Orlando, FL to Bowling Green, KY; 802.4 miles. FL, GA, AL, TN, KY
We said goodbye to our room and Cabana Bay before piling in the car for a very long drive back to Bowling Green.
Did you know that Wawa’s Hoagiefest also applies to breakfast? I tried a breakfast cheesesteak, which was surprisingly good!
We took a different route back than we did four years ago, partly to avoid Atlanta, partly to avoid the mountains, and partly just to see something new. Our route took us through Valdosta, GA, where we stopped at Ella’s Top Corral, home of South Georgia’s best burger. It really was delicious, but for me, the star item on the menu was the fried okra!
Later in the day, we stopped at a Milo’s somewhere in Alabama (Prattville?). We weren’t too hungry after our big lunch, but I did enjoy trying the Mexi-fries.
We finally made it to Bowling Green a little after 10. And by that point, we knew we were all sick, most likely with Covid, so we scrapped our remaining plans for a visit to the Louisville Zoo, got straight into bed, and planned to leave as early as possible in the morning so as to expose Ryan’s parents (who very kindly still hosted us despite the risk) as little as possible.
Myrtle Beach, SC to Orlando, FL; 511 miles. SC, GA, FL
One of the reasons I wanted to stay in Myrtle Beach was so that I could see the sun rise over the ocean. The hotel room with the balcony was a surprise to me, and it made it so easy to watch as the sun came up:
I probably watched for close to an hour as the sky changed…it was just what I hoped it would be!
And then the delay. Remember I mentioned our brake troubles? Ryan took the car to a Midas, where they discovered that we did indeed need new rotors (too bad our dealer failed to notice it the several times we asked them to check before we left for our trip!), so he stayed with the car for a few hours (we are now two-for-two in getting our rotors replaced in South Carolina!), while the rest of took a walk on the beach, collected seashells, and took a look at the boardwalk in the daylight. Every cloud has its silver lining, and even though our beach morning cost us about $600, we really enjoyed the chance to slow down and spend some time by the ocean, which we wouldn’t have done if we had been able to leave right after the sunrise like we originally planned.
We even saw some pigeon tracks on the beach (and Bunny fed a flock, too!).
We did finally hit the road a few hours later than we originally planned, but not so late it felt impossible. We drove through Charleston, because Ladybug wanted to see The Battery again (but there were too many people out and about for us to park and take a walk), and then Savannah, GA, because I really wanted to see Forsyth Park for myself…the oak trees and Spanish moss were just what I had imagined!
As was the fountain, and there were other people there just to see it like we were!
Our original plan for dinner didn’t work out due to our late start, so we took advantage of Hoagiefest again:
And we finally made it to Cabana Bay (after driving over way too many scary bridges, including one in Jacksonville that I was pretty sure was going to be the end of me)!
Our room (Thunderbird 2127), was pretty much the same as the last time we stayed there, except there was a little snafu, and we ended up in one of the motel buildings with an exterior entrance instead of the hotel buildings with an interior entrance like we had requested. In the end it worked out well…it had more of an Astronaut Wives Club vibe which I liked, and they comped our parking and a dinner for us for our inconvenience, saving us a bunch of money, so it ended up being a win-win situation (well, except for the night a lizard followed us into our room, but that’s another story!).
I’ll share the full details of the tour later, but we got to go through the house (except sadly, the Lafayette room, which was, you guessed it, under renovation), visit the gardens and outbuildings, tour the museum, and pay our respects at Washington’s tomb and the Slave Memorial.
After a few hours at George’s house, we hit the road, stopping at the Wawa for lunch. We were lucky to be there for Hoagiefest. Wawa is the one consistent exception to my “no gas station food” rule…consistent when we travel, anyway, since the Wawa hasn’t made its way to our area.
Later in the day, we stopped for burgers at Cook Out, but the real star there was the Cheerwine float!
We also visited what may be the kitschiest roadside attraction in the country…South of the Border.
We finally made it to Myrtle Beach, where we had a beachfront room with a balcony in a very nice hotel:
The view was amazing!
Even though we were tired, we took a walk on the boardwalk, where we were immediately greeted by the sight of a shooting star over the ocean.
This ended up being a fantastic idea, because we came across a DJ playing some of our favorite Disney tunes. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, he turned up not only the Chicken Dance, but also the Cha Cha Slide, so we got to do that right there on the boardwalk…the second Cha Cha Slide of the trip!
Up next: A slight delay before making our way to Orlando (at last!).
Last Saturday we sadly said goodbye to Orlando at 4:30 a.m., and began the long drive home (actually, the long drive to Ryan’s parents’ house, because driving all the way home from Orlando in one day would have been a disaster!). We did have a few stops planned along the way, though. We started by driving up the Space Coast. In some ways, it was like time had frozen there since the 1960s. We passed by so many cute motels that were just like I had imagined from the days of the space race. And they all had great vintage road signs…but it was too dark to get good pictures of them!
Anyway, the sun did come up eventually…just in time for us to drive through Daytona Beach, which was where we supposed to say in the first place, and see the sun rise over the ocean:
We drove a little farther up the coast, and stopped to stretch our legs at St. Augustine Beach. We weren’t there for long, but we got to take a nice walk, collect seashells, and dip our toes in the water. It was so exciting to see the Atlantic Ocean again!
We then drove into St. Augustine (the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States), right over the Bridge of Lions:
And stopped to take a walk around Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.
We then turned toward Jacksonville, where we stopped at the Wawa again…I have to admit, for a gas station, they make great sandwiches!
After driving through a different part of the state than on our way in, and looking for both bears and alligators (and not seeing either), we said goodbye to Florida:
And made the interminable drive back across Georgia. Even I was happy to finally see Tennessee, even if it did mean going back through the Smoky Mountains:
And so our second Markel Family summer vacation came to an end. I’ll be taking a closer look at the fun places we visited in the coming days, though, so the vacation fun isn’t over yet!
Last Thursday, we had one vacation event planned, and it was a big one, especially for Turkey…we went to Legoland! While everyone was looking forward to going, Turkey in particular has always dreamed of visiting Legoland, but he was starting to think that our trip to the Legoland Discovery Center in Chicago last January was as close as he was going to get.
We had such a fun time! We went on as many rides as possible, including Chickadee’s first roller coaster (she was not a fan!). We also really enjoyed the Miniland, which included landmarks from Florida, the U.S., and, of course, Star Wars!
One of the highlights of our visit was the water skiing show, which included life-size minifigs on water skis!
When the regularly scheduled afternoon thunderstorm popped up, we decided we had seen everyone we wanted to see, so we stopped at Publix (again), which was conveniently located across the street from Legoland, and then at the Wawa gas station, which Ryan was very excited about. Along the way, we even saw actual orange trees along the side of the road!
Back at the hotel, we went for another swim, and then took a walk around to see more of the retro sights.
Thursday was a busy day, but wait until you see all we did on Friday!