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Florida: Macon, St. Petersburg

December 31, 2011

Dear readers,

Joy and I are on a road trip to Florida. The route: Athens — Macon — Tampa Bay — Orlando — St. Augustine — Okeefenokee (at Folkston) — Athens.

Today we started out from Athens around 11AM and drove by many farms and the Oconee Forest Park. We arrived in Macon around 1:00PM. On driving into Macon, we noticed the fantastic spires of a church sticking out among the buildings, so we visited St. Joseph’s Cathedral. The church is red-brick with white accents, in Gothic Revival style. The inside was decorated with beautiful stained glass and marble carvings. A nativity scene was on display. A few worshippers were seated in the pews, under a magnificent organ. A local man greeted us.

“It’s really a gem, isn’t it?” He recommended the detailed marble carvings of the Passion installed along the walls. We parked in downtown Macon across from the Grand Opera House and courthouse complex and walked to Nu-Way Weiners, where we each ate two signature red hot dogs with chili and cheese. Downtown Macon was nearly empty, but Nu-Way was packed, and customers kept coming as we paid by the tiny steel grill and slipped out of the narrow shop.

We took I-75 south in my brother’s red Tacoma pickup, and stopped in Tifton at Starbucks. We ate a brownie from my grandmother Isabel in Alabama, drank coffee, and drove down to Valdosta. We stopped again at the Georgia-Florida border and tried to buy tickets to Disney World at the “Florida Information Center”, but they were sold out of single-day tickets. I settled for free orange juice. We took photos of the twilight colors and palm fronds, tried to get a map from the Florida state visitors center (closed), and returned to I-75, which continued to offer us nothing to look at roadside but trees and trees. At least they were Florida trees.

We pressed on and drove the 200 miles to St. Petersburg listening to music and a documentary about Mayday (and eating chocolate almonds, banana chips, etc.). We got gas off I-275, crossed a stupendously long bridge, and rolled into Clearwater, Florida, where we got lost among office parks and used Google Maps on the iPhone to find our hotel. We ate Italian (tortellini and ravioli) at Antonio’s Pasta Grill.

Tomorrow is First Night in St. Pete.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Kieran

Macon

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St. Joseph’s Cathedral

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Nu-Way Weiners

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Georgia-Florida state line

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