We arrived home last night from a brief but very enjoyable series of travels...one to a lovely wedding in South Carolina and another, since we were in the neighborhood, to a beautiful and historical city, just to see the sights.
We did a lot of driving...approximately 16 hours there and back, broken up a bit but, nonetheless, spending the kind of time in a car where one's ankles swell a bit and salty snacks and vats of icy Diet Coke from rest stops become meals.
We drove, dozed, read, gazed, supposed, dreamt, bickered, debated, laughed, reminisced, fretted, complained and sang.
We passed neon signs, advertising the price of diesel, that towered over the landscape and appeared, from great distances, like illuminated beacons from the lord as they hovered, apparently unsupported and suspended, in the dark night sky.
We flew past truck stops where hundreds of idling semis huddled in angled formations, their boxy shapes illuminated by bright red bulbs and crossed paths with their bearded drivers in cavernous, brightly lit complexes that had showers and sold saddles, movies and hats.
We read faded billboards that advertised bygone businesses, local casinos, donuts and ice cream and drove under amazing trees that leaned toward us dripping Spanish moss and wondered about what the trees had seen, who had climbed them and how long they'd lined the roads, limbs entwined in the steamy heat.
We saw deer, foxes and pelicans and walked on a beach where a flock of birds formed a perfect, hovering canopy above our heads.
We got waved at, smiled at, nodded at and treated graciously. No one gave us the finger and, in turn, we kept our northeastern driving habits to ourselves. We navigated sleepy roads and boulevards and noticed signs for peaches and fireworks and cheap cigars.
We saw marines with fresh haircuts eating breakfast who passed the syrup with a smile and we took pictures with a friendly waitress in Beaufort and were told, in detail by another, how to make the best sweet tea as we dined on fried fish, macaroni and buttered beans.
We climbed aboard a trolley and listened to the history of a city where a lot more than cotton was bought and sold on the streets.
We wondered when our cheerful guides would include the ugliest portions of the local history in their stories for the visitors and were surprised when it never got mentioned at all.
We visited bustling river fronts, slathered honey butter on biscuits, enjoyed unusually cool, dry temperatures in places famous for stifling weather, walked for miles, used public bathrooms and wondered whether it was very obvious that we tourists.
Someone got blisters on the soles of her feet.
We enjoyed each other's company, hugged goodbye and one of us sobbed on the final leg of the journey as the miles stretched out between us once again.
We cleaned cat vomit upon arrival, ordered Chinese food since there was nothing in the fridge and slept well that night, glad to be under familiar blankets.
We woke up with cats on the bed and our ankles back to normal and lots of nice memories of a good trip.