Day 5: Cedar Key, FL at 120mph
Orlando, FL to Tallahassee, FL
Not a lot to talk about today as it was the longest segment of the road-trip. Orlando, FL to Tallahassee, FL was supposed to be a monotonous 4-hours, 250 miles (400 km) highway segment through rural Florida, but I decided to spice it up by checking out Cedar Key, FL, a peninsula on the West Coast of Florida. This added about 3 hours to our initial driving time estimate but we got the occasion to drive local roads and make a meaningful stop along the way.
After a solid breakfast comprising scrambled eggs, Italian sausage, bacon, chorizo and cheese taken at the Dixie Cream Cafe in Windermere, FL, we set out for Cedar Key, FL’s pier for the first 200 miles (320 km) leg of the day’s travel. As we drove away from urban Orlando metropolis onto smaller roads, our car and us became more and more at odds with the environment we drove through. Among the farmlands we passed, the pickup truck is king, and low-profile sports convertible like ours become rare and bourgeois. At the same time, political bumper stickers and billboards praising law enforcement, advertising gun shows, displaying passive-aggressive religious messages or even exhorting viewers against psychiatry made us chuckle nervously and feel unwelcome and potentially unwanted.
While the weather was mostly sunny since morning, it covered fast as we approached Cedar Key, FL, even fogging heavily in the last miles, considerably reducing visibility and making the sun feel cold and bleak. It felt like we were traveling to Twin Peaks or Silent Hill. However, after having taken a few pictures of the fishing pier and the many seagulls and pelicans waiting for fish scraps, the fog went away as quickly as it came and the sun shone again.
We had no time to dilly-dally and jumped right back in the car for the next and last 150 miles (240 km) leg of today’s travel. On an empty road bordering a wildlife reserve I gave a taste of the car’s power to my girlfriend who told me she never went 110 mph (170 kmh) before. I floored it on a clear straight and the Ford Mustang Convertible effortlessly reached about 120 mph (195 kph) until I had to decelerate before the upcoming bend.
The sun set on us as we drove towards Tallahassee, and this time we entertained ourselves with an episode from the Reply All podcast by Gimlet Media about strange Uber rides, data breaches and password security.
Only incident of the day, when we showed up at our Airbnb house at 20:00 for the night, the door was locked and the host was out of town. She had to cancel our reservation and we had to find a hotel nearby. It wasn’t a pleasant surprise and I hope I’ll still be able to leave her a negative review.
More generally about Airbnb, this is the second day in a row we booked a room in a house or apartment that is entirely dedicated to hosting Airbnb guests, which is a practice generally frowned upon as it removes residential units from the market and generates heavy commercial activity in residential zones. For two years, the City of New York has been fining landlords renting out full apartments through Airbnb to discourage the practice and allow long-term renters to access those units in a city already starving for housing. Tonight’s incident will make me more careful about spotting and avoiding those disguised unlicensed hotels in advance.
Continued next page.