09 July 2013

Tales of Summer Vacation. Florida Edition Part 1.

Last year, my dad moved to a small town just off the Florida panhandle. He had been going there on vacation since he was a kid. He has fond memories of being there with all of his brothers and sisters, his dad, and especially his mom. She died when he was 11 years old from a pulmonary embolism. So any memories he has of her are super special. He can still point out the house they used to rent & the places they would go eat, which is slim pickings around there. :) He loves to tell stories about him & his brother Raymond, who was killed a few years ago, by a drunk driver. Even though this town isn't my normal... meaning, there isn't any internet at his house & the only place that has free wifi is a small restaurant on the river, the drive to the grocery store is a killer 40 miles, & sometimes it smells like dirty fish, I have grown to love being there with my dad. I'm glad that one of these days I'll be able to tell the same type of stories he tells me, but this time they'll be about me & him. 
So last week my mom, mema, stephanie, sue, & I loaded up the car and headed to Florida for a visit and mini vacation. Well, it went pretty well, if you don't include all of the rainstorms we encountered. Seriously. I have never seen so much rain come out of the sky at once. 
Our adventure started at 5 am, when Sue & I woke up to get ready to leave from my house. Too bad my mom didn't show up until 6:30 am... I totally could have slept later.
Sue & I did end up taking a short nap waiting on Mom & Steph. But once they got there we were ready for breakfast & to be on the road. Seriously. We ended up at Martin's restaurant for breakfast. My favorite. Finally after we finished eating we were ready to leave GA & be in FL... too bad there isn't a time machine or teleportation device.
Here’s what we looked like at the beginning of the ride… (not the best photo, it came from my iPod with dreary light conditions :/ )
but this is what the back seat looked like most of the time...
I got to show the girls the gas station & intersection where the opening scene of the Walking Dead takes place... how cool is that? I live right down the road from it!
After hours of driving, encountering 2 wrecks on the interstate, & constantly seeing flashing lights because of the downpour, we made it to one of the best rest stops I've ever been to, & I've been to quite a few. This one is just outside of Columbus, GA. The attendants gave me & the girls Zombie Hunting Permits for the cars, :) Ryan was excited about that. There were displays about the history of Georgia & IMG_4063tons of maps & brochures to look at. I will IMG_4067definitely be making sure this is stop every time I go to visit my dad from now on. Proof of a clean rest stop restroom. lol.


We stopped for lunch at a Huddle House… not my first choice, in Pelham, GA. The only reason we stopped there is the girls were getting antsy in the car, asking for a bathroom, & Mema loves coffee.
We took our time ordering and eating. It was nice to be out of the car, but I was ready to be in  Florida. For real!

Once we finally got to Florida, we stopped in Perry to grab a few things we needed before heading down the 40 mile drive into nowhere. lol.
IMG_4082Luckily, there’s a Sonic in Perry, I really needed a sweet treat. I got a Cherry Slush, mom got an island breeze slush, mema got a vanilla shake, Steph got a chocolate shake, & Sue got a powerade slush… the whole treat thing was going over well, that is until Steph thought it would be a good idea to shake some of the shake out into her mouth… She ended up with a face full of chocolate milkshake, [a real Renee moment ;) ]
Now this is the point where the trip turns slightly south. The whole time we’ve been on the road we’ve encountered numerous rainstorms. Most of the them, just that rainstorms. They passed over pretty quickly. But the one we ran into next, well it was what my dad would call a gully washer.  We were in Keaton Beach… SO CLOSE to Steinhatchee, when the bottom fell out of the sky… quite literally, mind you.
This was one minute… looking down the canal at Keaton Beach.DSC_8511
And this was just a couple of minutes later, looking through a patch of trees into a field.DSC_8514
I promise. There was no editing done to these photos. Straight out of camera… I have never seen the weather change so quickly. It was almost scary. When we get so super close to Steinhatchee that I could feel my back & legs relaxing, ready to get out of the car & stretch, we came across a tree across the road. ALL THE WAY ACROSS. I just wanted to scream “COME ON!!! THIS HAS GOT TO BE A JOKE!” because, you see, we had already driven close to 35 miles of the 40ish miles to Steinhatchee from Perry, but in that moment, we had to turn the car around and backtrack, then go another 40ish miles on another route. By this time I was hungry & my dad had called to tell us he had a HUGE dinner made for us. I was ready to be out of the car & at the dinner table. lol.
So that is the first leg of our Florida Adventure. I’ll come back in a few days with the next part… 4th of July Steinhatchee Style. :)