Virginia. North Carolina. South Carolina. Georgia. Alabama. Florida.
Return to Alabama. Georgia. North Carolina. Tennessee (oops). North Carolina. Tennessee (meant it this time). Virginia.
At dinner on Thursday evening, I was standing outside a restaurant talking to a woman I didn’t know, and I had to think really hard to remember where I was and what day it was.
I’m just glad it’s Saturday and I have nowhere to go and nothing to do (except unpack, do laundry, etc etc etc).
After I got down to Alabama, Bill sent me this picture. I had already seen it a week or so earlier, but he felt it was appropriate. I didn’t set any land speed records, but I did have fair winds and cooperative kids and made it south-west of Atlanta before I stopped on the way down.
I don’t happen to have a rosary hanging from my rear window. I may be the only Catholic who doesn’t these days. If anyone can find one of these, though, I would hang it there.
All in all, the vacation was pleasant. I helped with dinner and housecleaning, but none of these were my primary responsibility. Even with laundry, I would put a load in the washer and come back to discover my sister or my mom had dried and folded it. There were extra eyes to watch, extra arms to hold, and extra legs to chase the little one(s).
I read one book of fiction (unplanned), but got only halfway through one of the non-fiction books I brought. Fiction is so much easier to put down and pick up and get through. One day, I’m sure I’ll be able to get to all these other books I want to read.
While we were at Fort Rucker, AL, we visited Lake Tholocco, which the kids really enjoyed; we went to the pool a few times; we went to the circus; we went to the aviation museum on post; and we saw this statue in the city of Enterprise, just off post. It is called the Boll Weevil statue. My sister had seen it before, but didn’t realize just how special it was. Yes, that is a Boll Weevil being held aloft by a woman. This statue happens to be the only statue in the whole world honoring a pest. And it’s right there in southern Alabama. They honor the pest because it destroyed the cotton crop, which led them to plant peanuts instead, which made them wealthier than they had ever been planting cotton.
After a week, I left my sister’s house and drove down beautiful rural roads to my parents’ home on Florida’s panhandle. I loved the rural highways I traveled. The kids were engrossed in some video; I considered turning it off, but chose instead to selfishly savor the scenery in peace and quiet.
Bill flew in on Saturday, and we were all happy to have him join us for the last week of our trip. Me especially.
While in Florida, we went several times to Eglin Air Force Base which is on a bay off the Gulf Coast. There is a nice, free swimming area with water shallow enough that I didn’t need to worry too much about Jenny, but deep enough for the boys and Katie to swim around. Fritz spent quite a bit of time with his face in the water watching the little fish and the hermit crabs. He tried snorkling but couldn’t keep his head straight and kept getting water in his air access.
My dad took the boys back to this bay to go fishing. Fritz caught his first fish – a four-incher! He was excited. Billy caught something, too, but it was much bigger and whatever it was managed to escape the small, non-barbed hooks my dad was using. Only 6, and he’s already got a story about “the one that got away.”
One day, my sister and her kids came down to my parents’ house and we all went to Eglin together. My dad rented a pontoon boat and took us out for a few turns on the bay. Only 10 people could go on at a time, so my sister and I and Pete sat on the beach the first lap. When it was my turn, Jenny (absent a nap) was getting cranky and I told my dad we needed to start heading back. Thank goodness she fell asleep in my arms, and we decided to do one more circle. A minute later, I looked out and saw a dolphin. It was the highlight of the day. We made a few loops and ended up getting about 30 feet from a pair of them. The kids were thrilled. We all were.
We also made one trip to the Gulf and played in the water. It was the worst weather of our trip. A front came through and we had rain, thunderstorms and temps that dipped below 80 degrees. Despite that, the kids had fun in the waves and wanted to go back. But it takes about an hour to get there from my parents’ house and Pete was so cranky at being strapped into his seat that I tried to eliminate trips of longer than 10 minutes the last few days we were there.
On Wednesday we headed back up to Fort Rucker and spent the afternoon and night at my sister’s house. We began the drive back on Thursday morning before 5 am. This was a nice, but tedious drive. The kids didn’t sleep as late as I had hoped, and so we began the cycle of rest stops much earlier than I wished.
We got into North Carolina and after lunch found the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As my dad said, you don’t count miles on this sort of road, you count hours. There are few intersections, so once you are on it, you stay on it for quite some time. The speed limit is 45 mph, but we generally drove at about 35 mph up and down twisting mountain roads with little to no shoulder. And we frequently pulled over to the “scenic overlooks” to look over the scene. Very pretty.
We drove to the Asheville area, which is where the Biltmore estate is. By the time we got there, it was past dinner time and we were cranky and tired. We had dinner and then drove to where the Biltmore entrance is, but of course it was only open until 5 pm. Oh well. We knew the kids wouldn’t tolerate a guided tour anyway. I’ll have to go back some day, though. The gate house at the entrance has a cubic volume that exceeds the house in which I currently live.
We checked one hotel and found it booked solid, so we decided to just press on. We headed into Tennessee and picked up Route 81 North. It was a beautiful drive there too. Much better than Interstate 95. We pulled into a Motel 6 somewhere in Virginia at 1030 pm, and moved the sleeping children with ease. Six hours later, we moved them again into the car and dragged ourselves home yesterday by mid-morning.
Today will just be a gentle day, I hope. If the kids watch TV all day, that just might be ok with me.