Thanksgiving Chronicle: Getting Home

We were the first to leave on Wednesday. Both daughters and Ryan had flights out of Harrisburg later that day, but we needed to make some road time.  We had decided to take a route through Greensboro, North Carolina since it was an area we would likely be frequenting after daughter Julie started her new job there.  It was recorded as a six hour drive mostly on I-75 and US 29.

It is so common for us to leave Pennsylvania in a dense fog. We traveled past the mountain overlooks with no views except swirling white clouds. One year I even took pictures of the fog. They’re not very exciting pictures.

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The husband at Wendy’s. We ate there.

I don’t like people to be miserable on my road trips. I try to stop regularly at the slightest provocation. Nevertheless, there are times when I overdo it. We stopped at another of Mom’s fast food restaurants, Wendy’s, for lunch. But since we were wanting to see Greensboro in daylight, and maybe get a little farther before dark, we kept going steadily.  There’s a lot of pretty scenery in Virginia and North Carolina. Once the rain stopped, it was a nice drive all the way to the parking lot of Carolina Equine, the vet hospital where Julie will work. It was about fifteen minutes before closing so we drove around the building once and traveled on. I’m not sure what I expected from Greensboro, except to get the lay of the land. Dirt in that part of NC is orange, not my favorite color for dirt. Other than that, it looked like a nice medium sized city.

It got dark and time for us to stop driving but suddenly there were no more cities. We were no longer on an interstate so there were no exits with motels.  I was tired and not sure I wanted to go all the way to I-95. And then there was Bennetsville, South Carolina which promised a couple hotels according to my GPS.  They were not recognizable chains, which always tends to make me a little nervous. I checked a room in the first one and knew we would not be happy there. The second one was scarcely any better. And then the husband saw a Quality Inn listed on his phone.  It was a resting place from God, really. It was clean, quiet and only a quarter mile from Kentucky Fried Chicken, the last fast food place on Mom’s favorite list.  We had a party-like atmosphere going on with our bucket of chicken and a  Dolly Parton Christmas movie on the tv in our room.

We could have made it home the next day, but going through Jacksonville, we decided to call daughter Julie and see how she was doing. She was overwhelmed with work, and needed help getting her personal truck out of the shop. There was no way we could help her and still get home to Bradenton at a reasonable hour. We were on our way out of town, thinking about how disappointed she sounded when Mom suggested that other option – we just stay a night in Jacksonville.  We pulled off I-295 at Commonwealth where Julie’s office was located and made a plan to get her vehicle for her.  Located conveniently behind her office was another Quality Inn, which felt strangely like home after our last night.  We ended up having another party and Julie joined us.

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I am sold on Quality Inn and it’s sister hotels.  A great breakfast makes the price worth it, the room has linens and pillows better than I have at home, and the staff was friendly and attentive. They signed me up for a Choice Privileges rewards program and you can sign up too at this link  or calling the number on the card above. They did not pay me to write this. They rescued us twice on this trip and I owe them.

We got home the next day by noon. It was an uneventful drive. The end of ordinary times and travel, at least for now.

Sand in My Food

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Neither one of these guys are out here by choice, BUT THEY WILL ENJOY!

Earlier this week was the birthday of one of my good friends, a regular blog reader and quirky commenter,  JC Barnhill. The town we live in is coastal, on the Gulf of Mexico, but since he is a “farmer” and horse trainer the beach might as well be several states away. He never goes there for fun, unless I take him.  This is the third time we’ve celebrated his advancing years out by the ocean.

Going to the beach is always a mixed bag experience.  There’s no denying it’s a beautiful place geographically and I appreciate that about it, but even I don’t go there to be comfortable. It’s hot out there, and bright, with way too many people dressed to leave nothing to the imagination. Taking food out there makes it even more of an adventure. Here’s my quick list for an “exotic” supper at the beach.

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JC, having a little sand with his chicken and biscuit. To him, beach attire means sunglasses and a hat.
  1. Do not work all afternoon making delicious things. They never taste as good with sand in them. Save that kind of food for home. And don’t think you’re going to find a grill and cook food. Buy Kentucky Fried Chicken in a protected bucket that can be closed quickly.
  2. It’s good to have cold drinks, especially like now in July, but no matter how hot it is, bring coffee and Half n Half. If Barnhill is along, bring sugar. And cookies.  The things you eat last will be what you remember most.
  3. Park as close as you possibly can to whatever beach view you want to enjoy. It helps when all you have to do is open your car trunk and set up your chairs.  No long trek across the sand.
  4. Don’t let the birds see your food. Don’t let them see you eating.
  5. Don’t take napkins unless you plan to decorate the beach with them. A roll of paper towels is what you need, and a garbage bag. Put some sand in it to weight it down.
  6. Keep track of your car keys.
  7. At the very least, go down and touch the water. It’s required.

I thought we would stay for the sunset and get some spectacular photos but instead we got to see an enormous storm bank roll in with some hair raising lightning strikes. Tip #3 above was such a good idea.

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.From day to dark in very short order

So JC, you can rest easy now that this year’s beach outing is over. And next year, I don’t care how white your legs are, you need to wear some shorts. And maybe get wet in the ocean. Happy 83rd!