Sunday, March 10, 2013

Beckley to Bradenton

Saturday March 9, 2013 - it's gonna be a long one...

Checking out.
Driving through the Appalachians by daylight is much more pleasant than at night.  The sun shines across them, leaving interesting shadows and highlighting other areas in pools of light.  Clouds hover in the valleys waiting for the heat of the day to burn them off.  The Blue Ridge Mountains loom ahead of us, true to their name and stark against an azure backdrop.  This is why we don't take I-75.

The hours and the miles pile up.  We pass through two mountain tunnels - fun facts available here: Big Walker Mountain Tunnel and East River Mountain Tunnel.  I learn that by using the numbers from my postal code and adding two zeros at the end I can use my credit card at gas pumps that require a zip code for verification.  Who knew?  Probably lots of people, but not me.  We play a game called Spot It! that has us looking for signs, bumper stickers and various vehicles on the highway as we drive.
Eventually we make it to the Florida state line and stop for our obligatory cup of fresh-squeezed OJ at the Welcome Centre.  Though we still have almost 5 hours to travel, it feels like we've arrived.  The temperature has climbed some since we left Beckley and although it is mild, we welcome it.  There is some debate about how much longer we have to go and the route for the final stretch, but eventually the navigator(s) decide on the route and we're off on the final leg of the journey.  Our GPS actually does most of the thinking for us in this regard which leads us to a scenic, if not quick, tour of some of the state's countryside.  We see some fantastic landscape including swamps, small towns and horse farms.  Giant horse farms. Apparently some of the best horse ranches around.

Let's cut across on 8 to the 301 then we can shoot down and pick up I-75 ...
Oh, and one other thing.  We finally spilled the beans about Disney to the boys.  They knew we were going to Florida and that we were going to see Bumpa & Beppa (grandpa & grandma).  But they didn't know about the mouse.  We were anticipating wild peals of laughing delight.  Not so much. They're happy and they're looking forward to it, but the news was received with less enthusiasm than we expected and was somewhat anticlimactic for us.  Figures right?  We were more geared up for it than they were.  Of course we both have experience with Disney and we've been planning it for awhile so we've had some time to build it up.  The upside is that we were able to keep the secret (with a number of near misses) until now. Now that we can finally speak openly about it we've been able to begin planning the Disney portion of the trip with the boys.  Getting them involved got them more excited but I still expect it won't be until we actually get there and they take it in for the first time that it will really hit them.  I'm looking forward to that moment.

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