After 24 years of helping Canadians drive down 1-75 to Florida, my friend and travel writer Dave Hunter has released a completely updated version of his driving guide for the Sunshine State, Along Florida's Expressways, 4th edition. (Publisher: Mile Oak Publishing Inc., Mississauga, Ontario - $29.95)
Redesigned for the "Fly-Drive" crowd - those who fly to Florida and rent a car to tour the State, the new edition of Along Florida's Expressways provides the same types of Insider Tips, lodging and restaurant recommendations, mile-by-mile history and entertainment and coloured 25 mile-per-page strip maps similar to those enjoyed by Along Interstate-75 readers over the years. It's a new drive-around-Florida bible with appropriate state police warning areas located on the maps!
Not a destination travel guide, Dave simply helps one drive around the state with the ease, comfort and safety that his local knowledge provides. Featuring seventy-seven 40-kilometres-per-page full-colour maps, this book includes detailed information about exits and services for all of Florida's expressways along with personal observations and suggestions, not to mention fascinating trivia.
It includes not only the gas stations, restaurants, and lodgings, which are available at each exit, but also pinpoints rest areas, important for us seniors and much more. It's important to stress Dave's objectivity. His book contains no advertising. Dave and his wife, Kathy, drove over 8,000 kilometres to personally gather the material for this book. That's every Florida expressway and toll route in both directions!
Dave also provides advice for myriad driving situations such as - I'm approaching a busy junction; which lane should I be in? I need a pharmacy and a grocery store. Is there one at an exit ahead of me? The expressway is backed up with traffic. Is there another route I can use?
Along Florida's Expressways' white travelogue pages offer fascinating history, fun facts, and details about great places to explore along the way. For instance, did you know that Florida is a huge state when it comes to highways? The time it takes to drive from Florida's Pensacola to Key West is about the same time it takes to drive from Pensacola to Chicago!
Orlando was originally named Jernigan after an 1842 settler of the same name. The town was renamed in honor of soldier Orlando Reeves, killed by an arrow while warning sleeping comrades of an impending Indian attack in 1835.
Saint Augustine on the Atlantic Northeast coast is not only the oldest continuously occupied city in North America, but is reputed to be the most haunted!
In the late 19th century, the very first golf course in the USA was built in Sarasota - by a Scotsman of course. The result of a mortgage company land scam, local Scottish immigrants turned their useless rough and unbuildable land into a golf links.
Here are some relevant news items from Dave: U.S. retail stores and restaurants are finally converting to "chipped" credit cards. Known as "EMV" cards, the conversion started on October 1, 2015, but not all stores have card reader equipment yet. Deadline for gas pump conversion is October 1, 2017. Some major gas companies are already converting their pump card readers to get ahead of the deadline, a boon to Canadian drivers who have not been able to use their cards at U.S. gas pumps because of lack of a billing address zip code .
Snowbirds wintering in the Sarasota area will need to get used to an unusual and confusing driving pattern. Florida is constructing the state's first Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) a new type-of exit interchange design where-cross traffic drives on the left as in Britain.
More State Toll Routes: Several years ago, Florida hired the traffic expert who raised toll income for LA in California, to design and implement more revenue-producing toll routes for the Sunshine State. Some new toll-routes have already opened with more to come.
To reduce expense, Florida's toll collection is going cashless. Cars not equipped with the State's SunPass transponder ($4.99 at a Welcome Center) will be identified by "toll-by-plate" cameras. This method charges a higher toll rate than SunPass, as well as adding an admin charge. And yes, all Canadian plates are in the Florida database used for billing by mail.
Florida car rental companies have started to protect themselves from renter "toll-by-plate" charges by adding new clauses to their contracts. So far, there are no standards. Some rental companies are adding a new substantial but capped charge to cover the extra costs of managing their SunPass equipped fleet. Others are requiring a renter to sign a "toll transponder decline" clause. A heavy penalty is imposed on top of toll costs should a renter who has declined SunPass coverage accidentally incur a toll charge.
Dave's two books are available at Indigo, Chapters, Coles other bookstores, CAA travel offices, online at
and by phone - 519-524-6901.
Besides writing for the five Niagara Postmedia newspapers, Mike has been published in every major newspaper across Canada including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Sun. He has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City, Seniors Review and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. With hundreds of reviews, photos and helpful votes, he has earned Trip Advisor's "Top Contributor Badge" and is considered an "Expert" in both Hotels and Restaurant reviews. Mike posts photos to Pinterest where he has a following of four thousand viewers.