After five hours and 45 minutes of log-like sleep, we were actually feeling relatively good, but still not great. Upon placing our derrieres on the H2's cushy front seats we were, for the first time of the entire trip, thinking, "What the heck did we get ourselves into."
As we entered Georgia and were cruising south on highway 95 with the sole intent of just getting to Florida (the final state in our long Hummer H2 Extreme Test journey), we couldn't help but notice the urgent driving nature of other freeway folk. Despite humming along at 80 mph, we were regularly getting passed as if we were dragging a 12-pack of anchors. Good thing we stuck to our 80-mph-max limit, however, as our radar detector squawked loudly with increasing frequency to inform us that we were being closely watched.
With our eyelids sagging and our stomachs grumbling (we skipped breakfast in the interest of racking up miles) we needed a serious mental/physical energy boost, so it was again time to claw into our Coleman ice chest for a treat. Pulled from the pool of frigid, once-ice-cubes water was test specimen number 13 -- a Dracula Supernatural Energy Drink. In an attempt to counter our frequent beyond-tired status, the H2 had (for the last 5000 or so miles) been serving as a rolling clinical test chamber for those wickedly expensive little power-up energy drinks. Besides being super-saturated with sugar and chemicals consisting of 18-plus consonant words, we were giddily intrigued by Dracula's claim of, "Contains the maximum caffeine allowed by law." After two cans of the magical brew, we were flying high and making a power push for the Florida state border. For the record, we tested scads of power-up drinks including, but not limited to: Red Bull, SoBe Adrenaline Rush, Mountain Dew's Amp Energy Drink, Hansen's Energy, along with traditional coffee, Gatorade with lots-o-electrolytes, and even Starbucks' new Double-Shot Espresso. The test was fun (albeit highly unscientific), and near the end of our trip we had determined our top three favorites to be Amp, Dracula, and SoBe. For the record, our test also showed that simultaneously ingesting beef jerky, a Snickers "The Big One," chile picante Corn Nuts, and an energy drink yields a stomach with a thrust force on par with that of one of those solid-fuel rocket boosters strapped on the Space Shuttle.
As we crossed the Florida state line, ominous-looking cumulus clouds closed in on us and threatened to end our great H2 adventure on a soggy note. Refusing to let our spirits be dampened, we set our sights on the racing holy land of the South -- Daytona International Speedway. We pulled our big 4x4 into the Speedway parking lot wondering whether we should bow in reverence or just shout out a "gall-lee." Upon exit of the H2 we were perplexed by the sound emanating through the grandstands -- the high-pitched roar of honest-to-goodness Winston Cup cars lapping the track. Clearly there was no race that day, thus what could the hot laps be all about?
Passing through the Daytona USA front doors, we were instantly enlightened that the sole intent of the Speedway was all about raking in good ol' greenbacks. As far as the eye could see were rides, games, souvenirs, photo booths, memorabilia stands, and (as Stick-Boy noted) "smokin-hot chicks at the NASCAR Experience." We skipped the touristy bus ride around the race facility in favor of walking out to (and planting our rears in) the mega-huge grandstands that encircle the 2.5-mile-long tri-oval. We sat in a zombie-like trance as a half dozen Cup cars from the Richard Petty Driving Experience blazed around the 31-degree high banks with Racing Experience students getting the thrill-ride of their lives. Kiwi considered seriously bruising his Visa card to enjoy a few "ride along" hot laps, but Stick-Boy tapped his watch indicating that we were behind schedule yet again.
The long slog down I-95 continued and as we neared Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center we knew we'd better not stop or we'd still be rubbernecking the out-of-this-world artifacts well past dark. Realistically, such a great attraction would be an all-day venture in and of itself. However, as we passed Cocoa Beach we were hoping for a Barbara Eden sighting, as that's where Jeannie used to park her bottle at Major Nelson's abode.
Our we-missed-Cape-Canaveral sadness was reduced as we drove south on I-95 and spotted a chap towing an intrigueing, yet positively scary looking swamp-skimming airboat fortified with an aluminum-headed 502-cube big-block Chevy mated to a huge four-blade prop constructed of carbon fiber (can you say "ca-ching!"). After an at-speed exchange of facts with the boat owner (via yelling out our windows while driving) we learned that the engine was pumping out a dyno-proven 650 hp, which made us shutter to think what a ride in the aluminum-turkey-pan-looking boat would be like. When asked if he liked our H2, the boat owner replied, "I ordered one last week."
South of Titusville the Florida Highway Patrol were running a well orchestrated "you're busted" speed trap that surely was raking in scads of money for the state. Our Escort Passport 8500 saved us eight times in one hour alone, thus more than paying for itself in a mere 70 miles. At mile 10,555.5 the fuse blew again on our Bose nine-speaker stereo and, consequently, we had no more road tunes. A pit stop at the next rest area had Kiwi ripping off the lid to the engine-bay-mounted fuse box in an attempt to remedy the situation. Just as had occurred before in British Columbia, mysteriously the stereo fuse had not blown but just needed to be removed and reinstalled to reset the system. Hmm, interesting. (GM, you guys might want to check into this.)
As we entered Fort Lauderdale, a serious five-car, one-tanker-truck fracas occurred that brought six lanes of southbound traffic to a 3-mph crawl. Interestingly, impatient Floridians thought it no big deal to simply execute a U-turn on the freeway and drive right down the freeway onramp to flee the scene. Nothing illegal about that, right?