Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Drive Home - or Life In The Fast Lane

Our trip back home there are some events or observances that I think is worth mentioning.

First, it seemed logical to just follow our tracks we came in on and go back the same way. We came in on the I-10, so we looked for the I-10. We rode all over downtown Jacksonville looking for one of those red and blue signs directing you to the Interstate.

We saw signs for I-95 North and I-95 South, a bunch of those, it seemed like on almost every corner. But we saw only one for I-10, and when we got on it we realized we were on I-95 North.

We went about five miles north, then turned off an exit and headed south. And someplace down the road was an exit for I-10 which we took.

All the cars and trucks were going fast, so we got in with them and were going about 80 to 85 mph and figured the way to get caught speeding was to stand out like a sore thumb, like in the left lane, or the last or first vehicle in the procession.

However, if one should get in formation, in the middle it is unlikely a cop car would come after you. For one thing, he would have to pass some other speeders just to get you for speeding.

So, I positioned ourselves in a row of about seven or eight cars. While going over 80mph. Then, a big 18-wheeler passed us on our left. As he got a few lengths ahead of us I saw he was approaching a truck tire recap in front of him. He couldn’t avoid it, he was going faster than us. WHOMP!

He hit the big recap fat belt looking thing and it became airborne – airborne directly at us.

By the time it reached us it had lost some of its force and gravity pulled it down some it. We hit it with force, just like the truck driver did, and again it was airborne. It went up and over our car, and hit on the car behind us, which made him swerve, but he gained control.

It was almost like we were playing a game of passing the hard rubber alligator.

We pulled over at a rest stop and the rubber tire recap had cracked and dented our bumper of our Nissan. Oh well, it could have a headlight knocked out.

Me and my half-full glass.

On down the road a pebble hit the car which scared us and something else hit us, just some kind of matter, which also scared us.

I told Anna I was beginning to feel like Hans Solo dodging little rocks and planets in space.

Then, believe it or not, a balloon came floating from nowhere and hit the windshield and bounced on to its destination. We both laughed, that was a good comic relief.

We got to the I-75 we got on it northbound and saw a sign of the Florida Farmer’s Market, right in the Suwannee River area – near the Stephen Foster Museum.

I read one time that Stephen Foster who wrote the song “Suwannee River” which made the river world famous, has never seen the Suwannee River. His brother described the river to him… and all the folks who lived on it and depended on it.

We took the exit to the Florida Farmer’s Market. We wanted to get our neighbor Jim a sack of oranges for getting our paper every day and putting our garbage out to the curb.

The Florida Farmer’s Market was a big complex with big warehouses and a huge paved area, which I suppose, on busier days would be full of cars and pickup trucks buying and selling. A sign pointed to retail sales, which we followed.

A big tall open air shelter had an assortment of different Florida grown fruits and vegetables. You ever heard of Florida Coconuts? They had them too. They also had sacks of Vidalia Onions. Wait! Vidalia Onions? Vidalia Onions can only be grown in Vidalia, Georgia, about 30 to 50 miles west of Savannah. The soil there, and only there has what it takes to give the Vidalia Onions a certain sweet taste not found in any other onion. So, what is the Florida Farmer’s Market doing selling Vidalia Onions?

At retail section there were only two people. I picked the wrong person to asked. There was an old lady sitting there in a rocking chair by a little house trailer. I asked her how much was her oranges and she just looked at me, almost like she was scared of me. Then, a man walked from behind the trailer and helped us. He looked timid or shy.

Anna asked the shy man was his oranges very sweet and he picked one up, reached in his pocket, pulled out a pocket knife, opened it, cut off two segments and handed us each one. I wondered silently if he cleaned his fingernails with that blade? The orange was sweet.

We bought a sack of oranges and a sack or Vidalia Onions. Anna gave him a $20 bill and he opened a metal box and begin counting out the change. That box was there the whole time, even when we drove up and he was behind the trailer. The woman probably was afraid we would snatch the metal box, let out a rebel yell and burn rubber getting the heck out of there.

He had the green bills counted out and was working on the coins when Anna said, “That summer squash looks good, lets get some of that.” Which she picked up a plastic bag from a stack of an assortment of plastic bags, if you wanted you could pick a K-Mart plastic bag or a blue Wal-Mart plastic bag or some others. I was curious what the bright yellow empty plastic bag was, but not enough to look and see.

He returned the money to the metal box and left our $20 bill on the table. I thought that was good the way he did that, he was starting over, and there would be no mix up or confusion as sometimes happens when people change their minds while paying.

Anna picked out the squash she wanted and handed it to the man. He put the sack on an old scale on the table I haven’t noticed before.

Then something else I hadn’t noticed before: He began figuring writing down on a large cardboard that covered part of the table. It was a cardboard box flattened out. It had figures written all over it.

He came up with the figures he needed, picked out change out of his cash metal box and gave it to Anna, then put the $20 in the box. In his own way, he was keeping everything in sequence. Good for him.

If he had a computerized cash register on the table he would be completely loss. I wonder if he files those sheets of cardboard for tax purposes?

We went on up the road and crossed into Georgia. The first town we went though was Valdosta. It was the home of Doc Holliday in his formative years, and also I spent over a week there with a friend of mine who later became a famous rock and roll singer (see one of my first blogs).

The next down that I had an experience in was Tifton. I was just your typical drunk teenager, for the days I spent there – which I covered in the Valdosta/Panama City blog.

The next town of any importance to me is a newly discovered relationship: Cordele, Georgia. Within the past several months I have came across a daily journal of a lady that kept entries from 1899 to the mid 1950s. She recorded the temperature and the general weather everyday, and of births, deaths, marriages, diseases, accidents, shootings, and anything else of her family, neighbors, church members, and so on. In the beginning of the journal her handwriting is perk… in the latter part the handwriting is shaky, but she kept it up. I scanned every page and am combing each paragraph. She lived in Anna’s grandparents’ and my grandparents’ community and a lot of the entries combined them, which is interesting to know more about the family you are researching. Also her sister, married my grandfather’s brother, which was my great-uncle – Arthur Hunter. They moved to Cordele, Georgia. And nearly a week doesn’t go by that she mentions her sister and Arthur in Cordele. They visited often and wrote letters often. I am getting some good family information from the journal.

Also there was signs along the I-75 for a restaurant in Cordele named Exotica (or something similar). It was advertised as a restaurant for grownups saying, “We bare it all!” and also boasted of “Sex Toys.”

I wonder if a descendant of Arthur and Gwen Westmoreland Hunter works there? And I wonder if she washes her hands before she leaves the bathroom, as the law requires? She can probably get more of a tip if she lets it be known she didn’t wash her hands.

We took the loop around Macon, Georgia. While going around the loop I was doing almost 80 and I looked in my rear-view mirror and a cop’s car filled up the rearview mirror. He was within feet of me, going a high rate or speed.


But he didn’t have his blinker on! That is a good sign, right? I thought I would try a maneuver of my own, so I put on my blinker and moved the next land over. He shot by us and took the next exit. It was about 4:30, probably dinner time.

Just north of Macon, probably 10 or 15 miles, I saw the exit for Juliette Road. I nudged Anna and showed her the sign. Juliette Road takes you to Lake Juliette.

Lake Juliette is where her brother Tommy drowned in 1988. He was drinking beer and swimming with his clothes on. A friend of his was rowing in a boat along beside him and they were talking. During the conversation, it suddenly stopped. His friend looked over to see if there was a problem and Tommy wasn’t there.

His body was not found until it surfaced on its own in October 1989, about 15 months later.

Portions of Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed on Juliette Road.

Then, traffic came to a slow-down. For maybe ten or so miles the traffic just slowly moved. Then we saw why, a sharp looking red car was upside down on the side with a wrecker service, two police cars and a couple of more cars. After we did our gawking, traffic picked back up at a fast speed and we shot through Atlanta and was home shortly after 6.

But we didn’t see any Cyclops or singing sirens.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic story, dude.

12:18 PM  
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Blogger gerbil said...

tsk, tsk, and I thought the speed limit in the states was a lot lower than that. You dont have speed cameras then?

5:29 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Mostly on the interstates I think the speed is 70mph.
And I think John Law normally looks the other way up to a 10mph lead way - but don't hold them to that.

5:40 AM  

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