Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snowbirds Trip to Condo, by RBS

I just love it when Dick writes the blog!!  Enjoy:

12/ 12 - 12/15, 2013  Snowbirds trip to condo.

Thursday 12/12

In the morning I finished loading the Rav. It was as packed as we’ve ever had it. So packed that the walker had to be strapped to the roof rack. I had a Dr’s appointment with my new personal physician Dr. Burke. For the past 22 years I had been seeing Dr. Lambert but the Munson Family Practice Center has become a teaching/intern adjunct and Lambert has become more of a teacher to his students than a doctor to me. He spends more time talking to the student than to me and his terminology is meant for them and generally indecipherable to me. After Burke’s outstanding performance in finding Nancy’s tumors she recommended and set up an appointment with him for me.

Since the Rav was packed, we took the Jeep. TC had been bombarded with lake effect snow for days and the roads were icy and slick. Twice we almost spun out and were happy to have made it into town and back safely. The forecast was for more lake effect here on Friday with a major storm in Southern Michigan for Saturday. We decided to leave first thing in the morning and just take it easy and see how far we could get. We usually get advanced motel reservations at distances from 225 to 260 miles each day. Since the roads and weather were questionable, we decided to just take it as it came and get as far as we could.

Friday 12/13

We were up and raring to go early. I pulled the car out of the garage and strapped down Nancy’s walker on the roof. I had to wait until this morning because it wouldn’t fit under the door opening. We checked the doors, turned down the thermostat, pulled down the shades, activated the alarm system, and away we went.

The roads were slippery and it was snowing steadily. The traffic was light and everyone was driving cautiously. We had heard that below 20 degrees the salt would melt the snow but the melt would refreeze causing it to ice over again. I held it under 50, even when we got on the 131 expressway at Manton, Some were driving faster but it didn’t feel real safe to me. Although the snow stopped, the roads remained slick until we reached Clare. From then on they were just wet because the temps were up in the 20’s and the salt was working. As we approached Saginaw, I was reminded just how little we use the Interstate anymore. Since we don’t stay in Ann Arbor for football season anymore, our annual Florida trek is it.

Checking the weather on her iPhone, Nancy reported that the big storm was coming tonight starting about 9 and continuing through the night. We decided to push on as far south as we could, hoping to drive south of it. When we hit the Ohio border, I made sure I was in the right lane and was at or 1 mph below the speed limit. I have the feeling that if a group of cars are buzzing along 5 miles over or so, the one which gets pulled over is the one with Michigan plates. I think that is especially true f it’s an M plate. We both were getting tired as we drove through Lima and after getting bogged down in a construction zone that took us 45 minutes to go two miles, decided to stop for the night just north of Dayton. We got into our room about 5;30, freshened up, rested a bit and watched the weather forecast. It was scary! We went out to dinner at Smokey Bones Barbecue, great ribs!, and then back to sleep.

Saturday 12/14

When we looked out the window in the morning, the cars in the parking lot were covered in snow. While Nancy was attempting to eat her barely edible breakfast, I went out in the parking lot and brushed nearly three inches of the white stuff off the car. We went back to the room to pack stuff up and then while she was checking out, I brushed off another 1/2 inch which had fallen in the mean time. We were on the road by 7:30 driving through the never ending road construction in Dayton in a steady snow storm. Luckily, it was wet and melted as soon as it hit the pavement. As the temperature rose, the snow changed to sleet and then to rain. Saturday morning is not a bad time to get through Cincinnati. (Our least favorite city to drive through. (Except for Atlanta))

We crossed the Ohio river with a big sigh of relief, happy to be done with the Buckeye and into Ky. We made our mandatory stop at the first Ky MacLand for beverages and a muscle stretch. Back on the road the weather was crappy but at least it was just rain. I was glad to be back on a four lane stretch of I75 so I set the cruise at 75 as confirmed by Nuvi and enjoyed the most relaxed drive of the trip so far. We ordinarily would have stopped somewhere near Knoxville but thoughts of Dylan, warmth, and our condo encouraged us to push on into Jahjah. We discovered that no natives Georgians drive the speed limit. At 75 I couldn’t even catch a truck. When the limit dropped to 65 or even 55, I appeared to be the only driver to notice. I am not comfortable having cars pass me on the right and so I stay in the right lane as much as possible. Down here it can get lonesome. For the most part, not even trucks use the far right lane. If you are willing to drive the limit or slightly above, the road is pretty clear except for entering traffic.

We stopped in Smyrna, got a room,  and asked the gal at the desk for a restaurant recommendation. She recommended Papadeaux so we went down there. The parking lot was huge and packed. I dropped Nan at the entrance and drove off to find a place to park. The place I found was over a tenth of a mile away. By the time I got back to the restaurant, she was waiting for me and announced that there was an  hour wait. Obviously a very popular place on a Saturday night! We eventually made our way out of the parking lot and found a less crowded little southern place called Folks. The food was fine, I ordered a half rack of ribs and got three pieces. Must be small pigs.

Sunday 12/15

After I had a standard motel quickie breakfast, (Nancy took a pass, she opted for an Egg McMuffin at the coffee stop.) I loaded the bags in a light drizzle. We tiptoed through Atlanta. Traffic was light with no trucks and the Nuvi warned us of upcoming exits and showed us a picture of what lane to be in. Except for the habits of Georgia drivers, it went well. The only remarkable incident was when a white SUV came roaring up behind us in at right lane, swerved onto the exit ramp. pulled along side, and then zoomed back between us and the vehicle ahead of us just as the exit lane ended. It was remarkable but compared to some of the other white knuckle experiences on this trip, not outstanding. Before long we were back in normal traffic with only two southbound lanes. I was able to set the cruise and relax a bit as the miles piled up. The rain turned to mist and then ended. Soon we started seeing patches of dry pavement. and started hoping that we might make it all the way to Palm City.

It wasn’t until after we crossed the Florida line that we saw our first serious accident. We had seen where cars had slid off the road into the median, a few were still there but no sign of serious damage. This one was a roll over in the median with parts, hood, doors etc, spread all over. There were ambulance and multiple police cars on the scene. The gawkers were slowing to stare but since we were in the right lane, we breezed on through. Shortly after we entered the turnpike, the sun came out, the rain stopped and all was right with our world. We pulled into Martin Downs, the gate rose and we turned into Quail Meadow. At Unit E ,there were flowers by the front door which was decorated with a beautiful Christmas wreath, the garage door opened when we pushed the remote, there was a large Christmas tree in the living room and numerous decorations sitting about. Laurie was there to help us unload. After catching our breath we took trunks and boxes over to the Gillespie house, picked up the birthday boy and went out to dinner at his favorite Tai restaurant. After catching up with the days events and hugs all around, Grandma and Grandpa went off to our Florida home for a long night’s sleep and a well deserved day of vegetating.