Holy moly. This little guy graduates April 30th and turns 23 on May 14th. I feel so old just thinking about it! He'll be heading to Northwestern this fall because he's super smart, so we have much to celebrate this weekend! A few weeks ago my mom posted this photo of him and me on his 1st birthday in our favorite park in California and made a comment regarding "how time flies." I whole-heartedly agree. (And, looking at this photo I'm realizing that I really need to find him a little metallic paper hat to wear on his birthday this year.)
So today I drove the 5-hour trip from Brevard County up to Tallahassee (the home of one and only T-Pain) to join the rest of my family. I haven't taken a long car trip by myself in so long, thanks to Harbor's willingness to accompany me in most all of my non-work-related travels and getaways this year. It was sad to be without him today, but it was really neat to remember my love of the open road and how I used to be able to drive all day long with only my iPod on shuffle, gorgeous scenery rushing by, and my thoughts to keep me company.
I decided to stop at a really sketchy gas station to pee, simply based on the level of Florida-allure it boasted. I figure that if you haven't ever driven around in Florida, you may not understand how serious we are about citrus and how southern many of our residents believe themselves to be. For example, many gas stations mask themselves as boiled peanut stands and souvenir shops to lure customers. You may see a sign for mayhaw jelly, candied nuts, fresh citrus or homemade ice cream every few miles in certain parts of north and central Florida. Before I moved to the southeast, I had no earthly idea what a "boiled peanut" was, or why people pronounced them "bowlled pee-nuts." As much as I love a tall glass of sweet tea, a handful of sugary roasted almonds or pecans, or a roadside firework stand, I don't think I will ever enjoy boiled peanuts. They look like pinto beans and are way too mushy to be beneficial to me. I'll take them roasted and salted, please.
The store I stopped at today was pretty funny because it contained the usual suspects (i.e. Disney memorabilia, "My so-and-so-went-to-Florida and all I got was this lousy t-shirt" shirts, Native American-themed wolf art and dreamcatchers, and alligator heads) but also had a ton of creepy shell creatures. I sort of enjoyed the owls they had on display, but I laughed so hard at the four shell-guys playing poker or musical instruments. Super odd.
Those coconut monkeys were having a pretty magical FL vacation, it looks like. Or a family reunion. Or an island-themed corporate work function.
At my last rest stop, I knew I'd be eating dinner with my family fairly soon, but I hadn't stopped for lunch, so I had to think fast. Then it occurred to me... ice cream sandwiches are sort of like lunch, right? I mean, it's a sandwich. So I counted it. Best idea of the day, aside from the iced americano I sipped during the first few hours of my drive.
When I finally arrived I got to go to dinner with my mom, dad and brother while my little sister finished studying for her last two finals tomorrow. (She's going to do GREAT, by the way.) We grabbed dinner at Hopkins Eatery, which I love so much. Their sweet tea is made with mint and pekoe, and their food is always super fresh and very creative. Then I was lucky enough to get to accompany my dad and brother on a Target run, and I bought two dresses, a romper (my first!) and a cute grey messenger bag for the summertime.
Now I'm curled up on a hotel pull-out couch about to turn in. Please, please, please share some of your tips and tricks for enjoying longer car rides. I'm already starting a new playlist to get excited about my trip home Sunday. (And don't forget, anyone can comment – blogger or not.)