And We're Off

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

I’m sitting in a very pleasant, La Quinta hotel room just west of Beaumont, Texas. We just met up with our friends, Bob and Caroline, who will be traveling, caravan-style, with us the rest of the way. We had a nice, though surprisingly expensive meal at a very interesting place across the street, called Pappadeaux - or something like that.

Our first day from Charleston found us at a dump in Tallahassee. It was our first time in this part of Florida. It’s very pretty, rolling terrain and lots of beautiful live oaks. This particular La Quinta was bad news. Old, rooms, not clean and a half a bottle of shampoo as our amenity. Dinner was an adventure. The guy at the hotel told us to go to this one place because the food was better than the food at this other place. He ought to know, he said, because he’s fat. Not a good qualifier, folks. The place was older than the waitresses, which had to be make it a 100 easy. No booze and, according the the fat guy at the hotel, the sweet tea is even too sweet for him. We lasted about 30-seconds before bailing, ending up at the place where the food wasn’t as good. Can’t compare food, but the second place was much better. It had a full bar, but the food wasn’t great. Ever heard of a “pork brisket?” If you see it, don’t order it.

Yesterday morning we were off to Biloxi by way of our favorite little panhandle beach town, Seaside. This place is just great. The snow-white sand beaches are magnificent and the town is little bit Europe (though new) mixed with a little bit of Bermuda (the houses are all named). It’s just very quaint, quiet and safe. The kind of place you want to take the grandkids on a beach vacation. Please note: it’s very expensive. I’m afraid the very occasional lunch is about all we can afford. Which, by the way, we had on a second-floor deck overlooking the beach. The only negative of the morning was the very persistent fog.

One other thing worth mentioning is the drive along Interstate 10 between Panama City and Seaside. The devastation from Hurricane Michael was jaw-dropping. All along 10 - which is, I don’t know, 30 miles from the coast - workers are still cleaning up. It looks like a tornado about 50 miles wide dropped down from the sky. Trees are just flattened and fell in all directions. We’ve seen a fair amount of hurricane destruction, but this looked more like what I saw when I lived in the midwest from tornadoes.

Lydia had a great thought as we were driving through. Maybe all the people who think there’s a crisis at the border should come help clean up a real crisis, the one in the Florida panhandle.

Last night we stayed in Biloxi, Mississippi (had to type that out for fun). Really nothing to report, other than the La Quinta is much nicer than the one in Tallahassee. If you’re wondering why all the La Quintas? They’re dog friendly, serve a decent breakfast and are everywhere we planned to stop.

This morning we walked a little bit along Biloxi Beach. It was windy, cold and the beach isn’t dog friendly, so we didn’t stay long. If I lived in Biloxi I’d visit the beach. It you don’t live in Biloxi, I wouldn’t go out of your way.

The most eventful part of today was witnessing the drivers in Louisiana. HOLY SHIT! I felt like I was driving a lawnmower at the Indy 500. I was doing 80 but the dodging and weaving at a 100 around me was eye-popping. Throw in a never ending line of tractor trailers and some of the worst roads I’ve seen (South Carolina, maybe there is a place with worse roads than yours) and it was a white knuckler.

Tomorrow it’s off to San Antonio for two nights and to get our windshield fixed - yet another strike against Alabama.

Mike Pontius