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Britton Hill (FL)
Elevation: 345 ft
Date: March 17, 2009
Group Size: 2
Miles Covered: Including the short stroll through the woods: 0.1
Scenery: Road side park with a forest
I don't remember anymore where it began, but I started having problems with my car somewhere along the way in Alabama. It started shortly after a fill up in a gas station in some one stop-sign town. The stations was a Chevron, and not some Uncle Sam's Gas and Bait, yet, it still made me worry. I don't even know if there is such a thing as bad gas, but this surely seemed like it. The engine would hesitate when I pressed on the pedal. Or, holding it steady to sustain a constant driving speed resulted in large jerks. The engine was not getting the righ fuel/air ratio for one reason or another.
Well, we made it from Alabama in one piece. Along the way we stopped at Captain D's for some deep fried seafood goodness. We crossed the "Welcome to Florida, the sunshine state" sign in a heavy downpour. It must rain this heavy just few days a year, and this was one of them. We were staying at the Days Inn. Nice hotel, located right next to an imposing 20+ story tower probably containing million dollar beach condos. By the time we settled in, the rain subsided, and we even got to see the sunset. I used to live in Florida for 2 years, and have not realized how much I missed the place until today. It must be something in that ocean air. Madhu also liked Florida very much. The tropical landscape reminded him much of his hometown in India.
Relaxing with a cigar and margarita in Flounder's
That evening we walked to the boardwalk. Most of the bars and restaurants were closed. Maybe it was because tonight was Sunday, plus the weather was lousy - not many patrons to speak of. But, Bamboo Willies was serving the frozen concoctions, and few spring breakers were around to watch a baseball game. From there, we went to Flounder's Chowder house. Here we got margarita's and hang out on the beach behind the bar. I only realized the place closed when the Jimmy Buffet-y music stopped. This was a very relaxing night! We did not have dinner, but after the hefty lunch, there was no need.
View from our hotel walkway
Next morning we awoke to a beautiful day. It was sunny and about 70F. We walked on the snow white beach to the fishing pier ($1.50 per person). We then walked back, took pictures of various spring breakers ("could you, giggle giggle, take our, giggle giggle, picture, please?"). Before leaving, I inspected the air filter, and it looked fine. I stopped at an Autozone, where the clerk told me that the computer was reporting 1) faulty TPS sensor 2) a misfire 3) a misfire. The TPS sensor is one of the things I suspected could be causing the problem, and this seemed to confirm it. What happened to the good old days when cars were not just miles of wire? Well, just in case the issue was fuel related, I picked a bottle of a fuel injector cleaner. I am not a fan of cruise control, but perhaps it would have made our life easier given the bad throttle sensor. Well, the rest of the drive went fine. The car was giving me the occasional trouble, but it was nothing compared to the wild jerks from the day before. I learned that a deep pedal squeeze made a huge difference.
We took a short walk through the woods behind the HP.
Few summit shots.
The highpoint of Florida is located in a park alongside the US-285. A granite marker indicates the high point, although a path through the forest next to it definitely appeared to be slanting upward. Interesting. Just in case, we walked up this trail for a bit until it started going downhill again. We then snacked for a bit, and enjoyed the sunny weather. Across the border, we stopped at a Sarah's Big R, a place advertising home cooking. Despite the open sign and the many cars in the parking lot, I was somewhat surprised to find the place open. Maybe it was due to the windows draped over in a dark insect net. This was my kind of a place. Bunch of people eating and telling their stories and no waitress in a matching uniform to be found. We sat down. Finally, one of the customers (local surely) got up, and brought us the menus. Later, a greasy looking grandma-type (must be Big Sarah), came out. Awesome. She took our orders. I went for the mushroom burger with deep fried dill pickles. I asked about shakes. She named more flavors than I could remember, but Oreo sounded like the winner. Madhu also got a burger, and hot wings for the side. The food was amazing, despite the lack of calendars. 5 thumbs up!
On the way up US-331 we passed by an armory for Alabama's National Guard. So the next time the Germans attack, we will be ready!
Lake Jackson in Florala, AL
The place where we ate lunch, Sarah's Big R in Florala, AL
To digest, we walked down to the lake. From there, it was another 100 miles on US-331 to Montgomery, AL, where we picked up the interstate 85. That night we made it into Commerce, GA. In the Days Inn, the elderly desk lady told us about a coupon book, so we went off to Denny's to hunt for this fabled $44 special ($59 for the regular folks!). The next morning, I woke Madhu from his zombie-like state around 6 and we hit the road by 7. We lunched at the Waffle House in Christiansburg. I remember this particular place being quite the hang out for the "locals" and I was not disapointed. I got my usual: patty melt, pecan waffle, and few cups of coffee. The drive home was smooth. The only interruptions were the ever-present cops. In the past two days, we must have driven by at least 40 squad cars. This included a guy pulled over by not one, or two, but by four state troopers! Two troopers were looking through the trunk with flashlights. Somebody's spring break ended early and in a very cold place...