For a variety of reasons, we decided to drive down to Florida this year, instead of flying as we usually do. Early in the summer, we took the kids up to Maine, and we drove, and the kids did remarkably well. So we thought, why not give it a try when we drive down to Florida. When we drove to Maine, we drove 5 hours the first day, and 10 hours the second. Driving down to Florida, we drove 6 hours the first day, 4 the second, and 2-1/2 today. We thought that would make it easier on everyone.
It seems to have worked! I write this at a small hotel in Kingsland, Georgia, about 2-1/2 hours from Orlando. We will be making the remainder of our drive in less than an hour. At this point, I think everyone is excited to arrive at the first leg of our vacation–Disney World!
That said, it has been fun to drive down. We've passed through two state that I'd never been to before: South Carolina and Georgia. The drive has been easy: I-95 all the way down. And there have been a few interesting things along the way.
On our first day, we drove from the metro-DC area down to Florence, South Carolina. It was about six hours of driving time. We stopped for lunch somewhere in southern Virginia. I had always wanted to try Hardee's since it's owned by the same company as Carl's, Jr. in L.A. So we stopped at a Hardee's. And I'm sorry to say it was a bitter disappointment. It was nothing like Carl's Jr. It didn't even come close! But we tried it and learned something new: avoid it in the future.
Driving through North Carolina was interesting mostly because there were just tons of freeway signs advertising various forms of adult entertainment: gentleman's clubs, adult video stores, adult toy stores. It was not what I imagined North Carolina to be–and I wonder why these signs accumulate along the highway as they do. Mostly I found it amusing.
We stayed overnight in Florence, South Carolina and had dinner at an Olive Garden near the hotel. Yesterday we made the four-hour drive down to Kingsland, Georgia. This is a pretty small town in Georgia and after we checked into our hotel (the roof of which was being power-washed), we headed over to a neighboring down, which was even smaller town. It was also right on the water. The kids burned off some energy in the school playground. Afterward, we had dinner sitting out on the porch of the Riverside Cafe and Restaurant. The town seemed empty, save for the Catholic Church, at which mass was taking place; and the bar next to the restaurant, at which a wedding reception was underway. I imagine that half the town was at one and the other half at the other.
The food was very good. I had a cajun shrimp and grits dish that was quite filling. The beers left something to be desired, the best of the batch being bottled Budweiser. Beer snob that I am, this was a tad better than pond water, but I made do. The desserts were excellent, though. We found another park by the water to let the kids run around some more after dinner and then headed back to the hotel.
The driving has been very pleasant. I-95 is pretty desolate south of Richmond. The speed limit is generally 70 MPH. I set the cruise control for 72 MPH and can go for hours without making an adjustment. There are tons of state troopers, and it was amusing to watch cars slam on the brakes upon recognizing the squad cars. At 2 MPH over the speed limit, I never had to worry about it.
The kids have been remarkably well-behaved. They sleep in the car, or watch movies, or listen to music. We stop frequently enough so that there are no urgent bathroom emergencies.
At this point, we are all excited for reaching our first major destination–Disney World. We'll be there through Wednesday and I think the kids–and their parents–are going to have a blast!
Anyway, that's an early vacation update. I imagine you can expect to learn how Disney World went in just a few days.