Saturday, August 12, 2006
Quick Trip to Florida
My wife and I just completed a rather whirlwind trip to Florida and back late Thursday nite. We left Monday around 3:00PM and arrived in Atlanta around 4:00AM. It shouldn't have taken quite that long, but we got caught in the traffic back up from hell between Lexington and Knoxville on I75. A fatal accident between 2 semis (we were told) resulted in the complete closure of the southbound lanes from around noon to after 11:00PM. we were routed onto a 2 lane highway, Route 25, for about 30 miles which was bumper to bumper the entire way. We lost about 3 hours on that little excursion. My wife asked a cashier at a small gas station if there wasn't another way to go, if there weren't some "side street" as she put it. The cashier responded saying, "Honey, Route 25 is the side street." It was the pits. We had also experienced a back up in Cincy as we arrived there during rush hour, and another long wait in Knoxville due to overnight construction.
We hit the sack immediately in Atlanta, but were up around 9:00AM and on the road by 10:00 or so. The remainder of the trip was more or less uneventful except having to run the gauntlet of numerous construction zones.
We arrived at our destination at around 3:00PM. My son is starting grad school. The trip was made to facilitate his move from Chicago. The place is a university town. It has no other apparent reason for being.
A few weeks ago, my son rented an apartment, sight unseen, on-line. He proudly stated that his building is on the register of historical buildings in the area. I noted to him that just means the building is old.
We did most of the typical "parents dropping their kids off at college" things such as getting odds and ends of furniture, stocking up at the grocery, etc. Oddly, we never set foot on the campus. We drove around it, but never on it.
We made dozens of trips up and back down the one flight of rickety steps to his 3 room flat - it does have a nice, almost level, veranda across the front of the building - to deposit his worldly goods. We had dinner at a little place my son is thinking might wind up being his favorite haunt (While in Chicago he loved a little place on Clark St. called Kopi,) and after a look at some maps and a bitter sweet farewell, my wife and I hit the road in the rented Ford stretch van, now relieved of the load it carried during the trip down just after 9:00PM Wednesday evening. Again, we made for Atlanta where we arrived at precisely 3:00AM. We hit the road around 10:00AM Thursday morning. We stopped a few miles north at a Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then toodled north for about a half hour. My wife noted that she would like to stop for a restroom break, and that she would take the wheel for a while which I welcomed. We re-entered I75 and drove again for about a half hour only to discover that we were once again in Atlanta. Oops!
That and some very heavy rain around Bowling Green, KY were the only particularly notable events during the return trip. We did have the pleasure of driving around Chattanoga, TN in late-afternoon. I had been through there several years ago, but had no particular memory of it. It is truly beautiful country. The view of the low mountains surrounding the town was enhanced by recurring and huge bolts of lightning - a precurser I suppose of the storms we were to experience later. We later figured out that we managed to average around $100 per day for gasoline.
We walked in our back door at around 10:30 last nite. Needless to say, we were beat. We spent a good part of today just kind of walking around in a zombie-like haze.
Another thing about the south I had forgotten: The power of Kudzu. Kudzu may well conquer the world before and more completely than any good old christians, muslims or the Chinese. It looks a good deal like topiary, but I think acts as more of a shroud, as I presume it tends to kill its hosts over time.
Oh, yeah. The south is hot! And Florida has reptiles of all sizes.
Anyhow, we helped set our younger son off on his new, and perhaps, life defining adventure. All three of us are trepidatious about how it will go for him over the next couple of years. I think he hated to see us go, almost as much as we hated leaving him there. We had taken a small battery powered black & white TV with us, and for a while Wednesday evening, Jo and I sat on his veranda and watched a rerun of one of the ubiquitous "Law and Order" episodes. Later, on the phone Chris said that he wished we were still sitting out there watching TV while he started to put the next chapter of his life together.