Destination: Southern Florida

Google states that that it’s a little over 22 hours to get from McKinney, TX to the RV park that I’m currently staying at in Florida. I figure it took me about somewhere between 26 to 30 hours. I left Friday afternoon and reached New Orleans somewhere around 2am friday night and stumbled into a hotel. After getting about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, I rolled out of bed at 7:30am and was back on the road by 8am.

the clear water of the Mississippi cost

I rolled through MS, following some of the gulf coastline along hwy 90, and was surprised at the lack of waves. A lot of the shoreline extended pretty far out into the water – there were lots of shallows. The water was crystal clear and gorgeous and the sand was white and clean. I’m kinda roadtripping with mom’s urn, so I’m taking tiny pinches of ash and scattering them in different places along the trip, so I scattered some on the beach and some in the ocean water.

Katrina Memorial – Biloxi, MS

As I am wont to do as I roll down the highway, I would check the roadsideamerica.com iphone app, and the Katrina memorial in Biloxi (PICS) popped up. I decided to check it out and was very glad I did. I parked the van and got out and heard giggling from the car behind me. A couple of girls called out, “We like your hair!” I laughed and thanked them and started towards the memorial. Apparently curious beyond reason, the three of them piled out of their own car and asked if they could get their pictures taken with me. I agreed, of course, and smiled as each of them got their phone cameras out and stood beside me one by one. I can only imagine what their parents must’ve thought of all of this. I didn’t see them anywhere, so I’m guessing they were left in the car for whatever reason. This event kept me smiling all day.

Katrina Memorial – Biloxi, MS

The memorial itself is very small, but poignant. A long wave of varying blue, clear and irridescent tiles crested along a white wall, splashing up against a collection of remembrance items in a glass case. The display was very well done, very powerful. Beside this are the names of the local people that were lost in the event. I really loved the design and flow of it. I’ll be uploading pictures as soon as I can.

U.S.S. Alabama propeller with the battleship U.S.S. Alabama in the background

The next big stop was the USS Alabama (pics!). I figured, as long as I was driving through Alabama, the LEAST I could do would be to actually TOUR the Alabama as well. The tour itself is $12 and well worth it. You get to walk through most of the boat (parts of it were blocked off due to repairs). It’s a powerhouse of firepower and destruction. I got lots of pictures, and an overwhelming feeling of presence (especially right around the brig) as I walked through the ship.

the view from the permanent gangplank to the U.S.S. Alabama

There are three separate tours – red, green and yellow. The yellow tour is the upper decks and the red and green tours were below deck. I went as far below as I could, finding the downward stairs far easier to navigate than those on the upper decks as you climbed the tower.

view from the tower of the U.S.S. Alabama

Those got steeper and steeper, and you actually have to lean a great deal forward while going up them in order to keep from cracking your head on the metal around the entrance.
It was fairly cold and there was a high wind, so I only ran around on the ship for about fourty five minutes.

goin’ down…

I then got back on the road, really enjoying the change of of scenery from state to state, and sometimes county to county – especially once I got into Florida. I spent a lot of time on the main highways, ‘drive dialing’ friends and talking to people for hours to maintain company to keep myself from going crazy. I didn’t do any other sightseeing and was just pressing to get where I needed to go as quickly as possible.

Big Cypress RV Resort – Clewiston, FL

Once I entered Florida, I started noticing these HUGE anthills – about 4 to 5 inches high, at least. There would be single ones here or there, and then big clusters of them. AT one point along the highway, there was one every foot in a serpentine pattern in the median. It was pretty freaky. I was briefly reminded of Phase IV, a 70’s sci fi movie about ants forming a collective intelligence that then go on to work to destroy humanity. I later found out from a friend that they were fire ants, and was warned not to go anywhere near the mounds. Ah, Florida, you crazy kid. Always trying to kill your residents.

the road to Ave Maria, FL

I reached a Loves Truckstop in Ocola, FL at about 11 after a wild goosechase through a suburban neighborhood – thanks, GPS 😡

I pulled into a spot and began to settle down for the night. The station was clean and the staff courteous and friendly. Throughout the night as I would pop in wearing my enormous, oversized blue and black plaid pants and angry beige slippers, and run to the bathroom. Each time, a staffer would grin and say, “Goodnight!” before I darted back outside to the van. The back of the van has a bench that folds out into a bed and on top of that I’ve put a mattress topper and a faux white leopard print fuzzy fabric so it’s nice and cozy. Started out with just blankets, but by 4am it was in the twenties and it was time to shimmy into the arctic rated mummy sleeping bag I’d brought along just in case. Huzzah for thinking ahead! 🙂

Once in the sleeping bag, I slept like a baby until about 7:30 in the morning, then ate some brekkie and got back on the road again by about 9am. Things warmed up as the day went on, and after a couple of hours I was driving with the windows down a bit. On a U turn detour, I drove into a shopping plaza with this amazing looking tree. (PICS) I scattered a tiny pinch of mom there as well.
I arrived at the RV park a little after 5:30pm today. By 6:30 I had my laptops set up, had the power hooked up and was ready to start writing and relaxing. The drive down was a bit of a gauntlet physically. I’m exhausted, but really happy to be here. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 70, and I’m really looking forward to awesome weather in February for the first time in my life ever. As I wrap this up, I’m getting ready to watch a movie, then head off to bed early, I think. It’s been a LONG damn weekend.

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