Notes From the Road

With the weight of infinite yuppie-dom threatening like a starving wolf in winter, we decided instead to head off for a short road trip. Sunday morning we threw an overnight bag in the car and headed south and east to try and forget that we now own a black urinal with brass accents.

Turns out you can never escape the black urinal (sounds like a great book title, or perhaps a band), but here are a few observations from the road:

1. Know what you’re doing when you take travel advice from friends.

Our friend Andy suggested we make time for a trip down Indian River Drive. Andy, like me, graduated from the Florida Studies program at USF St. Petersburg, and he’s far more familiar with Florida’s shiny blue east coast than I am, so I asked him for suggestions. Our destination was Lauderdale By The Sea, so we planned to take 60 east to A1A and head south. Andy suggested Indian River Drive.

I should mention that Andy has great suggestions but, in this instance, cloaked those suggestions and vagaries. I couldn’t find Indian River Drive; a flawed Wikipedia entry didn’t help much, either. When Wikipedia disagrees with a Florida Studies grad, always trust the Florida Studies grad.

“You’ll see a sign,” Andy promised.

We did not see a sign. We had all but given up on the road when we found it, quite by chance, in my dog-eared Florida Gazetteer. We hopped off US 1 as quick as we could and found this lovely twisty, treed-in, lagoon-front road that had no stoplights, no businesses, and no waiting. So, OK, no signs, no reference online to help, but still totally worth it.

How do you get there? Uh, lessee… Take US 1 south of the Fort Pierce Inlet and then head east on Seaway Drive. Head south on Indian River Drive as far south as Hutchinson Island, if you’d like. It dead ends shortly after that. A1A also stops south of Hutchinson Island, picking up again south of the St. Lucie Inlet, so if you’re headed south, head west, then south, then east.

2. Dollar General Sucks

I said this, more academically (although not much more) in my thesis. Dollar Generals dot Florida, and they’re eating up more space every day. I do not object to the idea of the store, in terms of bargains or whatever. I object to their super-sanitized, ultra homogenized, uninviting appearance that does not vary from city to city. East of Tampa and west of Vero Beach on SR 60, we spotted only three and I counted that a small victory. Bear in mind you won’t find much more than three CITIES between those places, though.

So, OK, Dollar General doesn’t “suck,” exactly, but do me a favor: the next time you’re traveling, count the Dollar Generals you see. Then count the mom-and-pop five-and-dimes. You’ll quickly get my point. Also, these guys build their own buildings every time (and they all look pretty much the same), and I wonder what will happen to all these buildings when Dollar General no longer loves them.

3. Spring Break… Worse on the East Coast

A just-over-five-hour drive turned to a seven-hour excursion (I’m glad we packed food) when I decided to take the last few miles on A1A.

4. Still totally worth it

No point to this other than the trip still worth it. No point to this blog post, either, except to tell you about Indian River Drive and whine about Dollar General’s eating the landscape.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.