Since it had been nearly a year since my last venture there, this past weekend I drove myself up to the capital city, Tallahassee. The weekend was exactly what I needed to just unwind for a few days and not really think about anything too seriously. Sobriety was also highly overrated. I love hanging out with my friends that rent a house there as they go to various levels of schooling, undergraduate and graduate, at the home of the Seminoles, Florida State University
. It may only be a four-hour drive from where I live, but the weekends there away from Orlando can feel like you are on the other side of the world.
In order to help avoid Tropical Storm Henri which was making landfall to the west around the time I was planning on travelling from Orlando to Tallahassee, I decided to take Interstate-95 North to Jacksonville and then catch Interstate-10 West from there. The storm never did drop any rain on me the entire weekend, but regardless, in addition to being more comfortable with this route as a function of having driven it significantly more than the alternative route Interstate-75, it also provided me the opportunity to stop in Jacksonville and get some food.
When I lived in Jacksonville one of the things that bothered me the most was the wide-spread lack of credit card acceptance in restaurants. And even those that did take plastic were right in line with just about every other store and restaurant in closing really, really early (sometime between nine and ten in the evening). I stopped at both McDonald's and Wendy's to be reminded that they do not accept anything but cash. Jacksonville sucks for this and many other reasons, but I always did enjoy the interesting dining experience provided by local restaurant chain Famous Amos
. Not to be confused with the cookies of the same name, Famous Amos is a sit-down western themed "family" restaurant offering quite the variety of menu items, served 24-hours a day and payable with Visa and MasterCard. Famous Amos is really quite terrible, though. The place is bordering on dirty, the staff is unpleasant and inattentive while the clientèle make you want to donate your DNA to as many locals as possible to help stop the production of such incessant weirdos. If it were not for their Cheeseburger De Luxe with Bacon, served with French fries, I would never visit this horrible restaurant again.
Turns out my visit to Famous Amos, the first in just about a year, would provide no alternate perspective to my dining experience there. After seating myself as is the practice, I waited without being spoken to by anyone, including a manager who had been making the rounds, for just over ten minutes. Only after flagging down a waitress and asking her if the section was closed did I finally get a waitress to assist me. Barely. But damn it, as soon as a sunk my teeth into that burger I remembered why I put up with all of the above to eat there again and again. Including my fountain drink, the total for this meal is $6.47 so you cannot go wrong there. And you do not have to ever worry about leaving a lot of money as tip; it is not often warranted.
I realised while I was sitting in Famous Amos that it was two years to the exact date that I moved to Jacksonville. That was a little strange, however amusing. The other thing I remembered was that notwithstanding the hicks and rednecks, there are some really attractive boys in that town.
Now having detoured a total of two hours between my having left Orlando late, driving around credit-free town on the quest for food, spending way too much time at Famous Amos and having to negotiate the detour on Interstate-95 at the Interstate-295 junction (what a clusterfuck that was, let me tell you) I got back on the road, Tally Ho!
Having used to make the Orlando-Jacksonville-Tallahassee trips much more often, I have little regular things I tend to do during the drive. For example, as I continued west on Interstate-10 I made a pit stop at the rest area just inside the border of the Osceola National Forest. It was now around 2330 and there were only a few other normal, non-truck drivers at the stop. As I walked up the path toward the restroom, the smell of both the wooded area that surrounded completely and the chemicals used to clean the restrooms wafted toward me. I stopped and looked at the informational signs and maps
talking about the location, indigenous wild and plant life and gave a history of the area. I completely had a flashback of being a child driving cross country (twice) with my family all by car. I loved travelling like that and had developed a pretty hearty desire to commute long distances by car whenever possible. My nostalgia really reminded me nicely of some of the simple things I really enjoy doing but as of late have let go by the wayside.
I continued west until I got to my next typical pit stop, Exit 225 (formerly 33), US 19 to get some fuel and a beverage for the final twenty minute stretch to Tallahassee. I always go to Brittany's Texaco Truck Stop (formerly Tank-N-Tummy) which has a gas station, convenience store and Arby's restaurant. I got gas and went inside to pay as they do not have a pay at the pump system there yet. Monticello, Florida is pretty remote so I can understand why not. While inside I saw a very overweight man in a muumuu, got pissed off at the indecisive woman in front of me in line who could not figure out what brand or how many packs of cigarettes she was going to purchase and was bothered by the strange man in line behind me who if were standing any closer might have actually started to share the same molecules as me.
I got back on the road, arrived in Tallahassee about two hours late and started my weekend of relaxation and mindless enjoyment with a tasty alcoholic beverage.