Tuesday, 08.02., Naples
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.
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.
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.
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
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
"But there must be something on, you can hear the engines roaring,"
What followed was a deja-vu, or rather: a deja-hear of the
Miami Heat scene.
"Is there a race on?", we asked.
the 24-hour race," the woman in the ticket booth told us.
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
"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.
is unreal," I said, once more, as we stood up there, watching the race cars
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.
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.
cross tomorrow: Highway 41. The Tamiami Trail. Taking us through the Everglades,
and back to Miami again.
I want to go. And I want to stay.
Page: Daytona Day