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Drive 2010 - Day 7
Having spent a ridiculous amount of money to stay in a "budget" motel, I was determined to make the most of it, and rushed to a beach first thing in the morning. Sometimes determination isn't enough.
Due to the delay, I had to revisit my route. Instead of driving along the entire coast of Florida, I was going to have to hop back on the interstate. This proved to be a huge headache, because the directions my mapping software told me to use turned out to involve a toll road.
I am not an anti-tax crusader or capital-L Libertarian. I understand that government services need to be funded. However, I would like to take this opportunity to say that toll roads ("modern" toll roads, in particular) have got to be the least visitor-friendly thing that cities in the US have managed to implement. Traditional toll roads are bad enough, because nearly all of them assume the driver has cash to pay the toll with (or, in the case of Chicago, coins!), and don't provide a way to turn around for people who don't realize they will need that. "Modern" electronic toll roads are even worse. Florida is like my home state of Washington in that on approaching one of its toll roads, there are "helpful" signs indicating that an electronic payment transponder is required. OK. How about telling me where I can buy one, you jerks?! Does it even make sense to force someone to go to those lengths if (like me) they're going to use it exactly once? No. The answer is "no". Find some other way to fund highways that isn't off-putting to people from out of state! In Washington, we're doing this by mailing bills to drivers based on their license plate, but I'm pretty sure adding half a cent to the existing gas tax would be better because it doesn't require any additional infrastructure to implement.
Because my mapping software was useless at this point, I ended up using one of my printed maps to find a much longer, toll-free route back to I-10. I had just enough time that if everything lined up perfectly, I could make it to Homosassa Springs before the wildlife park there stopped admitting visitors for the day. Fortunately, this one time, everything did line up perfectly.
Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park ended up being really interesting. I didn't get a lot of good (or even presentable) photos there, but I'm glad I made the time to visit. Quite a few of their animals are difficult to see in the US outside of Florida (or, at least, the Gulf Coast) - particular their manatees, who are one of the main attractions for visitors. I can understand how they ended up being known as "sea cows" now, since they seem to be very placid, swimming slowly around and munching on the cabbage that they're fed. They seem to have either made friends with the hippopotamus who also lives in the park.
I also found the alligators an eye-opening experience, since there are none in my part of the country. When I first got into the park, I thought they were statues because they were so still and had their eyes closed, but they can move with surprising speed when they choose to. The park also had a few baby alligators in indoor tanks, and I wouldn't have guessed they were directly related if I hadn't read the sign. Their yellow stripes made me wish I had time to shoot some UV photos of the adults, to see if they retained the pattern in that part of the spectrum as they aged.
After I left the park, I ended up spending the night in Lakeland.
Date: 11 July 2010
Starting Mileage: 32584
Ending Mileage: 33081
Distance Travelled (Day): 497 miles / 802 kilometers
Distance Travelled (Trip to Date): 2892 miles / 4665 kilometers
Fuel Purchased (Day): 20.251 gallons / 76.658 liters
Fuel Purchased (Trip to Date): 96.072 gallons / 363.672 liters
Average Fuel Economy (Day): 24.5 miles per gallon / 9.6 liters per 100 kilometers / 10.5 kilometers per liter
Average Fuel Economy (Trip to Date): 30.1 miles per gallon / 7.8 liters per 100 kilometers / 12.8 kilometers per liter