Saturday, October 13, 2007

On The High Seas – Day 0 of our Cruise

Day 0 was a travel day to get to the traveling point.

We left our house about 8:30am and drove down the I-75, turning onto the Florida Turnpike near Villages, Florida.

Going down the I-75, we stopped for lunch in Valdosta, Georgia, which is the birthplace of Doc Holiday and also rock and roll singer Billy Joe Royal. It is also a place I spent two weeks in the summer of 1958 or 1959 – probably 1959 - absolutely broke – but that is in another posting on this blog, so I better not tell much about it, I might have to sue myself.

In Valdosta we stopped at a Dairy Queen. A Brazer (?) Burger would be nice we thought. Heck, we were on vacation. The Dairy Queen was also a partly, or mostly, a Stuckey’s Gift Shoppe. Stuckey Gift Shops have been around since about 35 minutes after the first intrastate highway was built. Stuckey’s was a successful company that originated by W.S. Stuckey and his wife Ethel in Eastman, Georgia. The story goes that he had a good crop of pecans one year and had more than he could sell, so he packaged them and built him a roadside stand to sell to the travelers.

This Stickey’s near Valdosta is apparently owned by Far Eastern Indians. It could almost a calling for a Far Eastern Indian to be run a Stuckey’s – the merchandizing experts meet the perfect merchandize to be merchandized: pecan candies and little wooden novelties to look like outhouses and things.

However, this Dairy Queen/Stuckey’s did not sell Brazerburgers – only hotdogs and the Dairy Queen dairy treats. We left and went next door to the Burger King – and left burping grease, which remained with us the rest of the day.

After we got into Florida, about 14 miles south of Valdosta, then eventually made our way on down the expressway we found ourselves in standstill or crawling traffic. So, we poked for a while. We finally got to see why we were barely moving – a fender bender on the northbound land. Gawkers!

About twenty miles before we came upon the Florida Turnpike a downpour came. It rained very hard, we could not have very much visibility ahead of us…. But the traffic was moving quickly. Then the rain stopped and we slowed down to a crawl again.

Soon we saw why we were crawling. There were flashing lights and cops all over the place. Over the side was five or six autos, all smashed into each other. One car in the middle, also smashed, was facing the opposite direction than it was suppose to be going. We figured some of the folks in the multi-car collision must have had their cruise control on, which can easily send people hydroplaning.

Another mile down the road and another crawl and another multi car collisions with cops and flashing lights. Surely the local authorities were about to run out of cops.

Then on down the road and the same thing again. Good lord.

We pulled off the exit to get gas and use the bathrooms. Two police cars with four cops was standing around talking about the wrecks. When I was at the counter paying the gas bill I told the cashier about the multi-car wrecks. She pointed over to a woman on a cell phone and said she was in one too. Damn. Is this area Land of the Damn Wrecks or what?

Then while walking out I recognized the lady with an orange rubber suit coming in… she was directing traffic at one of the wrecks and made a sign by dribbling an invisible basketball to slow down.

Then we got back on the expressway and damn if a woman was walking away from her car and she looked in a daze – another cop car was approaching her with his flashing lights on. I wonder what her story was?

In Orlando we hooked up the Bee Line Express, a toll road, who picked 75¢ and $1.25 off us at regular intervals. We are not used to tolls in Marietta.

We arrived at the Radisson Inn in Cape Canaveral between 5 and 6 pm, unpacked and went out to find something to eat.

The Radisson offered a pretty good deal. A fair price room and shuttles to and from the cruise ship area, and free car storage while you are on your cruise – and last but not least, a free breakfast.

On the same island, just down the road a mile or so is Cocoa Beach. There, it is a regular community with stores, shops, grocery stores, and all. The also have public parking to park and walk out on the beach, which we did and talked to some locals. They were all friendly.

We found a place to eat named “Slow and Low Barbecue”…. Somehow, I think country is in the name too, as in Low Country, but it all rhymes.. trust me.

It was a very good barbecue joint that catered the locals. At the next table was a family of two tattooed adults and five or six young sons. Most of them were eating ribs except one that looked about 8 years old was eating a bbq turkey leg. The family members were having a quiet peaceful night dining and discussing some tattoos they have seen and admire.

I have a cousin that lives in Cocoa Beach and I saw her recently at her father’s funeral in Milledgeville. I didn’t want to impose, so we didn’t call them or anything.

We drove around and walked on the beach some more then returned to the Radisson Inn. We were on a balcony, which overlooked a large pool with water falls. A wedding rehearsal reception was being held. Later, we would find out the wedding was to take place onboard the ship we were getting on.

To be continued -

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Blogger Suzanne said...

Florida has no income tax and must finance all their services through tolls. This is one of many reasons why it is a wretched state. The other reason is that there are so many horrific drivers. :)

6:43 PM  
Blogger ET said...

You are right, they are many horrific drivers. I probably was added to the pile of numbers.

1:56 AM  

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