Hotels Trains and Ships that Sail

In seven days, we traveled nearly 1,000 miles in a cherry red rented Pontiac. We traveled through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC and just barely into Maryland.

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We amused ourselves on the long drives by reading aloud anything unusual or silly. A South Carolina river named Ashepoo. A Myrtle Beach restaurant called “Suck Bang Blow”. A sign for a returning military man in North Carolina that said “Welcome Home Daddy. I Can’t Wait to Meet You!”. A Virginia church announcing that “God is like Coca-Cola. He’s the Real Thing”.

For all my planning, I missed every possible Farmers Market. I tried to eat locally but there wasn’t much, just some Georgia shrimp and North Carolina bluefish and crab. I picked up some raspberries in Virginia only to find they were grown in Watsonville, CA.

There were times the trip was all I anticipated: the Savannah squares, shaded with trees thickly draped with Spanish moss and humming electrically with cicadas. The tall grass lined dunes of North Carolina leading down to the warm Atlantic. The summer thunderstorms.

My dad cringing at the price of a night’s stay in a respectable hotel. The whole family laughing until we had tears in our eyes when faced with a particularly awful meal.

The food: the barbecued pork, hoppin’ john, collard greens, corn pudding, and biscuits — my do I love biscuits! And the hot and humid weather which we handled pretty well, although after a particularly stifling night, my dad announced that he “was ready to go back to San Francisco where there was fresh air.”

And times it surprised me. I didn’t expect roadkill to consist of armadillo. I didn’t expect there to be so much vegetarian/vegan food for my sister — and for all of us. I’m so grateful for places like Brighter Day Foods in Savannah, GA, Tidal Creek Coop in Wilmington, NC and to Ellwood Thompson in Richmond, VA — all of which kept us from an all fried food diet.

I didn’t expect the Southeastern coast to be so alive. Under the placid surface of the Pimlico Sound in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, shells scurried back and forth, powered by little crab legs. And I didn’t expect the bugs: cockroaches, mosquitos at all hours of the day, even when we were on an island 2 and a half hours off the shore of North Carolina, 4 inch long spiders with huge webs. I was happy to leave them behind.

But then it was over. In a day, our little family of four split in two. The Pontiac went back to Hertz. My mom and sister continued along to New York City. Dad and I traded the Southeast’s humidity for the stale air of the airplane and then emerged into the longed-for fresh San Francisco air.

We cheered seeing Peet’s coffee at the airport. We loved being outside without needing bug spray. We inhaled the dinner Mr. WholeHog made for us — the Marin Sun steaks, the heirloom tomatoes. We lingered over Mr. WholeHog’s strong coffee.

We were home.

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