Sunday, 16 May 2010


My huff had abated slightly - but only slightly - when I stomped out of the motel the following morning.
Of the receptionist there was no sign. She may have been trying to work out what time to show up for work: “If the big hand is on the….” As we know, her grasp of time is not the best.
I had been looking at the map and decided against another day of coastal roads and headed inland down the spine of Florida. Here the traffic was lighter, although, compared to Wyoming and Montana it was like the M25.
I suppose after driving for half-an-hour and not seeing another vehicle, anything busier than that feels like the rush hour. At times on this trip I have encountered heavy traffic but have never been stationary for more than a few minutes.
As it was a Sunday, the radio was full of sermons and gospel music as well as “Christian Rock” which slightly defeats the object to me.
“Are you ready to rock? No? Let’s pray instead!” “For our next number “Highway to church”.
I thought the Bible belt was more towards Kansas and Kentucky. However, there were churches at every turn and yet more of the “Pro-Life” billboards I have mentioned many times in the past.
The roads were pretty much dead straight and tree-lined. At one point, a tortoise was trying to decide whether to cross or not. I hope discretion decided against.
I had missed breakfast so was beginning to feel rather peckish and - tapping “restaurants” into my GPS - it rewarded me by telling me everything was ten miles behind. I soldiered on and vowed that the first place I saw would be the place I stopped. It was lunchtime by the time a branch of “Hardees” came into view. One of you tweeted the other day to say that this chain is unequalled for biscuits and gravy. (By the way, to follow me on Twitter click here and to follow me on Audioboo, using the same login details, click here).
Frankly, after the disappointments of the last twenty-four hours I was not going to chance it. So yet another burger it was. It was terrific. Lot of beef. Little garnish and some very healthy looking and tasting fries. It was also wrapped in grease proof paper in a way that held it together when you ate, so it didn’t all collapse down your front much to the mirth of other customers. Particularly small children. There are certain things that reduce me to Mr Bean levels of incompetence. Eating is one of them. I could always do vegetables later.
I reckoned I should head for Sebring on Lake Sebring in my Chrysler Sebring. There was certain symmetry of thought and movement here. (And to see the map of my travels so far, click here).

As I had experienced in a number of places on this trip where the main drag was that was the place they put the toll roads. So did travel along part of the Florida Turnpike which cost me about $5 in total. At one toll booth the lady was so surprised when I thanked her that I thought she was about to faint.
The forest gave way to open pasture and cattle and then to orange groves. A truck laden with them answered my question. Yes, seems it’s about time to pick them.
The beard is coming on a treat. Decided to surprise the Dark Lady by showing her my rough tough manly hirsute side. So by the time we meet in Orlando. I may have a bit of Yosemite Sam going. I could tell it was coming on as I found some stray food in it. This is something I vaguely remember from the last time I decided to “beard up” some fifteen years ago. This one seems to a little greyer for some reason. By the time I have added the Factor 30 sun block I look like a ghost, albeit a rather greasy one.
About five o’clock I started looking for somewhere to stay. Clean, comfortable with a bar maybe, K?
Surely, not too much to ask for after a hot day at the wheel.

The previous night I had had to drive off into the woods to find somewhere to eat and because I was driving had one drink in a bar way off the main drag.
It was a low metal building with a drive-thru liquor store at the front. As I reached for the handle on the heavy metal door I read the sign which declared:
I think this is such a good rule, I really do.
Inside it was just as you see in a million TV shows and Clint Eastwood movies.
Woman behind the bar with a big butterfly tattoo on her back and a smaller one on her left breast. I didn’t stare too closely so could not tell you what it was. Couple of good ol' boys shooting pool and a sign “Dollar Drafts wensdeys”; I half expected to find a gang of white supremacists huddled together in the corner.
As I left, a woman getting into her car said
“Love your jacket, it so goes”
“Thank you”
“Oh, you have an accent too”
“So do you” (I think I have done this routine several times before, but it never ceases to wow ‘em)
“Yeah, that’s very good I do”
She shook my hand got into her station wagon and drove off.
She may have been visiting to replenish because stocks were getting low so may have had a head start.
Meanwhile back at today:
“Have mercy” I cried (It was Sunday, don’t forget)
Sebring is teeming with hotels and I drew up beside a very nice one which overlooked the lake and booked in.
“What time does your bar close?”

Now this is more like it. I noticed that the place was covered in photographs of racing cars and also the restaurant was called, “Chicanes”.
This should have given me a clue.
Into the bar sat down and ordered a beer for $1; it was happy hour.
However, typically American $1 works out (in Florida anyway) at $1.07c due to local sales taxes.
It is impossible to give anyone the right change here, so I have given up. They could really do money so much better here if they put their minds to it. American bills are a disgrace. You feel you need to wash your hands after holding one. Also keep a sharp lookout in case you give someone more than you intended as they all look pretty much the same to me. No wonder Ray Charles insisted apparently in being paid in dollar bills. Which must have been a bit of a bind later in his career when he was earning thousands per performance.

It was happy hour and the bar had a Blues station on.
Fantastic. B.B King. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Buddy Guy. Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, until the barmaid said…
“It’s a bit blue for happy hour “
Then changed the station.
Time for food and into “Chicanes" where a very attentive waiter told me why there was all this car memorabilia lying around and the pictures.
“The Sebring 12 every fall”
It’s like the Le Mans 24 but shorter!
He also recommended I visited a local park early in the morning as he did when the animals were still rummaging about, as it would make me
“More centred and at one with it all”
Uh-Oh, still Sunday. Hope he wasn’t gearing up for a sermon.
I had chicken with lobster sauce and green beans. Very nice indeed.
The bread roll was in fact a “2 grain loaf” when it arrived so didn’t manage to finish it all.
“Dessert, sir?.....although by the look I would say no” He said.
Am still puzzling as to what he meant, although he was correct in his assumption. Raining hard outside as I ate and looked across the lake.

Came up here to write this blog, had typed the first sentence and all the lights went out!

Power outage.

It is now an hour-and-a-half later. I have been sitting perspiring in the dark as everything - air conditioning included - stops and despite it having rained it is still pretty warm.
No TV nothing. Only the darkness. As my room is at the bottom of a flight of two steps. The only entertainment is the sound of people missing their footing:
“Abner as I was saying only the other….thud”
“You OK Darle…eee.eeeeee nnnn whump a whump a crash?”

Hallelujah! (It is not 11.05pm so still technically Sunday)
Lights have been restored. Been peering out the window and being envious of people the other side of the lake. They have had electricity all the time. Typical. Some people just try and be flash!


  1. If the dark lady is reading the blog it won't be much of a surprise seeing you with a beard!!! We had a powercut on Saturday evening, must be worldwide!!

  2. Another great blog Alex. Hope you managed to get your laundry done, your "5 pairs" must need freshening up by now. Don't meet the DL with a scraggy beard - not a good style. Was surprised to read that bars close so early in the good old USA - not very inviting for visitors. Enjoy next stage of your trip.

  3. Ha ha ha ha .... you are so funny Alex. Have you ever thought about being on the radio?
    Love the blog - keep up the good work, whooppeee.

  4. Tip for limiting how much you spend on an American 'night-out' (or partying). US Dollar bills are all the same size, and the same colour (color?), SO........ 1s,2s,in jeans front LH pocket; 5s,10s in front RH pocket. 20s in LH rear. The rest (50s & 100s) in RH rear - if you have to go there it's been a GOOD night!!:) ~ CW