There is an early morning news show that ends with all of the newscasters/commentators telling what they have learned during the morning broadcast. I kept thinking about that as I rode with my son and some of his family to Florida and back to attend a mid-term family reunion at my niece's house, which is near the beach on the eastern side of Florida. I decided that I would share what I have learned with my readers in case they are interested. If they are not I still have given them the opportunity.
The first thing that I learned was that once we got past Springfield it didn't matter too much where we were because all that we saw were two lanes of traffic going our way and two lanes of traffic going the opposite way in between lots of trees. I remembered my childhood trips back and forth from Washington, D.C., to Nevada and the fun we had playing the alphabet game using the road signs. In places where there weren't many road signs we counted cows and horses, with a white horse doubling our score until we passed a cemetery and lost all our livestock. On this trip there were very few places where we could even see if there were farms, or cattle, beyond the ever-present trees.
Sure the trees were pretty, and the species varied as we went further south, but they were still a green hedge that kept us from seeing that there is a big world out there with people, houses, cities and towns. But we did see some very hard working people. Almost every highway had portions being repaired, rerouted or resurfaced. Again, I thought back to the childhood trips where such conditions would send us on a long, often dusty, detour. Now we just obey the orange and white plastic cones on the road and merge either right or left, but we still stay on the main road. That is a big improvement over the past. I also learned that some states use fatter cones than others. In some they have narrow markers on a pedestal. These get narrower on the top. Other states use the ones that are the same size from top to bottom, but both styles have alternating strips of orange and white.
When we did leave the highways to get gas (and that was the only time we stopped on each two-day trip) we might as well have been home. We saw the same fast food places, the same motels, the same convenience store type gas stations, and of course, we could usually see a Wal-Mart store. The problem with many of our stops was that the restrooms were one-holers and since we had several people in our van, no one had the nerve, or the time, to spend meditating while accomplishing the task.
In southern Missouri as we were entering northeastern Arkansas we were able to see crops, and the main crop we saw was rice. That was very interesting. Some fields were being flooded, others were recently planted. I plan to look up more information on rice. I hadn't realized it grew in Missouri.
We were all interested in any rivers we crossed since our family does a lot of float trips. However, many bridges have a concrete siding high enough that we couldn't really see the actual water very well. But I did learn that the historic river that Stephen Foster made famous is spelled Suwannee and not the way it was titled in our Junior High song books.
When we did reach our destination we did get to see the part of Florida around Hobe Sound, where Frances lives. She took us on a tour of the backs of the elegant homes where the very rich people live. Their houses face the ocean so we could not get that view. We did enjoy the beach, but I didn't even get my feet wet except in Frances' shower, even though she had a pool in her patio. Her 20-year old cat enjoyed my lap while I sat watching the lizards enjoying the screen enclosure over the pool. It was relaxing.
But the most important thing I learned on this trip was that nothing looks better than the members of my extended family who joined us there. And nothing looks better than our own Bronze Pond when we got home.