Last weekend, I packed the kid and two suitcases into my little Hyundai Accent and prayed that she could maintain a speed of at least 50 mph while climbing a hill. Between Jacksonville and Rock Hill, South Carolina, there are alot of hills. Personally, I like to call them mountains but I know that real mountain people would laugh at me. To my surprise, Ramona handled the mountains quite well.
(Ramona is my car. Of course, I name them. My last one was Carmen Elantra. Her mileage was running pretty high and she was on the verge of being dragged into the woods and shot but, because I'm a decent person, I decided to trade her in for loyalty points with the local Hyundai dealer.)
When I left Jacksonville on Saturday the 23rd, most of Florida had already endured 10 straight days of rain. And while the majority of the year is devoted to hurricane survival and fire prevention, nobody quite knew how to handle the 10+ inches of rain that inundated the city without a break in the weather. No sunshine, no blue skies. Just a constant cloud of depression and mood-altering grayness and the self-realization that one could never live in the Pacific Northwest. We are Floridians, for cryin' out loud!!! We need our sunshine! So I, along with my favorite roadtripping co-pilot (the Kid), gassed up the Little Engine That Could and got the hell outta Dodge.
I was greeted with a 3-minute display of sunshine in Walterboro, South Carolina. That's it. And by the time I arrived in Rock Hill, it was decided that I was the bearer of bad weather. Never in my three visits to Rock Hill (so far) has the weather been enjoyable. It's either warm and rainy or 40 degrees and rainy. My best friend declared, "I'm starting to think it's you."
After spending the weekend with my best friend, my brother, and the only guy I could possibly get a date with within 350 miles, I packed up the kid again and we said our goodbyes. With the entire day all to ourselves and three interstate changes in our future, there was no telling where we'd decide to park the car and explore the treasures of some unknown small town. My XM Radio trial period had ended that morning and I was suddenly the Trivia Master to my daughter's Quiz Machine.
"Mommy, tell me about China."
"Mommy, tell me about Texas."
"Mommy, tell me about Abrahan Lincoln."
"Mommy, tell me about Hitler."
What? Well, okay. I decided she was old enough to know the basics of world history and how tyrannical leaders have been found hiding in poorly dug holes with bags of Doritos and their bodies sore from trembling at the thought of being confronted by The American Soldier. Yes, she asked about Saddam Hussein. Or, specifically, Saddamassan, but I knew who she was talking about.
Because it was Memorial Day, we decided to stop in Pooler, Georgia, to visit the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum. I can't begin to describe the atmosphere in that building, even though, at the time, I was completely unaware that my grandfather was a part of this. Military veterans from every branch volunteer their time and knowledge (and, if you're lucky, a story of their own personal war experience) to guide visitors through what has been called one of the "most powerful museum experiences" in the country. I will agree with that as I had to offer a tissue to the crying woman who sat next to me in what was known as the simulator. She thanked me for my kindness and introduced herself to me as "a widow".
It's hard to complain about anything after meeting someone who lost her everything.
(Mighty 8th Air Force Memorial Gardens - Pooler, Georgia)