The Spirit heads to Wildwood, the ‘Crossroads of Florida’

April 25, 2019

Chuck Robinson


The ocean and beaches of Vero Beach, Fla., are in the rearview mirror for Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s touring tractor-trailer, The Spirit of the America Trucker. The next stop is the TA Travel Center at Wildwood, Fla.

The Wildwood TA is at the intersection of I-75 and Florida Route 44. It is Exit 329 from the interstate.

After Wildwood, The Spirit is scheduled to stop April 30 through May 2 at the TA in Marianna, Fla.
There are 170 truck parking spots at the Wildwood TA. There is a bean bag toss area and horseshoe pit there, plus a pet area.

As it happens, on Friday and Saturday, not far from where The Spirit will be stationed will be the 21st annual 75 Chrome Show Truck Show & Big Rig Convoy.

Jon says he also is looking forward to having some barbecue at this stop. Just across the highway is M&M Old Hickory Smokehouse BBQ, and Jon says they serve some tasty food. Reviewers on agree that it is pretty good.

For all the highway connections there, Wildwood is sometimes referred to as “The Crossroads of Florida.” Wildwood is at the juncture of Interstate 75, Florida’s Turnpike, Route 44, and U.S. Highway 301.

The northern terminus of the mainline of Florida’s Turnpike is just south of the Wildwood TA. The Florida’s Turnpike runs 265 miles to Miami Gardens, Fla.

From Vero Beach, The Spirit will get on Florida’s Turnpike at Yeehaw Junction and drive through the Orlando, Fla., metroplex.

Yeehaw Junction is a colorful name, but it is a little cleaned up from what it was called in days of yore. Before the Florida’s Turnpike construction began in 1950s, the community was known as Jackass Junction or Jackass Crossing because of the many ranchers who rode burros to the Desert Inn and Restaurant, trading post, dance hall and bordello.

The Desert Inn dates to the late 1880s, according to a road sign in front of it. It recently closed.

Vero Beach was wonderful, Jon said. If anyone is planning a Florida vacation that doesn’t include a visit to see Mickey Mouse in Orlando, consider Vero Beach, he says.

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You also can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.



Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.