Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Just a little cross country drive to Florida in June/July

What do you do  to stay alert on long distance car rides?---I like to take pictures from the car as we wisk by at highway speeds!
Knowing this was going to be a LONG ride, we got an early start---about 6:30am.  After about 20 minutes, we were heading across the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial bridge in  St. Louis, much to the dismay of non updated Garmonia (our name for our Garmin).  She kept yelling at us to "go to the highlighted route!"
 We had a nice view of the Martin Luther King Bridge with the old historic Eades Bridge behing it.
 One of my favorite thing to capture with my camera from the road are barns and farms---one of the many in Illinois.
 Even had some morning sunrise color in the sky.
 Half way through Illinois along I-57 we passed Rend Lake.   Driving past there always reminds of my childhood when the lake was built and I use to go there with friends to swim and boat.  Haven't been there in probably 40 years!

 Just past Rend Lake is West Frankfort where I lived for about a year back in 1967-68.  This is my Mom's home town and she brought us here to be by our Grandparents and Uncle when my dad was sent on an isolated tour with the Air Force to Saudi Arabia.
Wild flowers lined the highway throughout Illinois.   Took this picture just before we had to exit the highway and detour around an accident---add about 30 minutes to our already long trip!
 In the far south eastern Illinois are the Shawnee Mountains. 
And Superman's home!  We even went to see his statue a couple years ago when we were traveling this route to Atlanta.  I was surprised to find it was several miles off the highway---no time to waste doing that again!
More construction!  Seems there was construction almost the whole way ---at least our first day!  This is heading into Kentucky on I-24.
 Now we have Garmonia, but I remember as a child being excited to get AAA Trip Tix and "turning the page".  But now it's neat seeing the miles count down on Garmonia and having her yell at us every time we take a little detour.
King Kong selling fireworks in Kentucky!
Another interesting barn.

I guess Kentucky wasn't too interesting---on to Tennessee!
 Heading into Nashville.
 Of course, just as we get near the city and into a lot of traffic and construction, the skies open up on us.
After spending about an hour trying to get around Nashville in the pouring rain, we're back to the farmlands.
Finally heading into the mountains of Eastern Tennessee---one of my favorite parts of the drive.
In winter we often see frozen waterfalls along the rock walls.
Fortunately we didn't see anyone using any of the "runaway ramps".

It was a rather hazy cloudy day today.
Leaving Tennessee
Back in tennessee---stupid highway likes to tease you and make you think you're done with a state just to bring you right back into it.
Our rest stop near Chattanooga where we literally waited out some tornados a couple years ago---although the surrounding storm pounded our brand new car with hail---reshaping our new car.  Note when driving through the midwest during hail storms---there are few overpasses to stop under! 
 Out of Tennessee again!
Picturesque Georgia
Ordinarily we've driven straight to Atlanta and then on to Florida or Alpharetta (when our daughter and son-in-law lived in Alpharetta.)  This time i booked us a night at the Wyndham Fairfield Plantation Resort in Villa Rica.  It's not far from Atlanta, but the last 50 miles are on country roads --- lots of stop lights!  But it was a nice change of pace from our previous 8 hours or so of highway driving.  Even saw more barns.
Dallas!!!  This reminded me of my former home of Dallas, Oregon, in --- Oregon!  I'm easily amused and got a big kick out of driving through another countrified Dallas.
They even have happy cows there.
 Where else can you be at the corner of Punkintown and Dallas?
Love all the little details
 2nd bedroom.
 the "plus" part of the unit---the lofted twin beds
the livingroom from the loft.  Master bedroom to the far left, dining room to the far right.
 living room fireplace and spiral stairway to the loft

 the dining room---love the chandelier.
 The bedrooms even have little screened in patios attached to them.
 Another nice little detail

 After eating we chilled out around the lake for a little while.
One last picture from the marina before heading back to the villa and calling it a day---a long but enjoyable one. 

Next day we were up bright and early again and on the road by 7:30.  One last view from our resort----you can almost see the lake through all the trees.
Garmonia led us quickly through forestland to 285 on the southwest side of Atlanta.
 Once we hit 285, we also hit lots of roads and traffic.

We knew we were getting closer to our destination when we saw a surfboard on a car.  That's not something we've ever seen in St.Louis!

Why didn't we have school buses like this when I was in school?!
Finally found a place to pull off and get some fresh tree ripened Georgia peaches and pecans!  Yummmm!!!
 Even some of the trees in south Georgia had palm tree envy.
Finally we reached the border.  only about 500 more miles to go!
Finally, palm trees!!!

Even some ranch lands in northern /Florida.
and lots of bodies of water.
Even a couple barns.  I hadn't seen too many of them since we left Illinois or Kentucky.

Finally reached Orlando where we hopped onto the toll road.  First time using our mini Sunpass!  Hope it works!
Love the way they decorate the sound barriers.

By now it was about 2pm and the temps had risen.
Our trip was slowed down a bit with the passing of the Florida afternoon monsoons.

Temps went down a bit, too.
Someone needs to tell these guys there are no mountains in Florida.
Good 'ole Jupiter----land of the St. Louis Cardinals Spring training games.  I finally got to go to one of them a little over a year ago.
You know you're in Florida when fruit trucks share the road with you.
Finally reached our daughter's neighborhood in Coral Springs at about 6pm.
Great dinner followed at Miller's Ale house in Coral Springs.   Great as always.
Next day was low key with going to church with Angie and Josh, then out to brunch on the intercoastal.  This was a new restaurant to most of us--Old Key Lime House.  It did not disappoint!
 interesting decor

 even a marina for guests arriving by boat.
 my mahi mahi sandwich.
 Hubby's fried egg BLT.  And I forgot to take a picture of the key lime pie, but it was also very good.
Early to bed and early to rise the next day.  The "kids" had to be at the airport by 4:45am, which meant we were on the road by 4:15am.  Now to take over our duties as Pool sitter----uhhh, I mean dog sitter.
I even enjoyed sitting on their covered patio during the daily afternoon downpour and watching the rain.
One day Ken and I bought Subway sandwiches and went to the beach for a pic nic dinner.  

 Love Deerfield Beach!
 We rather enjoyed playing Florida homeowners for the week!  At least I did!  Although I did end up getting a doozie of an upper respiratory infection and ended up going to the local MDNow clinic.  Once the "kids" got back, we helped them work on the yard.  Ken cut down a tree in the back yard and Angie and I hauled it to the street for yard waste pick up.  Sure looked bigger in the back yard!!!
Looked like the clouds may have gotten too thick for a good sunset, but it turned out perfect!
  One night it looked like we'd have a nice sunset, so Ken and I headed to the berm by Sawgrass Mills Turnpike and Atlantic Boulevard to watch the sun set over the Everglades.  Happened to be a full moon night and later I heard it was a Super Moon night.  Looked pretty Super to me.
Even saw this guy enjoying the sunset.
Another view of the sunset looking East.
 Now West over the Everglades.
 The berm is a great place for walking and biking.  It reminds me of the Katy Trail in Missouri.
 Another sunset while driving around another evening.
 We even went to an auction with the kids one night---although I ended up coughing so badly that Ken and I ended up leaving early and heading to dinner.
 The kids are art collectors and stayed to try and win the bids of a few art works.  This is one of the ones they won and it might be a Walker painting. 
Another day we went to an estate sale with them and I wish I had my camera then!  It was through an Equestrian neighborhood and into an Aeronautical neighborhood.  The sale was held in one of the homes' private hanger!  The kids go to quite a few estate sales and know many of the people running them.  They gave us quite a deal on several items.
 Our 2 1/2 weeks there went by pretty quickly.  Soon it was time to start our long trek back.  I was able to pick up another night at the Wyndham in Villa Rica, so we used that as our heading home day.  We got another very early start (about 6:30am).  Seemed odd taking the Sawgrass Expressway to the Florida turnpike then Garmin telling us to go 550 miles to our next turn!!!

Was odd here with the Turnpike and I-95 right next to each other, too.
Ever wonder what they do with their trash in Florida?  They make mounds with it!
 A farm near Orlando
 admiring the clouds.  We ended up having great weather!
 Another old barn
 Now that's a pizza delivery!
 Look at those clouds!!!!

A farm in north Florida

 A high spot in north Florida.
 some of the burnt trees from previous lightening started fires.
 The scenery changes pretty abruptly once you reach Georgia---very few palm trees anymore and lots of pines.

 Southern pride and one of the Confederate Flags we saw.

Georgia Peanuts! 
More fascinating clouds.
I love photographing churches, too, but you don't see many of them by the highway.
 Go Airforce!!!!  And , "Hi" to an Airforce buddy of ours in Warner Robbins.
 Love their Buckle Up signs in Georgia
 Nearing Atlanta!  Time to head west and make our way to Villa Rica.
 Love all the pines in Georgia!
11 hours of traveling and we were finally at the resort.  Too bad they didn't have a reservation for us!!!  AFter much anguish and several calls --- some to Wyndham, some to different managers at the resort from the guards gate at the entrance of the community, we finally got it straightened out---sort of.  At least we got a room, although it wasn't the one Wyndham said we were suppose to have.  But after 2 hours of bantering back and forth, I was happy to have a place to stay.  We were put in a 2 bedroom unit in the Terra building.  It had a great view of the lake.
 Our 2 bedroom unit to the far left.
 The master bedroom in the lower level.

 The giant jacuzzi in the master bathroom!
 From the doorway of the split level villa.
Dining room, living room, and kitchen on the upper level.
living room with view out to the lake.
 another view of the lake.

View toward the unit we were suppose to have.
One of the 2 decks.
 Lofted roof.  The 2nd bedroom  and 2nd bath were on the entry level.  It was an interesting configured condo.
Next morning we were up and out early again.  Got to witness another beautiful sunrise.
 The sun still rising.
Throughout Georgia they have a problem with the Kudzu (sp) growing over everything.  Looks pretty, but I'm sure the trees don't like it.
 Near Chattanooga.
 Here's where we go in and out of Georgia and Tennessee a couple times each.

And the clouds rolled in.
Then the rain.  Fortunately it didn't last too long.  Seems like Chattanooga always has some kind of bad weather whenever we're near.
I kept telling Ken we needed to stop at Stuckey's so I could relive my childhood!  Being a military brat, I spent a lot of time on the road as a kid moving from one state to another.  I still have fond memories of our Stuckey's breaks.  Unfortunately, Ken didn't have the same desire, so we kept on going.
 As an adult maybe we should start a new tradition for our travel stops?!
Fortunately the weather had cleared up nicely by the time we got to Nashville.  
out of the mountains and into the rolling hills of Tennessee.
 On to Kentucky
 Really cool old barn!
And another
Finally a horse!  I expect to see lots of horses in Kentucky, but this is the only one!
Only 172 more miles! 
 the Ohio River.
 and into Illinois.
The rolling Shawnee hills.
Good 'ole I-57; you can be sure there will be plenty of construction on it!!!!
Illinois countryside
Illinois penitentiary.  I wouldn't pick up any hitch hikers around here! 
You talk'in to me???!!!!!!
More beautiful clouds.   This is about when we took a lunch/dinner break and met up with my brother and sister in law in Mt. Vernon for a nice visit. 
See quite a few of these around Illinois, too.
More Illinois scenery.
The clouds kept me entertained for hours!
 Definitely back in farmland.
 Love the shapes of barns people come up with.
Build it and they will come---unless it's the Mid America Airport!
Gotta love being so close to home and hitting more construction!
an out of car experience!---Oh wait, that's not our car, just looks like it.
Yep,we're almost home.
 And back to where we started.