Fredericksburg VA is where we join up on to I-95 and head southwards to Florida. (Really – it’s SW but who’s quibbling?) We drive along this major highway all the way to Florida now.
If you just landed on this page and wonder what it’s all about, here’s page one about our trip to Florida from the 1000 Islands.
TIP: On U.S. 17 just before I-95 there are a host of eating establishments and major gas outlets. We always take a stretch break along this route and top up both ourselves and the gas tank before we get onto I-95 for the next leg of our trip.
OK… got to say it… I-95 is B-O-R-I-N-G! And long. And did I say boring!!! Nevertheless, it’s Florida bound and that makes it OK. The fact that it’s 3 lanes going in the same direction makes it better.
On to Richmond VA
It’s only 95 km (60 miles) to Richmond from where we joined I-95, and at the highway speeds here, again I’m keeping up with traffic and never leading it (Watchin’ out for speed traps, don’t ya know!) , we’re soon approaching Richmond VA.
It is possible to drive straight through Richmond and carry on down I-95 directly, and we have done it in the past.
It’s a fairly big city, and for what you can see from the highway it is perhaps worth driving through to gaze around… once. This time for us it’s all about making distance in the shortest time so we take the bypass.
Bypass at Richmond to I-295
The bypass around Richmond is longer than driving straight through the city, but typically, it works out to be a shorter drive time to get past very busy Richmond VA and back onto I-95. And the bypass too, is normally three lanes. (Unless under construction where it narrows to two… which was happening in spots this year.)
The bypass is highway I-295 off I-95, heading SE.
I-295 is well marked, but if traffic is heavy, and it might be, stay alert that you don’t get trapped in the wrong lane of I-95 by traffic flow. If that happens… oh well, drive straight through Richmond VA. It may take a bit longer… but so what! Safety first!
After the bypass one just has to drive another 95 km (60 miles) south from where we has rejoined I-95, and you’ll hit the north border of North Carolina.
Oy… North Carolina Roads!
Over the 10+ years we’ve been driving this route to Florida, we have never… never, been able to drive through North Carolina without having stop and go traffic at least part of the drive through this state.
That’s about 290 km (180 miles) of not-great driving, every single time.
I-95 drops to two lanes!
Part of the reason is the three lanes of I-95 in Virgina merge into only two lanes of I-95 all through North Carolina. Three lanes into two equals congestion being virtually guaranteed; and it sure was.
Yes, the Sunday we’re driving through N.C. this year is on the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend and heavier traffic is to be expected, but to stop and go through the entire state of North Carolina… really?
That’s what we experienced. Hope you don’t.
During this stretch of I-95 in North Carolina in November 2021, the state threatens about 160 km (100 miles) of road construction with multiple overpass constructions, bridge rebuildings etc. all through the state. About half of this distance was actually under construction during our slow, slow drive through, all complete with narrowing lanes, no shoulders, lane shifts, lane losses etc.
We also thought it a nice touch on this Sunday for the North Carolina authorities to have an automated speed checker operating on the right should during one section like the one we “enjoyed” … on a Sunday mind you, the checker flashing police-blue lights continuously. They may have gone red when a driver was speeding, but we sure weren’t to know.
The flashing lights mean” slow down and pull over”, right? So we did, along with thousands of other drivers. On the upside, no one was speeding through this section (speed – at best 50 km/hr (30 MPH) all the way), in between the accordion starts and stops, as the thousands of vehicles crept past.
Sigh!!! Oh well, we finally churned through the seemingly never-ending state of N.C. and…
On to South Carolina.
We crossed the border after driving the horrendously slow traffic all the way through N.C. and… it was the same in South Carolina! Same two lanes, stop and go on all the way until we reached Florence S.C.
Driving eased up south of Florence and we made reasonable time getting to Santee S.C. where we decided that this would be the stop today. Santee S.C. is about 160 km (100 miles) south on I-95 from the North Carolina border. We were off the road at around 5:00 pm. instead of heading on to Georgia this day, a distance we had thought we’d make easily.
Remember the coupon books? They came in handy as we hadn’t planned a stop here, and with them, finding a hotel at a decent rate for us was easy.
Looking back, really, the time delay was measured in an hour or two over the whole trip. The stress level caused by the difficult driving was for us significant and took much of the joy out of heading south… for a while at least!
On to Georgia
Next day (that’s enough about a not too nice place we stayed in S.C.) rom Santee S.C. it was about 170 km (105 miles) to the Georgia border. Sweet relief! We’re back to 3 lanes on I-95, immediately the traffic spaced out, and we were treated to normal speed driving.
Be aware: Of all the states we drove through, and we were always checking, Georgia has the highest number of highway patrol vehicles with radar speed checking, and they were doing a booming business catching speeders on I-95 on this late Monday morning!
We blew through Georgia in an easy 2 hours, with one quick stop for gas just before we got to…. the Florida border!
Into Florida… at last!
As is our normal plan, we scooted into the Florida welcome centre for a free hit of wonderful Florida O.J.
At least it used to be free, we don’t know now, as we didn’t get into the rest stop. The place was packed. We didn’t park, and it still took 10 minutes to drive through the lot and get back out and back onto I-95.
But… we got a photo of this:
Right back onto I-95 we went, heading for Jacksonville.
We almost always take the east bypassrom around Jacksonville, as down-town Jacksonville can be very slow both in terms of speed limits and the amount of traffic.
One of the things about the east bypass I enjoy are the glimpses you get of the huge Jacksonville container-ship wharves and the river leading to the ocean.
Did I say and crossing big bridge over the ship channel? Quite the view from the top.
Then rejoin I-95 south of Jacksonville, whilewatching the temperature gauge rise steadily, we headed south on I-95 to Florida’s I-4 highway, and across that highway to Orlando, through Orlando (interesting still) and then south down highway 27 to our digs south of Orlando.
For some info on Orlando, Florida, check out: https://orlando-florida-attractions.com/ .
The Florida reward!
Well over 20 C (72 F), lots of green and flowers full of colours… at last… enjoy:
And seeing these little guys again was a treat… (common egrets, but cute!)
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Another Canadian Snowbird