Round America 50-State Road Trip – Savannah, Georgia to St. Augustine, Florida

Interstated and Ticketed – Day 3

From beautifully-preserved Savannah Georgia, we traveled down two-lane roads with skeletons of businesses put under by the Interstate highways.

We expected a let-down today after such a special day in Savannah yesterday.  We got it.

According to Mr. Rand and Mr. McNally, the distance from Savannah to Saint Augustine is only 180 miles.  It took us 12 hours to get there, so we averaged just 15 miles an hour (though we ended up driving over 350 miles, so we actually averaged about 30 mph).

I recall passing just one vehicle all day.  I hadn’t had a ticket in 9 years, and I had decided to drive at or under the speed limit throughout this trip.  After all, we were driving on two-lane roads to see the sights…not racing to get somewhere.

So it was the lowlight of the day when Officer Vincent Passarelli of Kingsland, Georgia claimed I was driving 55 in a 35.  I was just driving along at the same speed as a bunch of other folks.  Officer Passarelli admitted he was coming from the opposite direction, so he decided to stop the little white convertible instead of any of a variety of pickup trucks and SUV’s.  I joked with him that we had driven only 500 miles of 25,000, and at this rate, I would lose my license before we hit Alabama.  He didn’t laugh.

I tried to get him to let me take his picture, but he refused.  We did manage to get a shot of a sign nearby that said: “Speed Checked by Radar.”  On our Trip Scorecard, I budgeted 0 (zero) traffic tickets, so we are way over budget, and it’s only day 3.

I’m afraid my focus will now have to be on speed signs to avoid seeing more flashing lights in the rearview mirror.  There are a never-ending number of speed limit changes on the two-lane roads that pass through so many towns.

The day began well enough five or six hours earlier, though we got away from the hotel much later than we should have.  Sunny and 75-degrees, so another lovely day.  We drove around the Historic District of Savannah for an hour or so looking at homes for sale, and we saw some nice ones.

We stopped for gas, and we were delighted when we found it was an old-fashioned full-service station.  Thomas pumped our gas, cleaned our windows, and helped me clean the bugs off the front of the car.

We drove off – Saint Augustine, Florida was our ultimate destination.  We got really lost trying to find our two-lane road, and we wasted an hour or more.  I lost count of how many times we got lost today, but I bet it was five or six times.

I joked with Barbara (who I call Boz or Bozzie) that I should place an ad on www.monster.com for a new navigator.  We again regretted that we didn’t have a GPS and joked that we were using a BPS (Bozzie Positioning System).  We finally got on the right road.

We saw the historic Midway Church, built in 1754, but one of the few highlights of the day was a little later when we saw the world’s smallest church — 10-feet by 15-feet, built in 1949 and deeded to Jesus Christ.

We drove through mile after mile of run-down houses and trailers.  Several of the houses looked like something out of “Deliverance.”  I hope the folks who live there are happy.

We reached Brunswick, Georgia for a late lunch at the highly-recommended Georgia Pig restaurant.  We were disappointed, and Boz assured me the ladies room would “win” the worst restroom award in our “Best and Worst” competition.

Jekyll Island was our next stop, and we felt it was a bust.  Boring and not particularly attractive.  The ladies at the Welcome Center were far better than the island.  I adjusted the color on the picture of the ocean at Jekyll Island, and it makes it look a lot prettier than it was.

There is no coastal road from Savannah down to Florida.  We passed through a lot of swampy terrain.  Not a pretty area compared to beautiful Savannah.  We finally saw the ocean at 2:30 in the afternoon.

Throughout the day, we saw one closed bombed-out-looking service station after another.  I love old service stations, and I did find these interesting to see, but it is sad to realize that the Interstate Highways caused so many businesses to fail.

We did find Woodbine to be interesting — mainly because the first thing we saw as we drove into town was an “antiques” shop with a sign out by the highway that says “Dead People’s Things For Sale.”

We met some nice people, including Kevin from Strongsville, Ohio, who we ran into at the Hofwyl-Broadfield rice plantation; another Kevin (the rock climber) in the parking lot at Staples; and Tim and Tiffany inside Staples.  Tiffany had an interesting story; she has two different legal identities!  Her name was misspelled on her birth certificate, so she is legally “Tiaffany.”

We also met some really nice folks on the boat.  Yes, the BOAT.  We had not planned to take a boat ride, but there are a few problems with maps, it seems.  We discovered that maps have far less detail than is ideal; small roads and towns are not shown, and they tend to show roads where they aren’t.

That’s why we ended up on a boat — the St. John’s River Ferry boat — to take us across a wide expanse of water between Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville.  The “Ferry Mistress,” Jennifer, was a delight as were the folks in the vehicle next to us, Melissa and Rodney from Powder Springs, Georgia.

We finally arrived in Saint Augustine after dark at about 8:30 pm.  We couldn’t find our hotel.  When we called, the hotel said they had no reservation for us.  We checked with hotel after hotel to find them all full.  I drove further than I will ever admit before we finally got a room for the night.  To me, there’s nothing much more aggravating after a long day than to hear that you don’t have a room.

We learned a number of lessons today.  I guess the main lesson was Location, Location, Location.  Interesting that Savannah can be so beautiful, but you don’t have to head very far south to see ugly.  And to see what the interstate highway did to businesses on the old two-lane highway delivered a very strong message of the first, last, and some say the only rule in real estate — location, location, location.

The reality hit “home” today that this trip is going to be very hard.  At one frustrating point, my sweet young wife of 34 years said this trip was going to be a cross between Fear Factor and Survivor.  She’s right about the Survivor part; this was to be an endurance test.