This time of year has always been special for me. The hardest part of winter is behind us—usually—and thoughts begin to turn to spring and all of the good times that will follow.
Suddenly, I’m struck by the urge to “drive south,” as I did annually for countless years as a rite of spring. Older and wiser (?) now, I still get that restless feeling, as though Florida’s spell once again persists in tugging me to her.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
And so, unable to resist the siren call again, this coming Friday morning, we’ll be setting off early for points south, our ultimate destination being Dallas, Texas–via Florida.
Unlike the “young and foolish” days, when we’d drive straight through to Florida for spring break, we’ll be breaking this year’s sojourn into smaller segments.
We’ll spend Friday and Saturday night in Nashville, a place we’ve visited a few times before and passed through enroute to Florida numerous times.
Since we have the extra time there on Saturday, we plan to make the short drive to Carnton Plantation and the historic site where the Battle of Franklin was waged during the Civil War.
After that, we’ll visit the Grand Ole Opry and see the show that evening. We attended several years ago and had a great time and are looking forward to the fun of attending this year.
It will be an early wakeup on Sunday morning as we’ll hit the road to Saint Augustine, Florida. There will be good, long walks and leisurely browsing and nosing about through the historic sites on Monday. Without a doubt, we’ll be making a concerted effort to lose the lily-white winter complexions, too!
Tuesday’s drive will be much shorter, since we’re only going down as far as Titusville, near the Space Center. We’ll hook up with good friends, Richard and Sandy, who live there, and enjoy dinner out and spending the night at their home.
It will be good to return to our old neighborhood with them for a brief time and reminisce about the year I taught at Astronaut High School before moving back to Illinois following the Challenger disaster.
After what will no doubt be a quick evening, we’ll bid our good friends farewell on Wednesday morning and set sail once more to Naples, over on the other side of the state. There, we’ll meet up with another couple who have recently moved from Illinois and have graciously invited us to spend the night at their new place.
Naples is a place neither of us has been before, so this part of the adventure will be new and exciting. We told our friends we’re not expecting to be “entertained,” only a quick orientation of the area, with a nice walk followed by plenty of poolside sitting!
Our next port of call on Thursday will be a short jaunt to Fort Meyers where we’ll spend the weekend with our daughter Laura. It’s a long and involved story as to the “how” and “why” she lives in Fort Meyers, so I won’t get in to any of that. But we’re eager to see her and to learn the lay of the land of another place we’ve not been previously.
Our plans are to stay at her apartment through Sunday before pointing the Chevy Equinox northwest for a very long day’s drive to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
On this next leg of our grand tour, we’ll eventually meet up with our son’s family who will be flying in to Dallas on Thursday.
Here’s the scoop. For the past few years our son and his wife and our two grandsons have gone to see our favorite hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks, play at an out-of-town venue.
This year they chose Dallas. Thus, this past Christmas, Santa left game tickets for us all for the Friday, March 11 game there in “Big D.”
Carolyn and I had the crazy idea that we could tie a Florida trip in with the Dallas one, and so our winter travel plans were formed!
After Carolyn and I depart Baton Rouge, we’ll arrive in Dallas a few days ahead of the rest of the folks, and we plan to tour the Kennedy assassination sites and maybe meet some other friends from the Dallas area for lunch.
There will be plenty of time to spend with the grandsons on Saturday before they have to fly home to Illinois, and we have to pack the car again for our drive home as well. It will be fun beyond belief, I’m certain.
On paper this all looks like a piece of cake. Of course, the reality of the many miles between here and there is something else altogether. Nevertheless, I’m eagerly looking forward to getting the whole thing started this Friday morning and clicking off those abundant miles. It’s a good thing I enjoy driving.
Like Hemingway, I always remind anyone traveling with me, that half the fun is getting there.
Let the journey begin!