Well, we made it to Florida. The kids were real troopers in the car. We brought a cooler with drinks and some food and only stopped for gas and a couple potty (read: coffee) breaks over the whole 16 hour trip.
I suppose I should be happy to note that absolutely nothing of note happened on our drive down. We left Pittsburgh right after the girls’ Paleontology class ended at 2:30, and headed down in a light rain through southwest Pennsylvania and into West Virginia. The roads were fine but the mountains and rain made me a little nervous, so I lost a little bit of time through there. Once we hit Virginia, though, the skies cleared (just in time for it to be dark) and we got to Rock Hill, SC by 11:30 pm.
We stayed in Rock Hill overnight. That’s a nice place to stop southbound because, not only are you half way between my house and my mom’s, you are just past Charlotte, NC. Charlotte, NC is a very large city with a very large amount of traffic. It’s not bad to drive through at night, but if you are heading out in the morning during rush hour, you will be very glad you drove the extra 20 minutes the night before to get to Rock Hill and out of the snarl of commuters.
The girls had a quick breakfast of Froot Loops (I’m glad they spell it “froot” and not “fruit”, since I’m fairly sure there’s no actual Fruit in Froot Loops) and juice and shared a bagel. I had a slightly-better-than-mediocre coffee and some yogurt. We were on the road by 8:45 AM and enjoyed the lovely sunshine as we headed south through SC. There were an inordinate number of police on the highway so I kept my speed in check. Georgia was much the same way- sunshine, open road, and cops. But in Florida the traffic sped up and I had to go surprisingly fast to keep up with the flow.
Since the girls had been so cooperative, I stopped for treats just outside of Jacksonville, which is locally referred to as JAX. (I love when cities refer to themselves by their airport code. PDX is another fine example of an airport-minded city.) We found, happy of happys, a Dunkin-Donuts-Baskin-Robbins, which meant that I could get a nice coffee and the kids could get ice cream cones. Everyone was happy and the weather was warm enough that we could actually sit outside and enjoy our refreshments. Imagine! Ice cream outside in February!!
It only took a bit over two hours to get to Orlando from JAX. We did run into a bit of traffic in Orlando itself, which was inconvenient since we had to travel all the way through it to the southwest part of town during rush hour. But we managed, and got in just after 5:30. The girls rushed up to find our hotel room, where Nana was waiting.
And here we are in lovely Orlando. Orlando has an unfortunate airport code: MCO. So I can’t really blame them for not adopting that as the city nickname. And if they did use a nickname, it would probably be something like DIZ because everywhere you look there is a Disney-branded something-or-other. We are alarmingly close to the Empire of the Mouse. But I have no plans to venture there this trip. We have too many other things to do, like seeing manatees and going to the space center. Yay!