As I do every year, I spent the week before Thanksgiving with my mother in Florida.
The vacation wasn’t much different from most other times on the Florida Gulf Coast. The weather was beautiful, I spent every day at the beach and I got some early Christmas shopping done.
Even if my week in Florida seemed the same, it was how I got there that was different from every other vacation.
I drove all the way from metropolitan Baker Heights, W.Va., to Bradenton, Fla., by myself.
Sure, it took a heck of a lot longer to get there, but I decided I didn’t want to deal with the airport after my last experience flying.
In January, I headed to Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington International Airport for what I thought would be just another routine flight to Florida.
As I headed to the security checkpoint, one of those friendly security dogs decided to accost me.
So the dog’s handlers escorted me to the front of the line for an all-too-intensive security check.
I went through and was escorted to a small room and spent about the next 20 minutes getting the once-over several times.
I stood there politely, answered all of the security personnel questions and got patted down several times.
I eventually was told I could board my flight. I decided then and there that was the last time I was flying for a while.
So on Nov. 10, I loaded up my sport utility vehicle and went on my adventure to see America, or at least a large portion of Interstate 95.
I couldn’t realistically get to Florida in one day, so I split up the driving over two days.
I decided to make that day my longer driving day. After getting on the road at about 9:30 a.m., I headed to Savannah, Ga.
I made a few stops along the way, including an hour for lunch in Wilson, N.C.
I needed those stops. Driving through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina on I-95 can get quite monotonous.
At about 8:30 p.m., I finally got off the highway and eventually found the hotel at which I was staying.
The accommodations were adequate. All I really wanted was a comfortable bed and a TV.
I ate dinner and passed out by 10 p.m.
I got to Florida and spent six full days there before reversing course and heading home.
I changed my route and decided to cut up Interstate 26 for Columbia, S.C., for another overnight break.
The Savannah motel was adequate. The Columbia motel made the Georgia stay look like The Ritz-Carlton.
I headed toward the bed and my socks got soaked. There were wet spots all over the wood floor.
There were quite a few unsavory characters at the motel making noise on the second floor.
And when I walked over to the desk in my room about an hour later, a bug was crawling all over it.
Needless to say, I needed a second sleeping pill to get through the night.
I got out of that place as soon as I got out of bed and headed toward Interstate 81 in Virginia.
Driving 240 miles through Virginia was like trying to finish the JFK 50 Mile. It took forever.
I finally got home at 8 p.m. and fell asleep sitting up at 8:30 p.m.
It was a lot of driving, but it was still worth the trip.
Despite all of the hassles, I’d do it all again if it means skipping the plane.