We are at it again. Another long vacation to Sunny Florida. This time it’s only 13 days…. give or take. I might add an extra day to the end of the trip but that’s still up in the air.
Also this year my mother decided to tag along on the drive. Last year she flew into Florida for the week. This year she took the drive. That long drive down south on I-95.
So like most of my trips, we started off early. Not quite as early as last year but still early. At least this year I was able to get some rest before I left.
The car was pretty much packed the day before. All we had to do was load up the snacks and drinks and top off the fuel tank. Gas was going to be expensive this year but it was still cheaper than flying out and renting a car. Plus we ended up going to places we wouldn’t have if we flew.
So here it is 2330 (1130pm) and I’m picking up my mother and daughter and getting ready for that long drive down to Palm Bay, Florida. Google maps was saying it would take a little over 15 hours to do. I knew I could do slightly better. However, I was planning on making a couple of stops besides just gas.
We were on the road before 0030 (1230am) and heading south on I-95. There wasn’t too much traffic but definitely more than I expected. Actually, the entire ride down had more traffic than I expected.
Before you knew it we were out of Pennsylvanian and into Delaware. Delaware was a quick state too. Next thing you know we are passing the rising sun sign in Maryland and heading towards Baltimore.
We took the tunnel and headed towards Washington DC. I gotta say, besides the unusual volume of traffic at this hour. It was a smooth ride so far. It felt like I made it to DC much faster than I expected or even usually do. We flew through DC and got a great view of the Capital Building and Washington Monument from the road way. We didn’t even hit any road construction in this area either.
However, our good fortune was about to change. Luckily, I was alert and paying attention. Right pass the National Museum of the United States Marine Corps a road sign stated ALL lanes blocked due to car fire. Google maps wasn’t detouring us. Instead it was saying we are on the fastest route. However, there was an exit a mile away that showed it being 15 minutes faster. I ended up taking the exit and bypassed the stoppage on 95.
To be honest, I am not even sure if the road was really blocked. Google Maps said it was. The interstate alert sign said it was. But was it? The road almost ran parallel with 95 and before you knew it we were back on the interstate. I did have a couple of cars following behind me on this little detour.
Outside of Richmond, we made our first stop for fuel. Gas was slightly cheaper than at home coming in at $4.969 a gallon. I filled my Ford Edge up with 10.5 gallons of gas and my body up with a delicious 20 Oz Wawa coffee.
From here we would be continuing on I-95 for about 10 more hours. We headed into North Carolina then into South Carolina.
My most dreaded part of my drive is South Carolina. 95 is just two lanes the entire way with nothing to see. Just miles and miles of pavement and boring trees. Oh, and lots of trucks. Now the sun was up and I was expecting more traffic but those trucks made it feel like it took much longer to get through.
We did get to get off the highway for a couple of minutes when we made our next fuel stop. This time we stopped at a TA Travel Center in Manning, SC. This is usually one of my go to stops on my drive down to Florida. It’s right off the interstate with easy access back on. Plus the bathrooms are nice and clean and you can grab some food. Gas here was much cheaper than what I’m used to. It was $4.619 a gallon and I filled up with 14.108 gallons.
We pulled away and started heading south again. We could have made a stop in Bluffton and visited my buddy’s wife and her rabbit. My daughter definitely wanted to see the rabbit but we stopped at the Georgia welcome center instead. It was great getting into Georgia. Once you cross the state line it opens up to three lanes. That was something I was desperately waiting for.
For most of the trip through South Carolina we were stuck behind trucks in the left lane passing trucks in the right lane. Drivers who wanted to go a MPH faster than the vehicle in the right lane. Oh and the drivers who wanted to go the same speed as the car next to them. I couldn’t wait to get into Georgia.
We didn’t spend long at the welcome center. We stretch our legs out again. Grabbed some flyers for places we might like to check out some other time. My daughter and mother took a picture with Forrest Gump. After that we hit the road once again.
Georgia was another quick and easy state to drive through. Before we knew it. I had Florida Georgia Line playing as we cruised into Florida and made our next scheduled stop. This time it was to the Florida Welcome Center.
The Florida Welcome Center has tons of parking. Clean restrooms and fresh Orange and Grapefruit juice. Plus you will find tons of flyers for all kinds of things to do in Florida. If you are heading to Orlando to visit any of the theme parks. You will find the maps for those parks. It’s a great way to have the kids kill the last couple of hours.
Now we were not heading to Orlando just yet. We were going just a little south of Kennedy Space Center to a place called Palm Bay. The area just had everything we were looking for.
Anyway, we left the Welcome center and headed towards Jacksonville. Jacksonville was the first major city we hit in hours. (I don’t really count Savannah.) The traffic again wasn’t horrible for it being a Friday afternoon.
From here it was that time again to start looking for gas. I ended up stopping in St. Augustine. This was just a quick pit stop. Only here for fuel. Noone needed to use the bathroom and we still had plenty of drinks and snacks. Gas was $4.859 a gallon and I ended up putting in 13.25 gallons in. I figured I should be good on gas till Sunday when we leave for Fort Myers Beach.
Now it was back on 95 for the last leg of the trip. Again it was smooth sailing but did witness something odd. At one point we passed an overpass with a huge American Flag hung from a firetruck and a bunch of cop cars. A little while later I noticed that there were no cars heading northbound. Like none at all. It was pretty wild seeing that.
Now we were passed the area for Cape Canaveral so my first thought was they were moving a big piece of equipment or rocket on the highway. I wasn’t expecting what I saw next.
It wasn’t a rocket or anything like that. First we spotted at least 50 police motorcycles with lights on. Then I’d say at least a mile or two worth of cop cars and other vehicles. It was an amazing send off for an officer killed in the line of duty.
Right after that passed us, we were at our exit. We exited the highway and made it to where we would be staying the next two nights. I booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express Palm Bay.
It wasn’t a fancy hotel but it was nice and clean. Plus breakfast was included in the morning. Oh how I love a good breakfast.
Well, we checked in to the hotel and took our bags to the room. The room was your standard hotel room with too beds. It was nothing special but it was home for the next two days.
After everything was in the room, it was time to eat. I found a place called Long Doggers. Boy did this place not disappoint.
Everything we ordered was delicious. The apps we got came out quick. The chip nachos were amazing. My daughter found the size of the mozzarella sticks hilarious. She loved how they were long and the place was called Long Doggers.
My fried clams and shrimp were cooked perfectly. My moms fish sandwich was perfect as well. The fish was nice and flaky. The High Life Dog my daughter got was delicious too. She didn’t get the Chili or onions on it however.
After dinner we went back to the hotel to wind down for the night. It was a long day and just the first of many. Tomorrow, the only thing planned is a visit to Kennedy Space Center to check out the brand new exhibit that just opened two days earlier.
Make sure to come back tomorrow and the next few weeks to see where we head to next!