After over three years of being unable to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic and other personal issues, I finally drove north to see my parents in Atlanta from Orlando.
I drove on a Sunday, a day I picked because it wasn’t a weekday. It took between eight and nine hours to drive the distance between my home in Florida to my parents home in Lilburn, Ga. That’s a distance of at least 450 miles. As usual, Apple maps grossly miscalculated the time on the road to get to my parent’s home, predicting a mere 6 hours 29 minutes to cover the distance. Never mind time lost due to the pee stops. Never mind having to sit in traffic at the innumerable traffic slowdowns due to accidents on I-75, or the really big traffic snarl between Macon and south Atlanta on I-75 that forced me to spend an additional $2.50 on the express lane running parallel to that section of I-75. I followed the express lane up to I-675 and then I-285 to finally reach my parents home. I have no idea why traffic was that bad on that section of I-75 on a Sunday afternoon, but it was horrid.
One of the delays in my travel was trying to find lunch down in Valdosta, Ga, after I crossed the Florida/Georgia border. It was 1pm, so I thought, why not, the lines and waits at any of the fast food places shouldn’t be long. Boy was I wrong. I stopped at four different fast food places only to find the lines snaking out the doors and filled with what I’ll assume were college students and young families. All this on a Sunday afternoon.
I finally ate lunch at a Sonny’s, spending $15 (tax + tip) on a Big Deal. I’ve long been a Sonny’s patron for forty years, when they first opened near Atlanta, but my patronage may come to an end. I remember Big Deals as being a big deal; meat piled high on your bun, with three sides which included fries. Now, the meat (pulled chicken in my case) barely covered the bun, and the french fries are an extra. I got enough to eat, and the food was good, but the days of inexpensive dining that I remember at Sonny’s are long gone.
On the way out of Valdosta I stopped at a Circle K (strange things are afoot at the Circle K https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DsFMJQHbMs ) and tanked up for the second half of my trek northward. The gas prices are all above $4/gallon everywhere, a price this high I haven’t seen since the early 2010s. While standing at the pump waiting for my car to fill, the pump started playing ads complete with crappy audio. I can ignore the visual part, the the audio I can’t, and it’s a truly annoying experience. Except this time, someone had written, in Sharpie, next to one of the buttons, the word “mute.” I immediately pressed that button, and blessed silence ensued. To that unknown person who wrote that, bless you. I finished filling my car in blessed silence.
I made it to my parents’ home, had a bit of supper with everyone, and then crashed out for the night. The trip took more out of me than I expected. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re 68 and haven’t commuted anywhere in over two years due to retirement. I managed to stay fully alert due to the terrors of driving up I-75. There are a lot of crazy folks driving these days. I now spend three days with my parents, and then get to drive back to Orlando, experiencing the joy of driving on the open road in America. Lucky me.
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