Here we are, a week into my road trip. So much has happened while I've been traveling. I am learning how to assert myself and think independently of others' opinions. This is new for me. I always care too much about what "other people will think". Truth is, it doesn't really matter. Opinions are abundant as everybody has one. I sit here, reflecting on two devastating earthquakes in the last 2 months, I am once again reminded of how precious life is. We don't have much time or we have a lot less than we think we do. This helps me with a lot of my decision making lately.
As we drove down the Florida coast we saw so much beauty of what this state has to offer its visitors. We drove by massive grapefruit and lemon orchards and got to see an orange and grapefruit farm. The farms look just like what you'd see on an orange juice commercial, literally. I don't know what supermarkets do to oranges but they really aren't as shiny or as neon orange as what you'd see at your grocer. Makes me wonder. We also saw a palm tree farm. It was pretty cool to see rows and rows of all kinds palm trees. You know I'd love to have a palm tree but it wouldn't make the drive on the roof of my car so I didn't stop.
We also made it to a manatee habitat. No manatees though, it's too cold for them. That was a bummer, I wanted to see one really badly. I think they are very sweet looking and it would have been fun to see Carli's reaction to this massive, blubbery creature swimming lazily around the river. We drove on.
Quick "shout out" to Mercedes-Benz of Daytona Beach, Florida for helping me out with my 10,000 mile service last minute. I needed to get it done and I didn't have an appointment but they took me first thing in the morning on no notice and had me out the door, complete with hand wash in no time. I would also like to thank the staff for their hospitality and patience with my daughter. It is hard to entertain a 3 yr. old at a car dealership but between me, the service department, the sales department and other customers, we seemed to get the job done.
We continued to drive and took scenic route 1 down The Keys. If you have never taken this drive, I suggest you put it on your "bucket list". Truly breathtaking . We also stopped to see the pelicans fishing from the bridge. Pelicans have this comical way to soaring gracefully on the wind, gliding in a way that is almost mechanical before they spot a fish and plunge violently beneath the water which would make you think something terrible happened while they were flying and this dive was an unplanned accident. I can't help but laugh when I see this. I could have watched them for hours. Carli called them "her birds" she loved watching them. We had fun taking advantage of nature in action.
In Big Pine Key, there is an endangered type of deer called Key Deer. I have absolutely no idea how deer made it to The Keys. Maybe they hated the Winter like I do. Maybe they were just sick of trying to stay warm in the snow. The important question is though....how did they get to Big Pine Key?! Something I will ponder for quite some time. I don't suppose they made the big trek down 18 mile stretch or the 7 mile bridge. You are forced to only go 35 miles through the whole island and the limit is strictly enforced. I set the cruise control on 37, because I love to push the envelope, and annoyed the whole line of traffic behind me as I kept a look out for deer and maintained a reasonable, deer-friendly speed.
I, of course, made it to Key West. You all know how I love this island and I have met some fascinating people in my couple days down here. Carli was done with the car for a while. She voiced this by telling me she was "going home with Nana" over and over again. I think the novelty of driving and staying somewhere new every night had worn off and she just wound up confused and unable to articulate how to ask me about what we were doing or telling me how she felt about it. Generally, she just tells me she wants to either go home or go to Nana's house. This makes me sad because we can't do either within an hour. We call Nana a lot. She needs to be reassured that Nana is still around. Carli doesn't understand what happened to my late husband. To her he just left and didn't come back and she doesn't know why that is. I know this because she is very concerned with who comes and goes, especially me, and when they will come back. The phone calls help her feel reassured that someone else in her life hasn't disappeared. It is hard for me to help her with. If you pray, please remember this for Carli in your prayers that she will be comforted by God and that he can help her understand the nature of what has happened to her father.
We tried to go to the Butterfly Garden but it was a disaster. I was talking about butterflies with her for days and looking forward to experiencing all different kinds of butterflies with her. We started out down the street to the Butterfly Conservatory, chattering about what butterflies were and what kinds of colors they would be. We checked out caterpillars and I was explaining to her that caterpillars become butterflies and isn't it amazing how God makes this transformation of an ordinary looking bug into a beautiful, graceful and marvelous creation. She wanted to see the butterflies so we hurried in passed the two large double doors into the butterfly garden. What a mistake! As soon as Carli got a good view of butterflies flying every where she shrilled and screamed until I picked her up and hurried her out of the garden with her crying and burying her head into my neck, howling about the butterflies going to get her and bite her. I was a bit disappointed. What I could see of butterflies as I ran passed tourists taking pictures was incredible. I soothed a butterfly-traumatized Carli with an ice cream. She forgot all about being upset about them after that and I was glad she had been restored to sanity.
The weather has been a bit cool but sunny. Carli and I both have sun-kissed noses and we did get to go swimming in a heated pool yesterday. She had fun kicking while I held her in the pool and we caught leaves floating, or as Carli put it "leaps". I have to plan a trip up to Tampa to see Greg's cousin but as of this writing my house has been put under agreement and that will determine a lot of when I will be back North. The buyers would like a quick close and I really don't care either way so I may be out of my house by the end of March. This is exciting for me. I feel like I have a whole new life going now. I never expected this. Writing, spending time with Carli, traveling this beautiful country, spending time on an island that I absolutely love, meeting all kinds of interesting, artsy people has definitely kicked my creative mind into high gear. I feel calm and content. I feel directed and cared for. Things are lining up in this direction faster than I ever could so I know they are God directed and I thank him profusely for this opportunity to live a life that I could only imagine just a few months ago. Today is church at 5th Street Baptist in beautiful Key West and later on today, not sure. Hoping for a little warmer temps but we'll see.
Don't Pray For Me
5 years ago