Well, I’m safely in St. Augustine, after a record-breaking trek across the country from Idaho to Florida, via New Hampshire. (There is no such thing as “out of the way” on a road trip.) Three weeks, seventy-five hours of driving, 4600 miles.
The funny thing is, I barely remember the driving part. I know my back gets sore after eight hours in the car, and there were days where I counted the hours until I could stop, but overall there were no grueling days, no days where I fought the sleepies, no days where I dreaded getting into the car. In fact, I could hop back in today and drive a few more hours! (Or not.)
I stopped in MO and visited dear friends, and discovered that their part of the state is covered in fields of dancing corn. The Missouri River is muddy and overflowing in many places, yet we watched some folks launching a little motorboat in spite of the “no boats” rule on the river. I secretly hoped his truck would stall when he nearly submerged it to launch the boat – you’d think that’d be his first sign that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea.
We toured small river towns where time stands still, where the buildings date from the 1800’s and haven’t really changed that much, and the chains haven’t intruded. We sat in their back yard and watched a ruby-throated hummingbird prevent all other hummers from eating at HIS feeders – until Bec moved one to the front porch, hoping that he couldn’t guard the front AND the back of the house at the same time.
Then it was on to Rochelle for a quick lunch with my BFF LH. We squeezed a year of visiting into two hours – hopefully it won’t be that long until we’re together again, but life – and time – has a way of getting away from you.
Chicago – I drove through six miles of city, shaking like a leaf (I am NOT a city girl any longer). Met Rachel, a coworker who I’ve talked to and chatted with and emailed for over a year, yet had never met. We’ve often sat up all night and worked, keeping each other company virtually. I hung out with her and her family and her Chihuahua for a couple of days. We went to Weegee’s, a very cool speakeasy in a marginal neighborhood with a taciturn bartender who made an amazing chartreuse julep. We walked the streets of Logan Square and had brunch served by an old friend she hadn’t seen in years. How can such a big city be such a small town? Anyway, we had a great time – yet more evidence that you can be good friends with someone you’ve never met!
New York State, where I drove through once-familiar terrain and reminisced about the years I lived there (1977-1984). The green rolling hills, the Finger Lakes, the vineyards, the stretches of empty highway and landscape. The potholes on the interstate – winter is NOT kind to tarmac! Visited my friends Richard and Maureen in their quaint old house, where I gazed longingly at the trappings of a home long-inhabited and thought about all the things I’ve given away or lost over the years, as I move back and forth across the country. It rained for the first time on my trip, so I sat on the deck and listened to the raindrops pitter-pattering on the awning above me as I breathed in the sweet smell of damp earth.
Then Stowe, and Beach House on the Mountain, which I wrote about earlier and still makes me smile.
Family time in NH with my sis and her hubby. We sat in the gazebo and sipped wine under the twinkly lights, listening to the crickets and frogs as they serenaded the night. We spent a day on Lake Winnipesaukee on the boat, napping in the sunshine and laughing at the antics of the golden retrievers on the neighboring boats as they swam after ducks, and couldn’t understand why they couldn’t catch them. And we just hung out and enjoyed being together.
Then a night with Woody and Sue, my Boston buddies. Watermelon ale and habanero stout at the Beerworks – never drank a beer before that made me thirsty! Time with them was too short, as all my visits are, and I’m hoping they’ll find time to wander down to Florida and escape winter this year.
A weekend with my aunt and cousin in NC, just long enough to promise to come back soon. Dinner on Sunday was barbecue, hush puppies, cole slaw and banana pudding – how much more Southern can you get?
And now I’m back in St. Augustine with good friends. Weighing the idea of living here for the winter. Do I rent? Do I housesit? Do I find a furnished place and merely perch on life again, or move my furniture back across the country and plan to stay for a while? The jury is still out on that one. There’s still a chance that someone will convince me to live elsewhere this winter – but if they’re going to do so, they’d better hurry up!
It was a great trip. I saw gorgeous places, spent time with wonderful friends, loved being with family. Worked a little, slept a little, daydreamed a lot. The accents changed as often as the gas prices did as I headed east, and then south. Now my car is that much closer to the end of its warranty, and I’m that much further away from my other life in Idaho.
I have no idea what the future holds. But who does, really? We can pretend to know the future, or that we’re in control of it, but in the end we’re all pretty much in the same boat, subject to the same whimsical twists of fate.
Thanks for continuing to check on me, and see what I’m up to. The coming weeks hold a house concert with one of my Trop Rock buddies, most likely a quick trip across the state to catch up with my bestest Florida buddies, working, writing, and finding a place to live and a job. Not necessarily in that order.
Oh yeah, and getting used to the Florida heat and humidity again!
Enjoy the rest of the summer, and stay tuned for more adventures!