So our spring break officially ends in a Monday morning burst of snow. Fitting.
This is real March. This is the March of my northern Iowa childhood. Egg hunts in parkas.
Last week was fantasy March. Sand, palm trees and temps limbo-ing just under 80. Family fun in the sun. But too much Florida sunshine can make an upper Midwesterner feel uneasy.
Sure, you can find slush in a Margarita, but it’s not the same.
Up until that point, when conscience and calendar forced us to trade Tommy Bahama for The North Face, we loved our stint on Sanibel Island. Well, there was that horrendous day when it misted, heavily, for 15 minutes. How was the weather here?
In the interest of transparency, however, I won’t try to spin you. With any 3,000-mile forced march, err, uh, family road trip, there are tests and travails.
For one thing, bodily functions can become dysfunctional out on the holiday road.
One daughter, ravenously thirsty after a day of biking, drank her weight in bright red Gatorade. Let me tell you, what looks festive in a bottle looks far more frightening on departure. Frightening enough that you start Google mapping hospitals. Turns out she was fine. Daughter two got sick in the van before we’d made it 100 miles on the long trip home. And, thanks to my wife, we now know a doctor on Sanibel who has an office attached to a convenience store.
I emerged unscathed, although haphazard application of sunscreen left me with a chest resembling a clown face. If I’m not painfully awkward, I’m not living.
You really must rely on the kindness of strangers on these long trips south. Waiters and waitresses especially. When my daughter piped up about being sick in the van, a waitress in Gainesville recounted the time she was rushing home with child about to be sick and was stopped for speeding. As she told the officer of her dramatic, dire predicament, a little voice came from the back seat. “I’m not really that sick.” Little darlings.
But that famous southern hospitality can be downright spotty along and near the I-75 corridor. In Chattanooga, my 7-year-old was doused in red wine spilled from a restaurant balcony. No apology. How rude. If anyone in this party is going to leave stinking of booze, it’s going to be me.
In Dalton, Ga., we just made 9:30 a.m. last call for the breakfast buffet, but while we ate, they turned out the lights on us. Don’t expect a ‘Y’all come back now” at what they call the “Magnolia Plantation.” They’re too busy checking your cash for counterfeit bills. Frankly, pecan-buying tourist, we don’t give a damn.
I concede we, too, at times, lost our grip on civility. I’ve never heard my wife speak so warmly and eloquently of Gen. Sherman as she did while driving through Atlanta.
But we made it home, tan, ready, but in no way rested. Outside, the slush is piling up. And not a lime in sight.