October 30 - November 4, 1999: Orlando, Florida

Day 1: The Drive Down


1:45 pm: Departure!

I set out from my house towards Orlando, FL and the TechLearn Conference promptly at 1:45 on Saturday afternoon. The weather was beautiful and promised to remain so; I was feeling good and looking forward to an exciting Sunday at Epcot, an interesting and informative conference on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a triumphant return to the office at the end of the week. I made good time before I realized I'd forgotten something really important: my car! A little embarrassed, I turned around, returned home, and climbed into my trusty Nissan Sentra. I don't know what I was thinking. It is, after all, nearly 500 miles from my house to Orlando; how long would that take on foot?

Before heading out for real, I stopped at the Eckerds up the road from my house to get one of those really cute tubes of travel toothpaste; you know, the kind that, if you're at all concerned with dental hygiene, is enough to brush your teeth about two times. It's more efficient to take a real tube, I know, but those little travel items are just so cute I can't resist them!


4:10 pm: Rest Area outside of Macon, GA

Anna Ruby Falls When I travel any considerable distance--say, over one hundred miles--I like to drive as though I'll be doing so forever and have no destination and therefore progress, both in time and distance, is irrelevant. I put a QuikTrip napkin over my odometer so I can't tell how far I've been, I turn my car's clock off so that the LCD display indicates either the radio station I'm listening to or the current operation of the tape I'm playing, I take my watch off and put it in my pocket, and I do my best not to look at the roadside signs that tell me "Macon 43 mi" or "Valdosta 72 mi" or "Gainesville 110 mi." I drive as though it's all I'm doing for the rest of my life. And, if I have a good audio book with me and a pleasant stretch of road ahead, it is a good life.

But, as anyone who's followed my travels in the past knows, I suspend this notion when I approach a rest area. My first stop today was at the rest area just outside of Macon, where I availed myself of the sanitary facilities, walked around for a few minutes, searched the vending machines for some of those little chocolate donuts (life can be so cruel--there were none!), and finally set out again.


6:05 pm: Cook County Rest Area no. 6, South GA

It is with something approaching ecstasy that I report that the vending machines at Cook County Rest Area no. 6 have Dunking Sticks. Life is good.



6:30 pm: Valdosta, GA

In Valdosta I ate an unsatisfying corn dog and French fry dinner at the mall and then went to the familiar Books-A-Million, got a cup of coffee (a grandé cafe au lait with a shot of Irish creme, for those of you keeping score), and browsed for a few minutes. I decided, though, that Books-A-Million isn't my favorite of the chain bookstores, primarily because they do not carry the new Random House reissues of the Three Investigators mysteries, so my stay there was brief and not terribly satisfying. The coffee, however, was excellent; don't go there if you're looking for The Mystery of the Fiery Eye, but if you want a good cup of coffee, it's not a bad place.


8:09 pm: The Georgia/Florida Line

As I crossed into Florida, the sky overhead was completely black. I had forgotten that in Florida, they have no stars!


9:30 pm: Gainesville, FL

And now I am in room 120 of the Gainesville Econo Lodge--a smoking room, which is all they had left, but the nice man at the front desk assured me that smoking in the room is allowed but not required--and am nearly done compiling my photos and notes from my day's journey. After I complete this page and upload the files, I will turn in for a good nights sleep, get up, and drive to Orlando.

And now I'm done. I'm tired. I'm going to bed. Good night!



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