Clicking a picture will bring up all the posts pictures in a slideshow. To view an individual picture in full screen, right click and select 'Open link in new tab'

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Glebe in the USA 2013 - Florida

It's the last day of November and I'm leaving Nashville. My hire car's been going well round the city, today I should get to use the cruise control. I checked out the route and distance before I left home, and already decided I didn't fancy 700 miles and a twelve hour drive all in one go.(The route finder website says 10 hours, but it doesn't take delays and fuel and food stops into account).
 I picked a small town in Georgia I'd maybe stop overnight at. It's called Vienna and it looks quite a small town on street view. 

I take this picture as I leave my basement for the last time. I've had a nice bowl of Fruit and Maple oats with a couple of packets of Sun Pat raisins to get me going. There's a frost on the ground, but I'm heading for warmer climes. I need to head out towards the city to pick up Interstate 24. I should have no problem finding it this time since I used it to get to Woodlawns. It's not long before I'm on I-24, and I'm turning on the cruise control. Tennessee's speed limit is 70 mph, so I'll set it at 76. Driving long distances in America is so much more pleasurable than on Britain's motorway network. Often four lanes, quite wide, undertake or overtake (though some states are trying to get slower traffic to keep to the right lane) and very rarely does anyone speed. (Most states allow 10% over the limit).
I need to stay on the I-24 till I reach Chattanooga. Remember Glen Miller's Chattanooga Choo Choo
I've travelled around seventy five miles when I need to pull of for moment. I'll get petrol (gas) when I'm stopped. It's junction 127 on the interstate junction with highway 50. After fuelling up and using the loo, I see sizzling bacon, eggs, hash browns and other tempting food near the cashier. This is a Stuckeys, famous for Pecan Log Rolls, but now well into fast food at garages. I indulged in a nice big bacon sandwich.

(You know when an interstate is getting close to a big city or town about thirty miles from it, because the roadside ads and hoardings get bigger and more frequent)
Back on the road nicely fed, I carry on to Chattanooga where I merge onto the I-75. 
this will take me most of the way now. Just south of Chattanooga I see the State Line sign that I'm entering Georgia. There's a Welcome Centre and Rest Area so I pull in for a moment. I've travelled about 150 miles now. The next two hours takes me another 130 miles or so down to Atlanta, Georgia.
Now for some reason that escapes me I stayed on the I-75 to pass through Atlanta when I could have taken the I-285 to bypass the city. The urban interstate speed limit in Georgia drops down to 55 mph while the I-285 would have kept me at 70 mph. I continue on the I-75 getting great views of the city skyline, and the traffic was flowing smoothly enough. 
Just south of the city where the I-285 again merges back on to the I-75, traffic was almost slowing to a halt.
Listening in to Atlanta travel news I learned that I was in a 28 mile tail back due to an accident which had now been cleared but would slow things down for the next two hours. My decision not to take the I-285 bypass had worked in my favour though since part of the tailback was on the I-285.
It still took two hours to get through though. Good job I had plenty snacks to keep me going.
I've been on the road for 6 hours now so I'm well behind. I'll still try to get to Vienna.
Now I'm getting close to Macon where I see my first cotton field. I've done around 320 miles now and I stop to fuel the car I'm told I've about another 40 or 50 miles to go. I'm intrigued by an interesting food items so I get myself a packet of Roasted Garlic Rye Chips ? They were absolutely delicious. Nice, firm, tasty and last a long time.

Image courtesy of  AARoads.Com
Finally I see the sign for Vienna. It's a very quiet road as I head towards the town. I pass more cotton fields and a tractor pulling what looks like a giant mesh basket full of cotton behind him.
I park up in the town, but it looks awfully quiet. The shops and business premises look in good enough condition but I don't see any hotels or guest houses. 
There's an outdoor type store open so I go inside to make inquiries. 
Three ladies inside are quite chatty, but tell me there are no hotels. One then says would a bed and breakfast be OK. "Yes, that'll do me fine", "Well," she says, "It's across the road, but it ain't open yet" "We kin sell you a pair of boots to take back to Scotland though"  
I thanked the ladies and headed back the couple of miles to the Interstate. The had at least told me there was a motel out that way.  I left without purchasing boots!

Kindle Pictures
I booked in at the Executive Inn, not quite as upmarket as it sounds. Nice big bed, shower, TV and microwave. I was too tired to go out looking for a restaurant so I got myself a microwaveable Compleats Beef Pot Roast with potatoes carrots and gravy, ready in 90 seconds. (Now there is a strange thing. I'd already looked around Walmart in Nashville at microwaveable meals, and was surprised to see this 90 seconds on lots of packets. How is it we can't cook a meal in 90 seconds in the U.K ?)
Fed and showered I watch a bit of TV and soon drop off to sleep.

I'm up early Sunday morning, it's the first day of December.
Fruit and maple oats again for breakfast and I'm soon on the move again, I've still 300 plus miles till I get to Spring Hill. The milage sign on the I-75 is telling me that Valdosta is 95 miles away.
If you're an Azalea fan you need to get to Valdosta, they grow profusely here and they have an annual Azalea Festival
It's around 6.30 am and the road is very quiet. I'm soon south of Valdosta and crossing the Florida State line. With only one more fuel stop I'm soon passing Lake City, Gainsville and Ocala. (I've usually topped up with fuel every time the gauge reached half way. The most I put in at any one time, the gauge was below a quarter and that was for $34. that converts to around £25. Not as cheap as it was ten years ago, but still a lot cheaper than the U.K)
Lots of signs now coming up for Florida's Turnpike and Orlando. I know after passing that I've about thirty miles till I come off. I'm soon seeing exit 301 Highway 50 (Cortez Boulevard).
It's not long before I'm in the Spring Hill area, but I'm soon lost. My map on the passenger seat shows me I've gone past where I should be. There aren't many places to pull in and ask but I eventually turn on to a quieter road and ask a cyclist for directions. He's helpful and sends me back up the road, but I still can't find Elgin Boulevard. Still on Cortez I pull into the parking lot at Nellie's Restaurant and go into an ice cream kiosk to ask. The two ladies eventually decide I'm looking for ElGin (as in the drink) Boulevard and give me directions. I put them right on the pronunciation if it's named after the town in Scotland but they don't seem convinced. I know where I'm going now. I think what's confused me down here is the scale of things. I'm looking at the street map as if it's a UK city so what I think is a few hundred yards is probably a mile. Half a mile on Deltona Boulevard brings me on to Elgin Boulevard and another four miles gets me to the Sterling Hill gated community. I have trouble with the gate opening (I forget to press the hash button before entering the code), but the man behind me gets me in.    

I've arrived at my Irish/American family's house. They've now been down here two years after moving from Bridgeport, Connecticut. I get a warm welcome from my brother-in-law's Phil's wife Anne. This is the wonderful lady who organised my 60th Birthday Party and Reunion back in 2003.
I've time to get showered and changed before dinner. 
Also arriving for dinner will be Phil's sister Ann and cousin Mary Alice. They too have retired here from New York and Connecticut. 
It was a lovely afternoon, we ate well, Anne is a brilliant cook. We caught up on news, showed photographs and Phil and I watched American Football. I slept well that night.  

I wont go into all the detail of my visit to Florida. I'll caption and explain each of the pictures (most of the pictures were on a previous rushed post anyway), and anything happening of interest.
Suffice to say Phil and Anne made me feel so at home I almost thought I was. When I got married back in 1967 I was warmly welcomed into my wonderful extended family and that remains the case.   

Phil and Anne have a colourful garden. The lawn grass is something new to me. It's called St. Augustine and is thick and strong and grows mostly in tropical climates. Needs a strong lawnmower. 

I know I'm in Florida, tomatoes grow outside. 

A neighbour over the road just recently trimmed his cactus, he wants it to grow upwards.

Monday morning and Anne's taking me to look around the town of Dunedin. The road takes us via Port Richey and New Port Richey.
We stop at the Lucky Dill on Highway 19 at Palm Harbor for a sandwich !

It's a colourful and quaint looking town just north-west of Tampa.
The name Dunedin comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh.
I notice there are other Dunedins around the world but I've now visited the two biggest.

The site of the old railway station is now a Museum. 

There's no shortage of food and drink outlets.

A short walk brings us down to the harbour and marina area

I was intrigued by this structure. A closer look showed it to be all 52 states of the union. I had to count them didn't I ! I had to count twice because I missed Louisiana first time around.(It's the middle picture above)

Now we got looking around the marina. I didn't get to see a Manatee. The man in the yacht looked like he hadn't a care in the world as he trailed a fishing line and drank from a beer bottle.
We never got to one of Dunedin's most popular destinations either, though we looked across to it.
  Today was a rare dull day in Florida, hence the lack of waterfront pictures.

Back in the town, we look around some of the specialist shop. Very popular was the Celtic Shop of Dunedin
We got talking to a lady with a Scottish accent. Amazingly keeping her accent after nearly 50 years in the states, she was originally from the Glasgow area and her name was Sheila Wilson, by coincidence her uncle used to work at the Portpatrick Radio Station and she'd often visit Portpatrick as a youngster. Her memory was amazing as she recounted visits there. I think she was reluctant to say goodbye. 

Scotland looms big around this part of Florida. There's a Scottish American Society here and they are looking forward to next years trip (above)
We made our way back to Spring Hill visiting Mary Alice and checking out Pat's (another brother in law) house. 
A nice relaxing rest of the day with a sunny forecast for tomorrow.

So, Tuesday dawns and Florida is in sunshine. Later today we'll go to the end of Cortez Blvd. It gets quieter after it crosses highway 19 which becomes the main highway south.
It's a gorgeous day when we head to the coast. It's around a fifteen to twenty minute drive.
Cortez Blvd ends at Hernando County's Bayport Park fishing pier. There's a number of cars there just enjoying looking at the birds (and feeding them) and boats and enjoying the Gulf of Mexico.

I'm not sure what species Florida's land birds are, but they're interesting. Cormorants seem to be a worldwide species.

After a relaxing half hour we head off to the beach along Pine Island (not to be confused with another Florida Pine Island)
I've a feeling that the population of this Census Designated Place of Hernando County has increased since 2000, this is beautiful.

It looks like an ornithologist's dream........... 

I can name this one as a Ruddy Turnstone.

There's quite a variety. The big beaked one is apparently a Black Skimmer 

The water is beautifully clear and we spot a Needlefish.

It's technical name is Strongylura_marina
It may be small, but it has an impressive set of choppers and feeds on smaller fish.

A few people were relaxing and sunbathing, so we followed suit. I still don't know why I didn't go for a paddle. 

After a while we left the beach.................. 
.........................and ended up in here. The Bayport Inn  has a regular free-loading customer out the back. It was either sleeping or away on holiday.............

..................because we couldn't see an alligator anywhere. Here's a link to where you can see a picture of Bayport Inn's 'Gator 

We headed home after a while, we're dining out in company tonight.
The Outback Steakhouse on Commercial Way is where we'll eat.
My company tonight were friends of Phil and Anne, and two visitors from Ireland (Katherine, Bridget's daughter is American, but now lives in Ireland)
There's a great Menu, we start by sharing a Blooming Onion 
I think we all had something different for the main course. I had the Filet with Wild
Mushroom Sauce and finally stuffed myself with the Cheesecake for afters.
I learned my company were all originally from a fairly small area of Ireland around the counties of Cavan, Roscommon and Leitrim. Both Bridget and Una were widows so there was lots of suggestive fun had while we were dining. Maybe I should emigrate !   

The dinner party from the left Matt, Mary, Bridget, Anne, Katherine, Phil, Una and yours truly.
After our meal so generously settled by Bridget, we headed over to Matt and Mary's lovely house for a few drinks. Matt had some excellent whisky and enjoyed showing me his football trophies from his younger days. All too soon the night wore on and we had to head back home to Bainbridge Way.
A really enjoyable night in great company to say farewell to Florida. Thanks guys.

After a really good night's sleep, Anne's making sure I get a good breakfast to set me off.
She's also packed me up with sandwiches. So I'm hitting the road heading for Memphis Tennessee.  
I'm hoping to get as far as Birmingham, Alabama. I'll travel up the I-75 as far as Atlanta, then on to the I-20 via the I-285 to Birmingham. The journey was quite quiet and I made good headway today. 
I found a motel just about 30 miles east of  Birmingham. After a booking in fiasco (too long a story),
I got myself an Applewood Pulled Pork sandwich and chips from a deli in the garage over the road (I tried to get over the road on foot, in the end I had to go back for the car !), then got my head down.  
I'll finish my continued journey to Memphis on the next post.
This is some adventure !


  1. What a trip. Noticed that in Australia too. The speed limit is fairly low for such a vast country(continent) yet they stick to it. In our much smaller country if you are doing 70mph every 3rd car passes you at 80 or 90mph. Getting passed at 100mph is not uncommon these days with the 'Top Gear' effect.
    I'm a big fan of microwave curries here but they take 10 minutes normally. It must be the USA food preparation process perhaps? What an adventure!

  2. Thanks Gillian, hope you had a good one.
    Aye Bob, I just drove down to Cheltenham yesterday and the usual suspects were out. The further south I got the more aggressive they seemed, ah well!
    Another thing I noticed on the interstate was all traffic giving state troopers at least two lanes clearance when they've stopped someone,I wonder if it's the law.


Thanks for all your comments. I may not get to reply to them all, but you may be sure they'll be appreciated.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

Morning deer

Morning deer
is someone watching me