The Long Way Home


Lost Afternoon
April 24, 2015, 7:00 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , ,
lost afternoon

lost afternoon

Travel gives me a chance to tell stories. With a set amount of money to spend, a few items packed, a loose itinerary, I imagine that the life I’m living is the one opening before me while on the road. Time warps, days blur. Everything is a potential photograph.

the real florida

the real florida

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Strange Vacation
April 21, 2015, 6:50 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , , ,
Florida livin'.

Florida livin’

It is mind-numbing and surreal, driving 16 hours from home. We take one suitcase, one bag of cameras and film, a snack-filled cooler. We make a playlist (mostly Steely Dan this time, which Jeff calls his “prescription from Dr. Wu”). We play road games, the alphabet one being a favorite (“Name a band that starts with _”). There is lots of excitement in the beginning of the  drive – adventure awaits! – then time rolls on, and we’re hungry. Tired, cranky, we bicker over directions. There are breaks at scenic highway overlooks and creepy little mom-and-pops selling crushed Twinkies. State by state we shed layers of clothing to accommodate the heat. We are confused, we are lost, we laugh at the dumbest things. When we reach Ocala, I roll down the window and cup my hand to feel the outside humidity. It’s one of the few places where I’ve watched it rain on only one side of the road – dark clouds competing with the sun.

the rain divide



Journey’s End
April 20, 2015, 6:48 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , , ,
Cross Creek, Florida

Cross Creek, Florida

Today starts Polaroid Week and I thought I’d share photos from our recent Florida road trip: two per day for the next five days. I took these two along US 301, the Mother Road of the South. This was the first time in our history of traveling there that our GPS went wonky; we drove in seeming circles, our navigation system winding us off highways through the beaten tracks. Lightening shot through the skies, illuminating the rolling green land where horses grazed under canopies of Spanish moss. There was that fresh-cut grass smell permeating the car as I rolled down the windows, and a sound I haven’t heard since summer: the hum of crickets.

US 301, Ocala.

US 301, Ocala.



The Open Road
l. Rural Florida: Jeff finds a giant cockroach. c. Motel hell, South Carolina. r. Last morning, Ocala, FL

l. Jeff finds a giant cockroach, Citra, FL. c. Motel hell, South Carolina. r. Last morning, Ocala, FL.

As difficult as travel can be sometimes, I feel the most at home on the road. I love getting up early and listening to morning sounds: muffled voices through motel walls, the slamming of car  doors, and watching the highway from outside our room, calculating how long it will take us to  get to where we’re going. Our car is our house for the week. We eat lots of trail mix that gets gooey and stale by the end of the trip, drink PA Dutch birch beer. Yes’s Fragile makes a good soundtrack for the red dirt roads of South Carolina, and “Supernaut,” our Floridian anthem. I loved sitting on Tybee Island beach, watching giant ships and earlier, eating salmon croquettes at Neighborhood Soul Food. I loved our late-night stop at the Piggly Wiggly to buy goofy t-shirts and Little Debbie S’mores cakes for the ride home. I loved how on the way back, we stopped in Elkins, North Carolina to find barbecue and instead found a car cruise, the tiny main street packed with people sitting in lawn chairs on a Saturday night. It felt a little like stepping into someone’s home uninvited: not unfriendly, but knowing it’s only temporary — that in just a six hours’ drive, we’d go back to our lives again.

Top: US 301, Florida Bottom: l. Fireworks pit stop, South Carolina. r. Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia

Top: US 301, Florida
Bottom: l. Fireworks pit stop, South Carolina. r. Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia.

Top: l. Old friends, Tybee Island. r. Savannah from the top of a parking garage. Bottom: l. Witch house, Savannah, GA. r. Pelicans, Tybee Island.

Top: l. Old friends, Tybee Island. r. Savannah from the top of a parking garage.
Bottom: l. Witch house, Savannah, GA. r. Pelicans, Tybee Island.

Top: l. Rayon mill, Jesup, GA. r. US 301, Hawthorn, FL. Bottom: l. Cornfields, South Carolina. r. Closed campsite, North Carolina.

Top: l. Rayon mill, Jesup, GA. r. US 301, Hawthorne, FL.
Bottom: l. Cornfields, South Carolina. r. Closed campsite, North Carolina.

Top: l. Open road, Georgia. r. New River Gorge, WV.  Bottom: l. Jekyll Island, GA. r. Blue Ridge morning, VA.

Top: l. Open road, Georgia. r. New River Gorge, WV.
Bottom: l. Jekyll Island, GA. r. Blue Ridge morning, Virginia.

Top: l. Micanopy, FL. r. Elkin, NC.  Bottom: l. Blackville, SC. r. Cross Creek, FL.

Top: l. Micanopy, FL. r. Elkin, NC.
Bottom: l. Blackville, SC. r. Cross Creek, FL.



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



Postcards From the Sunshine State
June 29, 2012, 5:52 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , , ,

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It’s true that what you think and feel translates through the lens. As I reviewed the photos I took on this trip, I saw how exhausted and creeped out we were, traveling on broken roads through forgotten tourist towns. Always when we go to Florida each year, people inevitably say how nice, the beach, as if the only part of a place is what we know from postcards or movies, the places where everybody is from but nobody visits as they pass through on their way somewhere else.

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Weeki Wachee
June 20, 2012, 5:37 AM
Filed under: Florida | Tags: , , ,

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I love Florida’s kitsch and palms, but I despise its eternal sunshine that burns my skin to a crisp – its oppressively humid weather that makes me want to sleep till dusk. This time we lucked out; it rained the entire week we were there. There was a chill in the air; holy shit, it was just like home! Weeki Wachee (isn’t that name amazing?) is home to the world-famous mermaid show, and despite how cheesy that may sound, the women who slip into their tails and do water ballet in the natural spring tank are impressive to watch. Sitting in the painfully freezing mermaid theater on worn wooden benches from the 1940s made me feel as if I had stepped back in time, and when we emerged out into the stormy afternoon, I expected to see a line of sirens on Highway 19 beckoning unsuspecting travelers into their underwater world.

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