IT WAS early on a Sunday when we left Missy's place in Boston to head back to New York on a 5 hour journey by bus. We were offered to be driven to the bus station by Al, her hubby, instead of taking the train, bless his good heart.
We were then picked up by Manong Rudy, our host in New Jersey, in our drop off point in New York.
On the same day, we were scheduled to take another 24 hour bus ride from New York to Orlando. We asked to head home in New Jersey first for another set of clothes as we knew our next destination was far warmer than the weather in Boston.
Upon reaching our bus station, we learned our trip was cancelled. They just said the bus was unavailable and we will be rebooked for 6 p.m. the next day.
Our hotel arrangements are for Monday and any changes will move us even further. A call to our hotel in Orlando was futile as it was not within the 48 hours prescribed for changes. We booked all of these in the Philippines. We were informed if we failed to arrive on our check in time and date, we forfeit everything. The contract was for us to have 3 rooms from Monday to Thursday then head back to NY. Travel the next day will not work. It was not in our favor.
JB and his family decided to forego the trip to Orlando as they had something to catch in New York that Friday. Forty-eight hours is only the travel time and another 48 hours to see all of Orlando, it was not worth the trip in these circumstances.
We decided to push through with our plans all before contacting a close but distant relative whom I have not seen since I was young. Manang Cynthia and husband of 40 years, Manong Ted, who offered for us to stay with them instead in their beautiful Spanish/Italian designed home and near Universal Studios, if we push through with the trip down South.
Upon some searches and interviews, we opted to rent a car instead and just drive. The trains (Amtrak) take more than a day, the planes 2 hours but both options will cost us at least a thousand dollars one way.
Greyhound bus was an option too but it will take almost the whole day to also reach Orlando. Many told me to find Interstate 95 South and it will lead me straight down to Florida.
I went to Hertz and immediately leave with a rental for 24 hours. I pay $160 all included, plus a full tank of gas. Joy and I decide to get a cellphone to use here in cases of emergency. Just a 30 day contract, and one that includes Canada, AT&T it was for us. We loaded it with $45 all unlimited. I borrowed Manong Rudy's GPS in his other car then off we went. Just like that.
By the highway, we called to inform him the GPS is not working. Anne Drew, my techie daughter, used the wifi in our new phone to access Waze and we treaded on. Halfway to our trip we were informed we have used up the quota for high speed internet as we forgot to turn it off after more than 15 hours driving. Some panic once more. Anne Drew this time tinkers with the GPS and it worked. What a blessing!
Mom and Tin offered for us to sleep it off halfway to our trip in North Carolina with the relatives of Shem and after 12 hours of driving, but time was not on our side with regards our rental vehicle.
We find a place to stop and eat but most are closed and not 24 hours. We found one where we can gas up nearby a McDonalds, but it was closed and offered only a drive thru. It was not what we wanted as we needed to stretch our legs and rest a bit. We settled with Waffle House, a diner nearby and had our midnight fill that included coffee all we can. I consume a can of Monster Energy, same with Dieter, as he will now be my co-driver the rest of the night. The girls at the back fell asleep.
We did not make it far, as my eyes was tired and stress from previous events creeping in. All of them were sleeping including my co-driver. The music was not helping at all. We turn for a rest area where I tried to run it off a jogging path. It was scary. We later learned we were in Cape Fear. What a coincidence. We decided to move on. No wonder the rest rooms were clean, very clean.
The sight of many Police kept me awake and aware until the sun came up. Upon reaching Jacksonville in Florida we felt we were near. We stopped by the Tourist Center for some stretching and for Joy to check out some promotions in Florida. I dozed off at this time. I learned I only slept for 10 minutes but that was enough for me to get us through.
While the GPS worked, it was asking us to turn out of Interstate 95, so we called our other lifeline, Manang Cynthia, she informed us that we were still far away and it was now 9 in the morning of the next day. With a reroute we arrived at 2 in the afternoon in Orlando, 2 hours short of the 24.
I don't know but I kept on praying we make it here. A cancelled bus trip and void hotel bookings did not make for a good start to this trip. There were smiles from everyone, the excitement was there, the good food, the nice rental car, the company I have plus the bonding was perfect.
Tired is an understatement but I did it, WE did it.
Thanks for all the prayers from every Juan. To cap it all off, it is the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando where I will be turning the keys back to Hertz. The adventure is just beginning.
We later learned that a young man went inside a place of worship and killed 9 including a State Senator in South Carolina. They found him in North Carolina, no wonder.
All ends well.