Friday, 4/20/01 - To Tampa
Picked up the RV from Fairbanks Dodge. Overall, a good checkup and a costly bill, but if it keeps me on the road, it is worth it. Met Mom for breakfast then she took me to see my grandfather once more before I left. In my mind I keep wondering, will he be around next time I come to town? And each time, I always say "Yes, of course he will." But just in case, I let him know I love him and that I'll be back soon. So he knows.
Drove to Tampa across Aligator Alley, but on the way, stopped in Myyak, Florida at the state park to see Joan from RoadWaves.com. Another woman who travels. She is so beautiful and serene, hair in two braids, showing me her new RV then sitting with me at the picnic table, talking about her travels.
She is a woman with a good life of love and travel, of family and friends. She has a great attitude about things. Freedom, creativity. Life really is good. You just have to stop and live it for a change instead of doing all those other things.
Got to Alison's in late evening. Went to a Chinese buffet restaurant for dinner. Always nice to see Alison.
Saturday, 4/21/01 - To Tallahassee
Decided not to take I-75 North to I-10 but instead turned off to take 26 West to 19 North for most of the trip. The ride was beautiful, cutting through lush farmland, passing cows and horses, and driving at a leisurely pace of 65 mph instead of the crazy 70+ mph of the mind-numbing (at times) interstate.
Just as I was about to get onto I-10 heading West, I noticed a sign for a KOA, did a U-turn, and headed for it. The sun was still out but starting to set at 7:45pm. The KOA office was closed so I filled out a registration form, dropped it in the night box, and pulled into a nice site under a canopy of trees.
Dinner was a fast and simple spaghetti and a glass of cheap Merlot to wash it down. The night was cool and breezy, so I kept the windows open to listen to the wind rustling the leaves.
Sunday, 4/22/01 - Thru Mississippi
EXCERPT from an email to my family...
I'm at the KOA near Ocean Springs, Mississippi managed by the "Orrison family - Craig, Linda, Brad Brett, Brooke and Craig's favorite Mom-in-law, Nita" who have had thiscampground for 15 years. According to their campground newsletter, they are "committed to stay until ALL the Orrison children make their way through college." The campground is tucked away in an oak and pine forest next to the Fort Bayou River.
It has been a long, hot drive today from Tallahassee to here. We stopped off for a few hours in Milton, Florida, and I wanted to find my old middle school and high school, but as soon as I entered the town, I discovered a festival was going on so I parked the RV and the Berts and I walked over to see what was up.
No, it wasn't the annual "secret/famous" ScratchAnkle, but the Blackwater River Festival right in "HISTORIC" Milton, along their Riverwalk.
The Berts and I shared a bowl of red beans and rice and some lemonade, then Bert made a begging face to a family nearby and they asked if they could feed him some grilled pork. I didn't know if he'd eat it, being a half Jewish dog, but he gobbled it up and wanted seconds and thirds. The pig.
We passed through Pensacola, and then Mobile, Alabama, crossing two sparkling bays on our way. I was hoping to drive at least another hour, but we had gotten our start at 9am and it was already close to 5pm, so we decided to call it a day.
For a moment, I was tempted to go swimming, but realized I was too hungry and tired to look for my swimsuit. So instead, I made a stirfry of broccoli, bok choy, and carrots on top of soba noodles for dinner.
PS - Decided to ride my bike to the pool and take a dip after all. Very refreshing!
More About Milton
I spent seventh, eighth and ninth grade in Milton Florida, on the panhandle near Pensacola. My memories are mostly of a very small town - I used to call it the "town with one movie theater" as if that were the defining feature that proved it was small.
Middle school was a dreadful time, but only a fraction of hell that was highschool. I was awkward and shy, super brainy which is the kiss of death in a young girl's mind, with a big crush on this slight, pale, blond, brainy boy who didn't really know I was alive or at least seemed not to care.
I was editor of the school paper and pretty much a straight A student. My fondest memories of that time were the banana pudding in the lunchroom cafeteria and my friendship with Patricia Cooper, not necessarily in that order, mind you.
Patricia Cooper - or Patty Lou, as I called her and she called me Liza Mae - was my age and cool. She made me swear - back then, but I'm breaking my promise now - not to tell ANYONE that we played this make-believe game in the woods behind her house where we pretended we were from another planet and were trying to save the world, or something dire.
I can't remember what her make believe name was but mine was Gillian, or was that hers? And we carried around this stick that we called Nimrod and supposedly it had all of these powers and all these cool sci-fi things would happen and we'd react to them with all seriousness and earnestness.
She was my very best friend. Then she decided to become friends with much cooler, prettier girls and she denounced our friendship, loudly and in front of everyone. In no uncertain terms, she did NOT want to be my friend. I was devastated.
My only other vivid memory of those times that was positive is when I won Honorable Mention at the school science fair and got to go on to the Regional Science Fair. My project was called "Close Encounters of the Worst Kind," I think, and was an educational piece about the bad things that drugs can do to you. My dad helped me rig a little quiz where you touched prongs to the question and its corresponding correct answer and a buzzer would buzz if you got it right. I didn't win anything at the Regional Science Fair but really enjoyed people playing the buzzing quiz on my display.
I was such a geek.
A bad memory: Someone burned a cross on the lawn of Milton High School. I remember going to school suddenly being aware that there were black people and there were white people. I hadn't noticed that before. I didn't think differently about black people but after that incident, I thought they all hated me because I was white. I was afraid to walk around campus by myself.
Back to the present: I took a photograph of some boys in Little League uniforms tossing a ball around the street in Milton, Florida, April 2001. One of the little boys is black. I would call that progress for a small town. Small minds growing up. It is a good sign.