Samantha muses on road trip deja vu. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

I don’t know why I thought that driving twice from Florida to Massachusetts would be easy, fun, or comfortable. Truthfully, it was the most financially feasible way to move. The first time was characterized by awe over the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and falling in love with a new city. The second time, though, I didn’t go through the mountains. I went straight up I-95, practically the whole way, stopping once in Savannah, once three hours north of Savannah (from exhaustion), and once to spend the night in Washington D.C.

The Savannah, GA riverfront is a charming place to eat, drink, and be merry.

The more direct route will likely be the most boring route.

As I mentioned before, this time around was not really a road trip, per se, but a long drive to a new home. I was in a hurry to get back to job hunting and to stop feeling like I was caught with one foot in Florida and one foot in Massachusetts. Yet the hard part about the direct route is that it offers no pleasing sights. Compared to the lushness of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I-95 was a cement desert. (Although, a red desert was actually quite stunning to drive through last year.)

Shorter legs don’t guarantee faster days.

I thought that my 7-hour/8-hour/9-hour days would be smarter than the first trip’s 12-hour/14-hour/3-hour days. But without a book-on-tape–and why do we still call them that?–or pleasing scenery, they felt even longer. Plus, the first time was new and exciting. The second time was riddled with boredom, anxiety over having potentially left belongings in Florida, and the obnoxious commuters’ schedule of the Northeast.

Savannah was the highlight.

I was glad, though, that I decided to stop in Savannah for a night. While I wish I had stopped with more daylight hours left in the day, I’m glad to have had time to experience the southern gem. The river walk is, like in San Antonio, at a lower level than the street. The cobblestone street was so uneven that my walking was uneasy. Charming. As night came, the archways added an almost medieval feel.

As I walked down River Street, a ghost tour trolley came riding along, stopping right in front of me. How perfect, I thought! This is just the place for a ghost tour, with the Oak and Spanish Moss adding a characteristic eeriness to the streets. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in another vehicle, so I passed on the tour this time, thinking that I should definitely hop on if I passed through Savannah again.

I was so taken by the riverfront bars and restaurants because they played my kind of folk/country mix, served my favorite type of bar food (oysters), and were built in old stone cellars where cotton used to be stored.

I stayed at the retro Thunderbird Inn, where primary colors filled the walls, soda fountains welcomed me in the lobby, and moon pies were placed on my pillow each morning.

While driving from Florida to Massachusetts (for the second time!), Samantha stayed at the retro Thunderbird Inn. Image by Flickr user
While driving from Florida to Massachusetts (for the second time!), Samantha stayed at the retro Thunderbird Inn. Image by Flickr user

The last day was the worst day.

I hit traffic only three hours into a nine-hour drive, and traffic didn’t lift until I had already gone most of the way. At which point, the GPS stopped working just as I ended up in a neighborhood without street lights, arriving after dark since I was three hours later than scheduled, after taking twelve hours instead of nine (and nine was the conservative estimate). I was tired, lost, cranky, falling asleep, and stiff. But I had made it.

Closing Thoughts on Two Long Drives:

  • Audiobooks may require more concentration than music (which leads to tired driving), but they certainly make the time pass less painfully.
  • While some people choose to avoid drinking many liquids on a long drive, I would choose hydration and pit stops over swollen legs and headaches any day. (Perhaps I’m just getting old or have neglected yoga too long, but my joints are achy.) And when you’re driving solo, you can stop as often as you like or need.
  • The range of gas prices is ridiculous. From $3.22 to $3.98 per gallon within a couple of miles!
  • Little side-of-the-road inns are cheap, convenient, and relatively safe. I always assumed they were for truck drivers, passersby, or people who didn’t plan well. But I guess I fit into the latter category this time.

Oysters are the best kind of bar food! (At Bernie's Oyster House in Savannah, GA.
Oysters are the best kind of bar food! (At Bernie’s Oyster House in Savannah, GA.
  • Driving 3200 miles over the span of six days is not as enjoyable as I convinced myself it would be. If you can, do whatever it takes to give yourself at least a day’s worth of exploration. It might make the entire trip more pleasant.

But now I’m here in Massachusetts, ready to begin my life in a place that I am in no rush to leave, the first place I’ve moved to in a while that I didn’t immediately assume would be temporary. How nice!

Flickr image under Creative Commons.