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!