09.01.2012 - 12.01.2012
As seems to be our habit in these road trips to Florida, we were late leaving our home in Brampton. By the time you get all the last minute household set up completed and the car packed, locks checked etc it is often afternoon. This time it was about 3:30 as we had a nice last minute visit from one of our good neighbours, Paul, who dropped by to wish us a bon voyage.
The weather was mild and clear with no snow in sight. We decided to take I 75 down and our trip to the border at Windsor/Detroit was quick and without so much as a traffic jam. After a quick stop in the duty free we crossed the Ambassador Bridge and had a little visit with the customs officer. He seemed perplexed that we had Nexus Passes and actually had a peek in the trunk and back seat. Once through Michigan and into Ohio we did our usual stop in a McDonalds, logged the iPad into their WiFi, contacted Hotels.ca and booked a nice Fairfield Inn north of Toledo. After we checked in we went searching for dinner - the time was about 9pm. Even though most of the restaurants had closed by then we did manage to find a great little pizza place and had some left over for lunch tomorrow.
Our first adventure occurred the next day just north of Lima Ohio. About an hour into the day we hit a small piece of debris on the road. Dave heard a rattle in the wheel well but it didn't seem all that unusual, probably just a stone or something picked up and thrown off by a tire. Well that little sound had a big impact as the tire very rapidly deflated. Fortunately we were very close to an exit and we limped into a big truck repair center. By the time we reached there - probably less than a kilometer, the tire was totally shredded. We probably could have stopped faster but changing a tire on the narrow shoulder of a busy interstate is not a wise choice either.
We unloaded every single thing from the trunk so Dave could get out the temporary spare tire, and while he changed the tire I packed all that luggage into the back seat which already had been pretty full of extra bags, coolers, jackets, computers, backpacks etc. If I do say so myself it was a masterful packing job.
Within 15 minutes Dave had the spare tire installed and the regular wheel loaded into the trunk. Note the pile of shredded tire material by the car.
The folks at the truck centre recommended a "Best One" tire Store at the next exit. We were a little concerned about getting a matching tire because these tires were special 18 inch high performance tires (Bridgestone Potenza 960 W) we had installed last year when we were in Florida. At that time it took them 5 days to bring in those tires from various places in the US. With a great stroke of luck they found a tire in a Bridgestone warehouse a half hour away. While we were waiting for the tire to be installed we popped over to a highly recommended burger place across the street called Kewpee Burger.
This was another find - as it turns out, Dave Thomas of Wendy's fame visited this burger place and was so impressed he tried to get them to franchise it. For some reason the franchise option did not work out - but Dave Thomas did use many of the features he saw there in his Wendy's chain. You realize that when you go in - the burgers are square, there are many toppings, everything is made fresh. It was interesting to see that in quite a small town this restaurant was packed. There were 2 doors each with a line up of over 20 people from door to counter. The lines moved fast, there was a lot of seating - much more than you find in any fast food chain - and the burgers flew off the grills. After a great lunch we returned to our repaired car and were again on our way.
We realized that with this delay and our late start we would not make it to Ft. Lauderdale in 2 days, so we settled down and continued to listen to the David Baldacci Audio Book we had been listening to and reconciled ourselves to stopping a bit earlier tonight. Another visit to a McDonalds Wi Fi hotspot resulted in us finding a nice Country Inn and Suites in London, Kentucky.
We left London the next morning in rain. The rain not only continued but really started to pour. Cars and trucks were stopped or driving slowly with their flashers on when the hail started. At that point we too pulled over until the storm passed. It continued to rain for several hours but cleared in the afternoon as the temperature started to rise. We stopped at a Days Inn in Lake City Florida which is a small town just west of Jacksonville. Again, most restaurants were closed but we did find a little place. When we enquired if they had wine and learned they had "pink" (no red or white), we ordered a Bud Light!
We reached our destination in Fort Lauderdale about 3:30 and settled in to Eric and Jeannie's lovely house.