The mood around the house was joyful this morning (High Fives & Hugs), as it is time to start heading back home. We have had a great time, but we are ready to get out of Orlando.
The kids took a swim in the pool this morning, and while we were in the back, there were four large birds (Cranes? Herons?) which stopped by to pay us a visit. They would practically walk right up to you, and they were over 4 feet tall. We enjoyed taking a few pictures and feeding them some bread crumbs.
Check-out time was 10:00. The cleaning people showed up right on time, but we were nowhere near ready. They left, and then came back around 11:00. We still weren’t ready, and they were getting inpatient. Finally, we got all of our belongings out of the house around 11:15, piled them in the driveway, then spent another 20 minutes loading it all into the vehicles. After spending 9 days in this house, it took a while to gather our food, clothes, and souvenirs back together.
We drove the Interstates almost exclusively today. We did make a stop in Ocala, Florida, at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. All of you NHRA enthusiasts know that Don Garlits’ nickname is “Big Daddy”, and his dragster was nicknamed the “Swamp Rat”. For all of you that did not know that, you can consider yourself a bit more educated today. We ate a picnic lunch under a shade tree while at the Museum. (We actually did not tour the Museum, but KK did get a loud t-shirt in the Gift Shop.)
The Interstates through Florida have got to be among the most monotonous in the US. All you see is tall trees on each side of the road. You can drive right past Gainesville and Tallahassee, and not even realize there are towns there. Erin’s Mom, Deb, said it best when she stated it was like walking on a treadmill. There is very little scenery change for 300 miles.
We arrived in Tallahassee, Florida, around 5:15 looking for a Dairy Queen. We did not immediately see one, so KK suggested we pull over next to an ambulance he spotted in a convenience store parking lot, and ask them. He walked over to the window and said, “I have got an emergency. I need to find a Dairy Queen!” The paramedic replied, “You’re right. You do have an emergency!” We were in luck, because the first DQ in Tallahassee opened just a few months ago. They gave us directions, and we quickly made it there to get our Blizzard “fix”. This was undoubtedly the World’s Nicest Dairy Queen. It had dry stack rock on the exterior, and inside were not one, but two, large flat screen tv monitors showing CNN. I would bet that the folks in Texas (where every small town has a DQ) would argue that this is not a “real” Dairy Queen.
Next, it was on to Enterprise, Alabama, which is home of the Boll Weevil Monument. The fine folks of Enterprise erected a monument back in 1919 to demonstrate “profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the Herald of Prosperity”. We’re all a bit perplexed about this town’s fascination with the Boll Weevil. Many states actually have a Boll Weevil Eradication Council, including Oklahoma. You won’t find a monument like this back home.
This monument is smack dab in the middle of Main Street. We had to dodge some traffic just to make our way to it, for the required photo opportunity. Really, after you read the small marker at the corner, and take a gander at the monument, your work is done in Enterprise. (We also passed by the Boll Weevil Inn. It’s too bad we’re not staying the night in Enterprise.)
By the way, the city of Enterprise made it very easy for us to find the monument. There were several road signs as we came into town and once we were in town, which guided us to the attraction. Are you listening, Poteau?
It is about a 3 hour drive from Enterprise to Birmingham, where we are staying tonight.
A note about hurricanes. Throughout the Gulf Coast, we have seen signs, and heard radio ads, promoting hurricane awareness. While in Orlando, the area (maybe the entire state?) was in the middle of a two week period that exempted certain hurricane preparedness items from sales tax. Items such as batteries, generators, etc. Also, on many highways in Alabama and Florida, you will see “Hurricane Evacuation Route” highway signs on the side of the road. I wonder how much of this promotion of preparedness and awareness was a result of Hurricane Katrina?