North Carolina To South Florida, USA – 2019

2019 Toyota Camry

This is a bit of a different road trip. I basically had two weeks to fill in between getting back from Europe and heading to Australia for the summer. South Florida is my home base in the US so I flew into there, organised a few things and then looked at where I could travel in the interim. I noticed Hertz had some $10 a day one way rental deals to get cars into Florida for the winter. I have a fellow Australian long time friend now living in Charlotte, North Carolina and there were deals from Charlotte Airport to the various South Florida Hertz locations. This seemed like a win-win with a cheap car and a chance to catch up with a friend and his family.

A quick flight up the Charlotte and I was ready to pick up my car. Let’s ignore my hatred of US airports and the theatre that is called airport security. It’s such a pleasure to travel by air in other parts of the world such as Europe and the more easy going Australia.

At the airport I walked up and down the lot looking at the choice of cars for the Gold Elite members, or whatever Hertz call it these days. Crappy sedans and mid-size SUVs was all I could see. I did walk up and down more than once in the hope I had missed something better. In the end it was a silver Toyota Camry for the next two weeks. As I said on one of my Instagram posts, you know there are problems in the world when the answer is Toyota Camry…

2019 Toyota Camry bonnet and trees

I started in Charlotte and as I’ve already poked around there a bit, most of the time was spent catching up with friends. Then it was a night in Greenville, South Carolina. I had stayed there the year before and wanted to get back for another look. Perfect timing too as the trees had changed colours, however, hadn’t lost all their leaves. It’s a great city to just walk around the downtown area with a relaxed vibe.

Next stop was Dawsonville or is it Dahlonega, Georgia. Actually the place is part way between both so the answer is neither. Another friend and a chance to check out his newly purchased place. The north Georgia mountains are nice, however, far to cold in the winter and definitely not close enough to the beach. Plus Georgia law enforcement sightings seem to be a lot more frequent than other states. It’s always been a nice welcome on other trips when I head up I95, cross the bridge/state line and see the welcome party on the Georgia side.

North Georgia to South Florida is doable in a day and have done it previously when we shared the driving and stuck to the interstates most of the way. I prefer to avoid those and take a more indirect route. This means a stop in northern Florida usually happens. St Augustine is my choice because it’s just south of Jacksonville so no dealing with crap traffic right at the beginning of the next day. Of course I usually deal with that crap traffic the night before getting past Jacksonville so not sure my rationale is valid.

2019 Toyota Camry in the trees

So what about the Toyot Camry? Best I can say is it was relaxing. I’ve come to the realisation having driven mostly sports cars on my long road trips that I really don’t know the limits of regular cars. I have no faith in the braking or the ability to turn around a corner at speed. So whilst I finished each travel day a lot more relaxed than if I was driving the Porsche GT3, it is not nearly as fun.

The bonus was I managed to extend the rental for a few more days at the $10 a day price. I was happy to just extend it at regular prices and the agent made a special comment about “just this once for you”. So I took the price and made a point to try it again next time…

UPDATE – After Covid travel delays I was finally able to get back to the US and enjoy the GT3. Read about my road trip in a Porsche GT3 through six US states.