Chapter 3: The Hook Part 2: Interstate Blues One of the benefits of riding (as opposed to driving) is that you actually get to see where you’re going. Yah… I know the driver is looking through the same windshield, but if you have the wheel in your hands then you’re focusing on the art of driving (or at least you ought to be). All the sites around you are just a blur of motion to which you ain’t paying attention (unless you actually want that truck to run you down of have that cop over there pull you out of line and subject you to a little bit of special attention). But form the passenger side, the same “view” looks totally different. Because you actually get to see it. Now, if we were riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway, or heading down US-17 on the coast, or up NC-12 in the Outerbanks, or along A1A in Florida, then this freedom to watch all the scenery would have been a real bonus. As it was… we were traveling via those long roads with capital “I” and a dash in their numeric designations. Vast stretches of homogenized sameness designed to move freight from point-A to point-B while simultaneously sucking the life out of every small town that was no longer on the way. The dream of every conniving land developer, the bane of every daily commuter, the stuff of traffic jam legends, we’re talking about the US Interstate system. I know that most of you (at least the ones that haven’t been glued to either a Gameboy or a DVD screen for the last sixteen years) already understand what I'm on about here. But just to drive home the concept, here’s a sample of how amazingly different the scenery is between my home and our central FLA destination. First there is the enticing mix of evergreens and hardwoods that frame the wide lanes of I-77 through the Carolinas Not to be outdone, I-26 boasts a clear view of the roadway surrounded by a canopy of greenery made up of deciduous trees and conifers alike. Then there is the majestic expanse of I-95 cutting its way though a swath of verdant coastal forest in the SC Low-Country. Once in Georgia the view along I-95 changes dramatically as you enter the coastal plane with its prodigious growth of year-round greenery. But to be fair, I-95 doesn’t really start to shine until you are surrounded by the glorious mix of pine and coastal perennials that put the “flora” into Florida. OK… snap out of it. HAY… I said wake up! It’s not all that bad. Well… sometimes it is, but I’m not really being fair. There are a number of rather interesting things to see along the way. No, really. There actually are (and I’m not talking about the regular billboards for fireworks and “adult superstores”). As a for-instance: it’s not every stretch of road that boasts this particular view: That… is a retired USAF B-47 Stratojet. Here, I’ll reduce the speed from 75 to 0 so you can get a better look. You’ll find this bird (and much more) on display at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler, GA. There are also a lot of really great views toward the southern end of the I-95 in GA. Especially as you start through the river inlets around the sea isles south of Brunswick. I don’t have any good photos of this area (as by this time, I was doing the driving and Tamara and Max were trying to catch a little after lunch shut eye), but the inlets in this area are grand sites. The smell coming off of some of the paper & pulp mills… not so much, but the visuals are excellent. Of course there are several sites that will just miraculously lift you’re spirits right up out of the doldrums. Like this one: The top sign I mean… the one on the bottom… ehhhh… I don’t have a dog in that fight, so it don’t matter to me. Oh, here’s a tip. Remember to pound out the melody to IASW on your car horn as you’re crossing over the St. Mary’s river at the FL/GA boarder. There’s a fellow DisDad living around there and he’d really appreciate hearing that particular tune (he’ll hunt me down for that one I’m sure, but I couldn’t resist). Another great vista can be found by leaving the main road and taking FL-9A around Jacksonville (which is a good idea anyway). The bridge crossing over the St Johns at Dames point is absolutely spectacular, both as a structure and as a vantage point. The first span of the bridge Jacksonville in the distance (and off in the distance is a good place for it) But do keep one little thing in mind. If you let the road hypnotize you and stop paying attention to what you’re doing… you’ll very likely find yourself getting a close up and personal view of one of these ubiquitous highway landmarks: Y’all be careful out there… Ya’ hear.