Florida's Expressways (2nd Edition),
by Dave Hunter
A new regular feature that RoadTrip America is developing revolves around the delightful concept of "fly-and-drive" road trips. To help roadtrippers plan such combo trips, we're now publishing articles with itineraries for day trips from major metropolitan airports (like this one about day trips from Las Vegas). Along Florida's Expressways, a new guidebook by Dave Hunter (author of the outstanding highway guide Along I-75), is a perfect complement for a "fly-and-drive" road trip. The book provides routes and information for crisscrossing one of the most popular tourist states in the country.
One of the very best features in this new second edition is right inside the front cover. The Florida Map Index provides a quick overview of all the sections of the eight interstate highways and eight expressway/toll roads covered in detail inside the book. This is a major enhancement over the first edition. With the Florida Map Index, a reader can find information about any section of any covered highway in a couple of seconds.
Dave and his wife Kathy drove over 5,000 miles in 2007 researching these sixteen major highways in Florida. The guidebook identifies all of the gas stations, restaurants, motels, rest areas and special attractions found at each exit. The table of contents page has been redesigned, making it easier to learn how to use this guidebook.
If you have never seen one of these types of guidebooks, you could, at first glance, feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of information as well as the complexity. Because Florida's major roads diverge in every direction of the compass -- not only north/south or east/west, but also in meandering diagonal routes across the state -- Hunter has developed simple conventions that help make what could be a navigational nightmare a "no-brainer." Within a few minutes of browsing Along Florida's Expressways, all becomes clear. Hunter has done an amazing job of presenting comprehensive material about a complicated network of thoroughfares in an easy-to-understand framework.
For non-Floridians, the information provided in the introduction about Florida's traffic laws, the history of Florida's native Indian population and the almost perverse address numbering system used in the Florida Keys would alone justify purchasing this book. But the addition of the excellent "in case of hurricane" evacuation route information, suggestions for which lanes to use at major intersections, and insider's tips about attractions and travel deals make this a must-buy for anyone planning a road trip in Florida -- even locals. The author also provides some insider tips for dealing with the "Unofficial Welcome Centers" found along I-75 -- these are often venues promoting real estate condominium options, and it's nice to know what to expect before you stop.
Whether by car or armchair, traveling with a road guru like Dave Hunter is a truly delightful adventure. This new book is filled with choice discoveries like the rollercoaster-like terrain in the Tallahassee Hills, the intriguing story of the long-lost "Yellow Fever Treasure," the "Stretch Your Legs Trail," the Devil's Mill sinkhole, the "Garden of Eden," and the nightly performances of the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre organ at the Roaring 20's restaurant in Ellington. In the "white pages" section of the book, the author shares riveting historical tales. Two that will stick with me are the story of massacre at Matanzas Inlet (just south of Palm Coast) and the successful landing of German saboteurs by submarine near Jacksonville in 1942.
Expressways is an invaluable companion for
anyone who lives or travels in Florida.