Dec 22: Leaving Virginia around 1pm, we backroaded through the Blue Ridge Mountains and 29 South – shooting down to Greensboro NC.

The roads are so beautiful and i love the quirky ways people express themselves.  The phrase kept coming into my head:

“Yes, Santa, There is a Virginia”

Rolling through its hills, glimpsing its splendor and past, I appreciate it’s allure

– despite its religion, politics and summer weather. 

Snow Hayman -VA

Buena Vista

The sign on the building  says:

“Buena Vista: 6002 Happy Citizens and 2 Grumpy Old Men.” 

I love signs like that. After a good cruise down a wide open, newly paved highway, we arrived in Greensboro at dusk  – and rush hour.

I was in Greensboro for my first year of college – decades ago – and made friends with a hallmate, Carol Short. We’ve remained friends through the years and she bestowed upon me the gift of being godmother to her only child.  She was going to be in Charlotte with family when we arrived at her home but she left us very welcomed with a stocked fridge, freezer, yummy gifts and a comfy bed for the night.  When we arrived, Jenna, her niece and recent college grad who is living with Carol, greeted us with her warm exuberance. I fell in love with the whole Short family from the first time I met them on the farm in Waxhaw NC – with mama Betty Short cooking up a storm each day (oooo those biscuits, every meal) and their stories of wearing clothes made out of flour sacks and the idyllic lifestyle i could see they had – despite the challenges of making your living farming.  The kids all peeled off to have careers in building, teaching, accounting and the like – but everyone came back to the farm for as long as MawMaw was alive….and she lived a long time after her stroke. I have a picture of my first time on their farm when I was 18.  It’s clear i feel right at home…..

Dec 23: We rose and found our way to one of our gift cards – Paneara Bread – for breakfast. Then hit the rowdy road south to  South Carolina, then south east towards Hilton Head.

NC 29 and 73/74 is a glorious, empty highway. 

Then in SC, the road becomes two lane.

South Carolina

  Until we came to Florence and the entrance for 95. 

Approaching 95

Ahhh, there’s the America I try to avoid.

Our Next Manger was to be in Hilton Head, at my sister Kate’s InLaws – Imra and Bob Kaiser.

I’d never been to Hilton Head.

John had terrifying stories of taking his kids there and having a room filled with Rats.Yikes!  I think that was a while ago, as his kids are now in their 40s.

Cruising along 95, we  felt the pang of hunger and John spotted a sign for DUKES BBQ. REAL FOOD.  And it was. Simple, Down Home, Buffet Style, Vats of Tea, Loaves of wonder-style bread on the linoleum tables. Satisfying.

Good thing, too, because when we got on 95 again,

Airstream Dreams

it wasn’t long before the entire highway came to a halt. Then it would zoom up again and grind to another halt.  IF we had also been hungry – THAT would have been super miserable. We finally got to an exit where we could hop on a side road and rolled into Hilton Head around 6 pm.

Bob and Irma Kaiser are the parents of Bob Kaiser, my sister Kate’s deceased husband and father to Rhapsody and Bucky Kaiser.  They have lived in a gated community in Hilton Head for about 15 years.  Their home is spacious and warm.  Irma still stocks her shelves as if cooking for 10.  Old habits die hard. i know. I learned to cook with my family of 10 and it’s hard to scale down, even after all these years. Oh well – good thing I love Leftovers!

I also want to mention the crazy, crazy highway 278 which leads into Hilton Head.  It is a 6 lane mosh pit of NJ drivers all going at breakneck speed.  Holy Brake Lights – it was horrible.  But inside the gates, around the manicure landscape and open marsh, it is serene, quiet, safe.  I’m not much for gated communities.  Too many Rules. Bob was telling us about some of those stories.  I’m a “Question Authority” Kind of Gal.

Bob and Irma KaiserBob Reading First Chapter

  They offered us wonderful hospitality, and supper, which Bob cooked — he cooks every friday now… Irmies made that deal after he retired when she said: “You know, you’re retired, but I’m not.” 

They were very kind and easy to talk with.

One of the topics included my manuscript.

They are both avid readers but cautious b/c my sister (their daughter in law) also writes – but she writes non fiction, about her life, and sometimes that’s a little too close for Irma and Bob.

Once I told them what my book was about – fiction, learning how to follow your heart – and showed them the book cover – which is now completed and I brought along a glicee copy of the original – they both wanted to check it out. “Just read the first chapter,” I invited.

They each did in the morning. . .  and wanted more.

Irma also told me her neighbor is Bohemian and is always talking about her Bohemian Grandmother. OKOK I told them they could keep the manuscript until Feb – if they’d mail it to Ellen in Jacksonville – as it was she I was bringing it to…. They were delighted and I was delighted to share it with them.

DEC 24: Rose Early to give Daisy a decent walk.  The marsh light was lovely.

Hilton Head Marsh

On the road again, cutting through Savannah,

we arrived in Jacksonville around 2 and had a brief lunch with an old family friend Ellen Emerson.

She and my Mom were very close.  She calls herself the piglet to my mom’s Winnie the Pooh.  That sums it up right.

She was off to her own parties that night and the next day so our visit was only 45 minutes.  Plus we had another 3 hours to Cedar Key.

Ellen Emerson and Laura

We also needed some groceries – although very few due to our lack of space in the trunk. So we popped into the Winn Dixie and collected a bare minimum of provisions.  It was time to make the final stretch! So off we roared, jammed into the cab for the final time, driving into the sunset and to our new home for the next three months.   More Soon. xoxo Laura


16 responses to this post.

  1. Laura,
    Exquisite and poignant…as everything you do!
    So looking forward to what is to come.
    Happy Holidays all……


  2. Posted by barb on the hill on December 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Road trips are the best…. the care is the cave for the pack and the dogs I am sure felt safe and comfortable. The closing picture of Daisy confirms this. I send my love and love the blog, you make all of us a special part of your lives.


    • Barb – thanks so much. Bucks spent most of the trip in the Well by my feet, b/c I didn’t think Daisy would comply — but finally I had to give bucks a break and Daisy settled in just fine. Good dog. Love to you dear friend.


  3. Posted by Maura on December 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    It’s nice to see that John got to drive….I hope that means he’s feeling better?


    • Maura: It seems the hernia was a big kicker in his back problem. He still is healing and that will take a while but he is much better. And he did most of the driving….you know our johnny!


  4. Posted by Mark McCullough on December 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    “Trading Rocks” with Carol’s little sister in NJ in 1974. I hope her arm still hurts…..the little bully.


  5. Posted by Gina on December 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I really love the way you write Laura and look forward to reading your blog everyday!!!!
    Anxious to read your own book ~ hopefully it will be ready for us to read at book club
    when you return!!!
    Enjoy your time in Cedar Keys………
    All the best to you and John ~ Happy New Year !!!!!


  6. Posted by Betty Nugent on December 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Interesting! Love to follow your trip and thoughts …


  7. Happy Holidays to both of you! Love the photos! Amazing vistas. I have been traveling through Latin America for a couple of months and have threatened to do a blog of my travels and didn’t have the discipline to make it happen, I’m happy that you do.

    All the best from Darby & myself!

    Safe Travels!



  8. Laura, love reading your adventures. What a fabulous way to spend the winter.
    ❤ Dyan


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