The plan for day 9 had been to head east out of Orlando taking the 528 towards Titusville where we would be able to see the Space Shuttle on the launchpad ready for liftoff at Kennedy Space Center. However, the shuttle had lifted off days before after a few delays and so we skipped it. We took I-4 North out of Orlando on what would turn out to be -- unknown to me at the time -- one of the longest driving days of our trip.
We arrived at Daytona Beach about an hour or so later and stopped. It's pretty cool at Daytona Beach, you can drive your car right onto the beach which was great because I didn't want to have to waste a lot of time parking and walking etc... We slipped into our swimsuits and ran toward the waves while the wife took a nap on the beach. The kids would finally be able to compare the Atlantic to the Pacific 8 days after departing from Redondo Beach, California as I had promised them. I had told them at Redondo Beach to note everything about it so they could compare it to the Atlantic.
The first thing they noticed was the lack of seaweed. In Redondo Beach you would sometimes come up out of the water and have a "seaweed vest" hanging over your shoulders. The second thing they noted is that you can walk, walk and walk into the water. The slope is much gentler at Daytona Beach and they noted that the sideways current seemed to be greater. They also found the water to be saltier and that the sand was also different here, being more hardly packed and flat compared to the "fluffy" sand in California. It was much easier to make sand castles in California, for kids anyway. In California they had no problem finding sand crabs that had dug their way into the sand by following bubbles after the water washed over it. They had more trouble in Florida doing that.
The general consensus from the kids though was that they liked Daytona Beach better. I think the lack of seaweed and the shallower water had a lot to do with it.
|Driving down the beach at Daytona Beach|
|Redondo Beach from day 1, eight days earlier|
We stayed at the beach for an hour or two playing and having a blast in the water. We went to a public restroom right off the beach to clean up afterwards. It took forever for the girls to get cleaned up. I must have stood outside waiting for a good half an hour.
Finally, we got back in the car.
We headed north on the A1A, which parallels I-95, but stays closer to the ocean and was enjoyable. It was a little slower, but I like to take some time just to relax and not be "go! go! go!" on the highway all the time.
We passed by Marineland about an hour later and it had been one place I looked at stopping originally, but it was a Monday and it was closed, so I had marked it off our trip plan. Marineland use to be quite an attraction, now they have things like swimming with dolphins and the like.
At St. Augustine I decided to jump on the I-95 and start heading north after the relaxing morning drive.
We passed through Jacksonville and on to the Georgia border. I could actually see a storm coming at us in the distance. It hit with a fury and visibility dropped to zero within 3 seconds as the water dumped on us like from a waterfall.
I slowed and about a minute later it was totally gone. We hit another one of these about half an hour later, but it lasted for a good 15 minutes and the driving was slow. I'd say scary is a good way to describe driving through a storm like that. I gripped the wheel like a madman my knuckles white and my concentration fully focused. I hate that type of driving, it wears you out rather quickly.
Thankfully we made our way through it and continued on. Several hours later we arrived near Savannah, Georgia. I wanted to stop in Savannah, the "most beautiful city in America" some say, but it was dark and rainy. I just wanted to drive around for awhile and check things out.
We skipped the drive around Savannah and kept going, jumping onto 17 north. We entered South Carolina soon after leaving Savannah and there were no scheduled stops in the state so it was a straight drive through.
Jacksonville, Florida to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is about 350 miles and a good 6 hour drive. We arrived late at night since we had spent so much time in Florida that morning. We wanted to get a room and then head down to the strip for awhile and walk around. There were teens and college kids for the most part walking all around. After fruitlessly searching for a place -- they all wanted hundreds of dollars down as a deposit on the room in addition to the nightly rate due to damage these punks do-- we decided to just park and get a place outside of Myrtle Beach later.
We walked down to the beach just to take a look and then we walked around all the gift stores on the strip. We hit an open-air arcade and the kids wanted to play, but they'd only accept $10's or something like that so we had to go break a $20. We walked across the street to a "buy 3 t-shirts for $10" store and grabbed a few. By the time the girls had picked out what they wanted and we got back to the arcade it had closed. Then in rapid-fire succession each store closed one by one as we walked by them.
We stopped at the one place open, an ice cream store, and grabbed a couple scoops. Then everyone decided that Myrtle Beach really sucked and we left.
We jumped back on the 17 heading north planning to get a place soon for the night. We stopped and grabbed some coffee and my programming genes kicked in giving me the uncanny ability to stay awake for several days straight at a time and we decided to skip the stop all together and just continue on.
We drove into North Carolina and through Wilmington, Holly Ridge, Jacksonville and Morehead City. Around Beaufort I just couldn't do it anymore, I had reached my peak with all the night driving. It's about 200 Miles from Myrtle Beach to a place called Goodwin Hills, North Carolina where we were heading and portions of it were along really slow roads so it had taken 5 hours and was approaching 6AM. I finally woke the wife and told her I couldn't make the final half-hour. She took over driving for the first time in the trip and I napped for half an hour until we arrived at our destination of Goodwin Hills, North Carolina.
This ended day 9 for me. By no means did it actually "end the day" for me though as after 1/2 an hours sleep I would not see sleep again until nearly 16 hours later.