We recently completed a 3,000 plus mile road trip. It was a blast. I love seeing the country by car. We started in Chicago and drove to Akron, OH, where we spent a week. I was supporting the All-American Soap Box Derby. The company for which I do contract software work had written all the software to track the soap box derby races. It was a lot of fun and a much bigger deal than I would have expected.
The only complaint about Akron I have is that the Comfort Inn on Montrose Avenue was atrocious. The service was terrible, the “food” was terrible, and the room was terrible. The room was moldy, it smelled, and the maid staff sometimes went days without cleaning it. The worst part about the room, however, was the bed. It was by far the most uncomfortable bed in which I have ever slept. I woke up every morning in pain. My body was just not getting enough rest. So the last night we were to stay at the Comfort Inn, we left and drove to Charleston, West Virginia instead. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express which was heaven compared to the Dis-Comfort Inn in Akron. I finally got a decent night’s sleep in a week. It was just like the commercials.
From Charleston, WV, we drove 10+ hours to St. Augustine, Florida. We did stop in Charlotte, North Carolina for lunch. Because we were in the Carolinas, we thought BBQ would be appropriate. The “Q” was good but it wasn’t as good as Smoque. I’ve had BBQ in all the supposed hot spots for BBQ, Texas, Memphis, the Carolinas, etc. I’m sorry but none of them compare to Smoque. Smoque rules! I still need to get over to KC before I can crown Smoque the King of BBQ though.
We spent the night in St. Augustine. I love St. Augustine. I’ve never been to Europe but I imagine many of those old European cities are much like the old section of St. Augustine. Just a beautiful city.
From there we went to Orlando to pick up my kids, then we went over to Cocoa Beach to spend a few days basking on the beach. The last full day we were there the waves were perfect. The perfect body surfing waves. My boys were getting the hang of body surfing and they were loving it. I caught some good sized waves and rode them all the way to shore. Great, great waves that day.
We drove from Cocoa Beach to Biloxi after eating breakfast at Mickey D’s. We got a great deal on a room at the Imperial Palace in Biloxi. High quality room at a very good price. The pool was a party pool. It was on top of the parking garage and featured a bar and a giant TV. A very cool atmosphere at the IP pool. The bed here was what a hotel bed should be: luxurious. I did not want to get out of that bed in the morning. But we did; we wanted to spend the day in New Orleans.
New Orleans, NOLA, the Big Easy, the Crescent City, the French Quarter, Jackson Square, streetcars, jazz, City Park, and the Big Miss. I love New Orleans. It’s my second favorite city after Chicago, and I’m a little biased about Chicago because that will always be home. We all had an order of beignets from Café du Monde and then strolled all around the Quarter. I love you NOLA.
When it was time to leave, we crossed Lake Pontchartrain then headed up I-55 to see my cousin in Madison, Mississippi. We spent the remainder of our time in and around Madison. We did take a day and went over to Vicksburg. I’d always wanted to see the battlefield. It was a very educational experience.
Finally it was back to Chicago. We did that last leg in one shot. That was a grueling drive. I taught all the kids about how to use the mile markers to figure out how far you are from somewhere and if you know how far you are you can then calculate the time it should take you to get there.
On a side note, Florida, you need to get your act together. Every state I drove through that collected tolls accepted my Illinois I-Pass. Every state except for Florida that is. Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia all let me breeze right through their open tolling lanes. I had to use the toll booths in Florida. They even had the nerve to send me a ticket because one of the exits I got off on in Orlando didn’t accept anything but their E-Pass/SunPass. How are you supposed to pay the toll if you have neither of these? You suck Florida.