The Long Road To Florida

The Last Florida Odyssey

For someone who lived in Florida for much of her adulthood, my additional addresses frequently took me out of the Sunshine State. During two of those times, I made epic journeys back to the land of citrus fruit, cattle, sugar cane, and tourism (see Florida’s Interior from July 2012). With my tent and my pup (see Our Last Inanimate Night Together from January 2021), we packed up our camping gear, and a few mementos to be delivered to Son Number Two and left North Dakota for a circuitous route southward and eastward. Nature ranked as the primary highlight, including stops and overnights in four national parks, five state parks, two municipal campgrounds, and one private RV park. Of the seventeen states I traversed, every one of them were encore visits.

Common knowledge of the afore-mentioned traveler’s penchant for road trips reveals that no reason is necessary to embark on an outing. Yet, the last excursion Pompey and I took with Delano might have just culminated with an arrival in Florida on my fiftieth birthday. No cake. No candles. Yet hundreds of photos and videos filled my phone recalling all the beautiful sites from the Plains through the Great Lakes and along the East Coast. I crossed states I swore I would never enter again (see Back Where I Don’t Belong from December 2021), and I spent the night under pine trees I spent a lifetime planning to one day sleep beneath (see Finally Making Time from April 2020). I even crossed paths with a hurricane (see Michael from March 2021).

The First Florida Odyssey

Again on the Northern Tier, I choose to take another Saturn from the Upper Peninsula to visit friends and family in Orange County, Florida. Son Number One and I begin by moving out of our apartment entirely, hoping to have a permanent place when we return in six weeks. We enter Canada for the first time (see The First Time I Went To Canada from June 2022), we visit all five Great Lakes (see The Fifth Lake from March 2012), and pop in on the nation’s capital on Independence Day. From the Outer Banks to Niagara Falls (see Niagara Rain Falls from May 2021), we savor an entirely different collection of highlights and load up on a lifetime of memories.

Sure only thirteen states, a handful fewer in comparison, but extra doses of integral, scenic waterways distinguish one excursion from the other. Both journeys require planning, a commitment to a considerable amount of windshield time, and tanks of fuel to carry me to my frequent home. Now, however, Florida no longer feels like home. The people and places move and morph and memories become less potent. Florida may no longer be my home, and with certainty, it will never be again. The value in those voyages may have been the destination, but in hindsight, they were the journeys. You’d think I learned that lesson a long time ago.

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