Day 11: On the road again

Leading to Savannah, Georgia is a modern suspension span.

Leading to Savannah, Georgia is a modern suspension span.

After a couple of days of down time with my brother’s family in Raleigh I’m back on the road.  I was able to spend Halloween trick or treating with my nieces and it was a blast!

The days of heading east with the big red boat on the roof are behind me. I dropped off the boat, and now I’ve turned south towards the Miami Auto Show at the end of next week.

I-95 is a fast route down the east coast. It’s like a funnel leading from the northeast to Florida, and this time of year it’s loaded with snowbirds heading for their winter homes. Cars loaded with luggage from New York, New Jersey and surprisingly, Quebec, were plentiful along the route.

At the border of North and South Carolina lies the “community” of Pedro’s South of the Border. Even if you miss the dozens of billboards along the route south, there’s no way to miss the 200-foot sombrero tower. Besides the themed truck stop, motel, and shops there’s the Pedroland amusement park and reptile gardens.  Really, what more brightly hued assaults to good taste could a weary traveler want?

Continuing south on I-95 the pace picked up dramatically. While the speed limit was posted as 70 mph, most of the drivers on this stretch of road apparently felt this was only a suggestion.  The pace averaged around 85 clear past the Georgia border.  That tempo makes the miles fly by.

Yes, I was compelled by the giant sombrero to stop at Pedro's South of the Border at the north edge of South Carolina.

Yes, I was compelled by the giant sombrero to stop at Pedro’s South of the Border at the north edge of South Carolina.

The Sorento is more pleasant to drive at high speed without the boat than with all of the noise that the boat and the hold down straps made at speed. Now I’m back to enjoying the Sorento’s naturally quiet and refined ride. Fuel efficiency is up almost exactly 30 percent at the 70 to 75 mph pace.  Where it was getting 20.0 mpg with the boat, it’s now getting just over its rated 26 mpg. Plus now I can enjoy the included panoramic sunroof and satellite radio. The boat was like a huge tinfoil hat over both, not allowing light to reach the cabin or a radio signal to reach the antenna.

I don’t care how much music you have on your iPhone or iPod, it’s not enough for a cross-country drive. Satellite radio is a much better choice for the lonely stretches.

One of my favorite places in America is River Street in Savannah, Georgia. It was a busy Saturday on the cobblestones of the riverfront road, which is lined with small shops, restaurants, and craft sellers. It’s the place where I discovered pralines, the chocolate-covered southern confection that can test even the most diehard dieter.

Highway designers along the southeast coast seem to have embraced modern suspension bridges. Besides one leading to Savannah, I saw another on the horizon as I approached Brunswick, Georgia. One of the joys of this trip has been the ability to further explore whatever I want to. I saw a cool bridge, so I took a detour and drove over the 480-foot tall Sidney Lanier Bridge, the longest spanning bridge in the state of Georgia.

Crossed into Florida at sunset under clear skies and warm temperatures.

Crossed into Florida at sunset under clear skies and warm temperatures.

Now I’m within a stone’s throw of my goal of driving from coast to coast. Tomorrow morning I’ll dip my toes in the Atlantic to complete the transcontinental journey.  Then it’s off to visit more family and spend some time with Mickey Mouse before heading to the Miami auto show.

 

Start: Raleigh, North Carolina
End: St. Augustine, Florida
Total miles: 548
States: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida
Tomorrow: Tampa, Florida

 

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