Winding Up Our Pittsburgh Visit and Heading Back to Florida
Pittsburgh, PA/Wauchula, FL - Events of Monday, December 26 to Friday, December 30, 2016
After a nice Christmas Eve and Christmas day with J. Michael's family, we relaxed the day after Christmas. J. Michael's mom came over, and we spent the day playing with Lydia, chatting, snacking on appetizers and watching movies.
On Tuesday, we had an errand to run in the North Hills area of Pittsburgh. We had recently gotten an email coupon for buy-one-entree-get-one-free from Qdoba Mexican Grill so we met Lora and Lydia at Qdoba for lunch on our way back to the house.
We took Paul's step mom to lunch at Sesame Inn on Wednesday. As usual, we had General Tso's Chicken, which was delish. We hung around and chatted for good while after lunch. Lydia was very patient.
Lora and J. Michael invited friends over to the house on Wednesday evening. While we were waiting for them to arrive, Lydia kept busy playing in her new kitchen.
We were planning to leave for Florida early Thursday Morning. Since it was likely Lydia wouldn't be up yet, we said our good-byes to her on Wednesday evening after the guests left. We also got her to pose for a farewell photo.
We got on the road around 8:30 on Thursday morning. Traffic didn't get heavy until we got to the stretch of I-77 north of Charlotte that is always congested. There now is construction going on in that area that presumably is going to eventually help alleviate the congestion once the work is finally completed, but in the meantime it's making the back-ups worse.
Last year, we used the Google Maps app on our smart phone to check traffic north of Charlotte, and it gave us an alternate route that saved us time. This year, we found a new app we like even better. It's called Waze. Waze is available for Androids and iPhones, and not only does it give traffic conditions and suggest alternate routes, but it also gives alerts for road hazards such as vehicles stopped on the shoulder and obstructions on the roadway. It also alerts you to police presence and red light cams. The alerts are submitted by users of the app. As other users pass reported delays or obstructions, they can submit comments, which are useful in determining the nature of the problem and how long it might last. Users can also dismiss an obstruction as no longer being present as they pass by the specified location of the obstruction.
Waze predicted a significant delay north of Charlotte, and it suggested an alternate route that took us cross country. Even though the alternate route was over local roads and out of our way, it supposedly was at least 20 to 30 minutes faster than staying on the interstate.
We pulled into the Hampton Inn in Rock Hill a little before 5 p.m. After checking in and taking our luggage to our room, we headed out to the Dixie Pig for dinner. Dixie Pig is a barbecue joint that has pulled pork, ribs, smoked chicken, brisket and sausage. We both had a pulled pork platter that includes two sides for $9.50. We both had slaw and mac and cheese for our sides.
The Dixie Pig gets excellent reviews online, but we're not sure why. While the the service was fast and friendly, the portions were generous and the pork was tender and moist, the pork had absolutely no smoke flavor. In fact, it tasted like left-over, oven-roasted pork. The mac and cheese was pretty good, but the slaw was just so-so. Not only didn't it have much flavor, but there were a good many large chunks of cabbage in it. We like the cabbage in our slaw to be a little more finely cut.
On Friday morning, we pulled out of Rock Hill around 7:30 after our complimentary breakfast at the motel. The breakfast, which is surprisingly good, consists of eggs (they had scrambled on the way north and cheese omelets on the way south), breakfast meat (they had sausage patties on the way north and maple sausage on the way south), fruit, hot and cold cereal, juice, pastries, toast and make-your-own waffles.
The drive down I-77 and I-26 to I-95 went smoothly. I-95 through South Carolina is 4 lanes wide, so there were periodic slow-downs. I-95 through Georgia and Florida is 6 lanes wide, so it usually moves pretty well if there are no accidents. At least I-95 moves pretty well until you get to Jacksonville, Florida. The Waze app said there were delays on I-95 going through Jacksonville, so we took the East I-295 Beltway around the city. There were some slow-downs on the beltway, but no major delays. The interesting thing about taking the East Beltway is it passes the harbor area along the St. Johns River where you can see freighters and container ships being loaded and unloaded. The next photo shows a freighter loading sand or gravel at the Martin Marietta Jacksonville Marine Terminal.
South of Jacksonville, we headed inland on I-4 toward Orlando. Since it was late afternoon as we approached Orlando and since I-4 through Orlando at rush hour is impossibly slow, we followed the advice of our Waze smartphone app and took the route around Orlando that follows toll roads. We spent about $6 in tolls, and we took a significantly longer route, but at least we kept moving the whole way. Traffic on the toll roads was very light.
We stopped for a fast-food dinner at Arby's on our way through Avon Park and pulled into the SKP Florida Resort a little after 6 p.m. We unloaded the truck, unpacked our suitcases and put them away. We then relaxed with a little TV before heading off to bed. We'll tell you about our start to the New Year in our next post.