Florida Stories and Tips

Travel Plans Turned Upside Down

Foggy West Allis, Wisconsin Photo, Florida, United States

As we were running errands on Friday afternoon, I became increasingly concerned about the warming temperatures. Earlier in the week SE Wisconsin had received another six inches of snow, just in time for Christmas and holiday travel. With about that same amount on the ground, most seasonal purists were more than happy that we'd have a white Christmas. We certainly didn't "need" another six!

I had once before been grounded during the winter with fog created by rising temps. Seems a painful payback that we endure when the weather becomes unseasonably warm immediately after a sizeable snowfall. I knew the signs and could practically forecast it without the knowledge or skills of Willard Scott.

Waking up at 5:00am on Saturday, I got into the shower and proceeded to check out the airline's flight status for the morning. Sure enough, "CANCELED" was scrolled across our flight info. After a 30 minute wait on the telephone, I was finally speaking with an agent with AirTran Airlines. She broke the bad news . . . it would be Monday afternoon before they could get us to our original destination; or any other major airport in Florida! YIKES!!

I went ahead and allowed her to rebook us for Monday morning itinerary, and proceeded to contact my car rental company to confirm our change in travel plans and hopefully retain my great rental rate in spite of the delayed arrival and schedule change. Not so fast, however. I am told that they could not assure my rate nor even the availability of a car. The young man went on to say that even if we were to arrive on time that afternoon, there was a highly likelihood that there would be no car for us, anyway, period.

I felt like I was living that Jerry Seinfeld episode about why making a reservation doesn't reserve you a car with certainty. The agent explained that the auto manufacturers had withdrawn inventory from a majority of the rental companies operating in Orlando and didn't have cars for anyone.

Because we were flying into Orlando in order to save on the airline tickets because Ft. Lauderdale was more than $300/ticket more, having a car was essential. Our vacation destination was not Orlando and even if it was, anyone who has been there will tell you that unless you're staying INSIDE the Walt Disney World Complex, you will need a car. Our timeshare exchange was in Ft. Lauderdale and we needed to be assured we could get there and get around without issue.

It was at this point in time, around 6:45am, that I realized that if this vacation was going to happen, we were going to have to drive to Florida. That would be 1,450 miles or approximately 22 hours drive time according to Mapquest. Once the reality had set in on David, we were ready to pack the van and hit the road.

Our route took us south from Milwaukee, through Chicago (thankfully it was a slow Saturday morning - - just fog & rain); east on the tollway to I65 south. Passing through Louisville and Nashville, we stopped in Chattanooga for the night. With 750 miles under our belt, we figured we were about halfway there.

Sunday morning we woke up to rain, which we endured through to approximately Atlanta. While the skies were mostly clearing, the roads were becoming a real nightmare. With road construction and lane closures, coupled with the snowbirds trying to get home to Florida from home "up north" we were in for a long travel day.

After crawling some three hours from Macon to the GA/FLA stateline, things picked up for a few miles but subsequently jammed up again. It wasn't until we were on the Florida Turnpike did our drive resume to the posted 70mph speed.

We finally arrived at the Wyndham Palm Aire resort at 10:30pm, after logging another 750 miles over the course of nearly 15 hours! Needless to say, we were zonked and ready for sleep. Everything at check-in went smoothly and we were in bed by 11:00pm.

It was a long couple of days . . . but alas . . . we "arrived alive" and could look forward to the coming week (give or take) in sunny South Florida.

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