Sunday, January 15, 2017

#10 - Friday, 13 January 2017 | Cutler Bay, Florida

I passed out exhausted the night before and slept later than I expected in the Radisson Marietta hotel room. I realized that I now wouldn't make it to my next hotel in Cutler Bay, Florida until night and would have to contend with some morning rush hour traffic in Atlanta. Cutler Bay is a southwestern suburb of Miami where I had booked a room at La Quinta. It's northeast of Homestead–the gateway to Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys. I wanted to base myself around Homestead for this quick one-week reconnaissance trip to southern Florida, but Cutler Bay was close enough for crashing for one night upon arrival.

I'll spare you the details but today's drive was much less pleasant than that of day one. I was tired and fought a headache all day. I needed coffee but worried I was drinking too much. I drank as much water as possible and swallowed more than a few Tylenol. I don't like much about Florida. To be honest, the only thing I like is the wildlife. That's why I'm here ... oh, and for the glorious winter weather. Driving in southern Georgia was relaxing and I listened to my audiobook while taking in the billboards advertising pecans and peaches. Of course, the roadside signs in this area also are dominated by the religious, conservative and anti-abortion. These giant gaudy preaching signs begin to dominate the landscape and don't relent once you are in northern Florida. In Florida they are even more plentiful but wrestle for space among the increasing tourist attraction billboards. My head throbbed and miles became more of a struggle. Darkness eventually fell and I didn't mind as Florida isn't much to look at. I was glad once I got on the Florida Turnpike. I drove its full length for $20 in tolls, but the road is good and the service centers spaced every forty-five minutes should you need a restroom, fuel, food or to surround yourself with Floridian travelers. 

My struggle continued and I fought a pounding head for each remaining hour to my destination. Traffic jams caused by accidents slowed my progress. It wasn't until 9:30 pm that I finally arrived at my hotel. I felt dizzy and weak. But two days of driving were behind me. I had made it safely and the temperature was 75ºF. I had dressed in shorts and stood outside in just a t-shirt and shorts feeling warmer than I had in a long time.

My night's sleep was restless and I awoke at 3:30 a.m. At 6 a.m. I set my alarm for 11 and hoped I could get some more sleep before checkout. Of course, it was not to be. I gave up by 8 and headed downstairs for a dismal breakfast. The coffee was poor and I had a bowl of cereal, a banana and a few hard-boiled eggs. I did not feel good at all and knew I'd have to fill the time before 3 pm check-in at my next accommodation in Homestead. I decided I would head to Everglades National Park for some recon, but would not do much in the way of hiking or photography. I wanted to check out the park's two campgrounds that have RV spaces for when I return to Florida in the coming weeks. I stopped in the visitor center and bought a postcard and a snack. I ended up hiking the Mahogany Hammock trail where I saw the first reptile of #roadtripusa2017. Of course, it was the ubiquitous green anole common in southeastern U.S.A. But reptiles mean warmth and are my jam. I was elated as I paused to photograph him. 

At 3 p.m. I checked into the Floridian Hotel in Homestead and will stay for three nights. I have to be back "home" by Saturday morning to take care of my parrot Jesse after my sister Lisa and bonus dad Joel leave for a holiday in Riviera Maya near Cancun, Mexico with my brother-in-law Randy. I've tried to think of what I want to do during this short stay that would be easier now when I don't have the RV to think of. To be honest, I am still undecided. I would like to go to Biscayne N.P. and already add a second national park to this nascent road trip. My goal really was just to get on the road to the lifestyle I love and seek warmth. I also want to dial in my camera gear for the year's adventures. I'm considering being a tourist and visiting Jungle Island to do some photography. Of course, I will return to Everglades N.P. and on Monday might drive to Key West. This is just a pleasure trip to do some preliminary scouting and get used to the truck, plus get some camera practice in after not doing much photography during the brutal Chicago winter. My whole year will be about going wherever the wind blows me, and I need to give myself no deadlines. All I know is I want to take three days to drive home after the two days south was a bit too much. And that means heading north Thursday morning.

Double rainbow and palm trees.
Rest stop north of Orlando on the Florida Turnpike

Reminder: I will only post the odd photo to this blog. As #roadtripusa2017 continues, look for most photos at my @jacobipix Instagram.

All the best, M

Total miles driven: 689.8
Total time on the road: 11.5 hours
Departure location: Marietta, Georgia
Arrival location: Cutler Bay, Florida

No comments:

Post a Comment