September 22 (Wednesday)
The day of departure arrived. We got on the road about 5:30, if memory serves. The point of the trip for me was to see “not Florida”, so getting to Georgia by sunrise (7:17 AM) was a deliberate choice. It was closer to 8:00, but I was still happy. I think we stopped at a Burger King or McDonalds for a quick breakfast.
The rest of the trip was so-so, at least for a while. I don’t recommend I-75 for scenic driving. It’s not bad, but it’s bestrewn with billboards like you wouldn’t believe. The ones for Magnolia Plantation alone were every mile, which made me not visit. I hate being clubbed over the head with advertising.
Then we got to the outskirts of Atlanta. Another reason I wanted to leave early was to avoid rush hour. We got there about 3:00. There was construction, so we considered the trip a success. Because if you go on a long trip, you’re going to encounter road construction, so you might as well make the best of it.
We took I-675 and I-285, which form the eastern part of the Atlanta roundabout. Finally, we reached I-85 and headed away from Atlanta. I remember telling Mom that I never wanted to move to Atlanta, and if I ever said I did want to move there, or within 20 miles of there, to remind me of this part of the trip.
We drove by Gainesville, Georgia, which I was tempted to get off the interstate to see, but it wasn’t a strong impulse.
Back to Georgia. We stopped for gas and use of the facilities at a country store type place. I was hoping to stay in North Carolina that night, and we looked good for that.
After a little while, I felt like I was on familiar territory, because US 441 merged into US 23. It’s an old friend, wherever it is.
We made a tourist stop to see Tallulah Gorge, and I really felt like I wasn’t in Florida anymore. You just don’t see this kind of terrain in the Sunshine State. It was almost like my trip had really begun.
Except, at first, not so much. I hadn’t made hotel reservations, since I wasn’t sure how far we’d get. Went to Days Inn at first, since Mom and I like them. There were hardly any cars in the parking lot, so I thought we were set.
Not so! Every room was booked, because there were electricians and other workers in town repairing all the damage from Hurricane Ivan. But the desk clerk very nicely called around and found another hotel in town with rooms. And it was cheaper! We drove there and checked in, then ate at this nice little diner, which you could tell used to be a small convenience store. Back to the hotel and settled in. There was a gas station next door, and I had a hankering for something. I can’t remember now if it was ice cream or soda or what. Anyway, walked over and got, then back.
So, about 12 hours of driving, and I felt fine. I did almost all the driving for the trip, ‘cause I really like to drive. Mom did give me a couple of breaks during the trip, though.