November 30, 2003

I done been trippin' for four days

Well, I went out to confirm the mileage. 1651 on the trip from notCrawford, Texas to Key West, Florida, and 1615 from Key West, Florida to notCrawford, Texas. There is about 35 miles difference, which is almost amazin' since I was almost sure it was shorter to take the toll road to I-95 than to travel all the way on I-75 which was my return route so that I could taken in the expansive Everglades. I left notCrawford at approximately 9:00 am on Wednesday and returned at 10:00 pm last evenin'. Keep readin' for the entire trip story --

Sometime on November 24, I decided I to go to Key West, Florida just to see what was there and to see the sights along I-10. I had only been as far as New Orleans on this route, so anythin' beyond that point was new territory. I make provisions for someone to check on my dogs, threw 5 pairs of underwear, two changes of pants and three T-shirts into a bag and took off.

The trip from notCrawford to Beaumont is a two lane trip through a lot of little Texas towns and a lot of East Texas pine forests. It takes about 6 hours to make that drive, mostly on US 287. I just drove as fast as I could, lookin' at the scenery on both sides of the road listenin' to the radio.

At Beaumont, you connect with I-10. I made a stop in Beaumont and purchased about 18 hours worth of audiobooks. Traffic was moderate, so I just moved along with the flow. The problem with winter travel is that it grows dark so rapidly and it was dark by the time I came to I-110 which allowed me to bypass New Orleans. Of course, it was rush hour just as I arrived, so it was slow trudgin' to get through Baton Rouge. Once on the other side, the traffic flow increased and I was into Mississippi. I stopped for gas in the Biloxi, Mississippi area (not for the first time, of course) about 8:30 pm and inquired as to the location of an Internet Cafe. Someone actually told me where one was located but by the time I found it, they were just closin'. I kicked myself for havin' wasted an hour and returned to I-10 and my trek eastward. The trip through Alabama was short and quick and I crossed the Florida border as it was growin' near time for me to stop for the night. I pulled off in Pensacola, Florida and found a room. It was a moderately priced $49 room. They had internet access in the rooms, but I don't have a laptop. I asked for a wakeup call, watched a bit of HBO and finally succumbed to sleep.

I awoke fresh on T-Day, ate a toasted bagel with some butter on it and had a couple of cups of OJ, threw my bag into the car and resumed my trip. Just east of Pensacola there is a long bridge over a water expanse, and some roadside swamp, but mostly the scenery is about the same as drivin' through Alabama or Georgia on I-20. It is a long road from Pensacola to the connection with I-75. I was growin' hungry and yet found very few places open so I just drove and drove. I finally connected with I-75 and turned south. I had checked the map and it looked shorter to take the toll road to Miami and connect with I-95, so I did this. I did not see Orlando, as I took an unwise detour on Fla 27 thinkin' the traffic would be backed up in that area. I was dark by the time I got to Miami. I feared I was missin' the best scenery in Florida, so stopped for the night as soon as I got to the first of the Florida Keys, Key Largo. I pulled into the Marriott and asked it they had any rooms. They had several, but I chose the cheapest, still a hefty $149. I was able to post from a computer in their lobby. I most watched ESPN to check up on how my Cowboys did and was sorely disappointed. I wondered how ironic it was that I had been drivin' around in Dolphin territory while they were losin' to the Dolphins in Dallas. I should have listened to the game on the radio. I had thought that none of the area stations would be interested in playin' the Dallas game, but bein' the idiot that I am, did not consider that they would be pleased to play the Miami game.

Next mornin' I arose early, walked out behind the motel to the beach, looked around, checked out a dive shop next door, then climbed in my car and headed to Key West. This was the part of the trip to which I had looked most forward. I was amazed at lookin' at the map and seein' this road bridgin' all these little islands. Of course, they were not all that little, I found, as you could not even see the water along most of the trek. There were a couple of long bridges, but mostly it seemed like a long 60 mile drive through a stretched out metropolitan suburb. I was sorely disappointed. I finally did arrive in Key West and found my way to the historic business district. It was quaint, and except for the dock where a large cruise ship was berthed, could have been the river walk in San Antonio, the New Orleans French Quarter or most similarly, the Strand in Galveston, Texas. I walked around a bit. It was very very warm and I sweated profusely. I needed to find a restroom and spent a considerable time lookin' for such. Finally, havin' emptied my bladder, I did a bit of tourin' and shoppin'. I ended up buyin' a shirt to commemorate my arrival, a slice of delicious Key Lime Pie, and post card with a couple of pictures of Hemmingway and sat and drank in a bar that Hemmingway used to frequent. No one knew what Hemmingway drank when he was there, so I had a Tequilia Sunrise. I bought a couple of Coronas for a couple of German girls sittin' at the bar and we semi-conversed through my pathetic knowledge of their language and their pathetic knowledge of mine. They were on holiday and were passengers on the huge cruise ship that was currently berthed. Havin' spent a couple of hours in Key West, it was time to head back. It was early afternoon and I wanted to try to get to the Everglades and see some alligators before it got dark.

Talk about disappointed, I was even less enamored with that 60 mile key road on the way out as it seemed to take forever to reach the mainland. I barely got into the Everglades at dusk, and saw all the airboat facilities were closin' up. I kept hopin' to find somethin' still open, but never did. In fact, the road was so desolate, I began to fear I would run out of gas before findin' anywhere to stop, and did get really close to runnin' out before I finally found a station at a crossroads some 75 miles along the road. I eventually connected up with I-75 and began the long drive home. I managed to make it back to I-10 by midnight or so, and stopped at a roadside park to rest my eyes. It had gotten cold, I found. Thankfully, I had brought my full-length leather overcoat. I slept for a couple of hours, the travelled another 150 miles before my eyes started burnin' again. I pulled over and slept another 3 hours. It was daybreak so I was able to see Alabama, Mississippi and Lousiana on the way back. I was already on Hwy 287 between Beaumont and notCrawford as the sun fell last evenin'. I came rollin' in at about 10:00 pm last evenin'.

Posted by notGeorge at November 30, 2003 09:02 AM | TrackBack

I'm surprised you didn't get a Mojito :-P Hemmingway's famed drink of choice.

Glad to see you back. *smooch*

Posted by: squishybear at November 30, 2003 09:51 AM