After waking up, I checked out of the hotel, and ate breakfast at 43rd Street Deli and Breakfast, which was really good. I then spent the day going around to record stores, such as Hear Again on University Avenue, where I found a number of jazz CDs that I purchased. Then, wanting a latte, I headed downtown, but Michelle Obama was scheduled to speak at a theater, so downtown was absolute pandemonium, with crowds and lines of people waiting to get in to the event, and police everywhere, as there were rumors of threats.
I walked past a number of sidewalk cafes, and managed to get to a coffee bar, where I purchased a latte, and then a few blocks away, I discovered a gelato bar, and I stopped there to enjoy a chocolate gelato. Finally, my hotel room was ready at the Holiday Inn across from the University of Florida campus, so I checked in, and headed up to the rooftop pool, but I found the water too cold, despite the warm, pretty weather.
Heading to dinner at the Stonewood Tavern, I got a call from the Mississippi raper Skipp Coon regarding his new release, and then after dinner I headed back downtown to the Gainesville Music Summit, which got underway late, as most rap events usually do. Afterwards, I walked around downtown to see if I could find a jazz club. I didn’t, although a neo-soul/funk band was playing at a club a block away. I thought about going inside, but decided against it, and I headed back to the hotel instead and went to bed.
The weather was a little chilly, but clear and sunny as I headed out Highway 78 on my way to C. Wakeley’s 5th Gainesville Music Summit in Florida. When I arrived in Birmingham, I stopped just long enough to fill up with gasoline and pick up a quick lunch from Chick-Fil-A, and then I continued out Highway 280. At Auburn, I turned off the main road into town, and stopped at Toomer’s Coffee Company for a latte and a chocolate chip cookie. Then I headed on into Columbus, across Fort Benning and around Albany. Highway 133 from Albany was a dark, single-lane highway through Moultrie, and it was nearly 9 PM when I arrived in Valdosta. I found a Loco’s Bar and Grill and ate a steak dinner there, and my waitress recommended a coffee place just up the road called Elliano’s. I noticed that in that area the old milltown of Remerton had been turned into a district of clubs, bars and restaurants, some of which were fairly crowded with students from Valdosta State University. I still had an hour-and-a-half drive to Gainesville, but the coffee helped me stay awake, and with some difficulty, I made my way to the Paramount Plaza Hotel and Suites. My room had been reserved for me, and I quickly checked in and went to bed.
It was another beautiful sunny morning when I awoke, and checking out of the Carousel Inn was not particularly a happy occasion. I would have liked to have stayed for another day or two, but I had a room booked in Atlanta for the night, so I checked out, and again headed south to Lover’s Key and Bonita Beach for one last time. In Bonita Springs, there was a Mel’s Diner, and I stopped there for a breakfast, and then headed on to I-75. Still hoping to find something by A-Lee, the new Fort Myers rapper, I used my iPhone to call TJ’s CD’s in Port Charlotte, but while the owner said he had a lot of mixtapes, he didn’t have anything by A-Lee, nor had he heard of him. The drive to Gainesville took longer than I had expected, and it was nearly 3 PM by the time I arrived. C. Wakeley met me at Calico Jack’s, and we ate lunch there before I headed further north, stopping for a breve latte in Lake City. Crossing over into Georgia in the early evening, I could see the smoke from several fires far off into the distance, but I wasn’t sure whether they were wildfires, or if they had been set to burn farm fields. Beyond Macon I called my friend Fort Knox, Willie Joe’s manager, and he agreed to meet me at Harvey’s, An American Grill in the Perimeter Mall area, since the Piebar had closed back in December. It was about 10 PM when I finally got to the Harvey’s, and Fort Knox and one of his partners arrived soon afterwards. The restaurant served food until 2 AM, so I had no problem in getting dinner, and then Knox had a meeting, and I headed across the street to Cafe Intermezzo for a dessert and coffee. My room was at the Hyatt Regency downtown, so I headed back down 75/85, exiting at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and heading to the hotel on Peachtree. I discovered that parking was valet only, and $25 per night, but I didn’t have much choice, so I turned my car over to the valet and checked in. My room was very small, but sleek and modernistic, with a city view. Before I got to bed, though, the phone rang, and it was the valet saying that he couldn’t start my car, so I had to explain to him that the ignition key was the one with the logo on it, and then I went to bed.