Crossing Dixieland ” The Sea Rebel “
Having traveled the 1,995 rail miles from Union Station in Los Angeles to New Orleans I was now confronted with the first big problem in my trip around the world. The planned part of my trip on AMTRAK’S train the Crescent was not going to happen. Evidently, that section of train is periodically worked on this time of year and so the daily service of the Crescent is interrupted. The AMTRAK people in New Orleans were very helpful in figuring out what my best options would be. In the end, I decided to rent a car.
As I rented a Ford Fusion at Avis in New Orleans I didn’t know how many miles it would take to get to Ft. Lauderdale, all I knew was that I better start driving. Back in 1988, I had driven from Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles, CA on the I-10, so I knew what route I would be using most of the way. After dealing with all of the morning rush hour traffic in New Orleans I started heading down the I-10 for Mississippi and Alabama. I would have to cross through both those states before entering Florida.
Since I had planned to spend two more nights on the train before reaching Ft. Lauderdale I figured I would do the same thing on this unplanned road journey. I was fortunate that the weather was good and that the interstate road system created by President Dwight Eisenhower sped me along the way.
As I knew from my trip in 1988, these states each have welcome centers. Just as in 1988, the Mississippi Welcome Center gave me a free cup of coffee. The Florida Welcome Center gave me a free glass of orange juice. They all provided me with info and maps. Back in 1988, I had stayed in Buccaneer State Park in Mississippi and Gulf State Park in Alabama and I would have liked to stay there again but I knew that I better put on more miles before I called it a day.
I ended up staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Crestview, FL in what they call the panhandle. The next night I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Gainesville, FL. This unplanned segment of the trip allowed me to eat great food at Mikey’s On the Bayou in Mississippi and the Red Onion Grill in Lee, Florida. I even got to see a high school basketball game in Gainesville. So 883 miles later, I was now in Ft. Lauderdale, all set to board my cruise ship. I had already traveled 2,778 miles (rail plus car) and visited 8 states and was ready for the next section of the trip.