Florida during Thanksgiving holidays 2008 (27-30-Nov-2008)
In 2008 we planned for the thanksgiving
holiday (27 to 30th Nov) at Orlando, Florida. We booked a
full size car (Toyota Avalon) for four of us (my daughter,
wife, brother-in-law and self). Starting at 8:00 am on 27th
(Thursday) we drove almost 1000 hours with six breaks in 18
hours though as per map quest it is around 16 hours. Mid-way
we lost at least one hour driving back because our gas tank
was almost exhausted and there was no pump at least another
20 miles ahead from the point where we started to feel
uncomfortable about the situation.
Instead of breaking up the journey in two days we planned to make it in one looooong single day as time was main constraint in this trip with so many things to see in Florida and only two effective days in hand.
We took the direct route via I-376 E and I-279 W on Interstate 79 S through Washington and Greene counties toward West Virginia. Then with West Virginia's 70 mph speed limit it's a fast 136-mile drive to U.S. Route 19.
On Route 19 experience a breathtaking view as you cross the New River Gorge. (The National Park Service's free Canyon Ridge Visitor's Center - on your left before you reach the bridge - provides history and observation decks for a different perspective.)
Caveat: On Route 19 you'll see one of the country's most notorious speed traps -- Summersville. The speed limit drops from 65 mph to 50 mph about 5 miles before you hit town and lasts for several miles after you've left town. This community hands out around 20,000 tickets a year.
Next is more than 300-mile drive down I-77 through Virginia to Interstate 26 south of Charlotte, N.C. The traffic is generally light. Be careful with your speed through South Carolina as you did in Summersville. As soon as you hit Interstate 95, the traffic is bad. The stretch north of Savannah, Ga., is a bottleneck before the highway goes to three lanes.
On I-95, the route is straight 320 miles drive passing thru Georgia entering Florida. We took a break here as we see the first Waffle House after many years. My brother in law could not resist temptation to be photographed with the serving lady with astonishing hair style.
At last I-4 will take you to Orlando in an hour.
On 28th we covered Magic Kingdom giving first priority to our daughter's dreamland. Next day Universal Studio and a glimpse of Island of Adventure took the whole day stretching our sleeping time at 3 am. Next day while travelling back we touched Daytona.
Congestion on I-95 S slowed down the huge returning traffic and delayed our return journey by at least three hours.
We reached home at 5:00 am in the morning and attended office at 9:00 am as planned.
Round-trip fuel costs estimated at $200, plus around $100 in road food. Compare it with air fare $400 per head totaling around $1500. Yes - it is a lot on saving. Add enjoyment of the memorable driving experience: priceless.