This is what’s on my mind …
Backroads, Pecan trees, Pine trees, South Carolina, Georgia … those were what was on my mind yesterday afternoon.
I am sitting in the lobby/breakfast area of the Holiday Inn Express in Milledgeville, Georgia.
You say you haven’t heard from it? Neither had I until yesterday afternoon about 5.
Our trip began at 12:50. I know because I looked at the clack as we pulled. Out of the drive, but not before we watched the garage door descend. We didn’t want to get 10 miles away and wonder if we had closed it. That happens sometimes.
Prior to that departure time, I did a whole days works. I wrote, cleaned the kitchen, complete with hot water pot. I changed our sheets and made the bed real pretty. I cleaned and Lysoled the bathroom and did 5 loads of laundry … folded them and put them away, vacuumed, and picked things up and put them away.
You see, in my dottage, a term that I use for fun because I think the word is cute, I like to come back from a trip to a clean house. And that hasn’t always been the case.
I remember when the kids were little and we would go on vacation and it was sort of like the putting up the Christmas tree deal. Sort of a shit-storm.
Oh, they are running the sweeper here and disrupting the cartoons.
Back to the past. I would be trying to find clothes for 4 kids, running laundry’s … not folding it be throwing it around to find one thing or another. I think there might have been some stink-eyes given. Forget cleaning the house. I just wanted to survive.
But now? I like order.
Nick worked in the morning.
Once we got going, the thoughts of the house were behind.
Nick had taken the time to map us a backroad drive for at least the first day.
We love the backroads. I just don’t like super highways anymore. I want to see where I am at the moment.
Moments matter. My new bumper sticker. I will make one and wear it on my bum.
It was about 40 minutes before we hit roads that we haven’t drive. That is when we began to get into trip mode.
South Carolina has some lovely country. My head was like a boppy dog. I looked everywhere, even when I was driving. The key thing and wonderful part to report is that we encountered NO traffic. We mostly had the road to our selves. It was as if God warned people that we would be on the road, so they should be wise and go another way.
We hit the carry outs so I could get my scratch-off tickets. I love to do that. We pick random ones and I go in and chit-chat with whoever is in there, get my tickets and as long as I keep winning, we keep stopping. It was fun to get a hundred dollar winner and two fifties. That meant we could stop and I could go in.
It wasn’t until Georgia when I went into one that had bullet-proof glass between the customer and cashier. Yep, a bit sketchy, but it is part of life and the scene and it was fun.
Our first stop, about an hour and a half into our trip, was to find a late lunch.
We stopped in a bit of a town. I say ‘bit’ because that is all that is left of so many small towns. Bits and pieces.
That has broken my heart on more than one occasion. I have seen it happen from Maine to Florida, east coat to west. I will never stop grieving the small towns.
I saw a local joint on the right and Nick pulled in. We like local joints. It had a sign that said it had been in business 52 years. That was good enough for me.
It was empty because we were way aft lunch and way before dinner.
But we went to the counter and ordered cheeseburgers and split an onion ring. The gals behind the counter were friendly and noe had the kind of laugh that makes me laugh.
We sat at a table and ate. Nick said it was the best cheeseburger he has ever had.
We motored on as I repeatedly said, “Look, that is so pretty.”
It was the landscape. Stands of pines, fields that went on for time, the blooming azaleas with colors so brilliant and Alvie that all I could do was smile.
Some teenage boy has joined the breakfast wait. There are two. I just chatted up the older one. His family is on its way back to New Jersey. They came to Macon, which is about 20 miles from where we are. They moved to Jersey just before school started last year. They came back on spring break to see friends. He is vey nice and polite.
Southern people are quite polite. I am always getting yes ma’am. I love it. And the door is opened for me.
We drove over three large lakes as we hit Georgia. I still get excited when I see a “Welcome to Anywhere” sign.
“Wonder if we will see some armadillos?” Nick said.
That is a question that stems from one of our trips to Savannah, years ago. We’d see armadillos along the side of the road. Dead.
Nick mentioned the dead bugs on the windshield, which reminded me of his comment when I took him to Ireland with me on one of my sojourns … “There aren’t bugs on the windshield, here.”
“No roadkill, either.”
The mind of a man.
As it got later in the day, I decided I should find a hotel. The part of Georgia we drove through wasn’t radiant. It looked abandoned. I couldn’t help but think of Jimmy Carter and his peanut farm.
Which brings me to the fun part of the Georgia part. The pecan trees. And please say pee-can as in CAN.
The trees are big and bald right now and I mentioned I would love to be here in season.
Sure hooked me up with a Holiday Inn Express in Milledgeville, Georgia. I booked it sight unseen. It was a bit over an hour away.
As we approached, to my delight, I noticed that Milledgeville is a delightful college town. Georgia College. It is alive and old and new and has a chipper downtown.
We check into our hotel room and went back to town for dinner at an Asian restaurant.
On thing that stood out so far is that we passed many beautiful houses. Many in disrepair, but many, with hope. I am agog at many of the porches. Wrap-around. In my mind, I sit on each one and rock and watch cars and life go by.
Many of the houses are in towns that hang by a thread. Literally. They were textile mill towns. Gone to cheap labor and changing times.
As we passed one town after another that had empty downtown stores, I tend to get sad and angry. Did it really have to turn out like this? Is money always going to be the driving force?
But for now, I will let that thought go. We have more of Georgia to drive through, heading to Port St Joe, Florida. The grandkids and Gulf await.