Notes From the Road
The day began with a walk through Savannah, a lovely tree shaded city with small parks every few blocks. The city was designed by James Oglethorpe. The Oglethorpe Plan of incorporating parks and long boulevards lined with a variety of trees throughout the city provides much needed shade in this steamy southern city.
After the walk, we began the drive in a mellow mood with a classical radio station playing taped music from a radio show in New York City. Our first order of business was a book drop at an exit in South Carolina north of Hilton Head.
My brother-in-law loved The Reverse Commute and last night I forgot to give him a copy of Take Me Home. When I told him about the negative reviews I got for the politics, he asked, “What politics?”
“Sophie needed health insurance and took a cubicle job she hated to get the insurance her family needed.”
“Well, the characters have their opinions, but everyone has opinions. It’s basically a love story.”
I loved him for saying this and it further confirmed my theory that these random reviews that sporadically pop-up are making me, like Hillary Clinton, the victim of a right wing conspiracy.
We pulled off at the designated exit in Coosawatchie, put a copy of the book in a plastic bag Rich found amongst his paint brushs and rollers and left the book on the grass below the stop sign. My brother-in-law planned to pick it up later in the day when he passed by on his way home.
“Don’t worry, no one else will pick up a book in this county,” he told me.
Once again, it is One Book At a Time.
The music switched to Axl Rose and Queen so we popped in a BareNaked Ladies tape. The billboards in South Carolina provided things to do. “Can You Name 20 Vegetables in the Next 2 Miles?” one asked. We argued over tomato. I said it’s a fruit but Rich said that doesn’t matter, most people consider it a vegetable. This is harder to do than you think but we succeeded, digging deep with rutabaga and turnip.
A huge billboard advertised an Adult Superstore for Men and Women.
“Name 20 things this store sells in the next 2 miles,” I said, making up my own game.
Lingerie? Whips? Colorful, ribbed condoms? X-rated movies? We made it to 12. Obviously we don’t shop in these stores.
We traveled past pecan farms, Vidalia onions, and fireworks specials. I wasn’t paying attention when Rich switched back to the radio where he found a station with a great oldie from Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
“Wow, remember this one?”
“Yeah, this is a good one.”
South of the Border billboards began in earnest, begging us to pull over in 40 miles for a visit. Other billboards told us Jesus Saves and Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven. I’m not going to lie to you. I found this offensive. This take My Religion or the highway, and as you drive on your Highway to Hell I’m going to keep reminding you there is only one way to heaven. My way.
The music just kept getting better. Dire Straits Twisting by the Pool, The Clash Charlie Don’t Surf, Dr. John, Don Henley The Boys of Summer.
“This radio station is amazing. I could be the DJ,” I said.
“You notice there’s no commercials?” Rich asked.
“Yeah, that too.”
“Because it’s a tape you made. The Beach Party tape. You were the DJ.”
Again I missed the musical switch. We were listening to a tape I made almost thirty years ago and Rich still had it in his truck. The Rolling Stones started singing Summer Romance.
By-passing the tacky South of the Border, we stopped at a shady rest stop over the border in North Carolina where we made a picnic lunch with the last of our provisions from the fridge back home. Dozens of people walked their dogs.
When I wrote Take Me Home I gave my character Andy Radcliffe a small beagle. Andy was roaming in the book too, traveling to Idaho to work at a fishing lodge then driving back across the country to New York. I wanted him to stop at the Rock’ n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland but I remembered we had to take care of the dog. What will Andy do with Fergus when he visits the museum? Suddenly I had to worry about this fictional dog.
This is why I don’t have a dog.
After lunch we still had miles to go before we slept in another hotel on the road. Our destination was the historic town of Fredericksburg. I looked it up on Wikipedia and read to Rich about the Civil War, which despite what revisionists say was fought over slavery and its possible expansion into the Western territories.
The Battle of Fredericksburg, which the Confederate army won, was urban combat. The fight took place on the streets of the city. Later that night we met two guys in the elevator who were working a construction project which was delayed several months due to the discovery of 19th century artifacts. They told us they find those kinds of things around here all the time. Our hotel had a display of broken pottery and old silverware.
We also learned Fredericksburg is culturally like Northern Virginia and has voted for a Democratic president since 1988. However, due to redistricting they are placed in a Republican Congressional district. I wondered whether they were part of Eric Cantor’s district. Cantor recently lost a historic primary race to a Tea Party candidate.
I know, I can find politics everywhere. But we were traveling through history here, the cradle of the American Revolution and the setting for the Civil War. After all, I am the history teacher’s daughter. I traveled these roads every summer of my youth. It’s in my blood.
Fredericksburg is a lovely old town, not gussied up like Williamsburg. We found a pub along the Rappahanock River with $5 burgers and outdoor tables and enjoyed the view at the end of another day on the road.