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Mental Health Charity Lyft Drive Day 4: 850 miles through Florida

Mental Health Charity Lyft Drive Day 4: 850 miles through Florida

I woke up around 8am and started driving. Unfortunately, I forgot that I was low on gas so I had to stop about 40 miles up the highway. I took the opportunity to get a car wash and also try out Waffle House for the first time. The car wash I went to was a touchless car wash, which missed a few spots on my windshield. My car needed something a bit stronger since I was already about 2000 miles into my trip already.

My next stop was Waffle House. I heard about this chain of restaurants when a hurricane hit a bunch of southern states and FEMA started to prioritize aid based on the Waffle House Index. It tracks which Waffle Houses are open and closed and gauges severity of the storm based on that index. They noticed it was quite rare for a Waffle House to close and even if it did, it usually reopens within a day or two. If it is anything longer than that, it means the damage was extensive.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I went in. The decor of Waffle House is definitely older and more resembles a 80s diner. The menu was short but simple. I ordered the Pecan Waffle and some homefries with onions. I really liked the home fries and the waffle was good too. There wasn’t really anything special about the waffle, other than the fact that this chain is open 24 hours a day. I would prefer a Denny’s or Ihop.

After breakfast, I headed down to Savannah, Georgia. I drove into downtown and got a ping from a couple visiting from Indianapolis. They were headed out to the beach so I drove them about 20 minutes to the shore. After I dropped them off, I had to drive 20 minutes back into town to get the highway down to Jacksonville.

I drove right into downtown, but there wasn’t too many people there. I wasn’t exactly sure where to go until I got a ping from the Bus Station downtown. I picked up a mom and daughter who needed a ride to the airport to pick up their rental car. The mom was a national admissions director for a private university that has campuses all over the country so she travels a lot to train, hire, and manage local directors of admissions at various campuses. They took a Greyhound from Texas to Florida and she noted how that was a horrible idea. She mainly noted the rude staff she encountered at the various stops along the way but she also said that the Wifi and outlets didn’t work. They were planning on staying for about 3 weeks.

When we arrived at the destination they put in, we got to a long strip mall. I looked on the map and realized she put in the address for the wrong airport. We were at the Naval Field instead of the international airport. I thought there may have been a closer local airport, but there is only one in Jacksonville. I then drove about 20 minutes north to get to Jacksonville International Airport and dropped them off in the arrivals level next to the rental car area. After I dropped them off, I set off on the long trip down to Miami.

As I was driving down to Miami, I realized that Lyft was also in Fort Lauderdale so I looked at the coverage map and saw that Lyft’s Miami region was also in West Palm Beach, which would save me about 70 miles from driving down to Miami. I got into West Palm Beach at around 7pm and waited a while near their downtown area for a ride. Luckily, I caught a ride nearby. She worked at Checkers and said how her branch was also really busy. She worked the graveyard shift, from 8pm to 4am. She said that her branch was always really busy because of all the strip clubs nearby. Before I dropped her off, I got notification that I got another ride after this one.

After I dropped her off and went to the next pickup, I realized the request was from the strip club she mentioned, which was across the street from Checkers. I picked up a young woman from the club. She needed a ride to the train station. Her normal commute was from Fort Lauderdale and it takes about an hour by train. Unfortunately, she was going to be waiting at the station for an hour for her train and there isn’t anything nearby she could go to. I dropped her off at the station and wished her luck on her commute. Now I was off to Orlando.

It was a quick 2 hour drive to Orlando. I took the tollway up to Orlando and it saved me about 10 miles. I’m not sure how much the toll was so I’m not sure if it was really worth it. There was less traffic on this road for sure so maybe I saved more than the 10 minutes Google Maps told me. I got into Orlando at around 10pm and got a ping even before I got off the highway. I picked up Adam Moreno, who is a local musician in Orlando. He was just finishing up a gig and was going home. I told him about my charity drive and was all in support of it, especially from the incident there in Orlando. He believes it was related to a mental health issue but it is hard to confirm since the suspect is no longer alive. After I dropped him off, I went to see the Pulse nightclub. They had just reopened the main road in front of the club and there were many people still visiting the club. Many of us parked at the gas station adjacent to the club. I posted a few photos on my Facebook Page.

After visiting the Pulse nightclub, I took a gamble and drove out to Tampa Bay to try to get a ride at 1am. I got into Tampa Bay around 12:30am and found a fairly busy bar scene on E 7th in the historic Ybor district. I waited there for about 10 minutes and got a ping from Taco Bus about 3 miles away. I got a bit lost since Google confused the location of Taco Bus. The passenger didn’t seem to notice and I drove them about a mile away to the American Legion. One of the passengers said that they were in Orlando during the shooting and they decided not to go to Pulse because they didn’t like the music choice that night (Latin). If they would’ve went, they would’ve been there for the shooting, which was a frightening thing to think about.

After I dropped them off, I drove about 30 miles outside of town and slept at a rest station for the night.

How Can You Help?

I have set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise additional money for charity. It will be running for the next few months. Below is the link to the campaign:

GoFundMe Rideshare Dashboard Mental Health Drive

Even a dollar will go a long way so give what you can and it will be deeply appreciated!

You can also help by emailing ridesharedashboard at gmail.com with travel advice, what to see in each of the below cities and your best food recommendations. I have travelled extensively abroad, but I will be visiting many of these states for the first time.

Want to Know Where I am now?

I will continue to post regular updates of my trip on my Facebook Page and my Twitter feed so look there to keep track of where I am! I usually move through 4-6 cities a day so I’m definitely a moving target.

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