Sooooo, I took a lovely vacay to Florida and learned to my amazement (and somewhat to my amusement) that I had rather a different perspective on my home state than I did growing up there as a child.
(LOL! YEEESSS! THIS daily!)
Especially because, as a 10-year-old kid, I never had to drive around the Florida peninsula—I just napped in the backseat of our station wagon and awoke at the beach, flipflops in hand and ready to play! It was like magic!
(Mmm, and now I have a DIY sandbox in the car floorboards, something else I don’t remember as a kid but sure noticed it today as I wisk-broomed the car like whoa!!)
However, little did I realize that driving Texas and driving Florida—yeah, two very different experiences!
Things I learned about driving in Florida:
- U-turns are legal everywhere, unless specifically marked. And you’d better take advantage while you can, because (particularly in some of FL’s more rural areas) that might be the last intersection you see for a very looooong time! (Hacked through the jungle underbrush and lined with bamboo fronds, swell.)In Texas, you can practically turn wherever you like. Here, I’ve yet to see anyone pull off a successful U-Turn THROUGH a Palmetto Tree! It’d be a pretty neat trick, that!
- Exit and entrance ramps are very arbitrary; sometimes they’re on the left, maybe they’re on the right? It’s like this sick game the Florida highway officials play with your head cause there’s no warning and you get to guess! Oh yeah—that’s FUN! Loads!!Course, this comes as something of a nasty surprise when you suddenly see your exit flash by and you have 4 lanes of downtown city traffic to get across in approx 2.5 nanoseconds because –surprise! You guessed wrong! Whoops! Muhahahahahaha!! Sucks to be yoooooouuuuuu!
- I’m either an amazing driver, (I know, right??? Who knew???) or I have my very own dedicated guardian angel roadteam!!Incidentally, my car has an excellent set of brakes . . . and I’ve noticed a few new gray hairs. Coincidence? Eh, probably.
- Try to never, ever miss your exit! Never, ever, ever, ever! Try to get in your exit lane (assuming, of course, that you can successfully determine where it is) as soon as you see the sign or, if possible, an entire county BEFORE you reach the sign! It is NOT the simple matter of u-turning under the overpass and simply getting back on at the next one.If you find the entrance ramp you missed again in your lifetime, you’ll be lucky.
- On this same note, try to never, ever get on the ramp going the wrong direction! Nothing sucks quite so much as roaring 70 mph down a FL highway across 47,000 miles of beautifully endless FL scenery, gas at a highly affordable $59.00 per gallon (population: 0.0000, not incl. the gators or the roaches that are roughly the same size!!) while pleading to the heavens, “PLEASE GOD, MAKE IT STOOOOPPPP!!!! I JUST WANTED TO MAKE A U-TURN!!!!!!!!!!!”
- Animals don’t use the crosswalks. Note that in this statement, I am including the average Orlando pedestrian, to whom a crosswalk & a flashing red “do not walk” sign is a strange mystical occult zone and should be avoided at all costs.
Furthermore, its completely acceptable under Florida State Law to stop in the middle of the street in order to text your friend: “spoted a car & its headd strat 4 me- lol! Will stp in tim?? rotfl!!!”
- All major metropolitan Floridian cities should have HUGE, large-print directory signs posted (like the ones at the mall) for newcomers to the city with a BIG, GINORMOUS STAR that reads in gigantic letters: “YOU ARE HERE, LITTLE LOST TOURIST!” then have BIG, BRIGHT-COLORED, IMPOSSIBLE-TO-MISS SQUARES that indicate in *real distance* things you might possibly be looking for. Such as your next exit or a Walmart, or possibly “Your Grandma’s House, 2 mi.” These would be very useful.
In lieu of this system put into practice however, I have to say the GPS device on my phone is the most awesome break-thru in modern technology ever (when it decides to actually work, mind you) & without it, I’ll probably still be lost in Baton Rouge somewhere.
- Toll booths are of the devil! But our state could have roads like certain other states I passed through on the way down (state philosophy: “Sorry for the massive head trauma, but we felt putting a ‘dip sign’ there is superfluous. You can SEE for YOURSELF there’s a giant dip in the road, can’t you? There’s one in every road in the state, isn’t there? Well??”) so I will just zip my lip here and pay the Florida tolls, like a good girl.
And, speaking of states with bad roads, highway exit ramps with insane, hairpin turns that’d cause a roller-coaster fanatic to freak out, and “Super!Fugly Walmarts” where you can only hope the worst thing that happens to you is your overpriced gas is siphoned while you’re safely shopping (or pottying) in the store—yeah.
- I’m acclimatized fine to the Orlando traffic (thank you Dallas downtown!) but having Texas plates excuses almost anything on the road. Locals have a love/hate relationship with it, but seriously it’s “Orlando”—so EVERYONE is a tourist & NO ONE knows where they’re going! Locals have learned thru trial and error to deal with that by treating all out-of-state plates like a car emblazoned with the tag “STUDENT DRIVER”.
However—like so many life lessons, there’s a hidden caveat. I’ve learned that, once you actually *DO* know where you’re going, karma is patiently waiting for yooooouuuu . . . in spades! There’s a universal minor deity of traffic violations somewhere, smirking & ticking off an invisible form as you spout colorful expletives & weave frantically across all the bright yellow “do not cross” lines, cutting off a train of other vehicles.
Sure, you get away with that as a tourist— Just wait ‘til you’re local. You’ll be next!
- Google Maps was not handed down by God to Humanity on a stone tablet and, as such, is not infallible. I still have fond memories of paying my way through 3 toll booths to be led to what was (now) an empty lot, despite how Google Maps still believes it’s a themed restaurant.
Also, as a wee tip: typing the address in your phone while navigating rush hour traffic is NOT the best training ground for using navigational apps. Especially when said app decides to be douche: (“Sorry? We didn’t get your last request. Please retype or clearly speak your intended destination. Be advised if you try to speak it, we’ll pretend to misunderstand you for the next 19 blocks, then charge you a fee.”)
However, I think the app designer that didn’t add “closing hours“ confirmation page, e.g. “The time is now XX:XX. The destination you picked closed at XX:XX, which was roughly an hour ago. Do you still want to go there? Please confirm.” while adding every possible unnecessary confirmation page should be shot without a trial.
(“This is the confirmation page to confirm that you understand confirmation pages which confirms that you meant to click “yes” on the confirmation page which confirmed you understood what clicking “yes” on confirmation pages would do which was a confirmation of the page which confirmed that you meant to click on the app button and actually agreed to said terms and conditions which are impossibly long and no one ever reads anyway, especially not in the car when all you want is directions and you’ll click “yes” on anything and now you’ve enabled us to take your first-born child when the moon is red and waxing full.