Subj: On the Road VIII: Orlando, FL--Day 1

Date: 11/15/98

Greetings, fellow homo sapiens!

I am writing to you from room 101 of the Quality Inn off of John Young Parkway in lovely Orlando, Florida, a mere 480-something miles from my own driveway. It is around midnight, so I don't know whether to call it Saturday or Sunday.

This time I made the whole trip in one day; some of you may recall that last year I drove most of the way on Saturday, spent the night south of Gainesville, FL, and finished the trip Sunday morning. Due to my tendency to stop at every rest area, shopping mall, and bookstore on my path, my effective driving speed on road trips is about 50 MPH, though I keep my cruise control set at 75. This year, however, I skipped the Macon mall and spent only a few minutes in the weak excuse for a mall they have in Valdosta, and so made it all the way to Orlando in one day.

When I drive alone, especially at night, I get even more pensive than I usually am, and this trip is especially conducive to that. I didn't reach Florida until an hour after sundown; I had forgotten about the peculiar dark quality of the stretch of I-75 where Georgia becomes Florida, where there are no streetlights and few lights of any kind save the headlights of your own vehicle and those around you; where the luminescent dashed lines of the three lane interstate stretch ahead of you and come together to disappear into the horizon, but the land to the left and the right of you is so dark as to be invisible, and you can imagine that the world ends where the highway does, and if you drift too far out of the outside lane you run the risk or driving over the edge and falling into outer space; where the stars in the sky above you look as lonely as you would feel without the comfort and companionship of your radio and pack of Starburst fruit chews.

Tomorrow I will spend most of my day at Epcot, one of my favorite places on the planet. The conference proper begins at 7:00 tomorrow night (TechLearn 98; for those of you who don't know, it is the main reason for this trip), and I will spend the rest of my stay getting my head crammed full of important computer-related stuff.

Christopher B. Burdett

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