Interstate Intersections
Tuesday, 08.02., Naples

Interstates. They were built to connect cities and places. Their sign is blue, and they cross through green fields, silver glades, and red forests. And through laid back ocean front towns. Like Naples. That is where we are right now. The place where Interstate 75 intersects with Highway 41.

Other cites we passed through on the 75 include St. Petersburg - the American version, not the Russian one - and Venice, featuring mangrove channels and Italian avenues. And all this, along the Gulf of Mexico .. in Florida.

Yes, it's a bit like magic, this State, even though I didn't trust the sign that told about it before the delayed take-off in Germany. "Need magic?" it said.

And it happened. Unplanned, it all seems to fall into place here, including the delay. It was for the best, meant to be, just like a friend said. For it was due to this one day delay that all worked out the way it did. That we arrived in Miami the evening a new convertible was waiting in the rentcar place. That we drove to the Keys on the day that was perfect for the drive. That we drove past the Basketball Stadion when they were selling tickets for the evening.

Had we arrived on time, we had already been on the way to Orlando that day. And with that, had missed the race in Daytona, too. The hint that something was on there, we got it already in Kissimmee, at the hotel reception, when we chatted about rooms. "We even have people for Daytona staying here," the desk manager told us.

Still we weren't sure whether a race was on when we arrived at the Speedway, in the late afternoon. It's easy to find, by the way, you drive up the Interstate 95 from Cape Canaveral, until you reach Exit 261, and there you are. The giant metal oval to your right, that says Daytona USA; that is it.
"There is no race," I objected, as we drove into the parking lot right at the main entrance. No cars there.
"But there must be something on, you can hear the engines roaring," Ronnie said.

What followed was a deja-vu, or rather: a deja-hear of the Miami Heat scene.
"Is there a race on?", we asked.
"Yes, the 24-hour race," the woman in the ticket booth told us.
"And are there tickets left?"
"There is a 30$ day ticket," she explained to us. "And a 10$ evening ticket."
"That's ours," we decided. Drove to the beach for a cup of coffee, and a walk on the bay. And returned at six. Collected our tickets. And walked in to the speedway. Where the race was full on.
"It had begun at noon, with the classic words - Gentlemen, please start your engines," Ronnie explained to me, as we climbed up to the main tribune. For the tickets, they were open seat. Or rather: walk around.
"This is unreal," I said, once more, as we stood up there, watching the race cars flash by.

Such contrasts, this trip brings with it. Glades, rockets, lakes, races, bays, downtowns. And beaches. These amazing, endless, white beaches. Where you can watch herons, dolphins and pelicans. Where you can have chats with great old ladies on green beach benches. And where you can see floating sunsets while you go for a walk along the waterside. Or go for a drive along the Avenues and Boulevards.

Now where was I? See, this is really how this trip happens. One road connecting to another, one place connecting to the next, like a string of moments waiting to unfold when you least expect it. Just like the interstate crossings that come up while you are still reflecting the place you are just coming from.

To cross tomorrow: Highway 41. The Tamiami Trail. Taking us through the Everglades, and back to Miami again.

And I want to go. And I want to stay.

Picture Page: Daytona Day

next: Ocean Five

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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