Jun 24, 2012

2 for 20: The Drive

As promised, I am keeping up with my reunion journey. Like many writers, I assume no one actually reads what I write. So I'm always a little surprised when someone mentions a post. Tonight at the reunion, one of my friends saw me and said that she wanted to make sure I actually posted about the event. She had read the original post and then read it to her husband. I couldn't back out now.

Before I get into the events of the reunion itself - which will have to wait until tomorrow - I wanted to write about the trip down. Now, having attended UCF in Orlando and had parents in West Palm Beach, I have made this trip a ton of times. I had the whole thing worked out and knew the fastest ways to get from point A to point B. in college, I used to try to beat my own traveling record. My shortest time was made late at night on a Sunday, when I went from my mom's house to my dorm in two hours and eight minutes. For those of you who know how ferociously I follow the speed limit, that may shock you. But I was dumb and in college.

Today I had a full schedule. We had a church wide service project in Orlando this morning. Then there was a church wide lunch after. Then I had to jet to the house and pack and race down to West Palm by six o'clock. I left at 2:30. According to Google, the trip would take 3:15. It would be close, but I should make it.

Now normally, this trip would be on autopilot. But I wasn't driving from UCF to my mom's house. It was from Winter Springs to the Omphony Resort in Palm Beach. So I rejected my good memory and went with Google maps. I was cruising on 528, jamming out to Mumford and Sons. Instead of getting off on 520 and taking it to I-95, I obeyed Google and kept going on 528 towards Cape Canaveral. I was driving and waiting to see when to get onto I-95. This was when I the first landfill.

Now for those of you who aren't from Florida, let me explain. There are no mountains in Florida. One of the tallest bumps in Florida is Space Mountain at Disney. We have a few hills, but mostly the state is flat or below sea level. It's a fact. So if you see a hill rising in the distance, it is probably a landfill. A dump. You'll get to experience it with all your senses too, because they stink to high heaven. Especially during the summer. The thing that amazes me is that, for some reason, we don't hide our dumps. They at usually parked right next to a major road. In this case, 538. Green hill, rotten eggs, dump.

So I keep on my merry way. Soon, I am near a big body of water. I don't remember this body of water or the bridge. But I know I didn't usually take 528 to I-95. This must be new or from the area I'm not used to. Off in the distance, I see the NASA vehicle assembly building (VAB). I know I've never seen that before. I must have been really out of it all those trips home. I snap a few pics with my phone out the car window and keep going.

Then I see some cruise ships out in the distance. Well, pretty close actually. I know for a fact that I have never seen cruise ships on I-95. My brain convinces me that they port wasn't as active then. It was twenty years ago. Disney didn't have a cruise ship then. So I snap a few phone pics and keep going. Then the speed limit drops to 45. I know that something is off. Interstates do NOT have 45 speed limits. Then there was a red light. This is where I finally completely realized that I was in the wrong place. I check my Google maps and it won't load. I think it knew it was in trouble. I keep driving, screaming at the phone. I'm in Merritt Island. I have completely missed the interstate and am on the coast and have lost thirty minutes of travel time.

I called Heather and was flipping out. I had no idea what had happened. She asked, "Did you fall asleep AGAIN?" I was offended. Except, she has good reason to ask this. One time I was driving a van full of college students from Orlando to Ridgecrest, NC. In Jacksonville, I fell asleep and actually exited I-95 and ended up on I-10 headed to Tallahassee. The kids all wondered what happened and I covered it by saying I got distracted by traffic. But I confessed later. So they made sure someone kept me awake after that. Anyway, I did NOT fall asleep this time. But I did miss my exit.

Now I am running late. Fortunately I have experience breaking the land speed record from Orlando to WPB. I did not follow posted speed signs and made up the time I lost. As I was driving, I saw two more landfills. Florida - the landfill state. Things were very familiar (now). I noticed that Palm Beach County has added a ton of lanes to I-95. Finally I got to my old stomping grounds. Again, instead of listening to the twenty odd years of driving in West Palm Beach, I followed Google Maps.

I'm not always a Google basher. Yes, I will side with Apple in the impending war bwteweem the companies. But Google has its benefits for sure. Today, though, I was glad Apple is ditching Google Maps. The directions take me onto Ocean Drive, which is supposed to dump me off at the resort. "Destination will be on the left." First, it didn't say that it would be five miles up on the left. Second, it didn't say that the freaking road was closed about a half mile up. Third, it didn't give me the more intelligent directions that would have had me get there in the most direct route from the interstate.

Anyway, I got there - no thanks to Google and my own stupidity. And I will leave the story there. Yomorrow, when I have a better Internet connection and don't have to type the entire post on my phone, I will write about the reunion itself. And Monday I will post about my driving around my old haunts on Sunday. I know you can't wait.

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