Report from the Road #1
The following is a detailed report from the road. In short, I’m traveling north with my friend Matthew as we bring his mother’s things home. I’m riding shotgun, a fellow companion and occasional driver. This is his trip so for members of the family or friends who wish I had time to stop and visit between Florida and New York, sorry. Next time.
My friend Matthew’s mother passed away just a few weeks after Robbie died and both blows hit him hard. He’s been back and forth from Long Island to Florida to tend to the estate and this past week, welcomed the new year by loading the last of the things onto a 26′ u-haul. His sisters tidied up and returned north by plane and he would drive the items, making deliveries before hitting home.
In November, he asked me to come down and ride shotgun to make the trip more bearable. I hesitated answering until Iron Man was completed and then realized there would be little work come January. I accepted, figuring the ComicMix stuff would take a few hours each day and he’d be willing to accommodate that. Since accepting, of course, ComicMix was no longer a daily concern so the trip got even easier and the timing even better.
On Sunday, Deb drove me to White Plains airport and we decided to bring Dixie along for the ride. She seems to enjoy being in the car and behaves quite nicely. When I got out and walked to the terminal, she began to whine and looked out the back window until I was out of sight. It’s nice to be missed.
The flight on JetBlue was uneventful and we arrived about 15 minutes late. Matthew had been sitting in the cell phone waiting area and came when he got the call. Boy is a 26 foot truck big. The cab was comfortable with nice seating and plenty of space. He had a portable iHome for tunes, a cooler filled with fruit and drink, and a Garmin, borrowed from his wife, so we don’t get lost.
And just like that, we were off. Our first stop was Ocala, about four hours north. Along the way, we chatted and caught up on stuff. At one rest stop people were selling fresh fruit outside so wee bought some delicious strawberries, determined to eat well in the truck knowing full well we would indulge ourselves at restaurants. Matt’s a foodie plus being a terrific cook so he had perused roadfood.com and printed out 46 restaurants near our course. He jokingly said we had to somehow fit in all 46 during our 4-5 day journey.
As the sun set, painting the broad cloud-filled sky awash in pastels, we began thinking about dinner. None of the 46 restaurants were within reach so we resorted to reading billboards. Our goal was to avoid fast food at all costs. As time and options dwindled, we decided to find something in Ocala. We needed to pick up some supplies at a Wal-Mart and as we parked he pointed out a Five Guys. Apparently, they are a growing, popular hamburger chain but since it was cooked to order, it was a step above fast food and therefore acceptable.
We were so hungry and more than a little tired as we sat down at 8 p.m. As a result, I was more than two-thirds through my burger before realizing I was eating one of Matt’s two burgers, leaving him mine. Of course, he’s not letting me forget it.
A few miles down the road, we stopped at the local Winn-Dixie and parked the truck for the night. Our hosts, Stanley & Terri Stein, live in a community that does not allow trucks on Sundays so they came to collect us. Their community is quite lovely, nicely maintained and comes complete with a separate lane for golf carts which is apparently the chief mode of transportation there.
Terri served us her homemade chocolate pecan pie topped with diabetic rocky road ice cream along with some decaf instant coffee and then we sat back and chatted for quite a while. Stanley was a surrogate father to Matt and years before we had kids, Deb and I joined Matt, Stanley and Stanley’s son Lanny on a few camping trips so it was nice to catch up.
We each had a bed in separate rooms and were made to feel quite at home. Using their computer we each checked in with the outside world then turned in.