June 15, 2014. Well, we finally got to get away for a vacation, but since I’ve procrastinated about getting a passport, my husband and I couldn’t go on a cruise this time out. Instead, we opted for a car vacation, traveling East from Louisiana, due to the recent wildfires in the Southwest: Panama City, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Packing for our vacations is always an adventure in itself. My husband fills his suitcase in five minutes and he’s done.
I, on the other hand, start by counting out how many days and nights we’ll be gone. Next, I scan through my closets, pulling out every conceivable summer ensemble, tossing them into a mound on the bed.
The next step, for me, is a frustrating attempt to cull through the piles, matching tops with shorts and slacks. I say frustrating, because, of course, there are always several outfits that have quite rudely and inexplicably shrunk, while being ignored in my closet for a season or two. And invariably, I come to the sudden, stark realization that I have no bright, new outfits to show off. So, quite logically, the very exciting idea that immediately pops into my harried “Vacation Head,” is that I can thus look forward to doing some very “necessary” vacation shopping during the trip, since I can’t possibly be expected to wear anything that would look too faded or worn!
Next, I have to pull out a purse and coordinating pair of shoes for each color and type of outfit: an assortment of sandals for wearing with shorts, a pair of tennis shoes for slacks, heels for dancing, some crocs for the beach, and of course, flats for walking long distances. Oh, and another pair of slip-ons for traveling, plus slippers for all those questionably-clean motel room floors.
The third mind-boggling exercise in my vacation packing routine is to match various jewelry items for each outfit and possible mood. And, last of all, digging out some socks, and my “vacation-only” skimpy underwear, for wearing under tank tops and sundresses.
The entire process can take anywhere from two to six hours, depending on my level of dread or excitement. I say “dread,” because sometimes I just can’t seem to get motivated to upset my daily routine of “same-old, same-old, ” that quasi-comfortable state of vegetation that occurs when I fall into my pattern of owlish insomnia, coupled with lazy days spent lolling in my pj’s, occupied with my iPad and endless cups of coffee. And, since we had a rollover car accident on the way home from a Florida vacation several years ago, the idea of an extended car trip causes me to feel a little extra anticipatory nervousness.
Once the whole ‘shebang’ is assembled—completely covering our king-sized bed—my husband invariably decides to take a nap! So, I hurriedly try to cram the piles into two suitcases and an assortment of travel bags.
Two is the very reasonable baggage-limit established by my husband—and our car manufacturer, who has thoughtfully opted to no longer include a spare tire as standard equipment, leaving unwary buyers, such as ourselves, with the blissful illusion that our model has a reasonable amount of trunk space!
I then go into the bathroom and run through our routines of “getting ready,” to decide which toiletry items to pack. I’ve learned to group items by function, like ‘tooth-brushing,’ and stash related items in zip-lock bags, to control leakage in a hot car.
Finally, I pull out our beach towels, snorkels, the spare coffee pot, some filters, and prepare plastic creamer bottles, with enough coffee grounds and creamer for each day. This time, I even remembered to include a measuring scoop and a spoon for stirring. Then, I pop into bed, toss and turn for a couple of hours, and fall asleep just before dawn!
The next morning, my husband gets up and dressed, and sits anxiously at his computer playing Solitaire, waiting for his “Sleeping Beauty” to arise. By nine am, I roll out of bed, stumbling for the coffee, downing a couple of cups as he loads the car. When I see him grab his pillow, and head outside to study his trusty road atlas, I know the final countdown has begun: It’s time for me to finally throw on some clothes and throw caution to the wind—It’s summer vacation! Enjoy!
DeFuniak Springs, Florida
Since we got a relatively early start, we made it all the way across Mississippi and Alabama, to a Regency Inn, by the first of our nine gloriously-carefree nights of vacation. We chose DeFuniak Springs, because the name sounded so intriguing, and because we’ve always liked the areas surrounding other natural springs we’ve visited. And, we were not disappointed.
Early the next morning, we were directed by the motel staff to the town center which, we were told, was built around a naturally occurring, perfectly round, spring-fed lake.
Surrounding the mile-in-circumference lake were large, manor-type homes, picturesque churches, a city park, and the municipal center, including a library, which has the unique distinction of being the oldest continuously-operated library in the state of Florida. The town center had a quaint, Mayberry-like atmosphere, complete with a few strolling seniors and an occasional jogger.
A Hidden Gem
As I “Googled” pictures of the town for this blog journal, I happened to notice a real estate ad, and suddenly found myself on a mad search for a humble domicile in which to retire! Somewhat disconcertingly though, those in my modest price range tend to be what’s known in real estate as a “fixer-uppers”!
Next: “Beaten on the Beach,” “Motel Room Free-loaders,” “Book Me Once, Book Me Twice,” “Flee the Freeway,” and more.