The Long Way Home


Lost Monday
September 19, 2013, 10:19 PM
Filed under: Florida, Georgia, Virginia | Tags: , , ,
The shot of this neighborhood never gets old. Ocala, FL

This neighborhood’s symmetry never gets old. Ocala, FL

Six states, seven days,  over 1800 miles and little sleep: our annual trip to Florida to visit Jeff’s family. This year was especially rough because it rained the entire way down there. What should have taken us 10 hours on the second day’s drive took over 15 because of torrential downpours. I’ve braved snowstorms in Croatia and West Virginia, and I’m still deciding what has been the hardest trip: it might be this one. There was one point where we hydroplaned on the Georgia border and ended up on the other side of an overpass on I-95: safe, but with spirits evaporated and the life sucked out of us. We decided to take the back roads the rest of our journey. If the near-accident didn’t happen, we would not have heard a frog chorus in a pond next to a CVS parking lot outside Starke, Florida, which sounded like a hundred voices talking at once. Or seen dusty, faded motels, and low-hanging clouds, a peek of sunset before it rained again. Lightening flashed across the skies intensifying the darkness. It’s the first time in a long while where I lost all sense of time. I didn’t think about work or being back here at home because the only thing that mattered was getting through the challenging weather, to the next state, the next city, the next temporary home. That second day of our trip, while you were at home settling in for the evening, we were lost on US 301 in rural Florida, following a hazy yellow moon to our destination.

Closed for the season. Citra, Florida

Closed for the season. Citra, Florida

Nahunta, Georgia, on our way to Savannah.

On our way to Savannah. Nahunta, GA

The hottest day of our trip: 95 degrees and plenty of mosquitoes biting. Cross Creek, Florida

The hottest day of our trip: 95 degrees and plenty of mosquitoes biting. Cross Creek, Florida

The Blue Ridge Mountains. Wytheville, VA.

Where we started: the Blue Ridge Mountains. Wytheville, VA

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15 Comments so far
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I do not miss Florida at all. Everything looks the same and it’s always so hot. I love how dreamy and kitschy it looks in your photos. I always hated those midcentury housing developments, but you look beautiful standing in the street in that first pic. The clouds are amazing.

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Comment by naimavanswol

Thanks for your kind words! I am not a fan of Florida either – it makes me sad that I have this list of places I want to travel and I’ve probably spent more time in the past 7 years in Florida besides here in Pittsburgh (except Key West – I really love that little island!). The housing developments are so fascinatingly similar that I want to photograph every time I’m there – I am in love with those clouds, and all the Spanish moss hanging from the live oak.

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Comment by Lisa

Yes! I do love that Spanish moss!

I told my husband I’m never going back. If my family wants to see me they have to come here. I only want to go to places I haven’t been! 🙂 I’m only half kidding.

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Comment by naimavanswol

I know what you mean – so many places to see, and with little work vacation time (and for us, a budget), we can only do so much. I’d love beach vacation though – not necessarily in Florida, but anywhere now is fine by me!

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Comment by Lisa

I-95 definitely makes me road weary! That road needs avoided at all costs!

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Comment by Bill

Great prose! I seem to remember last year’s trip had lots of rain too. No wonder you like the umbrella motif. The Orange Shop closed awfully early. Love the Knox hotel in Nahunta (fabulous name). So glad your almost accident passed without too much damage but you do love the backroads and we all benefit from that. Thanks for sharing.

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Comment by Michael Williamson

Thanks, Michael! I feel a little rusty (and maybe a bit still travel-weary) with writing, so I’m glad you liked it. It did rain last year too, but nothing like this! I’m looking forward to a more relaxing fall.

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Comment by Lisa

What a crazy drive!

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Comment by Jeff

Indeed – here’s to a vacation at home, if need be. I can’t wait!

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Comment by Lisa

I’m glad you made it through the scary interstate incident. I-95 is especially brutal, in my opinion. The backroads are much friendlier, even if they are so slow.

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Comment by thevintagetraveler

I-95 is terrifying, yes! But going the back roads (which started as the premise to my blog anyhow – coming full circle!) gives me a chance see things I normally would not (and possibly find that perfect vintage treasure along the way).

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Comment by Lisa

ahhh the Blue Ridge Mountains; brutal switchbacks and weird little towns where even the convenience store clerks look you like you are an intruder. The one place had fresh fried chicken and beautiful mashed potatoes: AT NINE IN THE MORNING! And is that photo fourth down, a prom dress drying on the line? STRANGE. love this installment of your adventures!

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Comment by Becky

I love your beautiful words about the Blue Ridge Mountains, it makes me want to go back. I kept thinking that along the way home: next year either I’m parked on a beach for a solid week with nothing planned, or lost somewhere in the mountains. Dreaming now, can’t wait.

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Comment by Lisa

Weary travelers tripping the light fantastic through challenging weather on the road less traveled.

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Comment by motherblue212

You ain’t kidding, lady. Give me a (real) vacation.

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Comment by Lisa




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