Maryland-Florida: A Long And Legendary Four Day Road Trip (Big Post With Many Photos)
Taylor Martin last edited by Taylor Martin
This is going to be a real beefy post, but I'll try to scatter as many photos as I can to make up for the reading. Buckle in.
Just a few days before Christmas, I made the 13h straight shot from FL to MD to spend the holidays with those I hold dear. It'd been a lovely month-long trip, safely spending time with friends and family, and also getting a much-needed break from Florida heat.
But for my dad, the cool crisp air wasn't ideal for him. You see, a few months before he invested in a rooftop tent, intending to camp in it for days at a time... but MD is friggin cold at night, especially in January... so he pitched an idea. We go on a father-son camping trip, and then I take it all back to FL with me.
So I spent the day before packing the car.
And when I say packed, I do mean packed. The quickest way to slam your car is to fill it with stuff. Some of the goodies included a 12v fridge, an electric generator, a propane stove with 2 burners, cookware, chairs, a canopy, and a ton of other camping goodies. We had everything we needed to make sure the trip was enjoyable and nothing went wrong...
That being said, a lot of stuff could've gone catastrophically wrong...
It started when I woke up on day 1 of the trip, a 7-hour stilt to Asheville NC. I'd gotten 4 hours of non-consecutive sleep on a very small couch and then started dry heaving for literally no reason. Bad cramps maybe. That passed quick enough where I could safely get on the road... That is, until I heard my brakes squeak.
With 600lbs of stuff in the rear and 130lbs of tent on the roof, bad brakes are no joke. I was breaking on a hill when I heard it, and it only happened one time (my brakes were actually pretty good considering the added weight), but it was a good wake-up call to make sure I was well aware of the state of my car. After all, rugged roads and packed trunks aren't exactly what the SportWagon was built for (though Iris tackled it like a champ).
So, we set off. I had to tail my dad because he had the faster route on his GPS, but he loves chilling in the middle lane... It got tedious at some points, like consistently being stuck behind a slow driver... but oh well.
The drive to Asheville wasn't all that thrilling. Lots of music and phone calls. And a gas stop where we ate leftover Papa Johns that'd been sitting in our minifridge.
We arrived at campsite 1 just before sundown, which wasn't a campsite at all.
My dad's old colleagues, who are richer than I'll ever be in my life, bought and live in the Rumbough House in NC, a historic home that was built in 1892.
It was in shambles when they got to it and have spent the past 2 years, and a lot of quarantine, getting the thing show-ready. We were some of the first to see it, as one of the hosts is immunocompromised
And what do these uber-rich home renovators drive you may ask?
A 15-year-old Mercedes G-Wagon with just 80k miles on it. They don't drive much anymore, not just because of the pandemic, but because they... don't. They used that car to get from their home in FL to their home in NC before they sold the home in FL, which is how most of the miles racked up.
A very cute, small, and horny dog also lives in the house. Picture for perspective:
Fun fact: see these stained glass windows?
On homes built long ago, stained glass was used on the outside. However, that big door leads to the master bedroom, which indicates that wasn't a part of the original build. I thought that was neat!
We also had a delicious pot roast. I would've taken pictures, but I hate being that guy who photographs their meals. We scoffed it down and went right to bed.
Night 1 in the tent was alright. It was windy as hell, 30mph gusts. My dad kept reassuring me the tent would hold up, and it did, but boy was it loud. The good news is that was the worst night's sleep I got on the trip (with the exception of the night before on the couch, if you consider that part of the trip).
We woke up to delicious eggs, warm cocoa, and Peugeot salt shakers (as previously posted) before starting the day's activities.
Now, the original plan was to drive 4 hours to the border of TN and take "The Tail Of The Dragon." It's on my bucket list, and because we didn't actually go, it still is. I know, can I claim to love driving if I didn't take the opportunity to go. Well, there are a few reasons:
- Gas is expensive in Asheville, and I didn't want to burn a bunch to go out of the way.
- It's winter, the trees are dead, and because my dad was with me and I had a tent on the car, I wasn't going to try and put in a fast time.
- A bunch of school assignments loomed in the distance, so I needed to get that work done instead.
I'll get around to it another time. Instead, we spent what time I had that day exploring Asheville NC, a place where more people wear masks outside than not... it was pretty surreal.
And by "explore Asheville," I mean we parked, walked into an Art Gallery, and spent time looking at a ton of weird, high society crap...
If you can't tell by my general demeanor, dinged-up car, and long hair, I'm not that classy. So spending thousands of dollars on art makes absolutely no sense to me. That being said, there were beautiful pieces. Landscapes are my favorite, art that doesn't make you think about what it is.
There were also mugs, one of which I bought for 45 bucks... it's now the most expensive mug in my growing collection.
And there were a few automotive pieces as well:
I think that's either a Lancia or an Alfa... I'm not good at pinning cars to names. The title doesn't say either, it's just A Pack Of Wolves And The Smell Of Gasoline. This was the largest piece in the gallery too. Pretty neat.
And then there's this whale. Unsuspecting at first, but if you look closer...
We finished being bourgeois, packed up the tent, and got back on the road. Because we nixed The Tail Of The Dragon from the itinerary, we only spent 2 hours on the road, and I made it with 50 miles of gas to spare.
Our next stop was an actual campground, Twin Lakes in SC... and golly was it nice...
We arrived, again, just before sundown. I set up the tent and climbed in to do schoolwork while dad whipped up dinner. If you're interested in food subscription services, Hello Fresh is wonderful. Brings ingredients to your door, you put it all together and presto! Perfect portions too.
And not too long after we scoffed down some spaghetti, we went to bed.
Day 3 arrives. I spent most of the morning making a proper fire... ooga booga...
And after sitting, relaxing, and slowing down, me and my dad finally part ways. Hugs are exchanged, and then he set off, as I was about to when I notice something quite disturbing...
My driver's side back tire lost 7psi overnight, from 33 down to 26.
Luckily, we were pretty close to a town with junk car dealerships and auto parts. You know, our view of paradise. Drove about 10 miles, viciously studying the digital tire pressure gauge on my dash. Because I drove the car, the air heated up and expanded, so my PSI went up even in the tire with a puncture. Bought a small, 12V air compressor and filled up the tire a bit more than usual, then set off for my third stop: Atlanta GA. Another quick 2-hour drive.
This wasn't just any typical trip to Atlanta though, this was special because it was an Oppo Meet. Me and @WhoIsTheLeader got together, though not without a few hiccups. For starters, there was an accident just before the last intersection I had to cross to get where we were meeting, which left me stuck... kind of...
You see, I could've just pulled around like all the other crazy Atlanta drivers were, but I didn't. Instead, me and Who teamed up to get the car out of the road. She didn't want to start it, and I don't blame her. The front was crumpled and the airbags deployed, but we could get it into neutral with the override lock and push it down the hill, which worked well enough. Call it a good deed for the day to mask the fact that I'm a ridiculously bad person...
After dealing with that, Who gave me a guided tour of the city, starting at a cemetery (a fine place to meet a stranger), passing by some legendary street art, and accidentlying ourselves to Ponce City Market.
One of the restaurants had some real good steak quesadillas... yum.
If you ever get around to it, you ought to safely meet your fellow Oppo... they're pretty cool. You can read Who's side of the story here, but we soon parted ways, and I drove 1 more hour to my final campsite: my aunt and uncle's driveway.
One of these days I'll do a writeup on their place, because it's legendary, but here's all you need to know:
- My uncle is a Delta pilot, and also stupid rich.
- They live on a grass airstrip and have their own hangar.
- He built a kit plane.
- He restored a Chevelle (oh my god it's pretty).
- They have a big driveway.
I slept like a rock that night, though it had been the busiest day (did a lot of stuff, didn't do a lot of driving).
And I wake up the next morning, ready to complete the final leg of the journey from GA to FL, a 6.5-hour drive I'd done many times before... well... almost.
I checked the pressure in the tire and, much to my dismay, it'd gone down again. I inspected the tire and sprayed soapy water and found no holes, but I knew there was one... somewhere... So, I whipped out the perfect tool for this very predicament: the space-saving tire repair kit that came with the car!
It's a hose that also sprays sealant, that way it'd patch up the hole and fill it with air at the same time. Wonderful! Or so I thought...
I punctured my tire 4 years too late, as the sealant had long since expired. I filled it up with enough air to get me to Discount Tire in hopes they'd inspect it... and they would... at 3:15pm. By the time I arrived it was 10:00, which meant I had a couple of options:
- Play the waiting game and bring the car back in the afternoon.
- Buy a little sealant from the store and patch it myself.
- Fill it with just air and keep on trucking.
Because I don't trust myself with even the simplest of repairs, and I didn't want to chance a blowout at highway speeds with thousands of dollars worth of stuff in my car, I decided to leave it to the experts. Carefully drove back to my aunt and uncle's place and did a lot of school work... if you couldn't tell by my desktop, I really like my car.
Time ticked by, I ate a sandwich, and soon I left for good, heading for my 3:15 appointment at Discount Tire, where they'd inspect and, if they could, fix it for free! A couple of the service writers were chatting about stuff and passed by my car. I didn't hear much, but I did hear "didn't know Acura ever made wagons." Call me a narcissist, but owning a car that service writers and mechanics haven't seen before is pretty nifty to me...
Speaking of mechanics, shout out to Cam.
The environment of this place was very militaristic and very masculine. Tough guys making bad jokes about how tough they are, yelling and swearing and taunting. It didn't scream professionalism, nor did their work. Every car they worked on they absolutely blew through, doing what I can only assume was a half-baked job... and then there was Cam.
He must've been new, but he very methodically checked my tire, carefully used the machinery, didn't yell or chat with colleagues. He just did what he needed to do and he did a brilliant job. Found a massive nail in the tire I couldn't spot because 1.) my suspension was slammed and 2.) it was further back on the tread. Pulled it out, fixed it up, didn't bicker with me when I asked him to use 80lb/ft of torque instead of 90 (90 for the sedan, 80 for the wagon). He made my day, and eased my mind as I set off for one last drive.
Now, I get pretty tired when I drive because I use my brain. If you're not feeling a bit fatigued, you're not focusing enough. That being said, I definitely hit my limit on the way home and actually got exhausted.
I stopped for dinner at Waffle House, a tradition of mine, about halfway home. Also had to get gas, so I might as well have. But the rest of the trip from there felt like an eternity. Every minute that passed felt like 5 minutes, and I found myself constantly struggling to keep my mind off of the time (time goes by faster when you're not staring at a clock). Those were the signs I'd hit my limit, as was the constant blinking I had to do to keep my eyes from drying up. But I kept moving, cause if I stopped I likely wouldn't have gotten back on the road until the sun came up.
20 some hours of driving and 290 songs later (started in MD, ended in FL) , I pulled into my apartment complex, safe and sound, at 11pm and spent the next 2 hours unpacking the trunk/organizing all my goodies. I also met my roommate's new cat, named Kipo, based on a Dreamworks animated show that's actually really good called Kipo: Age Of Wonderbeasts. It's on Netflix.
So, after a long and comfy night's sleep, let's reflect. What exactly did I learn this trip... Well:
- I don't like taking pictures. Makes me feel like a tourist.
- Papa Johns is really good cold
- I'll never live in a mansion
- Abstract Art is just a fancy way of saying tax break
- I can make fire unga unga
- School sucks, but at least it's online so I can go wherever
- My tire repair kit is expired
- I don't hate cities, they're very cool, but city driving is hell
- I found my driving limit/the difference between tired and exhausted
- My dad snores
- An old freight elevator could lift my car
And above all else,
- I quite enjoy camping
Maybe it's not the most rugged form of camping, but it's still peaceful and solitary, both things I needed a little bit of.
So there you have it! A four-day legendary adventure summed up in this crappy post. I hope you enjoyed it.
ranwhenparked last edited by
@taylor-martin That house is absolutely amazing, quality craftsmanship like that demands high quality restoration work, and they clearly didn't cut corners.
I also applaud you for taking 4 days and doing it safely, as opposed to that time I drove from Delaware to Key West in 21 hours, I was physically awake, but mentally asleep, for everything south of Miami, 0/10 would not recommend ever doing that again.
Taylor Martin last edited by
@ranwhenparked The house was certainly a spectacle, and brilliantly restored. They offered to let us sleep in a guest room, but my dad being the nature man he thinks he is insisted on sleeping in the tent. I just followed suit.
I've done MD to FL with just one stop before, but if we had the tent we might as well have used it.
Vondon302 last edited by
@taylor-martin Sounded like a fun trip. That tent setup is sweet. Ah to live with your own runway. Very nice.
RallyDarkstrike last edited by
@Taylor-Martin Awesome write-up and quite the trip! That 'pack of wolves' with a car art - the car is a Maserati, actually!
Taylor Martin last edited by
Case in point: I don't know jack about cars... I just pretend I do...
RallyDarkstrike last edited by
@taylor-martin No worries, obscure and quirky Italians are my jam
WhoIsTheLeader last edited by
but he loves chilling in the middle lane... It got tedious at some points, like consistently being stuck behind a slow driver...
That's what pretty much every driver in Atlanta thought after you rolled through at 15 mph haha. I'll chock that up to you being tired and me leading over hill and dale on foot. Nice write-up! That sounds like a truly epic trip.
And I can confirm that Iris was s l a m m e d from all that gear.