Interestingly enough, the entire ride down Interstate-10 eastbound and on Interstate-75 southbound to Gainesville was uneventful. The sky was ominously brewing as we made our way out of the city, but would not experience a single drop of rain until after leaving Gainesville at 0200. Somewhere north of Sumter County we encountered very high wind gusts and heavy rain that made driving over 45 impossible. But even that experience lasted for only ten or fifteen minutes.
For the balance of the four hour drive, the rain was intermittent and never particularly strong, however the wind continued to maintain its status as an adversary on the road. Overall, we managed to avoid any severe weather and did not feel unsafe traveling. We did see around 100 military vehicles transporting troops, generators and other supplies in addition to State Police and a convoy of Asplundh company vehicles, all traveling toward where Dennis is slated to make landfall shortly.
In other news, the trip itself was a complete blast. It was fun hanging out with Claire and Ash in their newly-purchased home and the party was quite enjoyable as well. In addition to general running around town, I finally did something I have been meaning to do for years: a tour of both the old original Capitol building and the current headquarters.
We first toured the old Capitol building, standing on its present location since 1845. The second floor rooms have been converted into sectional areas, each describing relevant periods in Florida history — such as segregation and the 2000 Presidential election debacle — and a thorough chronicle of the State's government. Of particular interest to me was the restoration and partial recreation of the original State Supreme Court chamber, which served the Court from 1845 to 1912.
Next we walked across the small courtyard to the current Capitol building, a twenty-two floor executive office building completed in 1977. While I had been looking forward to viewing the floors of the State Senate and House of Representatives, the 360 degree panoramic view of Tallahassee from the top floor of the building was an unexpected treat. Also, visiting Governor Jeb Bush's office lobby contained some interesting items, like a first-press set of the Florida quarters presented to Bush from the United States Mint. I asked the secretary working there for one of his business cards as you can see above and we all signed his official guest book.
It was a great trip and I hope I will have the opportunity to go back and hang out again before Claire and Ash's October wedding.