The kids and I hit the road early Friday morning, bound for our Christmas vacation in Florida. To make things a little more fun, we decided to go with a little bit of a military theme. Matthew was in charge of intelligence, logistics, and navigation. Maggie was the personnel and supply officer (keeping little brothers occupied and handing out snacks and water as necessary). Obviously I was in charge of transport. Mark was primarily tasked with pointing out every single truck on the interstate and Micah was responsible for asking questions.
We drove eleven and a half hours on Friday and it was foggy for the first five hours and rainy for the last nine. I know what you’re thinking: that doesn’t add up. That’s because for about two and a half hours it was both foggy and rainy. Most of the rain wasn’t more than a drizzle until we got to Mississippi, and it actually helped quite a bit since there was no one working in any of the construction zones that we passed through, and traffic was probably lighter than it would have been if the weather had been clear.
The kids are all pretty good travelers, so we had a long, but fairly uneventful trip. That changed when we were trying to find our hotel. I had made reservations ahead of time, partly to make sure we had a place to stay (I didn’t know how busy hotels would be the Friday night before Christmas), and partly to set a goal for myself so that I would get most of the driving accomplished on the first day. It was dark and rainy, and I was very tired, so we followed the directions that I had printed off of Google maps. Instead of our hotel, they led us to a shopping center parking lot. Since we were right off the interstate, I figured that we would see the hotel if I just drove around the general area. After about five or ten minutes of searching, I stopped in a parking lot and pulled up Google maps on my phone to see where the hotel was in relation to the business we were parked at. It said it was just a few hundred feet away, so I headed that direction but still couldn’t find it. I stopped at a different hotel and sent Matthew in to ask for directions. We followed those directions to the letter, yet I still drove right past the hotel. Matthew spotted the unlit sign in the dark and we drove back and I still nearly missed it. (I later discovered that we had actually been right behind the hotel at least twice during our search, but couldn’t see it because the lights were off.)
As I pulled into the parking lot, I started to wonder if the hotel was even open. There were a few random room lights on, but no exterior lighting on the building. The sheltered entryway where you can pull in out of the rain was blocked off with plywood leaving just a few feet open through which to enter the hotel. The desk clerk told me that she had no idea that the lights weren’t on. We checked in, ordered a pizza, and pretty much went to bed after we ate.
Saturday’s weather was about the same as Friday’s. When we were almost to Tallahassee, the sun briefly peeked out from beneath the gloom. Mark and Micah shouted, “The sun!” and I realized that we hadn’t seen it since before we left Oklahoma. Saturday’s drive was a lot shorter than Friday’s and we got to my parents’ house around 4:00. It was so good to see them!
To be continued….