One-Tank Trip for Dec. 14/19
(c) By Jim Fox
There’s a definitive driving guide for snowbirds, fun-in-the-sun Disney and cruise-ship seekers venturing along the I-75 to Florida.
Rely on Canadian Dave Hunter to tell you where to go and how to get there on this several tank trip along the “Expressway to the Sun” that picks up where Highway 401 ends in Windsor/Detroit.
Hot off the press and with online updates is Dave and wife Kathy’s labour of love – the 20th edition of Along Interstate75.
It contains entertaining local knowledge and insider information about virtually everything that exists along the 1,542 kilometres of blacktop and cement.
Splitting their time between home in Mississauga and Lakeland, Fla. at their “winter writing retreat,” this bi-annual edition is completely revised.
That means the amazing fact is the guide provides information about everything at each exit including gas stations, restaurants, lodging, rest areas and local attractions – and on which side of the highway.
It also tells of road conditions, speed limits, radar enforcement hot spots that are extremely accurate and the safest lanes.
All this is packed into each page that covers 40 kilometres for about 30 minutes of driving.
“New is access to your secret information and update website to keep the book up-to-date before you travel,” Hunter said.
“Every few weeks, I update the site with new material such as maps and articles and post any major changes affecting the I-75 drive,” he added.
On the road again
Dave’s driving suggestion is to hit the road at 8:30 a.m., take a 15-minute coffee break at 10:30 a.m. and lunch at 12:45 p.m.
Get back on the highway after a one-hour lunch break and then stop for 15 minutes at 3:45 p.m. and call it a day at 6 p.m.
He also recommends taking I-75 instead of two others roads by way of Buffalo that lead eventually to I-95.
|Florida sign at the Welcome Center along the I-75. (Barbara Fox photo)|
“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.”
Among his helpful hints is one on how to pay at the pump for gas with Canadian credit cards.
Most ask for a U.S. zip code but what works is entering the three numbers of your postal code followed by two zeros while debit cards seem to work OK.
|Another scenic vista in Port Everglades, Florida. (Jim Fox photo)|
The Hunters don’t just stop at the Florida border as they have the guidebook Along Florida’s Expressways that’s great for people flying in and renting cars.
The state has endorsed the guide as providing emergency evacuation information in the time of approaching hurricanes.
If you go
The guidebooks contain no advertising or commercial content but Dave has filled them with helpful hints and suggestions.
Published by the Hunter’s Mile Oak Publishing Inc., Along Interstate 75, 20th edition sells for $32.95 while Along Florida’s Expressways, 4th edition costs $29.95.
They are available at bookstores, Canadian Automobile Association offices, Indigo.ca and Amazon.ca, or for Ontario customers, (519) 524-6901, Fincher’s Books in Goderich.
For more information: i75online.com
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca
During the winter, millions of Midwesterners and Ontarians head down Interstate-75 on their way to Florida. This popular route — through Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia — takes us from winter snows to the sun-drenched beaches and palm trees of Florida.
Nobody knows this route better than travel author Dave Hunter and his wife Kathy, who
have been driving it— for more 45 years and revise their popular driving guidebook — the “bible” for all who drive the route — “Along the I-75” every two years.
Here are Dave's top picks for your journey south:
1. Best motels — the family owned and employee run Drury Inns. Conveniently located Michigan (Frankenmuth), Ohio (various), Tennessee (Knoxville) & Georgia (various) I-75 exits, this is a lodging chain which simply gets it “just right” for the overnight guest on route to Florida. Once you check in, there is absolutely nothing else to pay. It starts with an open bar reception, free hot evening food menu (baked potato, hot meat, salad, etc.), free after hours soft drinks, free long distance phone calls, free hot breakfast, and so on. In fact, the Drury motto is, “The extras aren't extra.” Drury Inns also have very well appointed sound-proof rooms and accept pets. What more could one ask?
2. Best BBQ ribs — whether you like them with mild, hot or suicide sauce, the Pit Stop Bar-B-Que at exit 63B in Tifton, Georgia, is a “must-stop” for the BBQ rib gourmet. We've found nothing better in the South.
3. Best ice-cream — voted the “Best Ice-cream in the World” by Time Magazine, tiny Mayfield Dairy at Athens, Tennessee (take exit 52 east for 7 kms) has become a “must” stop, especially if travelling with children.
4. Best view — mountains march across the horizon as you transverse the foothills of the Appalachians near the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Have your camera ready at milepost 9, and again at milepost 4.
5. Best lunch stop — the OK Cafe in north Atlanta (east of Georgia exit 255) is right out of the 1950s. It's very popular locally but also very fast in terms of seating you. In fact, there's a clock just outside the front door which announces the “wait time.” I have tested it on a number of visits and it is very accurate.
6. Best gas bargain — don't miss filling up before you cross the Tennessee border into Georgia, and again before you leave Georgia and roll into Florida. Because of its fuel tax base, Tennessee has the cheapest gas on your entire journey.
7. Best way to speed your journey — rent books-on-tape from any of the popular Cracker Barrel restaurants. For $3.49 per week, you can get the latest hot fiction and drop it off at another Cracker Barrel near your Florida destination.
8. Best beauty spot — Kentucky's Cumberland Falls (take exit 25 west and ask for local directions). Hauntingly beautiful at night. Only one of two places in the world where the full moon forms a waterfall rainbow (aka “moonbow”).
9. Best unusual experience — a dish of fried green tomatoes at the famous Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia (15 kms east at exit 186 — but worth the drive). Before your meal, visit the gift stores and boutiques in the set from the movie of the same name, and then go and visit with the cafe's manager. Tell her that Dave sent you!
10. Best off-the-interstate drive - getting tired of the humdrum noise of tires on the tarmac? If so, turn west at Tennessee exit 160, drive through Jellico and parallel the I-75 in the beautiful Elk Valley. Follow Route 297 south and rejoin I-75 at exit 141. Extra time? 21 minutes.