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Home > Magazine > Adventure > Our Down South Drive in 2003

Our Down South Drive in 2003
February 05, 2004

Well, I've been meaning to write this up for awhile now. I better do it while it's still fresh.

I learned several interesting new things on this trip and met some amazing people and did a few nifty things, so here we go....

It's been several years since we went on a big roadtrip drive exploring new territory. It's been 4 years since we visited my parents in Florida, where they stay over the winter, so my dad can golf.

This year we finally decided to make the trip again. The kids are now old enough to be good in a car for a trip. Henry is 4, Lucy is 2.

So I finished a book deadline with great pressure and we packed up and headed South. ...The four of us, plus Jan and Craig (grampa and gramma), in their deluxe minivan. Yee-haw!

We all fit just fine and the kids were great for the whole trip. We drove for 3 days down, and 3 days back, yet they held up fine. Well, they were baked, as were all of us when we finished each leg. 3 days nonstop is enough.

And Martha has remarked that on trips I often ditch the scene and go do things on my own. Well, true, I ditch any bad scene. But I only do things on my own if no one else will try to keep up. This time I did everything with the family unit. Since I'd already done some exploring down south and knew some things to do, it was easy to persuade folks to join me. So Martha got to see some things that I usually see alone. ...Because no one will go with me.

Lesson 1: Plan Ahead for the Backroads
Well, we wanted to drive backroads. Craig printed out and taped together a huge scroll, off the Internet I think, of our possible routes. But here's lesson #1: we didn't do any homework about these backroads. If you drive blind, the freeway is for you. If you drive blind on backroads, they can kind of turn into freeways. You might see one cool thing each day and find one OK restaurant or stopping place, or maybe not. If you don't have a clue, you tend to miss these things far more often than hit them. It's good to have some word ahead of time. Guidebooks that are on your level are a good thing.

For instance, I'm into the Civil War now. I wasn't the last time we drove South. What an opportunity! But in my haste after my deadline I left without a single Civil War reference. Drat! It would've been GREAT to have what might be called a Civil War Road Map, showing the locations of interesting events throughout the South, so as we drove we could've noted them at least, or explored a few of the more amazing ones.

As it was, we did have goals for the first day: to eat lunch at Balyeats and dinner at the Boone Tavern & Inn and spend the night there.

We got to Balyeats, in Van Wert, Ohio, in time for lunch, with all the locals, too. Lovely place, with the owner runnin' the grill, wearing a bowtie. Everyone in white aprons. All home cookin', cheap. They also had fancy filets on the menu, still cheap. Cocktails, too, if you asked. Lovely. Everyone knew everyone, and we did too when we left. What a sign they have outside, too. Great place.

We made it to Berea, Kentucky, in time for dinner. It is, or was, run by the Berea College, the first interracial college in the South (in Kentucky). We had a fine time. All students there have to work at the college part time. They sell student crafts at the Inn. They make Skittles gamesets, and we had a blast playing with the one on display. They're good with wood, brooming, and ironworks. Old hotel, nice food. Not cheap. Not as good as it was, sadly. The old ornate glass water pitchers that used to go on every table, each one different, are mostly gone and the ones left are in a cabinet. Some oldtime class there, still, with a huge painting of Lincoln over the fireplace. The Inn used to have a great corner sign alongside their big columns---wrought iron, it stuck out showing Boone and his hounds hunting, and the name of the place, in silhouette. A place needs a good sign. Too bad it's not still there.

The next day we hit the backroads without a plan and saw 1000 southern-style country homes and 1000 boiled peanut stands, in a blur.

Then we had a terrible, ignorant dinner in a place we knew nothing about, Rome, Georgia, and spent the night. We asked here and there but no one knew anything. The next morning we saw a better restaurant near our hotel.

One thing we learned on this trip was that the American downtown is dead. I have bare memories of America from growing up, but it is no longer. It does not exist. Its heart was truly in our community centers. They are gone, destroyed. Instead we have freeway exit sprawl. Everywhere. Faceless. No trait to it. Not American. A betrayal. We've betrayed ourselves. "Support Your Local Downtown--Save America"--a new bumpersticker idea.

But after I got the drift that we were likely missing neat things by a hair and that we were driving blind, I started looking for a guidebook. We stopped in the town of LaGrange. A nice lady told me to ask another nice lady shopowner about a guide, and she told me to stop at the visitor's bureau down the highway just a bit further. Then I went to use the bathroom at a cafe downtown. An old hippy was frying burgers short order. There was a huge photo of him over his stove, showing him passed out in an easy chair. Rebel flags around the walls, plus framed newspaper articles. One had our fry cook bragging that you got the best news not from the papers but from him and from his cafe.

We found the bureau and got a flier for the Civil War travel trail in the area. It was mostly tagged with museums and shops, but then something caught my eye. It said my hero General Forrest had been thru that area. (--The maligned and neglected hero who Lee said was the war's single best soldier.) Well, well.

A Little Civil War
Later on, I found out that Rome was where he pulled his most famous war trick and defeated a much larger force after one of the longest chases in the war. His men chased Colonel Streight who came down for a confident raid on the rails. Forrest rotated his few men and horses chased them for 6 days til they all fell asleep on their guns in Rome. He told Streight to surrender or else. Streight asked to see his force. So Forrest marched his tired men in circles around a hill. The mounted men made their round then unmounted and became infantry and did another round, doubling the men he could show. Streight surrendered. Forrest took over the defensive positions in town. In a half hour a relieving force of Yankees came driving in what would have been Forrest's rear and were captured as well. Strieght was furious and asked a rematch. Forrest laughed and said sorry. Rome threw a party of salvation and fed everyone, prisoner and victor alike and gave their city's best horse to Forrest, a huge grey. There's a horseback statue of Forrest in Rome! Dang.

Next he went to LaGrange where he met his wife after a year of not seeing her and got a letter from Bragg saying to turn over his newly built up army to Wheeler...again...after he promised he wouldn't and after Forrest swore he'd never serve under Wheeler again. Forrest took a train to see Bragg, marched into his tent, shoved him down and delivered his famous death threat if Bragg ever meddled with him again. Forrest didn't go to Wheeler. Bragg never said a word about it.

See what you miss when you drive blind?

We did randomly visit the little town of Lumpkin. It's on the way to Plains, of Jimmy Carter fame. They had a fine lunch counter restaurant full of good old folks, white and black. They had 2 ancient grocery and hardware stores that had been running for over 100 years that apparently had just given up the ghost. They did have a replica 150 years ago town next door. But the close-to-real thing could've been had with the Real Thing right there in town if folks would've bought things from their neighbors. When I chanced to look in an alley behind the town square, I was surprised to see a cluster of a dozen black people bent over near some dog cages. I have no idea what they were doing. It looked rough. Gambling over something. But not loud. Maybe dice. There was an old sheriff car parked next to an old house with an old wood Police Station sign swinging from the porch nearby.

There was a general store open and we stopped in. Tons of camo stuff and hunting supplies. A lady shucking peanuts and pecans. An old guy rocking. We talked about outdoor things and somehow the old guy mentioned old fishing and somehow I mentioned, I can't recall why, that I was looking for a small town book set in Florida about old fishing ways. The old guy says Well, we sell that book right here. I was stunned. And there was a stack behind a poster, sure enough. Sheesh! He said, Yeah, the author comes thru every now and then and leaves a stack. Well, I'll take one! Jack Saunders had mentioned it favorably, as being candid stories of poaching and the old ways, some of which are still kickin' down there. I couldn't find it online. What a surprise. So that was another nice thing from an accidental visit to Lumpkin. It seemed like real easy living around there. Lots of very nice, well preserved old houses from all eras, including trailers of some turquoise stylishness. As we walked away we started stepping on nuts in the old court square. We looked up and down and there were pecans on the sidewalk. Don't touch those Henry, they're probably old and moldy. Well, I picked up a dozen anyway, and so did Henry. Later on, I shucked em and we had a cup of FINE pecan meats. Don't look a gift horse....

That day we finally made it to Panama City Beach. Whew! My mom had a nice dinner fixed. We collapsed. Thereafter, in the mornings, Martha and I went for a beach jog. Henry came down with a cold. He and Lucy just played quietly all day every day.

A New Kind of Music
I learned that Jack's son Balder was playing music in a bar in the fancy architect town of Seaside an hour away. I'd read about him since he was little in Jack's novels. I knew he was a hot musician, since a kid.

My folks babysat the kids and we all went to have dinner at the Red Bar in Grayton Beach and to hear Balder play.

There was a lot more Seaside now between PCB and Seaside. The idea a cancer. Why make little designer beach houses in a community setting? Why not make mammoth mansions in gated towns? The affordable housing concept of Seaside never turned out. The cute 900 sq ft cottages ended up going for $600K and turning into a world sensation.

I visited the yuppy winebar where Balder was to play and the bar-keep was snotty. Yes, he'll be here, yes the sign says it's potluck night. I guess he saw I wasn't going to be buying pricey wine. But it was locals night and a potluck, what luck! We didn't have a dish to pass, though---two great cooks and no food to give.

We had a fine dinner at the Red Bar. Nice ambient music there, like a French Tom Waits. A nice character place. Watch it or the prices will creep up on ya. I really like the 4 entre menu. Do a few things right, is my view. I asked the waiter if they still have bluegrass there, because Balder and his relatives used to play there. He said not any more, just jazz (later on I was told it was due to the bar tab they ran up). A neighboring table of 4 young party gals with beers in huggies asked Did you say something about bluegrass? We're big fans, they said. I told them about Balder that night and they said Don and the Buffalo was great and gave a holler. Darn, it seems like bluegrass holds a different role here than back home.

We went back to Seaside and visited the bookstore. I took a dare and the clerk there said he knew Balder well and were we going to the potluck? Sure enough!

We went to the bar and sidled in. Balder and Mike Kish were playing. There were piles of tasting looking food on the bar. It was neat to see Balder and his impish, winking, dark dwarflike sidekick, just whippin' up a storm. Balder has a really neat slidey sidelong way of singing that gets a lot of feeling into it. He makes a lot of sidelong jokes, too. A big guy, scruffy. Martha said, That Balder, he couldn't get any cuter. At their break I introduced myself and he was warm and sweet. Steady, relaxed, great southern accent. He said he brought some smoked venison tenderloin that his brother Owen had shot. Hot dog. I'd heard about his famous cooking. It tasted great. Music and food, that's the family way. The bar filled up, mostly with ladies. All locals. Balder gave us some good restaurant tips. Not much to eat in PCB, he said with resignation. (Despite its many pricey restaurants.) Eastpoint, the fishshacks on the beach, that's where to go. I asked if he'd play some of his uncle's songs that I'd read about.

Man, for the next set I recognized nearly all the tunes from Jack's writings, which apply them in their life and times. What a great way to go. To learn about the music, then hear the artist play it. A great, crazy character named Franko joined in, playing maniac washboard for a perfect rythmn section. Balder and Mike and Franko traded solos back and forth. Balder said he'd only learned to sing a couple years ago and had strengthened his voice muscle by singing 5 hours a day and he learned to catch attention by singing just a bit off the main beat. It didn't sound like any bluegrass I ever heard before. Smokier. Maybe with some Louisiana swamp mixed in. Some blues. A lady at the bar said she was from PCB and listens to bluegrass there. She said that Balder came and sat in with a band last week and she said it was night'n'day difference between the hobby players and a real derelict pro like him. So he got a new groupie. Then Balder's aunt came in, Suzette, who I'd also read about over the years. We all got introduced all around, and everyone was amazed that I knew them already and that I was a fan from Michigan by way of Balder's dad's literature.

We'd never heard music like that before. There was something to it. A feeling and smartness. A lot of the songs were local ones, about work and immediate family. Some were bizarre. Bluegrass as modern art, as far out as any art. Like the "I got the who got the god damn putty knife blues" with its "elbow shooting out all covered in shades and hues of latex enamel." Martha said What was that about? Putty Knife Blues is the title of a Jack novel. Things connect, if you look. After Balder sang songs by one uncle he sang songs by another. Keep it in the family. But even the old classics sounded fresh.

Canoe Trip
The next day I set up a canoe rental to paddle the nearby Econfina Creek with its lovely springs. We met the nice young mother at the piney woods livery and started our trip. Martha and Craig came along and were perhaps a little wondering about what they'd see. It had been 4 years for me, too. Jack told us about this years ago.

What a lovely day, kinda chilly though. Hanging Spanish moss, overarching palm trees and palmettos, cypress knees and trees everywhere, towering volcanic looking cliffs at the bends, all pockmarked and covered in plants. Tea brown water. Then suddenly a bright turquoise spring jets into the flow and we turn off the river and follow it a bit, to a big round spring about 20 feet deep. In crystal clear water, we see the cave the water comes from at the bottom, fishies swim everywhere.

Later on down the river, we find a whole spring lagoon. The water is warm. (It turns out it was 55degF air and 58degF water!) I go swimming with goggle and snorkel. Wow, what a world! A hundred fish flock around me. I chase a turtle over the grass and catch him and show him snapping to Martha. Then I see the pollywogs. Man, hundreds of them. Giant Southern Bullfrog pollywogs. 10 inches long! Huge heads! Rippling tails, hanging legs as they meander like whales thru the spring. Holy smokes! I chase and catch one and show it as well. Martha is shocked. Crazy! Then I snorkel about a quarter mile around the lagoon, amongst the cypress trees and knees. I get a little alligator spook going, but hear later that they're only way down the river in the swamps. And I guess they don't get swimmers.

The neatest thing was that when I looked across the spring under the water, the water color turned shocking bright blue. Stronger than you can imagine a Caribbean water. It's turquoise green looking into the spring, but electric blue looking across it. Amazing.

What a day. Martha and Craig both said it was just wonderful. The livery girl said only locals rented their boats. The tourists are missing out, as usual. We listen to the Em "Blue Sun" tape on the way home. Uranium blues....

New Food, New Places, New People
The next day we took Jan and the kids to go see the Wakulla Springs. We'd all gone before and Martha knew her parents would love it. My folks took a pass, so dad could golf. We drove thru the lovely old town of Appalachicola. A nice looking place to live, in contrast with the appalling, hideous PCB. Over the bridge we hit Eastpoint and a fish shack named The Dock of the Bay for lunch. Wow, what fresh fish, shrimp and oysters! It was great eating over the water, seeing the little oyster skiffs tied up below. Fresh! I tried the oysters every which way but man RAW is best. Doctor em up with this'n'that and toss em back with a chaser. Ahhh.... The shrimp were so soft and fluffy. Cheap place, too, with beer-six-pack condiment and flatware caddies on the table. No crowd.

From reading Jack and the locals book I bought in Georgia, I've learned that laws to promote tourism are banning the old fishermen and mullet netters, in the name of phony conservation, while the netters scream to protect the real fish from the impact of the millions of tourist condos and drainage. In a few years there will be no more locals along the Gulf Coast. Just idiots.

We kept driving and stopped at Panacea to visit the Gulf Specimen Lab owned by Jack Rudloe that I'd read about in Jack Saunder's books. It's a self-made place. Unlike the corporate or university labs. It's also the only public lab, where you're encouraged to put your hands in the tanks and feel the critters. They're both collecting and educating and trying to save their world. What's science for anyway? I saw another lab on the way, that looked like a prison, with high coil wire fence.

Rudloe wrote a bunch of classic marine biology books, including one illustrated by Mississippi's beloved kooky artist Walter Anderson, who Saunders also writes about. Science includes art, doesn't it?

We found the place, off the road a ways, under palms and moss, got out of the car and heard a lot of birds in the trees. There are NO birds in PCB. Fresh air, quiet sounds. No one else about the place. I found a helper and asked if the owner was in. Nope, she said, not today. Oh well.

I paid for our tour and we all had an amazing time seeing all the sea creatures in their simple tanks, in the working lab. The staffers go out hunting critters in the morning and bring back their catch. Then orders come in from around the world and the critters are shipped out, to labs, to zoos, aquariums, schools. We saw crabs, shells, sponges, turtles, sharks, big fish, octopuses, lobsters, all up close and in person. No marketing plan trying to make us comfortable, safe and isolated.

Then Jack came in. The lady said Hey, here he is anyway, or what's left of him. What a nice thing to meet him. He was surprised and pleased. I introduced him to our gang. He told me about his own battles with the publishers and how he was looking to get his own 7 books reprinted. They're now unavailable, but in demand. Hmmm. We pow-wowed.

Then he said I have to go but there's someone you need to meet. Do you know Em McElderry? I said Sure. Well, he lives next door. He does? He's another character in Jack's books. I had no idea where he lived, or if he was even alive. He talks about Henry Miller and Em at the same time. Jack told me to go pound on his cabin door and yell and then tell him I know Saunders and that will do it. So I told our gang about my discovery and went and pounded and hollered, no answer.

Later on Jack said Did you find Em? I said no one there. He said you have to do it right, and went over and really hollered. Nope. "You need to meet Em, he's around here." His workers were unloading fresh critters and Jack asked if they'd seen Em. I was just going to myself. I didn't know who Em was and thought maybe one of them was. One said Sure, he's down on Mr. Jones' dock. Jack says Just a second and gets in his car and drives off. Comes back with a tall, white haired guy with big dark old-timer sunshield on. "Em this is Jeff, he knows Jack Saunders, Jeff this is Em. You two go find a place and talk. I have to go."

So we went off to the Walter Anderson art beach life gazebo (with the cosmic spiritual plaque on it) and sat down. Em raised his hands and said "You know Saunders? Now who are you? And you say you come from Michigan? OK, tell me what you know. I'm listening." We had a nice chat.

Em said he'd been around the world 9 times and had been playing music on the road for 40 years, in the tradition of Guthrie and Leadbelly and a Buddhist monk, preacher and Sufi dervish, and had taught English at Ole Miss and had written and recorded boxes of stuff. He said he'd helped Rudloe set up the lab years ago, sold him the land it was on, now he lets him squat next door. I said I'd like to see some of his stuff. I'd only seen quotes before. They were good ones. I'd used them myself in various articles.

We went over to his cabin. No electricity. The perfect set up for a writer, he said. It looked pretty nicely hermit like. He gave me a book, "The Blue Sun" and a tape, "The Blue Sun." Very nice artwork on them. I noticed he had a blue sun tattooed on his wrist. He said he was 67.

We said our goodbyes, with him standing there. He said "Tell Jack Saunders that I love him and that he's was going to be a Buddha someday."

Jack says the friendship and mutual inspiration that he and Rudloe and McElderry have together is as a trio of writer, scientist and luminary. And that it's not unreasonable to say that it is like another trio, the famous, culture-lifting relationship that writer John Steinbeck had with scientist Ed Ricketts and mythologist Joseph Campbell. Wouldn't our culture benefit from such a relationship bearing fruit again? What makes one period encourage such dealings and another try to quash it?

We missed the Wakulla Spring river boat trip, and drove back, stopping at a locals-only restaurant that Rudloe mentioned at a wharf way off the road. He said he introduced a new fish to the market when the lobsters ran out, the bulldozer lobster--and we could eat that nearby now. He also introduced the lobsterlike rock shrimp, which he said we'd really like at the wharf. He added that he'd been cut out of both markets quickly, though, as usual. We went to the wharf and saw they had an all you can eat shrimp boil and the place was full of fishermen. Looked good. But they were out of rock shrimp. I heard others asking as well. It seemed like they were all out of shrimp. It turns out we had local shrimp but it had been frozen. It was OK. Maybe I just soaked em all in too much butter.

We lounged a couple more days. Lucy started getting sick, Henry getting better.

A Crazy Bar Band, with Bar People
Balder was playing again, as sideman in a bar band, so we drove over to Seaside again, just Martha and I. The lead guy had an extra flair to him, something said Vegas to me. Even though he wore jeans and a plain old tee shirt and just banged an old acoutic guitar. Turns out I find out later that he played bass for Elvis in the Vegas "Cape Years" then for Jose Feliciano. Darn, I knew something was up, there. Franko was playing washboard again. (I noticed a couple of paintings of Franko here and there around the bar.) Duke and Balder traded songs. Duke played and sang with a driving, over the top, glorious style. Balder did his thing. I told him I met Em. He said "Oh cool, he's something. Hey, I really like his song Uranium Blues, I'll play it for you guys." So I got to meet a new writer musician, get his rare music (I'd tried to find Em material via online collectors before, no luck) hear it in the car tape deck then hear a cover of it the next day. It's a good song and Balder did it up nice. Man, we had a great time again.

Martha noted that the bar was very diverse. Black, white, church people, gamblers, farmers, fishermen, old, young, skateboarders, yuppies, longhairs, artists, hippies. She said you wouldn't find a bar with this mix up north. And there were many bars around there people could have segregated into.

I thought maybe the reason why was because people live cheap, on the fat of the land, down South. Maybe even most of them there lived in trailers on cinder blocks. Easier living, less worries, let people be themselves and they're naturally more diverse. Up north, you have to lay ahead for winter, life is pressured, there's a success value that doesn't exist down south where no one cares about what car you drive or how you dress, so you tend to be more alike for security, you flock together. Down there, less cash more freedom. Maybe.

But about those church people....they came in from a wedding. Balder said to us on the sly, We call them the rock'n'rollin church people, they're nice. They knew Duke. He played at their church, too. They were pretty old, maybe their 60's, totally drunk and hootin it up bigtime. They were dressed to the nines. Ladies in fancy dresses, men in tight, black, flashy suits.

This one guy, small, thin, with point black shoes, black hair, looked like the TV evangelist Kenneth Copeland. He was the most wasted. Could hardly walk. But he kept grabbing ladies and dancing. He would stumble on the floor...but never lose beat. He could dance. He would spin those ladies and he'd do the funniest stuff. They would get fed up and sit down. And he'd stand out there stabbing the floor with his toe, one beat in four, very slow but in time. He'd strike poses. He was doing Madonna voguing. He'd play a real slow, pained air guitar. Just wincing and twisting out there, stabbing that toe down. He would almost fall over. Then reach out to the band with great emotion, and in perfect time. Then he'd do the nuttiest thing. He'd grab his head. He'd whip his head slowly away and bury his face in his hand. It was like he was some kind of James Dean dancer. We'd never seen such a thing. Martha said that alone was worth the price of admission. (We gave Balder a $20 tip each night in his tip jar.) He loved Martha, too, of course, and danced with her as well. He gave her a good display of the anguished head grab. What luck! Then they left. One disgusted lady hauled him out by his necktie. Martha had been wondering who went with who. Then we overhead someone ask "Are they all married?" Answered by "To each other, many times."

A Lesson About the South
I'd been reading a book called "Cracker Culture" by Grady McWhiney, about the pre-war South. It was fascinating and probably not a good thing for me to read. It said that the South didn't value work. You worked as little as possible. The slaves, also. The whole South was very low on hours worked compared to the North. They liked living. Ambition via labor was in bad taste. They were able to do this mainly by the Common Law for land, where most land was public open range and the only fences were around yards to keep animals out. Animals weren't fenced. No barns. No bridges, just fords. They practiced neglect farming, in a positive sense. Animals lived wild, until needed for sale or slaughter. Crops, too, ran wild and self-seeded. Fields were left with stumps in. Up north they were rooted out. Life was about food, music, talk, visiting, hunting, dogs, horses, love, religion, fighting, fishing. They never ran and avoided walking. Everyone went horseback to do most anything. Easy living. Maybe shorter living, but easy. A man could start with 10 head of critters and end up with a 1000 and not own any land to do it with. Ya know, there's a lot you can do without money....

We saw a lot of trailers on cinderblocks down South. And a lot of homes you could hardly see for the jungle. Probably half the people live this way. Up north here in Michigan it's not legal anywhere to buy a lot and put in a trailer if you want to live cheap.

We said our goodbyes. We decided that on our drive home, we'd stop for lunch again in Eastpoint and make the Wakulla river boat ($4) this time. So we did. We had a great time, and saw jillions of exotic birds and huge alligators and many snakes, turtles, fish and the glorious springs themselves, 200 feet deep.

I'd told the gang that Jack called himself the Wakulla Volcano, after the mysterious volcano in these parts. Jan said, Now, c'mon, this Jack stuff... Well, in the middle of the boat tour, the guide said "...And this was the location of the mythical Wakulla Volcano which led many greedy explorers to their doom. It burned for a century and no one knew where it came from. ...It was discovered that it was an underground peat bog burning." I nudged Jan, see? We're batting a thousand. Only it's an underground WRITING that's smouldering out there still, maybe....

We got to the big spring part at the end of the boat ride, in late afternoon. The guide said they were murkey but they were still so compelling and gorgeous that I had to swim. The water felt warm so before we left I took a dip. Took a few jumps off the big dive tower into the big spring. Very pretty, even in the late light. Tons of big fish. Snorkeling is fun. I kept practicing the tall 20 foot jump until I didn't hurt my arms or my feet (point toes, arms down, relax when you go in, and you naturally somersault under the water feet first, when you do it right you plunge DEEP also before you can get your arms out). Everyone thought the boat trip was just the best.

Then we started our drive home. We'd gone some hours already but it felt like the start. We'd spent our day driving home by staying near the beach basically, so much for progress. We were maybe going to make it to Atlanta, if we'd started earlier, and meet Jack and Brenda for dinner. We called it off and drove hard.

Next day we drove in the mountains, then we got on the freeway and bolted for home. When on the backroads, see things. When you're in nowheresville, blast the freeway. So we saw the South and hit the freeway when we got further North. We made it to Balyeats again for dinner. Yum.

I'm getting sick. Craig is getting sick. Lucy is sick.

Home in time for bed.

So we learned some things and saw some things, about travel planning, about new music, about new people, about the South, about work and money, and about how if you want to learn lies about fancy people you'll never be able to meet or know about one way or another, read a fancy writer, if you want to learn about your world, read a writer who can help people learn about where they're going and where they've been, like Jack Saunders. I'm not foolin'.

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