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By the Grace of God

By the grace of God, we arrived in Orlando yesterday afternoon without incident. Whew! Whereas our early days of traveling were peppered with sightseeing, the last three have been all about the miles as my chauffeur was more than ready to get home. And who could blame him? Certainly not I, however, I will admit there was a wee bit of pouting going on at times.
Everything was pretty much just as we'd left it back in early March, including the covered furniture in the sunniest room.
I was delighted to see the ducks were still around.
And even more exciting is that I saw an owl fly into one of the trees this morning, however, by the time I ran inside to retrieve my camera, much as I tried, I could not find it. Rest assured, I will, sooner rather than later!

Three days ago, we were leaving Murray, Kentucky prepared for a long day of stress free driving. Or so we thought! What we saw of Kentucky was crazy green, with rolling hills, dotted with agriculture, and small towns.
Before long, we were here.
More rolling hills,
and rocks which seemed to be a constant theme during this journey, that is, until we entered Florida which I'm thinking is probably the only state without rocks. That, of course, may not be true, but it sure seemed that way.
Out in the country, you see this sort of thing nearly as often as you see rockiness.
On this day, our plan was to take the State roads which are mostly without traffic and excellent. So far so good, and a few hours later, we were here.
From North to South, Alabama is nearly 400 miles so we knew that was out of the question. I booked a room in Auburn, AL during our drive and onward we continued.

Remember the whining part I mentioned? Want to pull in there honey? Yes Bruce, would love to. This part of Alabama is quite scenic with giant lakes mostly created by the Tennessee Valley Authority long ago.
The little town was so charming we stopped for lunch and were so glad we did. All locals, the food was tasty, and it was great hearing Southern accents again.
You know that you are in the South when a restaurant sells Cheddar Pecan wafers, which, btw, were terrific.
You also know you are in the Deep South when it rains like mad for ten minutes and then the sun comes out. I believe it was soon thereafter that Nancy called and when B mentioned how charmed we were by Guntersville,  AL, of all things, she had played golf there! What are the chances, right?

Studying the atlas I saw that we would pass by a place with a big waterfall, or big by Alabama standards. Please honey? Because we were doing pretty well on time, Bruce was happy to take me there even though it meant adding more than ten extra miles to the already ambitious 470 we planned on. First we pulled into the wrong place where the woman mentioned that the falls weren't super full at the moment which didn't scare me off. Onward.
Her words did not dissuade me, however, the above sight definitely gave me pause. How bad could it be? I crossed over a little bridge to the other side and looked down.
Yes, those are people cooling off on a hot day. The falls? Be prepared to laugh friends!
Probably the most interesting thing about the above photograph is that moss that seriously looked like emerald green velvet. So interesting.

Good night, soon thereafter, we hit a massive rainstorm, and wouldn't you know it, we needed a bathroom break. That rain I mentioned? After a winter in Vancouver where, yes, it rains, but absolutely nothing like this.
And here is where it got nasty. The rain was pretty much blinding for the next nearly two hours of driving through both the Taladega National Forest where we saw so many, many trees enveloped by what B thinks are caterpillars, and more insanely winding roads. No time or place to stop, so I got what I could.
Hilly, winding, blinding rain. You can well imagine how exhausted Bruce was when we FINALLY, 11 hours after we started, arrived in Auburn, greeted by well, an Auburn Tiger. For those who are not familiar with this reference, there is a famous college named Auburn with a tiger as mascot. As often happens in communities, local artists paint colorful renditions of the same thing. In Orlando it was guitars. Here-- Auburn Tigers!
You also know you are in the South when you see loads of Crepe Myrtle trees, in the above case planted, but we saw others mixed in with forest trees. Bruce tells me that although they look similar, the wild ones are probably Wax Myrtles. Speaking of plants, let us talk about Kudzu. Holy Cow, the nickname, "the vine that ate the South" is, I'm here to tell you, apt, as we saw it everywhere!!!
Rarely did we have internet connection during our trip, however, the minute we did, I looked up this invasive species which has quite an interesting history. Should you care to know more, click here.

After the harrowing previous day, Bruce wanted a straight road, and after 125 miles, we finally got one in Georgia when we connected with I-75. What a shock to be bombarded with billboards after spending so many days on the road billboard free.
And the semi trucks!! Holy Cow, there are hundreds of them traveling this route. We knew were getting close to Florida after ten days on the road. The tacky billboards gave it away.
See how the sign says "no stopping", wait until the Welcome Center?
By the quality of the photo you know that we did not stop to take our photo. The weather was gloomy which kept things a bit cooler, so that was a positive. Try as I might, I could find no information on a HUGE solar farm we passed in North Florida.
I could get only a fraction of the site during our drive by. Amazingly, the traffic, the rest of the way, was cooperative with nary a problem and finally, our journey was coming to an end.
Our exit from the 408 is Orange Avenue--woo hoo! Getting closer now! Amazing sight with the interstate expansion looming over the road.
No sooner had we exited than this happened.
By the time we drove the last two miles home, the rain had stopped, allowing us to unpack the car. You knew that would happen immediately, didn't you? No rest for the weary in this household!

With no food in the house, and two people who were sick of eating out, I drove the MINI, at first forgetting how to start it (!), and went to Publix. In one word, bliss. Except that, by the time I paid for my purchases, a torrential storm had begun once again. How quickly I've forgotten the intensity of a Florida rainstorm. Eventually I ran to the car, getting soaked in the process. Driving home carefully down Michigan Avenue, I then passed the complex! Too busy worrying about my first driving experience in months in a driving rainstorm I suppose.

After a day of unpacking, washing clothes, and cleaning the dusty floors, I went back to Publix for more this afternoon and nearly the same thing happened again. I did remember how to start the cart however. Progress dear ones.

I know this post has been anything but pretty, however, in my next few posts, we will go back in time for some highlights. I'd planned on doing a post on each of the 11 states and two provinces we went through, but maybe that is too ambitious. We'll see.

your friend,

Gail
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