Week SIX

Technically, the rain started on the fourteenth, when we started out for Key West, and for ten straight days, it rained on us. Some days, it only rained for a few hours. Most days, it rained all day. Some days, it rained all day, really hard. Key West and the Everglades managed to show themselves pretty well, but it was downhill after that. Here's some highlights:

The Space Shuttle Inn, and a fine Southern eatery.

June 18 - 19: Miami to Titusville (Cape Canaveral)

Miami proved to have plenty more of those very tall hotels blocking the beaches. We drove on through it, and headed up the coast until we got to Palm Beach. Tall hotels all along the way, until we eventually got to Titusville and Cape Canaveral. Oddly enough, they don't put tall hotels on the beach next to the rocket ranges. It rained, of course, and the floors at the Scottish Inn we stayed at on the eighteenth were soggy. Soggy floors are not a good feature in a hotel room floor. Fortunately, on the following night we stayed at the Space Shuttle Inn, which was a fine establishment all the way around.

This ball is actually a giant advertisement for AT&T.

June 20: EPCOT

It wouldn't be a road trip without at least one visit to the mighty mouse kingdom, would it? Since we had both been to Disneyland before, and since Dirk had a special fondness for EPCOT from his early days at Oracle (they did a video-on-demand demo there), we went to EPCOT. It turns out that EPCOT is one big set of advertisements for companies. The big dome is sponsored by AT&T. The fast ride is sponsored by GM (the theme is people as test dummies, believe it or not). And so forth. We didn't get to go on the fast ride, of course, because it was raining. We did get to buy a giant yellow Disneyland poncho (six dollars for a piece of plastic) and a Disneyland umbrella (nine dollars, not a bad deal) because even after seven days of rain, we were too stupid to take our jackets and umbrella into the park. We're slow learners, apparently. We enjoyed a lovely German buffet dinner in the German part of the World Showcase, though, where we sat next to a family of actual German tourists. I don't know why a family of German tourists came all the way to EPCOT just to eat German food, but maybe they were homesick.

This building is really big.

June 21: Kennedy Space Center

It kept raining. We would have seen the Space Shuttle land, but it rained. The Shuttle tried for three days to land in Florida, but eventually had to give up and land in California before the Shuttle ran out of fuel. Yes, that's right, it even rained too much for NASA. Fortunately, the rest of the Space Center was opened for touring. We got to see the biggest rocket ever made: the Saturn V, which clocks in at something like 343 feet tall. They even have a taller building (the Vehicle Assembly Building) to house it. The building is so big that they had to install special apparatus to keep it from raining inside. Oh, the irony. We left the lovely land of Cape Canaveral, and headed north, but so did the rain.

The Okefenokee has really small frogs. This one fits on a fingertip.

June 22: Daytona to Savannah, GA

It rained. Really hard. We didn't see much of anything, but we did drive through a number of cities in a hurry, including St. Augustine (which seemed very picturesque) and Ft. Lauderdale. Eventually we made it across the border, and we headed for the Okenefenokee Swamp.

Don't go there! You can't see much of the swamp, at least not without paying seventy-five dollars for a boat tour. Instead you just get a small red kiddie train, and a grizzled old logger who drives you through a stand of white pine which was, as he put it, "the prettiest bunch of white pine you've ever ridden a small red train through." I couldn't argue with him. Also, we saw a yokel dumb enough to feed watermelon to a gator from three feet away, and a sleeping bear in a cage.

From the Okefenokee, we headed northeast to Savannah, which apart from the Civil War has never meant much of anything to most people until they wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Apparently the tourist industry was really hurting for a theme in Savannah, because they saw this book (and the subsequent movie that nobody saw) as a football and ran with it. If you're not fans of the book, or of the Civil War, there's not much else in Savannah.

South Carolina is full of rundown shacks.

June 23: South Carolina

It rained. We drove through Charleston, but it was raining too hard to see much of anything. So, we kept going into North Carolina. And it kept raining. We tried going to Hilton Head, but eventually the road disappeared underneath the waves and we could no longer progress without hitting rocks that we couldn't see. After hitting the third such rock in the space of fifteen minutes, we finally snapped. It no longer mattered where we were going. All that mattered was why: we needed to get away from the rain. If that meant driving into the ocean to escape the rain, that was fine by us. Fortunately, it made more sense to go northeast, away from the coast. Double fortunately, that was the way we needed to go anyway. By the time we had gotten to Charlotte, it pretty much stopped raining.

D'oh! A deer!

June 24: The Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina and Virginia)

It wasn't actually raining when we got up, but it looked like the clouds were trying hard to catch up. So, we took off like bats out of hell for the north, after eating some misguided North Carolina BBQ (North Carolinians believe in vinegar-based sauces. It was tasty, but they're not fooling anyone by calling it barbecue). We played tag with the rain clouds all day, driving north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Eventually we pulled away from the rain for good, at least for a while. The Blue Ridge Parkway is very scenic, and we highly recommend it. There were also a large number of bikers and muscle cars out on the road, so the Shark had some good company. We would have finished the day by camping at the Roanoke campground, except that the campground was filled up with city people from Roanoke who came up to hear a bluegrass concert. Not to camp, mind you, to hear a concert. Isn't the reason people go camping to get away from city people? Therefore, why in God's name would you hold a concert series in a campground? Frustrated, we returned to the city for a hotel.