A DeAlmeida Holiday Vacation
What a ride, what a ride, what a mighty long ride. Twenty four hours stretched into a twelve day road trip. A less disastrous vacation than the Griswolds but still entirely memorable. We did it kicking and screaming and lots of farting. Sad but true. What do you expect when you’re in close quarters with two gassy individuals. Oh and a small pup.
It was December 23, 2019 4 AM. Car crammed with things we did not need as regret quickly filled the air. What were we thinking leaving for Christmas? With no money, a tent small enough to fit only a mouse and sleeping bags warm enough for the Arctic Circle. I remember crying to my husband weeks before. How we needed this trip and all. How its the only time we get to go away without him taking unpaid personal days. It was irate, dramatic and totally bratty. You know my usual self. I also remembered that moment as I started this long drive to Virginia, our first stop. Telling myself be careful what you wish for.
As headlights directed me through the night, 90’s jams serenaded my day dreams. My husband was the ultimate ride or die passenger. He didn’t close his eyes for a second the entire time. He was unable to assist me with the driving, so he rode bitch for 288 hours. That’s tough. To sit there and do nothing but hold the dog and listen to me sing. Man, what a guy.
Hours of keeping the pupils open, we made it to our first destination. Staunton, Virginia. Actually more like a deserted truck stop in the mountains. When the guy dropped off the wood, he laughed when I said we are probably going to need this, huh! And you know what Shame On Him! Because we made it through the night. His giggle did worry me a bit. Dum Dum Dum… After setting up, we went into town, walked around, had mulled wine, which is now my favorite thing on Earth. We found a local butcher shop and fought over what steak to get. In the end, Andrew picked the smallest steak I had ever seen, not even Applebee’s would serve it. The squabble lasted all the way back to the campsite. But a nice big fire and a joint made everything nice again. Thank you Mary Jane.
The next morning was so cold, we wrapped all our stuff in a ball drove to the heated bathrooms and folded everything inside. It was the coldest day of the entire trip. Now I know why that guy was laughing at us. We woke up behind schedule, which annoyed the heck out of me until I saw a sign for the Natural Bridge. Something I would have ignored had we left at four AM like I wanted to. Andrew was the one who shined the light on that one. I was too stuck in my head about timing. Don’t tell him I said he was right. The drive to and out of Asheville was the prettiest of all the drives. The mountains have always been my most favorite sight to see. For the amount of centuries they’ve been around, they definitely hold the secrets to the universe. Funny story, we ate so many damn edibles on the ride down, that I cannot tell you if the town was gorgeous or if it was a figment of my imagination. I guess I’ll have to go back.
It’s now Christmas Day. We woke up in an AirBNB, the edibles made that decision. Sounds of joyful children made us realize that it was the day Christ was born. I wanted to get out of there before we got invited for hot cocoa and leftover Santa cookies. I know, I know I am a total Grinch! Its just not my holiday. Call me over for New Years Champagne and I am all yours.
We; more like Andrew; decided to do the long drive to Florida that day. Nothing opened except gas station food and beers. SO what does a gal do with a 7 hour drive ahead of her. Pop open a bottle of wine. Arrest me, I am a criminal but that was my only saving grace. I was upset that we got super high the night before and didn’t get to see much of the only city I wanted to see on our list. That, I drank my sorrows away and made the best of Jesus’s Birthday. I mean, if Jesus turned water into wine, I think he would agree with my celebratory juice of choice.
Hello Gainesville, Florida! Made it just as the sun was going down. And my was it active. I heard animal noises that I couldn’t even describe. I for sure thought we were going to get skinned alive and fed to the gators. Or, I would be crowned Queen of the Florida Gators. Both a possibility. We stayed in a state park, lots of trees, like lots of them. It was quite magical in theory, even prettier when we got up the next morning and could actually see where we were. I must say Central Florida surprised me! It was enchanting. It’s exactly what you picture Florida looking like before Spain made it their own.
Multiple cities down and we were off to explore another one. A modern day Lewis and Clark. There wasn’t a day of relaxation on this half of the trip. It was drive, set up camp, eat, sleep, wake up, drive again. Not the vacation I had hoped for, but the vacation I asked for. Fun, nevertheless. We definitely bonded, the way we should have been this past year. Our first year of marriage was shit. Pure shit wrapped in a bottle tied with a bow. But this trip, this trip was like turning shit into gold. Something every person should invest in, when the economy blows up in our faces. Just saying.
Our day of relaxation arrived. Welcome to Clearwater Beach, Florida. We were prepared this time, with snacks and drinks ready to spend the night by the water with a campfire, making friends we wouldn’t keep in touch with afterwards. Life had other plans. All the campsites in Clearwater were booked, I mean doesn’t everyone camp out on the beach? BOOOO!! Safe to say we were not happy, we called everywhere I mean everywhere. Place after place, booked. You know what I quickly did right? Blame the passenger who’s job was to book the stay on the drive down. I really need to cool down my jets more often than not. It isn’t fair to take out my frustrations on a man, most men aren’t wired to think like us, ladies they cannot read our minds. We will get to that another day right now, this moment, imagine a woman scorned. For no real reason whatsoever.
Finally Andrew saves the day. Books a site in Madeira Beach about an hour in the direction we had just come from. Lawdd Jesus take the wheel. Jesus did all the way back, making a pit stop at Chick Fil A because chicken sandwiches can make America Great Again!
Have you ever stayed in a KOA campground before? Its the Beverly Hills of camping. A pool, chic cabins, and people, like a whole community of people who do this on the regular. Here I thought we were like lone rangers out on the range. Oh and don’t get me started on the RVs. I will save up all of my money to not buy a house but buy an RV. That’s the ultimate living situation. Hell, catch me outside dropping off my kids in school running over parents who take too long at pick up. Sawwwweeeeetttt!
There we were putting up our shack, like we were somebodies. On top of it, they positioned us in between the Hollywood Hills of Tents. It was quite hysterical if you ask me. We did not need much before just as long as it was cozy enough to sleep. How quickly your perspective changes when you look like an amateur amongst the boy scout elite. One lady had a kitchen tent attached to her tepee. She was the Oprah of the camping world. Not only did we have a small tent but then we showed up with Chick Fil A, hot damn we set ourselves up for embarrassment. Luckily Andrew and I love a good laugh. So we rolled up a joint, poured a glass of Ketel One, looked up at the stars and prayed that a gator didn’t mistake us for a midnight snack.
to be continued…