So here we are on the middle leg of the trip. This part is going to take more driving than we've had to tolerate thus far, but that's nothing that scares any of us. But we start it off with a drive from Key West to Tampa, Fl. on a whopping 7 1/2 hour drive, mostly on routes 1 and 75. This will leave us plum-tuckered and looking for a place to stay - however, Tampa being such a temperate locale, we might just have to camp out for the night.
Up next is a long, monotonous drive from Tampa to Macon, Ga. This is more of a symbolic stop than any, having been the site of the deaths of two members of the Allman Brothers Band in two seperate motorcycle accidents. The drive requires nearly six hours, nearly all of which is on Rt. 75 North. I'm pushing for a stop off in central Florida's Ocala National Forest during this long, arduous drive, perhaps for a proper picnic lunch.
Our next destination is a stone's throw away in Atlanta, a mere hour and a half drive up route 75 again. This further necessitates a stop in Macon immediately prior, because eight hours at a time to get to one big, urban center is a little extreme. This is a big place with a lot pf people, and will probably require a two day visit.
Up next we bumped into another dilemma. We're getting close to a pretty big deal of a trip stop is a few hundred miles, and to get there,we have two forseeable routes. I'd originally wanted to head nearly due west to Birmingham, Al., a city rich with history (mainly due to the civil rights movement).We could go that route, our we could head the more scenic direction, southeast through Montgomery to Pensacola, Fl. Personally, I have no problems dipping back into Florida for a spell, nor do I have any qualms with picking beaches over historical landmarks. So we'll head to Pensacola, followed closely by Mobile, Al. (just because of the Bob Dylan song) after five and half hours on routes 85 and 65 to Pensacola and another hour on Route 10 to Mobile.
After Mobile comes a big, big place for us to see - New Orleans. We'll get there via Route 10 after about two and a half hours and 130 miles. A cultural center of the South and the United States altogether, this place is chock full of things to see, meals to eat and a few people to visit. We'll probably stretch this visit into three days of fun and frolicking.
Next, we're getting into the "real" America with a six-hour drive north on Route 55 to Memphis, Tn. This place is unmissable in my opinion, but also has a possibly convenient stop in Jackson, Ms. a few hours before. We might stop for gas. Otherwise, we'll have nobody to stay with in Memphis and will definately need to break out the campground guide for our stay.
Further north we'll encounter St. Louis, after 275 freakin' miles and four freakin' hours on Route 55 again. Can't miss this place, the city of blues, but we'll be on our own again in terms of sleeping conditions. Look for us in another campground near town.
At this point in our planning, we paused and deliberated for a moment. Is Indianapolis worth the gas? Well, we decided that yes, it might very well be, and who are we to pass judgement without seeing it firsthand? So we've decided to trek the 220 miles on Route 20 to exactly there, Indianapolis, In. My mom's old boyfriend, Dale, lives in this area and boasts an alcohol tolerance that would make Castro cower in fear. So we're gonna have to get some drinks with ol' Dale, and beg him to use his shower.
Next we'll bounce north-northwest to Chicago, Il., the hometown of our new president. This'll take about a three-hour drive, mostly on I-65 North. Our friend Adrienne from college lives there, as does deep dish pizza. So we'll weasel our way into staying with her and eating that pizza.
Not too far north is where the beer is brewed, and we'll be drinking a few. Milwaukee, Wi., home of the Brewers, is our next destination, 80 miles north along Lake Michigan on Route 94. You might have noticed that we've completely skipped Michigan. Give me a few good reasons to change my mind, because we've got none so far. I don't know that we have anyone out in Milwaukee, so hopefully it won't be too cold outdoors.
We're driving through Madison, Wi., which we believed to be the home of the beautiful bridges of Madison County. We made that up, they're in Iowa, I believe. So we might just mow through and head straight to our next stop, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mn. I'm positive we'll be on our own at this point, but by now we're past the halfway point (at least in terms of my preemptive coverage here), so we should be able to take care of ourselves pretty well. Assuming no one has perished yet.
Keep your fingers crossed.
Image courtesy Google Maps