It normally takes about 45 minutes to get from our driveway to the entrance ramp of I-77 just south of Hillsville. I made it in 35. With school out and not a slow car or truck around, I ran into no problems.

Setting the cruise control on 70, I eased the Liberty into the sparse traffic on I-77 and headed for Charlotte, 104 miles away. From there it would be another 200 miles or so to my destination in Georgia. The GPS unit on the dash estimated arrival at the Park Hyatt in Johns Creek, GA, at 2:57 p.m.

The Liberty is a great long-range driver. With cruise control and the 60s channel on XM, we ate up the miles from Hillsville to Charlotte without incident, merging into the traffic of I-85 South about 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

Made South Carolina before noon and stopped in Spartanburg for gas and food. The Shell station offered regular at $3.79 a gallon, a relative bargain in these times. With a full tank of 87 octane and a full belly of Carolinia barbeque, I eased back into the Interstate. The speed limit was 70, so I bumped the cruise control up to 75 and listened to the Beatles on XM. With the stop, the new arrival time read 3:06 p.m. but as the Liberty ate up the miles, the ETA came down to 2:50 by the time we hit the traffic of the greater Atlanta metro area.

I needed a pit stop to purge the water consumed over the previous five hours and found one just before the exit off the Interstate. When I opened the door, the blast of Georgia heat hit like a blast furnace. Damn. No wonder they call it Hotlanta.

Between the stop lights of Suwanee and Duluth and the stop and go traffic, I lost some time but pulled into the hotel parking lot at 2:55 p.m. — five hours and 55 minutes after leaving our driveway in Virginia.

As I checked in, the desk clerk looked at my reservation form and said: "Oh, you’re from Virginia. That’s not all that far from here."

"No," I replied. "It’s not."