The thought of making the drive home was terrifying to me.
It’s one thing to meander down, taking your time, stopping for a few days here and there and resting.
It’s another to drive almost straight from Florida to Rhode Island with three kids and a truck full of stuff.
Pillows. I hate traveling with pillows.
We woke up that Tuesday morning, greeting the beach with open arms. We planned to visit the fort and do some more beach combing before heading out for Francis Marion and Sumter National Forest, where we were gonna snag a free site for up to 14 days.
We were excited. Not necessarily looking forward to leaving Florida, but excited for new adventure!
Until the phone call that brought our train to a crashing halt.
I’m not gonna get into specifics of what happened except to say that we didn’t get something we needed to be able to continue on our projected path.
So we had to do a complete re route and that meant going home so that we wouldn’t find ourselves stranded somewhere miles from home.
We didn’t do this with tons of cash in our pockets. We’re broke and kinda always have been 🤷🏼♀️ such is life but we have three kids. Had it just been Eric and I we would have set up camp and figured it out from there and become total vagabond hippies.
So we stopped at WalMart at Fernandina Beach. Now, there is something about shopping at Walmart that brings out the batshit in me. Enter in frustration, disappointment and probably some hormones and I had a meltdown in the parking lot.
I thought I would be nice and give the kids popsicles and that became a right royal disaster. And it was all downhill from there.
On the Road Again
I felt like such a failure.
We seesawed back and forth between stopping at Francis Marion or not. We even reached the town just west of Charleston
and couldn’t make up our minds.
We stopped to stretch, change diapers and get coffee. As we sat there, discussing our options, and man pulled up on a bicycle.
He was thin with semi scraggly hair and a beard. Not sure why, but I think he assumed we were homeless.
“Do you guys need anything? I just got my benefits so it’s not a problem.”
“Thank you, but we’re ok!” One of us replied with a wave.
Not 5 minutes later, he returned, balancing a case of water on his bike handlebars.
After insisting we take it, he handed us a bag with bread and pb & j.
“For the kids.” He said.
He talked for a bit about traveling and then asked where we were from. He responded like everyone else had when we said, “Rhode Island.”:
“That’s a long ways away!”
“If you need to stop, just follow the truckers.” He advised, and then told a story about traveling to Georgia with his father when he was young.
After a few minutes, we said goodbye and were on our way.
“Was that our guy?” I asked Eric. Eric paused thoughtfully.
Since we’ve been traveling together, we’ve discovered that we have a guy who will randomly appear in different places.
He always fits the same description of being shorter, thin, weathered with a beard. Sometimes he has glasses and often a hat.
We saw him first in Gettysburg. Then once while exploring ruins in Foster, RI.
Another time while gold panning Buffalo Brook in Plymouth, VT and while gold panning in Portsmouth, RI.
Those are just the times I can think of off the top of my head.
Yea, odd. I know.
After much back and forth, we headed directly for the highway. I could almost feel the pull of the forest and the free campsite.
I had to actively let it go and focus on getting through the drive.
“So, we’re about 14 hours from home, which means we can listen to, like, 15 Tim and Lance podcasts!” I said, and Eric laughed, in spite of himself.
This is the podcast I’m referring to. We started at the beginning and went back over a lot of the original information. It was interesting to see where so much of the current case was shaped by people back then!