Thank God my vacation is finally here!

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I’ve been feeling more anxious and depressed every day about the political situation, and I don’t feel like any of our efforts are really helping.   Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind.   It’s so easy to get bogged down in negativity, fear and hopelessness when the opposition is so nasty and overwhelming and you no longer have the slightest doubt of the horrifying reality that you are being held hostage in your own country — a country that is being run by the worst human beings imaginable.

I definitely need to clear my head and get away from all that for awhile.  My annual trip to Florida to visit my son can’t get here soon enough.   I leave tomorrow before dawn (I love driving before dawn on a long road trip — here’s an article I wrote in 2016 about that).   Depending on traffic, we should arrive in Tampa (that’s where he lives now) late in the day.

Our hotel has a lovely pool and hot tub, and serves continental breakfast.  We’ll be spending time with my son when we can (he can’t get off work).  I think this time one of the plans is to hit Treasure Island!  We had planned to go last year but never got around to it.

After four days there, my daughter and I are driving to Clearwater Beach and spending four days there, right on the beach!

I’ll be posting pictures, so keep checking back!

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Further reading:

8 Ways to Survive a 637-Mile Long Car Trip In Just One Day (and make it amazing!)

15 Things I Love and Hate About Long Road Trips

The Longest, Hottest, Most Boring Drive Ever 

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Beach therapy!

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My life has been turned upside down since January.   I know many of you feel the same way.    Living in Trump’s America leaves me feeling like I’m back with my abusive narcissist ex — always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always feeling hypervigilant and insecure and uncertain about the future, and something even he didn’t have the power to ruin for me: wondering if there is any future at all.  It’s hard to escape from it.

This week I’m off from work, but that just gives me more time to read the news and obsess and worry.   So tomorrow, I’m getting up before dawn and driving to Myrtle Beach.  I’ll have two days to spend there, relaxing and enjoying the sand and surf.   I haven’t decided if I’m going to bring my laptop, but even if I do, I won’t have much time to spend on it.

Spending time on the beach will be good for my soul, and when I return home on Friday, I’ll be relaxed and ready to tackle another trying week.

If you, like me, are suffering from TTSD (Trump Traumatic Stress Disorder), make sure to give yourself breaks from it all.   Even if you can’t make a short trip somewhere, tear yourself away from the constant stream of disturbing news and do something fun or nice for yourself.    Read a novel, watch a funny movie, take walks, cook an amazing meal, do yoga, pray, work out, go to the zoo, or anything else that relaxes you and takes your mind off hard cold reality for awhile.

For me, spending time in nature is the greatest therapy ever.

Safe arrival.

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That’s my son at Hudson Park.   It was windy and rather chilly!

I’m just checking in to let everyone know I arrived in Florida safely.

The 12 hour long car trip was, well, a trip.    When I left my house at 4:30 AM the weather was horrible.  It was very cold and extremely windy, with a heavy, slushy rain that fortunately wasn’t icy enough to accumulate on the roads but left slushy patches on my windshield that the wipers could barely keep up with.

Driving down out of the mountains was kind of hellish, because I don’t see well driving in the dark to begin with , and it was made worse by the glare of the rain on the roads.    The roads weren’t icy, but were slick so I had to drive slowly.    The good thing about that was there was no one on the road at that hour.

When I entered South Carolina, the rain stopped, but it was still dark.  Early morning traffic was beginning to pick up,  and I stopped at a gas station in a tiny village called Joanna.   The sky was just beginning to lighten, which is pictured below, taken from the station’s parking lot.

 

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Bizarrely, the gas station specialized in selling New York City souvenirs — coffee mugs, T-shirts, plates, collectibles.    I asked the Indian owner (who was running the register) about that and he said it was because he was from New York City.   We wound up having a conversation about New York because I grew up and around that area too.  Silently I wondered why the heck he had moved to this unknown village in South Carolina that had nothing much going for it.

The sun rose just as I entered Columbia, just in time for early morning rush hour.   I stopped a few more times to stretch or use the restroom, but I didn’t have to stop long anywhere because I had brought snacks with me in the car to avoid time wasted eating or purchasing food. Besides, eating too much on a long drive makes me sleepy.   High energy snacks like granola bars, pre-wrapped slices of cheese, or cookies work best for me on a long drive.  They keep my energy up without making me groggy.

Still, the drive was exhausting.  By now the sky was bright blue and clear as a bell.  Despite the wind, it was hard to believe I’d left that morning in a slush storm.

By now, it had heated up, although it was still windy (and would remain so all the way down to where I was going). At the Georgia welcome center I stripped off my coat and hoodie, which I hadn’t been able to remove in the car, and changed from boots and socks into sandals.   Ah, much better.

By the time I arrived at the Florida welcome center (where they give you a free cup of orange or grapefruit juice), I felt like I’d run a marathon.    Why is it that sitting in a car all day is more exhausting than working out for hours?

As I entered Florida, my daughter texted me telling me they were leaving the house.   She and her friend planned to drive separately, although we were to all meet at the hotel.    Well, they didn’t leave my house until 12:30 — 8 hours after I did!     I continued on.   The drive into Florida is pretty much a straight shot — I-26, and then I-95.   But after Jacksonville it gets hairy, because there are so many road changes and they are easy to miss.     Thank goodness I had my GPS!   Even so, I missed one turn as I entered the county my son lives in and had to backtrack — in heavy rush hour traffic, which was more than a little scary.    I thought of my daughter and her friend and hoped they were safe.  I’d asked them to text me every so often to let me know where they were, and for the most part, they did.

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I arrived at the hotel and my son was already there waiting — in his new Chevy pickup!   Well, it’s not exactly new (it’s a 2006 model) but it looks and runs like new.    We went to Wawa (a convenience store chain) and ordered sandwiches.  Wawa sandwiches are awesome because you can special order ANYTHING on them via computer.  I had my tuna salad done like a Jersey Mike’s sandwich — with spinach, lettuce, oil and vinegar.    We got some donuts to take back with us.

He wanted to show me around so we drove a little bit.  We went to a park where he plays Pokemon Go!  (a game where you actually go outside to capture creatures on your phone) and walked around a bit.    A strong wind was blowing off the gulf, and it was COLD!  I could hardly believe this was Florida.   I was glad I’d decided to bring my hoodie.

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Look how strong the wind was blowing.   The buildings in the background, including the one with the thatched roof, is a bar/restaurant that plays its music LOUD!  I was jamming to it to stay warm.

It was too cold to swim, but when we got back to his apartment, we went in the hot tub and just relaxed and caught up on everything.    The hot tub worked wonders on my sore muscles from the long drive.    After I dried off, he drove me back to the hotel room where I unpacked and watched TV (not the news, for a change!)

I started to worry about the kids, because it was dark now and I hadn’t heard from them in awhile.  Being me, I had visions of them being in a terrible accident.

I called and talked to my daughter’s friend.  He said she’d fallen asleep and since he was driving he hadn’t been able to call for awhile.    They finally arrived right at midnight. We ate the donuts I’d brought back and went to bed.  They were as exhausted as I was!

The weather is supposed to warm up and today as I’m writing this I can already feel the change.    I’m not sure yet what we’ll be doing today, but whatever it is should be fun.   I’m still a bit sore from the long drive, though!

Excited!

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Tonight I’m going to bed early because I’m leaving before dawn tomorrow to drive to Florida’s Gulf Coast to spend 6 days with my son.

It should be a fun week, and a welcome diversion from all the disturbing news in the world lately.   I’m going to try to avoid the news but I will be bringing my laptop with me so I’ll probably check that at night at the hotel.

I’ll be at a hotel this time because my daughter is also coming (she’s leaving later, so we aren’t riding together) with her boyfriend and my son doesn’t have enough room for all 3 of us.

I’ll definitely post pictures and try to write something every day, same as I did during my trip last August.

I’m looking forward to the 10 1/2 hour road trip nearly as much as the trip itself!  I love driving on the highway very early in the morning, before dawn, feeling like I’m the only person on the road and maybe in the world!

I wrote about the joys of early morning road trips in this post.

 

Back to the Gulf Coast!

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Sunset off Clearwater Beach.

In just a month (April 7th), I’ll be driving back to the Tampa Bay area again to visit my son. I’ll be there for 5 days, until the 12th.   This time, my daughter is coming along with me, since she hasn’t seen where he lives before.

When I went in August last year, it was the first time I’d ever been in Florida, and since my son was working most of the week I was there, I had time to spend alone exploring the area.  One of my favorite discoveries was the bath-warm waters of the Gulf near his home, with its ever-shifting tides that expose the silt-like sand at low tide.   There aren’t a lot of tourists there in August (too hot), so that trip actually turned out to  be not only a peaceful, but also a spiritual experience — not to mention that I got to see my son and spend time with him and do some fun things together.

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The tide going out at Rees Park.

For me, the worst part of any vacation is returning from one.    I remember how hard it was to re-adjust to my daily routine when I came home.  For a while, I wanted to move to Florida, but I have changed my mind about that for a few reasons, mostly because of global warming.  Central-west Florida may be submerged in the near future.   I also don’t think I’d care much for the weather, due to the near-constant threat of severe storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

This time, I won’t be returning home just as my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) sets in.  Spring is my best time of year, and my mood improves with the lengthening days, so I shouldn’t be blindsided by the double whammy of oncoming SAD and post-vacation blues at the same time.

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My son may have to work again for part of the time I’m there, but he thinks he can get off most of the days I’m there, so that means more time spent together.   Clearwater Beach is definitely on the agenda, and this time we are going to visit the famous aquarium there too.   We might even drive to Disney World, but  I’m not sure yet.   None of us have ever been there.   I might try my hand at fishing again.

Whatever we wind up doing, it’s going to be a lot of fun.  I’ve already booked the room (because there are two of us this time, we’re staying at a nearby motel). I’m   getting excited about our road trip!

I’ll be bringing my laptop along with me, just as I did in August, so I can still blog while I’m there.

All photos you see here were taken by me during my trip in August of last year.

Forest fires in western North Carolina

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Seen on Facebook:

Please pray for us here in western North Carolina. The forest wildfires are all over the area with forced evacuations. At least 550 firefighters are battling thousands of acres of fire with less than 20% containment. These mountains are steep and dangerous and high winds are forecast for tomorrow and no rain forecast for another week. The United States Forest Service Incident Management Team is here now. For several miles in any direction from here its thick smoke and the sun has been red for days.

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These fires are very close to where I live.  You can barely see the sun and the sky is red and the air smells like smoke.
I’ll be driving to Chapel Hill for a few days.   I’m leaving in about 15 minutes after I finish packing.
Please pray for my safe trip there, and also for an end to the wildfires here in western NC.   Thanks!

Getting ready for my road trip next week!

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The Florida Gulf Coast before a storm (credit: my son)

I haven’t taken a long road trip since 2008! That’s WAYYYY too long. But after 8 long years, I’m getting ready for another one. Today I got my oil changed and my tires checked to make sure my car is road worthy for the 700 mile trip. I took Monday off so I’m going to Goodwill to look for an inexpensive travel bag. (I also have an emergency appointment with my therapist).

Next week, most likely next Sunday when the traffic on the highways is a little lighter, I’m driving to Port Richey, Florida, to visit my son for a whole week. I saw him in April when he came here to visit for a few days, but I’m dying to see his place (he lives in a nice apartment complex with a pool and a hot tub). I’ll be staying there to save money instead of staying in a hotel. He lives close to the beach, so we will also be hitting the beach a few times. He wasn’t able to get days off from work, but his hours are variable and I’m sure we’ll have a lot of time to spend together. He’s as excited as I am, and is planning to take me to a couple of his favorite eateries, of course the beach, and also fishing!

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The water looks like molten gold.

Hopefully the weather holds up. The Gulf Coast can be iffy this time of year since it’s the middle of hurricane season. I really need this trip, not only to see my son but also to get away and just relax near the ocean and see some new sights. The timing couldn’t be better, since I’ve been so triggered and upset lately. I think this trip is just what I need and will help me regroup and get my head and my emotions together.

I’m bringing my laptop with me because I will continue to blog while in Florida, and will post pictures every day of my adventures with my son. Gosh, I can’t wait!

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My son in Clearwater last year.

A Sunday drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway

On one gorgeous Sunday afternoon back in June, my daughter, her boyfriend and I decided to take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina, which is close to my home. I thought I’d share some of the photos we took. The view was breathtaking, even though it was very foggy (at that elevation, you’re actually in the clouds).  It was coolish and cloudy up there, but very hot and sunny when we returned to lower elevations.

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