The End of the Road

Yesterday, we started the 1,003 mile journey back home from Florida to Illinois. We left Panama City Beach a little after 7 a.m. and headed west towards Biloxi, Mississippi. Amanda and I had visited there previously and we wanted to visit again before making our way north.

We stopped and had our last taste of seafood at a place called The Reef. We had eaten there before and had enjoyed the food quite a lot. Plus, Biloxi has some beautiful beaches as well as some very lovely homes along the coast. After having a great lunch we travelled up through Mississippi and in to Tennesee. We stopped in Memphis for the night.

Memphis is a city we have been through twice, but have never had time to explore while here. It is on our list of places to visit again once we have an opportunity to more fully sample the tastes, sights, and sounds of this great city.

I love to visit places with rich cultural histories. Memphis is certainly one of those places. From food, music, to the civil rights movement, it has much to taste, hear, and see. It is also a place with some family history for me as well. My paternal grandparents lived in the city for a while. In addition, my great uncle, Aldo Bastari, apparently once worked as a chef at the Peabody Hotel. We definitely could make a week of it in Memphis. However, that will have to wait for another time.

We left Memphis this morning around 9 a.m. and drove north through Arkansas and Missouri. Then we crossed the Mississippi River back into Illinois. I think we are all ready to be back home. It will be nice to sleep in our own beds tonight.

The Sunshine State?

After an abundance of rain on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday we finally saw some sun today here in Florida. Hopefully, that will continue tomorrow, at least for most of the day. We made it to the beach, however, we didn’t swim. We just looked out at the water. It was a magnificent sight.

Looking at such a large expanse of water is always relaxing. To hear the waves hitting the shore is so serene. The water was much calmer today. There were a multitude of sun- worshippers lined up and down the beach that we visited. I think I almost prefer just to look out at the water than to actually get in and swim. This is due to lack of access for those with disabilities, and my dislike of getting sand in places where it doesn’t belong.

I wear leg braces when I walk. Likewise, I use a pair of forearm crutches. By the time I get down to the beach I am usually worn out, as there are usually either a steep set of stairs I have to climb down, or there is a steep embankment I must navigate in order to make my way to the water.

Walking in sand with crutches isn’t easy. The tips often sink down into the sand. Then once I make it to the shore I have to take my leg braces off, which makes me feel self conscious, as my legs are scarred and misshapen. I feel like the eyes of everyone are usually upon me. Just looking out at the water is easier, as I don’t have to expose myself as much to others.

We will see if I am brave enough tomorrow to venture down to the water and show my ugly, scar-riddled legs to the world. If not, I will be happy just to see the water from a distance. It will still bring me peace.

Day 3 – Montgomery

We woke up in Montgomery, Alabama yesterday morning and decided to just head the rest of the way to Florida. After having driven over 800 miles, we were all ready to be out of the car for a week. We had originally planned to do some sightseeing, but that can wait for another time.

So, we loaded up our Honda CR-V and set out yet again. Just outside of Montgomery, we spotted an outdoor market that had fresh fruits, vegetables, pies, bread, eggs, and all other kinds of goods. They even had some free-range chickens that were roaming the grounds. Baby Boy had fun chasing the chickens around. Fortunately, none of them were peckish. After a short break at the market we were once again on our way.

We finally reached Panama City Beach at around three yesterday afternoon. We had a late lunch at a place on the beach and then headed to join family at our rental house near the beach. It was nice to feel the breeze blowing up from the gulf. It looks like Tropical Storm Claudette has moved on, at least for the most part, although the waters of the gulf were extremely choppy today.

After settling in we decided to go and get some groceries for the week. This was quite an ordeal. I am not one who enjoys shopping, even when the market is empty. We went to two separate stores and both were packed with fellow vacationers. It almost seemed as if everyone was preparing for a disaster to strike.

Being from Northwest, Illinois, I am used to seeing people flood into the stores before an impending snowstorm to grab, milk, bread, and other staples. However, this experience was much different. It was nothing like I had ever seen. I think I’ll steer clear of the checkout lines and just spend the rest of my time at the beach with a good book.

Never again will I do this.

Day 2 – Paducah

After a fitful night’s sleep in Paducah, Kentucky, Amanda went and got us all some breakfast of powdered donuts. I believe this was Baby Boy’s first time experiencing those. Powdered donuts always bring back memories of a “staycation” my family and I had when I was a kid.

We stayed at a local hotel for a weekend and did a lot of swimming. Afterwards, we ate powdered donuts by the pool. The Ramada Inn and powdered donuts will forever be linked in my head, but I digress.

Paducah is a town with a lot of nice, little shops. If I was a shopper it would be a great weekend getaway spot. It is also home to Hancock’s of Paducah, which apparently is popular with those who quilt. Amanda and Baby Boy went in for a look while I stayed in the car. The ladies at Hancock’s were nice enough to give Baby Boy a fabric sample. We then went for some sandwiches at Kirchoff’s Deli & Bakery. If you are ever in Paducah, it is worth a stop here. The sandwiches were delicious, and so were the cookies.

After lunch it was time to get back on the road. Our destination for day two of our travels was Montgomery, Alabama. Despite hours of torrential rain, we eventually reached Montgomery last night around eight. After so much travelling, we were all pretty worn out. Well, Amanda and I were anyway. Baby Boy was ready to bounce on the bed, after which he procedeed to vomit. I guess the comedian Ray Romano was right when he said, “Having children is like living in a frat house. Nobody sleeps, everything is broken, and there’s lots of throwing up.” I am ready to see where else this “frat party” takes us.

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