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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I-95
June 26, 2011, 8:40 AM
Filed under: South Carolina | Tags: , , ,

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Where were we? It didn’t matter, I just wanted to get home. I wanted to sleep in my bed, do a load of laundry, watch crime shows, eat anything but something fast. Car fever had set in, we drove around looking for an adventure, but the little town off the highway shut down early, even on a Friday. We bickered about where we should go for dinner, then laughed when we found ourselves at Shoney’s. Jeff dared me to order their seafood buffet and I did, but later regretted it when tiny hives erupted on my cheek. We crossed the street to our temporary home for the evening. The pool glowed a shocking green, almost fluorescent as the sun set and I started to cry. A sunset over the open road tugs my heartstrings every time.

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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



Roadside Distraction Chronicle

Jeff and I took off for 10 days to visit his parents in Florida. This is the trip we tried to do in December, but never made it because of the snow. We did two days’ worth of driving, stopping in Virginia on our first night and Georgia the second. I’m proud to say that after thousands of miles of being in the car, I think I’m getting over my fears of highway travel – at least as a passenger. 

The beginning of a journey is much like the beginning of dating – every little thing is exciting. The first junk shop in West Virginia where the two of  you find a Flatwoods monster statue for your living room desk. Lunch in Bulk Foods, sharing a bottle of ramp wine. The green, crisp smell of Wytheville’s mountain air as you lounge Motel 6-pool side, thinking about all the awesome sex you’ll have with your loved one when you go back to your room, and holy shit – cable TV! 

This was the first two days. Even the idea of living out of our car for the next twenty years held romantic possibilities. 

road out of Flatwoods, WV

 

car hood = tripod substitution

 

kicking it in South Carolina

 

Counts Drugs - Wytheville, VA

 

ephelants

 

we were looking for breakfast, but nothing was yet open

 

just like Christmas during 4th of July weekend

 

doggie in the motel 6 window

 

contemplating the long drive south

 

can I have it?

 

we waited for the green monster. no dice.




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