If I never have to drive on I-75 South ever again, it wouldn't be too soon.
That is one LONG stretch of highway.
I left Chattanooga yesterday morning at 7:30 a.m. Within 5 minutes, I was on I-75 South. Little did I realize it would be 700 miles before I got OFF of I-75 South.
ALLLLLL the way through Georgia.
Almost ALLLLLL the way through Florida.
Atlanta was interesting. It was 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning when I hit it. And I-75 South was PACKED with cars, all driving - at a MINIMUM - of 80 m.p.h. I figured they must all be hurrying to get to church, because where else would they be going in such a hurry on a Sunday morning??!! Yikes.
Then, down through Macon, and on through Valdosta. Which I had never heard of before. Huh. The things you learn on a road trip. I kept wanting to call it Vidalia. As in Onion. Because I love fried Vidalia onions. And I was hungry.
I then hit Florida...which didn't excite me until I saw my first palm tree. That perked me up a bit. I was happy for awhile.
Until I hit Gainesville.
You see, I have "fond" memories of Gainesville...and I use that term "fond" very loosely.
Back in 2006, Hurricane Ernesto was in the Atlantic Ocean, chugging towards Florida. The American Red Cross kindly asked if I would drive the "ERV" (Emergency Response Vehicle) down to Florida to stage before the hurricane hit.
"Sure", I said.
My partner and I had been driving for two days - when the disaster hit. No, not Hurricane Ernesto. A different disaster. Of the man-made kind. A large, loose, deadly piece of tire tread - laying horizontally across the highway, outside of Gainesville - and no way to avoid it. That thing was 5' long. Going 80 m.p.h. in rush hour traffic - if we had swerved to avoid it, we would have tipped the truck. (The truck was loaded with tons of supplies.)
We crossed our fingers, said a prayer, and drove over it.
Big mistake. Unfortunately, karma and God was not on our side that afternoon, as we found out.
The tire tread ricocheted up into our chassis, knocking out a bunch of wiring - and our cooling system. Yowza.
To make a LONG story short, I spent a very long week in Gainesville, waiting for the magical, elusive "parts" to arrive in Gainesville, as well. These elusive parts were needed to fix the truck, and I was going nowhere without them. ARGH.
I spent a week at a small motel...swimming...walking across the road to a local mall, which to our delight, had a cinema...reading... shopping...sleeping...and cursing. Cursing our dreaded luck. Cursing Ford for not having the parts in stock. ARGH.
By the time our truck was fixed, Hurricane Ernesto had barely bounced off of Florida and was history. So, we began the long trek back to Kansas City.
So, yesterday, I was rehashing all of these memories of Gainesville, as I was driving down I-75 South, when the unthinkable happened.
I kid thee not.
A tire tread. Laying dead center in the highway. Outside of Gainesville. What were the odds??!!?
This time, though, I wasn't driving a huge, loaded truck. I was driving a little Mazda. With GREAT steering.
And I quickly dodged around that tire tread. And laughed.
"Ha, ha, Gainesville! Not THIS time! Pick on another sucker!!!"
And I sped on down the road to Ft. Myers, and waved goodbye to Gainesville.