US Road Trip Travelog: 27th February 2005

In the morning I really wish I hadn't booked somewhere else to drive to today. It's been raining hard all night and is still doing so in the morning. I was thinking about using the I-10 today, but the weather puts that idea out of the question. My route, therefore, is down through Tallahassee itself to find Highway 319 south and then Highway 98 on west around the coast.

The next four hours and 160 miles are the hardest I've driven in the US. The wind is strong, and the mist is quite thick, but it's the heavy rain and standing water that make it so difficult. I'm not a big fan of driving on Sundays anyway - either here or back in the UK - as there are too many God botherers out on the roads who seem to think that anything over 34 MPH will condemn them to an eternal hell. Visibility is nil, the standing water causes the Riviera to move around the road, and the water in the brakes makes stopping a bit of a challenge. There are also quite a few idiots out there driving without any lights on, which makes any overtaking manoeuvre a big risk. Most of the time it's just not worth taking the gamble.

The route itself is quite nice, and on a sunny day this would be a great drive as in many places you have the coast on one side and land on the other. As it is it's hard work, and one that I just want to end as soon as possible. Eventually I get to Panama City and then to Panama City Beach, where my motel is, which is a great relief.

Once in the Quality Inn there's something better to report. Not only have I got here in time to watch the NASCAR race but the rain stops, the wind dies down, and the sun comes out for a bit. My room has a view, and a balcony, overlooking the beach. Fantastic.

Panama City Beach motel room view
The view from my Panama City Beach motel room.

For the next few hours I can watch the race and, when it gets a bit boring or the adverts start, walk out to the balcony and sit there and soak up the sun. This is so different from what I was expecting on the drive down and across that I can't quite believe it. After the race I walk down to the nearest restaurant - Sharkys - and have a steak with rice and a half dozen grilled shrimps (prawns), plus a couple of beers, for $18. And then walk back along the beach to my motel. You can't beat that.

Well, until you get back to your motel room and find that rather than having to endure the Oscars there's a whole evening of Dukes of Hazzard repeats on CMT (Country Music Television). I must have done something right in a previous life, because I certainly haven't done anything to deserve this sort of treat in this one.

US Road Trip Travelog: 28th February 2005 >