2021 Florida Trip - Introduction and Getting There


Hi, I’m Steve, and I write trip reports. Or at least I used to when we would go on trips. All of that got sidelined last year due to the global pandemic and the inadvisability of traveling, as you might expect. But hey, guess what? We went on a trip this year! A Florida trip!

In the past, our trip reports would mainly focus on what I would consider “big” trips, such as a cruise or a trip to Hawaii. I have not normally written these reports when we would go on a Florida trip. But because we have had two cruises canceled now because of all of this, I figured any trip is worthy of a trip report, so here we are.

As I mentioned above, I’m Steve - husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, and whatever else. As is normal for these trips, I was joined by my wife Laura, and also by our son Jaylin, who just graduated from high school. We have all made lots of Florida trips in the past. This Florida trip would be considered rather routine by most standards, but it was good for us to be able to get away from everything at home and enjoy ourselves for a while.

I said all along that we would not be visiting any theme parks on this Florida trip, due to all the Park Pass scheduling stuff, mask-wearing, and whatever else has been going on. After all of the stuff that goes along with high school graduation, along with all of the extra work for Laura of teaching during a pandemic, a relaxing week sounded good to us. Except maybe to Jaylin, who might have wanted a little more excitement at times. But he (and I) did visit Six Flags in Georgia the week before we left, so there was that.

And as usual for our recent trips, we did not have much of a plan. We had a place to stay, which was our usual week in the High Point World Resort. If you need a nice, quiet place to stay that is close to Disney and everything else, check it out. And no, they did not pay me to say that.

We approached the day of our departure with excitement and anticipation, hoping that we would have a good time. Spoiler alert: we did indeed have a good time. It was fun! Otherwise, I would not be writing about it, would I?

Friday, June 4

Getting up early on the day that we leave for vacation is not always popular, but it does help in the long run. Jaylin had worked late the night before, but we had all done most of our packing ahead of time. That meant that we mainly just had to load the car and feed the horses before leaving home. We packed a lot of stuff in the car, which made me wonder if we would have room to bring home whatever souvenirs we might buy because we always end up coming home with more than we take. But we could figure that out later on.

We got on the road, leaving our home in Tennessee sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 in the morning. The Waze app on my phone said that we could get all the way there by around 9:00 that night if we drove straight through. But of course, we can’t drive straight through. People need food and rest stops, after all.

However, we did drive straight through Mississippi without stopping. We had talked about stopping at a mall to do some shopping, but we decided to just keep going and get farther on down the road. There would be plenty of time for shopping later on in our trip.

These trip reports usually have lots of photos. But I have a bad habit of not taking any photos on our travel days. So here is one from later on in this trip that I already shared on social media. More about it - and more photos - later on!

We eventually did start to get hungry and need one of those food stops, so we stopped in Hamilton, Alabama, at a Love’s station that also had an Arby’s inside of it. As soon as we stopped there, I knew I had been there recently. I checked my credit card notifications to be sure, and I was right. On the trip with the high school band seniors the week before, we had stopped there on the way home. Just one of those fun little coincidences. Lunch was good, except that it was freezing cold in the dining area. While we were thankful to be able to actually eat in a restaurant and not in our car, we would have been a little more comfortable controlling the temperature in our car. I know how they can either sell food a little cheaper or make a bigger profit: turn down the air conditioner! Also, we went ahead and filled up the gas tank while we were there to consolidate our stops as much as possible.

We drove on through Birmingham and down through Montgomery. Traffic was pretty light in our direction, but there were several accidents going the opposite direction. I hoped it would not be that way a week later when we were on the way home.

At every stop, Laura and I switched up driving, so that we each drove for two hours and then rested for two hours. That seemed to help break things up a bit and kept us from getting too tired.

Although I often complain about the difficulty of getting anywhere in Tallahassee, we did stop there for supper, finding a Firehouse Subs that was close to the highway and easy to get to. While we were eating, I thought I might look at hotels on down the road to find somewhere to stop. It was a good thing that I did, because most all of the ones that I looked at were either full or out of our price range. Maybe more people are traveling now compared to last year, which is good for hotel business. I decided to go ahead and book a room in Ocala, Florida. That was a little farther than I might have wanted to go, but it would be good to know we had a room when we stopped.

We drove on the rest of the way from there, getting to our hotel in Ocala around 10:45. Our room was waiting for us, which was a good thing because the parking lot was about full. So it was indeed a good thing to have reserved a room. I will remember that for the future.

Laura liked all of the horse decor around the hotel. As it turns out, we were near the Florida Horse Park, which is a large venue for horse shows of all kinds. We have always known that there are a lot of horse farms in that area. So I started looking at the satellite photos on Google Maps, and it was interesting to see all the farms and private race tracks around us.

Once we had gotten settled in our room, it was time for bed. Isn’t it interesting how tired a day in the car will make you feel?

Check back for more from our 2021 Florida Trip soon!

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.