There’s an old song from the 50’s that is based off the book of Ruth, called “Whither Thou Goest.” I came across the song while co-piloting, as we drove to Georgia and Florida during Christmas and New Year’s break, to see “my people.” If you ever want to come across some interesting music selections, just drive a thousand miles through the mid-section of the country without satellite radio.
In our travels, our first destination was a quick stop near Atlanta, GA to have dinner with my brother and sister, to deliver Christmas gifts and refresh. I’ve been there several times before, and I’ve always enjoyed how when I revisit a place, certain things trigger fond memories (or ghosts, as I sometimes refer to them) of previous visits and the new memories build upon, or overlap the old. We traveled the same roads as in the past, ate at the same restaurant and enjoyed the familiar hospitality at my brother’s house.
As the Wisconsinites back at home were freezing, we got to enjoy some lovely 40 degree weather. In the morning when we left, it was sleeting pretty heavily. Time to shut down Atlanta, muahahaha. I have to say I’ve never seen Atlanta traffic so clear, as we pushed onwards to Florida that morning. The cool weather seemed to follow us as we traveled to Gulf Breeze, FL. It would remain in the 40’s and briefly touching the 50’s, while back home they “enjoyed” below zero temps that plunged near -30 when factored with the wind chill.
Arriving in Gulf Breeze, we enjoyed stuffing our faces with an assortment of my sister’s fantastic cooking, which included a flavorful chicken & sausage jambalaya, baked French toast topped with tasty fruit and a variety of so many homemade mouth-watering cookies that we need not have eaten meals at all, they were so inexhaustible in supply. We enjoyed the quiet cooperation of building puzzles and an assortment of touristy-type mini-trips.
We visited the USS Alabama which I had been to before, only in the heat of June. It had been too hot for me that time to enjoy the ghosts of the Pacific. I remember being shocked seeing myself beet-red from the heat as I looked in the bathroom mirror, when I went to splash water on my face to cool down. This time the temps were near-perfect for climbing and exploring. The men went off separately while we women explored the ship backwards from the suggested tour, getting in the way of several other tourists, but in my family, we never do anything the way we’re supposed to.
Later, we went to the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center to see their famous sea turtle Gigi, only to be told she was euthanized in July. Yet they still advertised and charged to see her, go figure. We hit the mall to visit my grand-nephew at his workplace “Yo-licious” and enjoyed build-your-own sundaes and bubble tea that had funky balls of tapioca in it.
We enjoyed a beautiful stroll on the Casino Beach Pier at sunset, and watched fishermen haul in their catches. We saw schools of rays doing synchronized swimming, darting about in the shallows. There were large menacing-looking unidentified fish swirling around the pier’s supports. We strolled the beach and the sand dunes on the Gulf Islands National Seashore. A little part of me will always remain on that beach. The pastel colors and salt-sprayed winds in my hair beckon me to return, and I think we will this coming year.
Now, back in the bitter cold, the memories fade, the ghosts wither. Life goes back to the ordinary and routine. Only photos remain, along with plans to return in spring. It was an enjoyable trip and we were blessed to be able to spend the time with family we don’t see often. I always enjoy traveling, and we plan on doing a lot more of it. I love “my people” and where ever they go, I will go.