Early the next morning, we escape the dog Inn and cross the border into Georgia. Last night we'd heard and read the news about Atlanta, to which we are intrepidly heading.
Hit with a couple of inches of snow and ice on Wednesday, the city was paralyzed. Traffic had snaked all the way up the I75 nearly to Canada. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but to hear the news media, you would think it could be true. People stuck in their cars for hours on end. State of emergency, the governor said.
We don't have much of a choice, though. Plus we've already booked the Drury Inn at Valdosta.
However, it's Friday now, and going to to 11C. Surely the snow and ice will have melted. Surely the cars will have been removed. So...on we go.
We are very very lucky. The only traffic we meet up with happens just as we enter Atlanta. We follow Dave's advice (Along Interstate I75) and we DON'T take the by-pass. In fact, we're able to use the HOV lanes and they are phenomenal. Aligned a bit differently from the ones we have at home, we're nervous at first as we go left and the highway goes right, but the lanes always meet up. In fact they have dedicated HOV exits as well, so the system works beautifully. Except for a few short slowdowns, we sail on through the city.
We see very little evidence of snow, some ice here and there, but no stranded cars. Perfect timing on our part! Happy birthday to me.
We push on through Georgia, past many bucolic scenes (remember - verdant and at least one cow). The girls are quiet, happy to be away from the pup motel.
We can't check into the house in Kissimmee until 4 p.m. on Saturday, so we stop driving early in the day at our beloved Drury chain. They allow us to check in early. We stay with the girls for a while, but it takes them no time at all to settle in. They can sit on the window sill and look out at a row of lovely homes and trees. The rooms are advertised as sound proofed so, even if there is someone of the canine variety next door, we don't hear them.
We're starving, because we ate a light breakfast early and had no lunch. We decide we don't care if the dinner is included because there's an Olive Garden across the parking lot. We LOVED the Olive Gardens when we had them in Canada and haven't been to one in years. Besides, it's my birthday. So we have a 3 p.m. dinner. Glorious and I even get an idea for a short crime story...
Of course, later on at the Inn we help ourselves to our free drinks during Happy Hours and celebrate with the girls.
Next day, we head for Florida, where we'll have to leave Dave behind. If I find his book on the Sunshine state, I will buy it. According to his advice, we ignore the huge billboards that advertise "Florida information centres" all along the border - inside Georgia. Apparently these are pretty much time share traps.
Instead, we stop at the official Florida welcome centre, where they serve fresh juice and give away free maps and coupon books. We find two other welcome sights: Mike and Rita! We had taken a bit longer to get here, so they caught up to us. We couldn't have planned something like this. We laugh and hug and talk and enjoy the juice and the company.
When Vince and I get into Kissimmee, we head straight to the house, just in case we can get in a bit early. It's 2:45, so it's not that early. Sure enough, the lock box is ready for us. We're thrilled with the place! We settle in very quickly. Mike and Rita arrive at 4 p.m. and we all immediately feel at home. Although the girls are tentative at first, it's amazing how fast they adapt. We have a little bit of a restless night with them, but after that, they're enjoying the sun and the warm air as much as we are.
The house has a dining and sitting area at the front of the house. As I had hoped, it's clean but lived-in, the kind of place you can add cats and kids and feel perfectly homey.
The kitchen is well stocked. All the floors are tiled, yay!
Nice open concept.
This is the front sitting room, where we do our reading. After I took this picture, I covered all the furniture with blankets so the cat hairs and any compunction to scratch can all be dealt with!
Looking from the open kitchen through the TV room to the lanai and the pool. Of course, the bottle of wine makes it truly home.
Sahara and Miss Monk have explored every inch of the place. They - and we - have been spending the majority of our time out here or in the pool (that's Mike in the background). Well, the cats aren't IN the pool of course...
Every morning, Rita and I do 6000 steps, then fill in the 4000 in the pool or walking through places like Celebration. We are eating pretty healthy too, lots of fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge. Out for dinner one night, cook at home the next.
How lucky are we?!!Wish my whole family could be here. Can't wait for the grandkids and their parents to arrive. In between, other friends and family will be in and out, making our stay here absolutely perfect.