our trip we ended up paying Enterprise an extra $100 for the bill they received from our travels on the toll road on the east coast.  How much of that actually was toll money, I do not know.  Anyway, we don’t need one for the east side Tampa area.

The weather reports are not sounding like Florida Sunshine for this week.  But still better than if we were up north, I guess!  Today is supposed to be the warmest day with 72 degrees.  Tomorrow is to be a high of 65 and it goes down hill from there with a projected high of 30’s on Friday!  WOW!  Tim wants to do a bi-plane ride this week.  He said, “Gonna be a cool ride on that bi-plane!”  I said, “You may be going on that bi-plane by yourself, too!”  :D  Guess we will have to get our beach strolls out of the way TODAY!  :D

Stopped for lunch at Wendy’s in Waldo around 12:30.  That pushed our arrival back to 3:43 instead of 3:00.  Where in the world is Waldo, anyway??  Has anyone ever found him?  :D  When we got out of the car it felt very warm out.  We quickly decided we would be fine with the current temperatures all week!

Lunch.  I liked the palm trees in front of the sign!  :D
1:21 p.m.  125 miles to Tampa.  We’d get there a LOT sooner if we weren’t having to slow down to 45 and all of the slow pokes would just get off of the road, LOL!  We lost 15 more minutes before we finally reached 75 South.  Now we are going 75 mph on 75!  :D  ETA is 3:56.

3:15 stop for gas before we exit into Tampa.  Marathon $2.19.9/gal and $42 later, we are back on the road for the last leg of the trip!  My lack of sleep last night is beginning to catch up with me sitting here in this warm sun!

Note to self…….DON’T come to Tampa during rush hour!  I certainly do NOT miss the rush hour traffic I used to have to travel in going and coming from downtown Cincinnati back in the late 80’s and 90’s!  It got so mundane and rote that there were times when I got passed the traffic and didn’t even remember driving through it!  That’s kinda scary to think about!  Have I mentioned I don’t miss driving in rush hour traffic?  Actually, I don’t miss anything about working, especially in the big city!  Country roads, take me home! 

Tampa rush hour traffic...ughh!
I think we are crossing Tampa Bay and water is surrounding us!  It is beautiful!  It is 4 p.m.  Monica says we have 21 minutes to go!  WOOHOO!  Let the relaxing begin!  Not that I lead a stress-filled life and need to escape to relaxing!  But the break will do Tim a world of good!

Tampa Bay
We had a choice of rooms…..4th floor for a view or 1st floor with a door opening to the beach.  We chose the first floor!  I got us unpacked, clothes put in the dresser and we changed clothes and hit the beach.

The view out our hotel door.

Checking out the beach.

These people were holding up food of some sort and the seagulls were grabbing it.

Walking very quickly away from us.
Today probably being the only day to see any sort of sunset, we hung out outside til the sun set.  Did not get it right down on the horizon of the ocean because it was covered by clouds, but I got some good pictures.

The beginning of the sunset shades of color

Tim going through our door.

This is the most colorful one

The ones after this were mostly clouds
After that we went to Foxy’s Café and ordered their specialty pizza.  It was great.  Brought some leftovers back and are chillaxin’ now.  More tomorrow!

We are in the low rise, this is the high rise of our resort.

This restaurant was very busy.  We ended up at the counter.

One half of our room

The other half of our room