Florida or bust

With any luck this was our last road trip by car for a while. And it was our first road trip with an additional person, Angie’s dad. He is joining us for part of our bike trip so he headed down to Florida with us this week.
We left Ohio on Monday, February 2 on a bitterly cold morning. We had loaded the car, Thule box and bikes on Sunday. We knew it would take some time to reach our destination, but we all couldn’t wait to get to Florida and the warm. In the end we actually got here a day early because our plan to stop and visit for a couple of nights with one of Angie’s cousins in Chattanooga was scuttled by family sickness. We found this out when we paused at an REI in Knoxville. Therefore, the only highlight of my brief first time in Tennessee was in the store parking lot. We reached the car to see a young man peering at our bikes. I said to him, “which one are you admiring?” He said “all of them.” Turned out he was the head mechanic at the store and so he totally knew what he was looking at.
Highlights of the road trip do not include the freezing cold weather even into southern Georgia, and endless hours in the car, even with three of us driving instead of two. They do include: my first time in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia (Rebbe’s also), and my first time eating at a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurant. I have to say it may have been better quality food than our meal at the Outback in Victorville, California. I ordered the fried chicken livers and chose steamed broccoli as one of my vegetables, which was very good. My only disappointment was that the cornbread was meh.
One other cool moment was when we stopped at a gas station, still in Georgia I think, and I took Rebbe to stretch his legs. I was passing a couple fueling up their truck who called out to me. They had a little white dog in the cab and they told me it was a Coton. I mentioned that the breeder from whom we had gotten Rebbe bred Cotons and Wheaton terriers. After clearing up confusion that we were local, and me explaining that we were from Colorado, the woman asked if it was Heartland Classics! It turned out they were from Wisconsin and had obtained their dog from the same breeder as the one where we found Rebbe. What a small world! Of course I’m still not sure why they were heading back to Wisconsin in February, even if they had been in the Keys since November!
We were aware that the types of birds we see would start changing as we neared Florida. We saw tons of turkey vultures along the way once we hit Georgia, and Angie thinks she saw one baldy. Once we got off the interstate we also started seeing osprey on nesting platforms along the sides of the roads, as well as some water birds we are still trying to identify, possibly clapper rails. I fear it’s going to be hard to ID some of these new birds but I’m looking forward to seeing them.
We arrived in Palm Harbor in the late afternoon and were happy to say hello again to Angie’s aunt and uncle, and once we’d settled in a bit, they took us off to one of their favorite local establishments, Molly Goodheads Raw Bar. The place was large and boisterous, and the food pretty hearty. A nice introduction to the area.

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