I have a few fond memories of the spring time break but perhaps the most wonderful is a trip I took when I was 13 with my Grandparents. They usually made their annual trip to Florida alone but that year they decided to take me and I was so happy. I loved them so much but didn’t get to spend much time with them since my parents had split up. I was in for an adventure to talk about the rest of my life.
We were on a mission. We traveled down the old road through the eastern US. I learned about “salt box windows” and looked for them. The motels we stayed in were not the best but adequate. Meals for the most part were of the picnic variety for breakfast and lunch. The old Coleman stove was pressed into service for coffee and sandwiches were the usual fare. Supper was usually at a restaurant and varied but always included seafood and pecan pie.
That trip was the beginning of my love affair with sea food and pecan pie. If my Grandfather had nothing else to eat, he had to have some of each of these southern coastal delicacies each day. (If I eat a crustacean now I might die but I can still taste the shrimp, the clam chowder and the crab).
Our second day on the road we hit Georgia about noon and came upon one of the most magnificent forests I have ever seen. It was all dogwood and it was in full bloom. To a 13 year old, tottering on the edge of childhood, it was a magical place. One moment it was the home of gnomes and ferries and the next the setting of a grand wedding with crinolines and hoop skirts.
No one now would dream of travelling with out making reservations but in those days it was a fairly normal thing. When we arrived in Daytona Beach, it was late at night and there was no motel open with rooms. We looked for a long time, driving up and down the strip and finally Grandpa announced we would pull up on the beach and look in the morning.
We had a purpose in being in Daytona at Sunrise the next day. It was Easter Sunday and my Grandfather was determined to be at the Sunrise service on the beach. To that end he let Grandma and I sleep, stretched out in the car while walked up and down the shore. I think he was afraid he would miss it so wanted to stay awake.
With daylight breaking he made his way back the car and drove us down the beach toward the band shell. About 100 people – maybe more – gathered in the band shell. We listened to words, sang and said prayers as we watched that magnificent sun rise over the ocean.
There are many memories of that trip:
Too much chlorine in a pool meant burned eyes and a trip to a clinic for me. I also had sun poisoning for the first time and have never been able to stand too much sun since.
Road trips meant a day in St. Augustine. The history captivated me and the blue water took my breath away. We also went to a marine show though I’m not sure where. Whales, dolphins and seals were everywhere and I was amazed with their beauty and grace.
As it happened, the motel where we ended up, had guests my grandparent knew. They had a teenage son who drove me up and down the strip at night in his convertible. I was instantly in love, however he didn’t even know I existed.
The memory most precious though, was of my Grandfather’s determination to be on that beach for Easter morning. He was a quiet man but I know he was devout in his faith. His Bible was read daily and he prayed at the side of his bed each night but there was never fanfare about it. It was just a normal thing, but also a very private thing.
That night and morning on the beach in Daytona, I somehow felt that Grandpa was actually meeting with God.