The Long Way Home


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.

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Let’s Begin at the End
June 14, 2012, 5:33 AM
Filed under: North Carolina | Tags: , , ,

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A few years ago, Jeff and I thought it would be fun to drive to Florida for our annual family visit to Ocala – we’d stop along the way, trolling junk stores, finding forgotten towns. Maybe it’s just the busyness of this year, but the drive felt more tedious than usual. Fifteen hours in the car, even split over two days, is rough, especially on mind-numbing I-95. But in the last hours of our journey, we had stepped into another dimension. We checked into our motel and received a complimentary upgrade to a suite – a giant, wood-paneled room with a living area that appeared on camera as if in doll-house scale. I jumped on the bed, leaped off the back of the couch. I took cheesy bathroom mirror shots, turned the air on full blast. I opened the curtains to let the setting sun cast a deep orange across our room. I love being on the road because it takes me that much closer to home.

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South of the Border

photo illustration by jeff

Traveling on I-95 is mind-numbingly boring. Like, so boring that the birch beer and buffalo cheese curds sitting in the backseat cooler  had lost their magic way back in Jacksonville, and the sign promising old junk at exit 33 couldn’t jolt us awake. By South Carolina, Jeff could hardly bend his arms, his fingers frozen into lobster claws. We failed at the alphabet car game because we could barely remember letters. And then, in the distance, a giant black cloud hovering over a needle-like tower: South of the Border, our kitsch oasis on the highway desert. We could postpone weaving lanes to avoid tractor trailers, eat some dogs, play a few rounds of skeeball to get those arms moving again. We never did figure out what caused the fire that slowly enveloped SOB, but it just topped the evening before our long drive home.

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crossing the border to north carolina




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