A winter road trip: Wisconsin to Florida
By Marv Kohlbeck
Suppose relatives asked you if you would be interested in driving their car to Florida so they could comply with doctors’ orders to book a flight rather than make the long journey by car. I should add that the request also includes all expenses paid, including gas, lodging, meals, and a return flight home.
My wife and I could not envision any pitfalls in this proposal, so we responded that we would be willing to accept the generous offer as it would make a nice, affordable trip before the holidays.
We left Pittsville in separate cars and headed to the Milwaukee airport on a Friday afternoon about a month ago. The plan was to leave our car at the airport so we would have transportation once we returned from Florida on the return flight.
I seldom use our cellphone, but thankfully my wife carries one with her much of the time.
Friday night traffic near the Milwaukee airport was horrendous, and I was the lead vehicle with just a truck occupying the space between the two of us. Well, I missed the airport turn, but my wife made the proper turn. That separated us, and I had to find my way back to the airport as I did not have a phone to communicate with her. I ended up approaching a traffic officer who was booking a traffic violator and asked him for directions to the airport. With his flashlight he was able to slow the traffic down to allow me back onto the three-lane highway.
Once I got to the airport, my concern was how I would make contact with my wife as she had the only phone. I approached a security guard who called our relatives to ask them to call my wife and allow the good Samaritan security guard to guide her to my parking spot. Wow, we were never so glad to see each other so we could travel together on the way to Florida to deliver our relatives’ packed car.
The rest of our trip continued to be filled with little surprises.
We ended up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on our second night. That evening we treated ourselves to a buffet-style Southern meal. We also had good conversation with a few truck drivers seated at the table next to us. When it came time to pay our bill, we were pleasantly surprised when the clerk told us our meal had been taken care of. We did not know anyone there, but one of the truckers gave us the high sign of a wave from the back of the room: Southern hospitality at its best.
The next night we stayed with my wife’s brother and his wife in Jacksonville, Florida. We told them that we would treat them to dinner. Their recommendation was steak at Texas Roadhouse. Halfway through the meal our sister-in-law discovered two pieces of plastic embedded in her steak. The manager was called and apologized for the circumstances. To make it right he agreed to reduce my bill from $68 down to half price of $34. I did not debate the issue.
Our stay in Orlando, Florida, with Peruvian friends also had a good ending. Not only did we have a good, home-cooked meal and a good night’s rest but a promise that we can spend the entire week with them when we plan to be in Orlando in March for our granddaughter’s college spring training sessions.
After clocking 1,700 miles, we reached our destination at our relatives’ residence in Naples, Florida, without a dent or scratch on their car. Besides the all expenses paid trip, we were their guests for an additional four days until our return flight was scheduled. We spent daytime at the pool and evenings dining at some of their favorite eating spots.
We had a decent flight back to Milwaukee, went directly to our parked car, and returned with memories of a great trip and satisfaction of all who were involved.