Jan. 11, 2000

Road trip to Florida Part II

Click here for Part I

Written Monday, Dec. 27 in our Ft. Lauderdale motel:

Up and on the road early on Christmas Day, travelling through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and north Florida, to St. Augustine.

Our worst fears were allayed when we heard that the "Waffle Houses" along the interstate were open. We also found a dinner buffet at our hotel in St. Augustine, so we didn't have to resort (pun not intended but appreciated nonetheless) to the peanut butter.

The weather was cold and clear, traffic was light, and I spent the eleven hours in the car watching the foliage go by. In North Carolina, we were at the edge of where the hurricane floods had been this fall. Trees were uprooted but otherwise things looked OK. It got worse as we headed south, though. In southern South Carolina and Georgia, some forests seemed to be entirely dead, with bare branches and dry brown Spanish moss. These must have been the drought areas of last summer.

The third travelling day is just a morning of driving. There was a cold snap even into Florida and at 7 AM on December 26, Hubby was scraping frost off the windshield.

We drove past more dead forests in northern and central Florida but these were different. These forests consisted of shortened, often blackened tree stalks without many branches, and must have resulted from the Florida wildfires of 1998. The forest floors were taken over by brush and short, sturdy looking palm trees. Palms must be either very prolific or very fire-resistant!

We also noticed the absence of roadside citrus groves in the north. We used to start seeing them near Daytona (as we recall) but this time it was much farther south, near the Cape Canaveral area.

We arrived at our motel, in the heart of the tourist area near Fort Lauderdale beach, around noon. Older Son was waiting in his room and it was wonderful to see him. As it turned out, a third family we're acquainted with is here for a few days. The kids all know each other and are happily swimming, playing shuffleboard, and generally trying to annoy each other.

We visited Dad last night. He has lost weight -- he claims twenty pounds in six weeks, but it looks like more. He has been overweight for most of his adult life but cancer is not a good way to slim down. Dad and Step-Mom have decided to return home in January, much to my relief. Dad seemed to have more energy than I expected, which is also a relief, but his face is starting to look drawn.

Unfortunately, my paper journal fizzled after that. The first half of the vacation was really fun, as we were usually in a group. The highlights were a day cruise on a gambling ship, and New Year's Eve on the beach. Those will probably have their own entries.

Younger Son was reunited with a classmate who had moved to Florida two years ago, and the rest of her family (parents, sister and brother) made sure to spend an evening with us and check us out quite thoroughly. I can only wonder what she's been saying about my son to have brought that on! I think we did OK though, as they had Son to dinner a few nights afterwards. He kept saying "She's just a friend!" but the goodbye hug she gave him said otherwise. Maybe it's just as well they're apart for now, at age 15.

The last few days were more of a drag, as the weather became a bit too hot, Older Son was bored and quite unpleasant to be with, and Dad was driving me nuts with varying plans for returning home. As it turned out, they flew back on Jan. 6, the very day we left. At least now I can help out and keep an eye on them.

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