Questing at just under 60

DAY 1–TAMPA TO SAINT AUGUSTINE

Images: The giant trash bins behind Alligator Jungle; The Bridge of Lions at grey dusk; traveler palm leaves brushing our second story window in Andy and Caroline’s garage apartment (that we found on Airbnb); Jeff w. bike in St. Aug the giant steel tracks lining the walls at Ice Plant that once carried 300-lb blocks of ice out the  upper windows to awaiting shrimp boats

steel tracks for carrying ice at The Ice Plant Memorable meals: The Ice Plant, St. Augustine:Shrimp and Grits

Holding onto: Squishy rubber handlebars on our borrowed beach bikes–wheee!; an icy, frothy coupe filled with the luscious cocktail called Field of Gold; Jeff’s hand–bigger than mine, strong, fingers slightly chapped from typing

Listening to: “Cecilia”, Simon and Garfunkel (jubiliation!); “Sign Your Name Across My Heart,” Terrence Trent D’Arby;  Mamas and the Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’  ; the early, early morning train, reminding me of home; the unadulterated absence of Seminole Heights copters, sirens, barking dogs

Smells like: Atlantic Ocean salt air; confederate jasmine;  garbage that’s been left in the heat; Florida summertime sweat

Tastes so good: Absinthe in a Zombie cocktail; Captain’s wafers (cream cheese flavor, of course)

One Happiness:  On an adventure!

DAY 2–SAINT AUGUSTINE TO CHARLESTON

Images: The mansions, mansions, mansions! steeples of Charleston; The Arthur Ravenel bridge; Fort Sumter in the wee distancearthur ravenel bridge

Memorable Meals: Hominy Grill, Charleston: vegetable plate with collard grebeverage window hominy grillens, coleslaw, fried cheese grits,  field peas and rice and  cornbread–finger lickin’ good!

Circa 1886, at Wentworth Mansion, Charleston: Moroccan-style salmon and pineapple upside-down cake served with impeccable service

Tastes so good: a “mansion” mule at Circa 1886

Touch me, babe: the exquisitely carved oak banister in Wentworth Mansion; cozy quilted bedspread in  Jennifer and Steve’s Airbnb apartment; cobblestones; mansion mule at Circa 1886    the icy cold copper cup holding the mule

Listening to: wind rustling the maple leaves; Abba’s “SOS”, Lorde’s “Royals” and They Might Be Giants’  Birdhouse in Your Soul

Smells like: Gardenias; freshly-laid wooden steps leading to the studio apartment

One Happiness: Walking along the battery overlooking Charleston Harbor

Day 3–CHARLESTON

Images: Hall of the Daughters of the Confederacy; rooftop view and lobby of Market Pavillion Hotel; work horse slowly pulling a wagon of about a dozen people–head hanging down, barely trudging in over-90 degree heat; Rainbow Row; stable girl hosing down a black horse at sunset

Memorable Meals: FIG: 9-vegetable salad with radish chips, okra, beet, pepper, potato, cauliflower, carrot, lima beans, English peas (like, wow); fish stew served in a le creuset pot (wow) and pecan semifreddo with blueberry sauce (I’m so full of wow).

I Wanna Hold Your: fan (it’s almost 100 degrees!); package of Carolina gold rice

Tastes so Good: Nitrotini at Market Pavilion Hotelnitrotini

Listening to: Walking Tour guide talk about how many ways the slaves could buy their freedom (really?); Docent at the  Nathaniel Russell House explain why they can say “War between the States”, but not “war of northern aggression”; Owner of the oldest liquor store in the US elaborate on the wonders of moonshine, absinthe and agave mescal; dog day cicadas

Smells like: horse urine; magnolias  

One Happiness: seeing the wondrous flying staircase imagesat Nathaniel Russel House

Day 4–CHARLESTON TO PARKERSBURG, WV

Images: The  charming, home-spun, tree-lined streets of Davidson, NC, which we fortuitously stumbled upon because of a detour; mountains (heart unclenching here); the magnificent facade and flower baskets of the Blennerhassett Hotelblennerhassett;

East River and Big Walker Mountain tunnelstunnel  

Public service break from my parents’ Triptik:  “Gently rolling hills, good farm country, beware of speed traps.”  Oh, yeah. . .

Memorable Meals: Spatz at the Blennerhassett: A delightful Ceasar salad with slabs of roasted (?) cheese; ramen with salmon and shrimp; but there was also just some hummus and pretzels in the car

To have and to hold: my own pillow that I thought to bring along; a tip for the bellcap who is taking our numerous pieces of luggage to the 5th floor

Tastes so Good: Honey-onion pretzel bits and diet coke in the middle of a too-long drive

Listening to: Basia’s “Time and Tide”; Don McLean’s “American Pie”; New Radicals’ Get What You Give whoosh of wind on the interstate; myself snoring; Jeff snoring

Smells like: Clean linens on our king-sized bed

One Happiness: Wildflowers along the interstate: yellow day lilies, purple bachelor buttons, blue cornflowers, eyelets of Queen Anne’s lace, and purple coneflowers ( that’s a whole bunch of happiness)

Day 5–PARKERSBURG TO AKRON TO ORRVILLE, OH

Images: Creeks and rivers, cornfields and soyfields; Jeanie “J” Drive and  the house where Jeff grew up;

Jeff's HouseJeanie J

Bettes Elementary, which looked strangely institutional and a little scary;

Akron Museum of Modern Art; the Chuck Close photo-realistic painting;1982.3 the photo of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald; the ornately-carved white stone skyscraper in vibrant downtown Akron;

Cesar smiling as he walks out of work towards us. Cesar, jeff and crane

Memorable Meals: Daniel Bocuzzi Akron (DBA):  tempura mushrooms, goat-cheese flatbread; coriander-crusted duck; beet cavatelli and truffle risotto (we shared), accompanied by a yummy wine and topped off a light scrumptious dark chocolate mousse

Touch me again: heavy suitcases that  get lugged up yet another flight of stairs

To have and to hold: Jeff’s hands, memories and heart as he revisits this place

Tastes so Good: the sausage gravy at Crystal Cafe, downtown Parkersburg, where the chef/owner, his wife and waitress are extra-friendly and welcoming; cane syrup soda

Listening to: Simon and Garfunkel’s America ; Jeff reminisce about his childhood;  Jeff telling me about almost-nightmares about his old elementary school and places on his block;  Jeff remembering his parents, grandmother, godparents, sister, brother, childhood friends, first girlfriend; Jeff saying he’s glad we’re together; Jeff saying “I love you.”

Smells like: Small-town melancholy; modern art; wind; memory; a neat yard; anxiety-sweat; overcooked coffee;  rain-slick brick streets; blue sky

                                               Two Happinesses: Cesar  & JeffJ & GC & G


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