Day Seventeen: Friday, October 15th, 2004
        It ended up raining off and on throughout the night. However, this time the tarp did its job and I was able to sleep the night away in the tent, waking up just slightly damp in the morning.

        I had chosen Greenville as my spot to spend the night because the local library had a wireless hotspot and I was in need of catching up on some emails and updating the web site. So the bulk of the day was actually spent there.

        It was after 4pm by the time I was done so I made a mad dash out of the city, not wanting to get caught in suppertime traffic on a Friday. For some reason I decided to veer westwards into Georgia instead of just heading southwards into it. Still not sure why. I think I wanted to avoid the interstates and a major city, but it ended up costing me a couple hours of driving time.

        I started looking for a campground shortly after I entered Georgia, but somehow my bad luck had returned and it wasn't until 10:30 that I finally crawled into the Country Boy's RV Park and pretended to be an RV and slept in the back of my car. It wasn't that I couldn't find any campgrounds this time, the problem was that they were all full. This was my fourth and thankfully final attempt at finding one. A drawn out end to a fairly uneventful day. However, I went to bed knowing that my next night would be spent in Florida.

Day Eighteen: Saturday, October 16th, 2004

        With five hours or more to make it to Florida, I didn't have much time for anything besides driving. I decided to brave Waffle House for breakfast.  My previous experience was none too pleasant. (The waiter dropped my fork in the garbage by mistake, they were out of milk, I got served waffles that I never ordered as well as some strange white stuff that looked like tapioca but had no taste, they forgot my juice, and then they charged me twice as much as they were supposed to.)

        But you can't damn a whole restaurant chain based on one experience (and most of the food had been tasty) so I tried it again. You should always worry about a place that is filled with slogans about how important you are to them and their various claims of qualities which should be taken for granted anyway. (They won't serve you any faster or better based on your race, for instance.)

        Alas, the waitress just plunked my food down in front of me, the eggs were a little too over easy (and almost cold) and I encountered that strange white stuff again. I guess it's grits, but I always thought grits was just southern style hashbrowns. (Obviously, I was wrong.) I also got ticked off by their menu which said a 10% gratuity would be added to all "to go" orders as well as small print under some of the bigger meals which said you weren't allowed to share the meal with anyone else. (Understandable if it were all you can eat, but otherwise, let me eat my food the way I damn well please!)

        There ends my rant on Waffle House. From now on I stick with Denny's or my own Coleman burner.

        From the moment I entered the US in Maine it was obvious that here is a much more blatantly religious country than Canada with all their numerous Christian Children's Schools on every city corner and all the dramatic names of their churches and the slogans that often are posted outside them. As I travel further into the south this is becoming more and more evident. I am in the midst of God Fearing Gentle Folk. Or, as I like to refer to them as: Bible Thumping Morons. I have to mention a few of the slogans on recent churches...

"Want to hear something really scary? How about an eternity in hell?"
"Our actions have consequences. Pray for your vote this November."
"This November, vote your faith."
"Are same sex marriages okay? Just look at Sodom and Gomorrah."
"God doesn't just want you on weekends, he wants full custody."
"What do you want for eternity? Smoking or non-smoking?"

        I'd liked to have tacked on a little extra to that first one saying "Want to hear something even scarier? The idea of a god that has to bribe and threaten people just to get them to believe in him."

        And, finally, the most bizarre of all the church slogans:

"Fish would never be in trouble if they kept their mouths shut."

        I really do not want to try and figure out the purpose of that one.

        Anyway, it was a long day of driving and little else so I needed to talk about something.

        At four o'clock I finally crossed into Florida. And immediately the temperature soared and the sun blazed and... Well, actually it still seemed a little cool. I was quite disappointed. Finding no tourist bureau on the minor highway I came in on, I entered Lake City and finally tracked one down only to find it long deserted. So, I decided to brave the interstate once again and headed south towards Gainesville.

        Driving along I felt like I was checking my email because all I saw along the highway was SPAM. The worst offender was the constant billboards for various Florida Welcome Stations with free orange juice and "Free Disney Tickets 80% Off" - whatever that means. Of course we know what they really are. It was especially odd to see other billboards showing women's faces saying "We Bare All" and mentioning that they are open 24 hours a day, couples are welcome, and they have sex toys. Try explaining all that to your children as you are driving towards Disney World.

        Along the way I noticed a sign for "Travelers Campground" and decided to check it out. And that's where I am staying for the evening. Only $17 for the night and it comes with hook-ups and a pool, not to mention a mob of parrots in cages near the main office and some strange unknown beast. (Fortunately, they all quiet down after dark.) A little too close to the interstate, but not quite as bad as that truckstop campground was.

        I set up my tent and before long I was testing out the swimming pool. Very nice indeed. I swam around for perhaps half an hour and then got out shortly before dark. Depending on how the night goes I may end up staying a second night here and use the time to do some exploring and some laundry and some web surfing at the hotspot a little to the south.

Day Nineteen: Sunday, October 17th, 2004

        In the morning I packed up the tent, had a swim, and set off for Gainesville and the downtown hotspot there. I spent a few hours catching up on things there while sitting outside city hall in a shaded area and then checked out one of the local malls. In a place like this, just going to a mall or a grocery store can be an adventure with all the different stores and brands. I especially liked the microwaveable pork rinds in the popcorn area.

        By the time I was done all that I was hot and tired and didn't relish the idea of a few hours of driving followed by another search for a campground. So I returned to Travelers Campground for another night near the interstate. At least this time I was a little further away from the interstate, no longer camped under a light, on the only tenting site with a picnic table, and set up on flat ground. (The previous night I kept feeling like I was about to roll out of bed.)

on to the next day...