While our friends and family take care of the homestead (and wrangle Hank and Cheeto), Dave and I are on a South Florida odyssey—the longest trip we’ve ever taken. I had a couple of stories (and six destinations) to scout for Southern Living, and since it’s a chore to get down here by plane or by car, given all the stuff I needed to bring with me, we decided to make a grand tour of it. Got down here on a Sunday and spent the next few days driving a big chunk of highway A1A down the Atlantic in search of authentic Florida.
Several times on this trip, Dave has said, “I know you wanted [the current road/town/hotel] to be this . . . but it’s OK if it’s that instead. . .” I wanted A1A to hug the water all the way down the coast. It doesn’t. But in the spots where it does, it’s a stunner of a drive. And there’s something special about arriving in a beach town on the old highway instead of coming by way of an interstate exit. So maybe this road isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it’s still pretty great if I can take it for what it is.
We spent a couple of days in the Florida Keys, where I tried repeatedly—and without success—to capture that breathtaking water with my iPhone. I finally had to accept that it was best to just enjoy it while I was there—savor the experience instead of struggling to hold onto it and bring it back with me.
Traveling is a lesson in “take it as it comes,” which I’m not always good at. Who are we kidding here? I’m a planner, list maker, calendar keeper. I want the whole trip to go like clockwork—everything just as I thought it would be. Doesn’t work that way. But sometimes that’s a good thing. One of the destinations I had planned to cover just didn’t pan out, which put us in the Keys a day early—with no hotel reservation. (WHAT?! Who on earth leaves the house without a hotel reservation?! Well, my parents, but that's another story.) The resort where we were scheduled to stay the following night was booked solid, but they suggested we try one other place. We did. They had one room. And it was paradise. I’m going to write about the place we were brought to instead of the one I so carefully planned on going to.
Yesterday, we crossed Alligator Alley through the Everglades, and I remembered making that same crossing with Granny years ago. We were well into that wilderness when she announced, “I have to go to the bathroom—now.” I panicked until I spotted an unexpected rest area. (Thank you, Florida Department of Transportation. And traveler’s mercies.)
Now we’re making our way home, through unfamiliar towns but on a body of water from which we’ve both always felt separated at birth—the Gulf of Mexico. I’m waiting for the sun to come up just a little bit more so I can make my way down to the sand and tell the waves good morning.
A prayer for you, on this Sunday morning: peace with where you are; acceptance of what comes your way; gratitude for the gifts that tumble into your path to help you along; and a joyful spirit for the whole ride.