My family and I just wrapped up a week-long vacation at Santa Rosa Beach. For those of you who know us, it may surprise you that we drove less than 200 miles somewhere and stayed there for longer than two days.
Yes, most summers our family likes to take long road trips during which we keep moving so we can see a lot of new places and do a lot of new things. We also enjoy spending long hours together in our van, swapping stories, sharing playlists, and listening to podcasts and audio books.
This year, though, we tried something different because my parents had rented a large house on the beach and invited us to join them, and also because our two oldest children just started jobs and couldn’t take a full week.
We had a great time. Our oldest son visited for three days and our daughter for four, and we did all the relaxing things you do on the beach – mostly sitting around and doing nothing.
And it’s nice to do nothing, at least I think so.
But anybody who knows Bess knows that she can’t do nothing for long, which I suppose was a good thing because on Wednesday our daughter was moving into an apartment in Memphis and needed our help.
So in the middle of our beach vacation, Bess and I squeezed in a 1,000-mile road trip. I’m not kidding. We left in the early morning darkness, me behind the wheel of our van and Bess with Cary in her car, both vehicles stuffed to the ceilings. We drove to Memphis through a rainstorm, moved all our daughter’s earthly positions to the top floor of a seven-story building, and returned to the beach just before midnight.
During the whole experience, I realized how much I enjoy small towns, especially the signs.
The best part of our trip was in the early morning light between the Florida-Alabama line and Montgomery, on the stretch of U.S. 331 through towns like Opp, Brantley and Luverne.
I entertained myself reading campaign signs for Tuesday’s primaries.
In Geneva County, Pepper Mock was running for sheriff and Sandy Hammer was up for reelection in District 4 of the County Commission.
Nice names, y’all.
Incumbent Fred Hamic wanted to continue his work as probate judge, and his campaign signs bore this ringing endorsement: “Let’s Keep Hamic.”
Up the road, I discovered that “Everybody Loves Raymond,” who was some guy running for something, and that asomebody by the name of Twinkle was going to bring a “Brighter Alabama.”
There were a few signs that didn’t have anything to do with politics.
One sign advertised fresh eggs, and around it were a couple of real chickens pecking at the ground. That was a nice touch.
A sign reminded everyone that “Jesus Saves,” and another said “End Double Fines,” which I always find to be a relief because I’m usually speeding and never see the sign warning that double fines have begun.
In Brantley, a sign welcomed us to the hometown of Chuck Person, and identified him as the former assistant coach for the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers. No mention of his time as a player or coach with the Auburn Tigers.
In a place called Highland Home, we passed a sign for the “It Don’t Matter Family Restaurant.” It hadn’t opened yet. I guess it didn’t matter.
Many hours later, as Bess and I blasted back toward the beach in our empty van, we wouldn’t notice the signs because of the darkness.
But they were appreciated on the way up.
Happy Summer everybody.