Ryed New Reader
3/16/16 11:15 a.m.

I'm eagerly anticipating a flight to Florida and subsequent pick up of my wife's "new" 2006 BMW 530xi wagon found here on GRM and being sold by JG Pasterjack on eBay.

Myself and Pdudley42 (not sure if he's on GRM, but that's his universal forum handle) are flying from Burlington, VT to Sanford, FL this evening. Then taking a cab to JG's or the Howard Johnson's close to his home, depending on his availability late tonight.

The plan will be get on the road as early as reasonably possible and head north and make it back home to VT by dinner time on Friday. I found a cool site MeetWays.com that helps calculate the 1/2 way point. Based on the route I mapped, Spootswood, VA is the 1/2 way point. The goal will be to get at least that far tomorrow; further if energy and daylight permit...

ultraclyde UberDork
3/16/16 12:47 p.m.

Sounds cool. You guys sticking to 95 on the coast for the return run? Should be beautiful right now.

Ryed New Reader
3/16/16 1:20 p.m.
ultraclyde wrote: Sounds cool. You guys sticking to 95 on the coast for the return run? Should be beautiful right now.

Nope, heading inland as I'd like to avoid I95 between Baltimore, Philly, and the dirty Jerz. It's only an hour longer going around according to google maps, and that doesn't factor in traffic.

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/16/16 1:32 p.m.

It's Spring Break 2016 and Florida is probably packed to the gills. I strongly recommend avoiding I95 like the plague. It will be a zoo all week and by the weekend will probably be worse.

All of these kids will be headed back to school up north with unbelievable hangovers.

Drive safe and don't forget the Valium.

Ryed New Reader
3/16/16 1:44 p.m.
Toyman01 wrote: It's Spring Break 2016 and Florida is probably packed to the gills. I strongly recommend avoiding I95 like the plague. It will be a zoo all week and by the weekend will probably be worse. All of these kids will be headed back to school up north with unbelievable hangovers. Drive safe and don't forget the Valium.

Great... Hopefully they're all south of Ormond Beach, as I don't see any good option other than 95.

dyintorace UberDork
3/16/16 1:44 p.m.

Alternatively, head south and check out the 12 hours of Sebring on Saturday. You'll be close already!

Ryed New Reader
3/16/16 1:46 p.m.

In reply to dyintorace:

I wish. I need to be back in VT by Friday night as I need to work on Saturday...

Ryed New Reader
3/19/16 11:36 a.m.

Our trip started at the Burlington International Airport. It's a great little airport with seemingly very little activity at 6:30 in the evening. We wizzed through security and grabbed a bite to eat at the Skinny Pancake inside the terminal.

Pdudley42 reviewed the two routes that I proposed while I enjoyed some grub and a Focal Banger (wonderful beer brewed by the Alchemist in Waterbury, VT)

The flight on Allegiant Air was delayed by an hour, which was less than ideal as we were hoping to meet J.G. that night. Direct flights from Burlington are few and far between. Lucking for us Allegiant flies direct to Sanford, FL and is a "discount" airline, so GRM budget-friendly. $265 all-in for both tickets was a bargain. How do they do that? Well, one way is I think they bought plastic seats from Ikea and covered them in a very thin layer of semi-padded vinyl.

So a 10:15 arrival turned into an 11:15 arrival. Luckily J.G. was still amenable to meeting. So we hopped in a pre-arranged ride from King Cab out of Ormond Beach, and off we were to meet J.G. at Oh-Dark-30.

Next: The pick up.

Ryed New Reader
3/23/16 2:55 p.m.

So we got to J.G.'s at about 12:30 AM. Thankfully J.G. is a night owl and was still tinkering away in his shop. If I had a shop like that I would be there night and day as well, lots of open space, and even a lift. We exchanged pleasantries, went over a few details about the car, saw the donkey next door, put a plate on the car and headed to Daytona Beach for some shuteye at Howard Johnson's.

We were up and at 'em about 6:15. Pdudly42's morning quote was "I slept like a crack head on a freight train." I too didn't sleep very well despite being exhausted. Off we went to the Waffle House for some caffeine and breakfast.

We were on the road by 7:15 and the sun was just coming up. Initially there was some commuter traffic, but no real signs of spring break madness luckily. Within an hour or so the traffic dissipated, and we started making good time.

We didn't bring a radar detector, so our strategy was to find a "blocker" that was moving at a decent rate of speed and stay about 1/8 mile behind them. With 70 MPH speed limits the majority of the way, we were able to make good time averaging 80-85 MPH for most of the trip.

As we approached late afternoon Pdudley42 pulled out the trusty atlas and we made a plan to get off the interstate and hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and literally drive into the sunset. We stopped at a self-service car wash in Buena Vista, VA and gave the car a quick bath as we anticipated a photo opportunity in our near future. This was about the time that I came up with a name for the car. Introducing Ms. Grace Jones:

Wow, the Blue Ridge Parkway did not disappoint! What an incredible drive. I believe it must have just opened that day or very recently as we drove more than 20 miles without seeing another car. We started to get worried that we would come to a closed gate and have to turn around. Luckily that was not the case.

Once it got dark we got off the Blue Ridge parkway and into a town that I have already forgotten the name of. We drove around looking for a decent place to eat, and came up short. Strange depressed little town, but it had a Porsche dealership smack in the middle! It seemed totally out of place.

After a mediocre meal at a "family buffet" style dinner, we were anxious to find a hotel and get some much needed sleep. Using a booking app on my phone I found another Howard Johnson close by. The one in Daytona was clean and comfortable, so this one should be too right?... Not so much.

When checking in the guy at the front desk reminded me of something between a World of Warcraft gamer and a sketchy character on the X-Files. Then when getting on the elevator a guy getting off almost knocked me over. Up we went to the 3rd floor. Mr X-Files didn't give us any direction on where our room was so we guessed and went towards the hallway/balcony on the front side of the building. The doors to the rooms were on the outside of the building. Apparently that was the odd numbered rooms, and the even numbered rooms were on the back side of the building. We could hear some noise/arguing coming from one of the rooms. Hopefully the back side of the building will be more quiet.

We got into our room and it was pretty crappy. But we were tired and just wanted to get some sleep. Pdudley42 took a shower while I went out to hit a convenience store and grab some provisions for day two. As I'm walking towards the elevator two people come from the front side of the hotel and join me on the ride down. To say they reeked of marijuana would be an understatement. I think I got a contact high.

I get into the parking lot and two more people come in and head straight to the elevator. Not sure where they went, but I suspect floor # 3. I observe two cars with two people in each, just sitting there. At this point I'm pretty nervous, and am pretty sure there is some nefarious activity going on up there. I decided it would be best for me to continue to the car and run my errand.

When I got back 15 minutes later, those 2 cars were gone, and another had shown up. Again, two people just sitting in their car. I went up to our room, walked in an said "we're out of here." I explained my observations to Pdudley42, and that I wasn't comfortable staying there, or leaving a shiny BMW with an extra set of wheels in back out front when I know that an unknown number of ne'er-do-wells will be coming and going all night.

We quickly grabbed our stuff, Pdudley42 went straight to the car; and I went to the front desk, dropped the key cards and repeated "we're out of here." X-Files looked at me strangely and said "why?" I told him that I was pretty sure there's some bad stuff going on up on the 3rd floor. He asked if it was Room 321. I simply said that I don't want to get involved and walked out the door.

We got a little lost getting back to the interstate, but finally did; drove north until we saw some hotel signs. We found a Best Western right off the interstate, pulled in, got a room, and crashed.

The next morning we enjoyed the free inter-continental breakfast, and were back on the road by 7:45. We had hoped to go back to finish the Blue Ridge Parkway, but realized that with 12 hours of interstate driving, we weren't up for a 2 hour detour. So we high-tailed it back on the interstate and were back home in VT by 7:00.

Other than the Howard's Johnson Crack House experience, the trip was uneventful, the car drove beautifully, and the highlight was definitely the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you ever have the chance to drive it, you will not regret it!

paranoid_android74 Dork
3/26/16 11:31 a.m.

Smart move on ditching the shady HoJo. I didn't even know they were around anymore! There was one about 10 miles away from where I grew up. Between that one and the motel 6 nearby those were the party/drug spots to be in.

I'd love to do a fly and drive some day. Thanks for your story!

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