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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Just can't wait to get on the road again: I-75 to Florida, the expressway to the sun



   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 21/15

   “Get your motor runnin'
   Head out on the highway
   Looking for adventure
    In whatever comes our way”
-- Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Thousands of people will soon be getting their motors running and heading out along U.S. Interstate 75 – the expressway to the sun.
   Ontarians join this heavily travelled route at Detroit that winds its way to Florida, the “Sunshine State.”
   It will be especially busy during the March school break with cost savings from the drastic plunge in gasoline prices tempered, however, by our lower-valued Canadian dollar.
   We decided to make this “one-tank-a-day” trip en route to a cruise out of Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) in December.
   For this journey, we took along our Mississauga friends, Kathy and Dave Hunter.
We’ve arrived. Barb and Jim Fox at the Florida Welcome Center along Interstate 75.
   Well, not really, but it felt like they were making the trip with us as we had an invaluable copy of their “must-have” guide, Along Interstate 75.
   It did indeed give us “local knowledge and insider information” for the I-75 between Detroit and the Florida border – a distance of 1,542 kilometres.
   Then we switched to their companion publication, Along Florida’s Expressways, to help guide us to and from the cruise port.

   On the road again
   For our 2,474-kilometre trip to Fort Lauderdale from Kitchener, we spread the 24-hour drive over three days to allow time to see the sights, enjoy the hotels and dine at favourite restaurants.
   Even today with the GPS and mobile devices linked to the I-75 website, Dave’s guidebook was invaluable with its travelogue.
Along I-75 is an exit-by-exit guide to driving the expressway to the sun.
   Each page is packed with helpful information and covers 25 miles (40 kilometres) taking about 30 minutes of driving time.
   The amazing part is that you will find information about what is at each exit including gas stations, restaurants, lodging, rest areas and local attractions – and on which side of the highway – and with GPS coordinates.
   This guide also tells about the road conditions, speed limits, radar enforcement hot spots that are extremely accurate and the safest lanes to move into.
Dave Hunter on the I-75
   The Hunters have been driving to Florida since the I-75 was built in the 1960s and have been producing the guidebook since 1992.
   This 18th edition is as usual painstakingly researched with updates to almost 20 per cent of the previous 3,120 service listings within a mile of an exit.
   Dave recommends the I-75 route as opposed to two others by way of Buffalo that lead eventually to I-95.
   “Weather tends to be better since you cross the mountains at a much-lower latitude and the I-75 has been around so long that there is an abundance of gas, food and lodging services often resulting in lower prices,” Hunter said.
   “There are also lots of interesting history, geology, flora and fauna, historic and unusual landmarks –  to keep you entertained on your trip.”
Just another beautiful day in Port Everglades, Florida. (Jim Fox photo)
   Fill ‘er up
   A pet peeve in the U.S. is the inability to pay at the pump with Canadian credit cards.
   Most ask for a zip code and putting in random numbers doesn’t work.
   The trick in most cases is to punch in the three numbers of your postal code for the billing address of the card followed by two zeros. Debit cards aren’t affected as they use PINs.
   Otherwise, drivers have to leave their credit card or cash with the attendant and return after filling up.
   This situation will end once stations convert to chip credit-card readers by October 2017 as required by law.

   Calling it a day
   Our trip let us use some Starwood Preferred Guest points and stay in some really nice hotels convenient to the interstate.
Downtown Atlanta is blanketed in fog as seen from a Westin Peachtree hotel guestroom. (Barbara Fox photo)
   On the way south, we stayed at the Westin Cincinnati in the business/entertainment district (as well as on the return) and at the trendy Aloft Atlanta hotel.
   Then it was the Westin Fort Lauderdale to soak up the sun and homeward bound at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta. For locations and offers: starwoodhotels.com

   For more information about the Westin Cincinnati, go to:
http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca/2015/02/the-westin-cincinnati-announces-multi.html

  For more information about Aloft Atlanta Downtown, go to:
http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca/2015/02/its-hip-hot-and-happening-aloft-atlanta.html

   For more information about the Westin Fort Lauderdale Hotel, go to:
http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca/2015/02/major-renovations-planned-for-westin.html#more

   For more information about the Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta Hotel, go to: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca/2015/02/the-westin-peachtree-plaza-atlanta.html

   Need to know
The essential guide to Florida's expressways

  - Along Interstate 75 and Along Florida’s Expressways, published by Mile Oak Publishing Inc., cost $29.95.
  For information and to order the books, go to i75online.com. They are available in bookstores, CAA travel offices, Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca, or by calling 1-855-519-5783 (shipped with 24 hours).

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca  

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