February 1, 2014 – My wife and I have just completed our road journey from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. So for the last four days we have been, along with our miniature poodle, Maya, riding the Interstate highway system of the United States.
It has been an epic journey beginning with freakishly cold weather throughout Southern Ontario and points south as far as the middle of Florida. The weather was so cold it cracked the windshield on our minivan, something I have never seen happen before.
When we drove through Atlanta I thought I was visiting the set of a science fiction movie, an apocalyptic future. Jumbles of automobiles and trucks festooned the sides of the highway for over 32 kilometers (20 miles). They had either crashed or been abandoned by their drivers who ran out of gas while sitting in traffic jams caused by the freak ice storm known locally as Leon.
And then as we drove towards Valdosta, Georgia we could see the cloud deck rising that was the tail end of the storm. It resembled mountain ranges on the horizon, grey-black and foreboding.
In Florida it remained cold until we went through a heavy rainstorm at mid-state and came out the other side into tropical humidity and bright sunshine.
Now we are ensconced in our rented one-bedroom apartment for the duration of February. This is our first time doing this and we will find out if we are suited to be snowbirds, the term given to Canadians who migrate south each winter to escape our coldest and darkest days.
I’m writing this blog on a net book that I bought a number of years ago for my wife when these little PCs were all the hype. It is a Windows XP machine that I intend to convert to the Google Chrome operating system at some future date just to see how well it can perform. With Windows XP it tends to run a bit slow.
A final remark on American drivers living south of the Mason-Dixon line. When driving in ice and snow conditions across bridges, you know the ones that say “bridge may ice up,” speeding up is not the way to go. Take your foot off the gas and let the car find traction on its own. All you do is steer. I watched more drivers fishtail and careen on bridge crossings on this trip than I have ever seen in all the years that I have been driving. That’s over 49 years.
Anyway, I hope to restart writing about science and technology in the next few days. So please stay tuned and thanks for all of you who have been visiting by the thousands while I have been out-of-touch.