Notes From the Road


We got up at eight, made coffee, brought the deck furniture inside, and closed the hurricane shutters. We were Savannah bound by nine a.m. As we pulled onto Route 95, the first car we traveled behind had 1st Vacation 2014 written across the back window. It’s 4th of July weekend. Vacation across America.

North of Jupiter, we noticed what looked like fog or smoke up ahead but then we passed through a shower curtain of rain into a torrential downpour that lasted for a couple of miles before it stopped and the pavement was once again dry. In the Northeast, where we are headed, it can rain all day from New York to Maine. In Florida it rains in two mile pockets for minutes at a time.

We listened to a Pure Reggae CD our daughter made us. Bob Marley, Peter Toth, Harry Belafonte singing Hot Hot Hot.

Rich’s sister, Mary, sent a text message. “Are you guys leaving today? We’re driving from Jacksonville to Miami.”

We had no idea she was in Florida. We started sharing our “20” which Rich informs me is location in CB lingo.

“Ask her that. What’s your 20?” he said.

We refer to mile markers and start doing complicated math. Nobody is using a map or GPS, we travel with our phones as our guides.

It always amazes me how other people do math. Rich added their miles and our miles, and divided by two. I took our current mile marker compared to the miles we had driven on the odometer and somehow came up with the conclusion we would meet somewhere south of Daytona. Neither one of us had any idea so we kept trading cities and mile markers, determining the serendipitous meeting would take place somewhere around the 230 mile marker.

With perfect timing, at the lunchtime hour of noon, my sister-in-law reported in.

“We pulled off at Exit 231. We don’t want to drive past you. There’s nothing much here.”

I saw a sign for Stuckey’s at Exit 231, one mile ahead. “Meet us at Stuckey’s, we’re a mile away.”

Mary reported back. Her daughter was not sure she wanted to eat at a place called Stuckey’s.

“Tell her beggars can’t be choosers,” I replied.

We shared a lunch of boiled peanuts, fried chicken, french fries, and Coke then got back on the road headed in opposite directions.

Later in the afternoon, the big South Florida sky began to close in, tall trees lining the side of the road. We saw billboards for oranges and the Ten Commandments while driving in and out of rain showers. By St. Augustine the road was lined with even taller Southern yellow pines.

Nineteen miles out of Jacksonville, traveling behind a guy with the license plate CUREDBTS, we hit bumper to bumper traffic. I speculated about the license plate.

“Cured bits? Cured buts?”

“No,” Rich said. “Cure debt. He’s a debt consolidation guy.”

But of course. Not that Rich knows anything about debt consolidation or even how to balance a checkbook but apparently he’s good at deciphering cryptic license plates.

Cars started using the breakdown lane which annoyed Rich and the guy behind us who drifted halfway to the right, taking it upon himself to police the situation and block these assholes as Rich referred to them. But the assholes just passed the vigilante by whizzing by further to the right on the grass.

We listened to Sade’s Diamond Life, then tried the radio again. A station out of Jacksonville played the Doobie Brothers, Hall and Oates, and Chicago. People still listen to Chicago? I told Rich the story of the woman who owned the restaurant in Vail where I worked many years ago and whose sister was married to one of the horn players. The traffic finally broke up near Amelia Island and began on the southbound side of the road where the rubberneckers are.

Crossing the border into Georgia, the billboards changed to pecans, peaches, and fireworks.

This is a Blanchette family reunion day. We arrived in Savannah at 5:40 p.m., freshened up and hit the streets to explore this beautiful American city with Rich’s brother who drove in from Hilton Head to meet us for dinner.

You never know who you might meet on the road.

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
― Jack Kerouac



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