Saturday, February 21, 2015

Super Road Trip with Special Guest Star

When I planned this Florida trip, I gave myself an unusual gift -- a rental car. Normally I use my dad's rattly red pickup truck when I visit, and being in an aged family car made me feel wary of zooming off on a distant jaunt. But now he's given that truck to my brother, so I splurged and for the first time in years when visiting the Sunshine State, I feel completely free to go anywhere.

Yesterday I took a road trip extraordinaire, up to North Florida. Land of the pecan and the chinaberry. Practically Georgia!

I love a long, leisurely drive. It's my wandering tendency -- the same force that compels me to wander the streets of London with my camera. I got in the car about 7 a.m. and pointed the headlights north, and within no time I was traveling the frosty byroads of Florida's so-called Big Bend.

I found many weird and wonderful things. A gorilla standing guard outside a building in Crystal River, for example.

And a bald mermaid cavorting with a dolphin.

I took my time, stopping when I wanted, and still made terrific time. By 11:45 a.m. I was pulling up to my destination.

Which, I'll give you a hint, was not Wacissa.

When fellow blogger Ms Moon learned a few weeks ago that I would be visiting Florida, she invited me to stop by if I found myself near Lloyd. I'm sure she did this thinking that there was no way in hell I would be crazy enough to drive four-plus hours to that part of the state. Little did she know! I have a rental!

So, yes, I got to spend a few hours in the world of Bless Our Hearts, which was a truly magical experience. As I expected, it was initially a bit surreal, almost like stepping into a book I'd been reading. After years of keeping track of her blog, I knew the plot and the characters. It was exciting to see Maurice the cat slinking through a fence and to see Mick and Elvis, the beautiful roosters. Not to mention Nicey and Eggy Tina and all the rest of the chickens, though I never did quite figure out who was who.

That's Mick, the junior rooster, standing proud.

What I also suspected, and indeed what transpired, is that this surreal feeling was fleeting. Within no time -- literally minutes -- I felt completely grounded and comfortable with Mary and her world. She and I have lived in some of the same parts of the state and we have the same politics, and I knew we'd get along. Indeed, I felt like I'd known her for years.

She was a terrific host. We had a bowl of garbanzo bean soup and we walked around her little hamlet of Lloyd, and I even met her grandsons. She's already written here about all the people and places we visited -- the new general store, the fally-down house, the post office. Magic!

I am trying not to blog too much of her world, because, you know, that's her job. But I couldn't resist these photos. Let me just say her grandsons are just as terrific and imaginative as she always describes.

Finally, when 3 p.m. rolled around and the boys were settling down for hot chocolate, I had to hit the road. I had a long drive back and I wanted to take a different route. I hugged Mary, shook hands with the grandsons and climbed into the rental.

I headed slightly north, to Monticello, where I drove the roundabout around the picturesque county courthouse, and then I went to Madison -- where I found the Coke sign! Remember? I have a lot less hair now.

I could fill this post with more pictures, because I really did see all kinds of weird and wonderful as I drove south through Mayo and Trenton and Branford and Bell, but maybe I'll just direct you to Flickr instead, once I get everything uploaded. I pulled up at my mom's house around 8:15 p.m.

Why, oh why, do people drive interstate highways? They are so miserable. On this trip I never touched my tires to an expressway. I stopped when I wanted (and McDonald's coffee, by the way, really is freaking spectacular) and even with all my picture-taking I still got where I needed to go in really good time. I did not have to contend with roaring semi trucks, just cows and whispering pine forests. Blue highways are the way to go!


  1. My goodness but I enjoyed this post.
    The Coke sign and the history behind it. The whimsy of the South - I think it has a corner on that market.
    And yes, it would be like stepping into a book you're reading to visit Ms. Moon!

  2. what a fabulous day!! yes Mc Donald's coffee is great! weird.

  3. It was such a fine, fine day. I could not imagine it going better. Thank-you, SteveReed, for taking the time to travel the blue highways to Lloyd.

  4. Ah, I'm so glad you went to visit Ms Moon in her habitat! How cool is that? Wonderful.

  5. Oh wow, that sounds like a wonderful day. I will say that my sister says exactly the same thing about road travel. She and her husband have a small motorhome and they travel often and never ever take freeways. In fact, she tends to stick to those really skinny grey roads and she finds lots to see along the way.

  6. I suspected as much the other day after your comment---you are right, I did get a kick out of this!
    I only wish I could have gone along. My grandfather, who was born and grew up before webs of interstate highway became the norm never liked to travel the interstate. He was king of the back road and going anywhere with him was always interesting.

    I wish you many more happy roading adventures!

  7. Long time lurker, first time commenting...isn't it wonderful the people you meet blogging and then actually meet in person? I've had several adventures myself traveling to do the same. It's especially a treat when you visit Florida, as I live in Pensacola.

    Happy travels.

  8. I was wondering if you would visit. I would love to hang with Ms Moon for a while myself. and we always take the back roads, so much better.

  9. Oh Steve! I'm so jealous. What wonderful photos especially the one of Mary on the steps in her overalls with her human and avian chickadees.

  10. I was so jealous of the both of you getting to meet and hang with one another. Thank you for adding to the treasure trove of photos and for sharing a bit of your trip with us!

  11. Babies sleep in cars on the interstate. Babies wake up and scream at you when you stop at traffic signals. That is my excuse. But when traveling alone I completely agree.


    My truck isnt ratty and it was not free. You made me cry twice today.

    #poutyface #killmenow

  13. Utah -- I said "rattly," not "ratty"!