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Heading North

Well, it's that time of year when I need to pack up the hacienda, load up the truck like the Beverly Hillbillies, and start the springtime trek north. It's been another great winter in Florida, but I'm looking forward to getting back to some real weather. In April, New England can be in the 80s or the 40s. Even both on the same day. Not so in Florida. Last week we had a cold spell, which means it got into the low 70s. Yeah, I know, you don't even have to say it.

For me, leaving the house in Florida is easy. Grab my toothbrush, my guitar, some clothes, and I'm outta here. Not so with the Lovely Louise. The week before we leave, she's like a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs.

Plans are made. Lists are created. Cupboards and drawers inspected in a vain attempt to leave no item behind. Large plastic tubs with locking covers start to appear. The power washer comes out to clean off the deck furniture. The boat goes in for a final servicing. Arrangements are made to take care of the pool and the landscaping, and don't forget to call the bug people to keep the little bastards out of the house while we're gone.

The freezer must be emptied. Last night, we had eighteen neighbors over for dinner so I could start cooking the last of the meat in the freezer. We're trying to get rid of food before we leave, so naturally every neighbor brought something to the cookout. It looked like a Episcopalian potluck supper on All You Can Eat Friday. My refrigerator now has more food in it than when we started. I'm planning a free neighborhood buffet for the rest of the week.

There's going to be beer left over, but that's not really a problem. I have faith that my neighbor John, who always has a key while we're gone, will gladly take care of that problem for us. I'm going to tell him to help himself to anything that's left in the freezer as well, including that guacamole I made last December from our own avocados. How long does guacamole last in the freezer? I have no idea, but that's going to be John's problem, not mine.

Once the house has had its final inspection and the truck is loaded, we're ready to head back to Cape Cod. It's about a twenty-five-hour drive, and we've worked out a system so no one gets too tired. Every two hours we stop for a short break and to switch drivers. It works well, and thank goodness it's just straight up I-95, because if you've read any of my California blogs you already know that the Lovely Louise can be severely GPS challenged.

I love the show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so I search their website for little hole-in-the-wall places to get something good to eat during the trip. We've been able to stop at a few, and let me tell you, it can be a bit of an adventure. Some of them are so far off the beaten track that the track isn't beaten at all. I must say, though, that every single one of them has been worth the trip. It ain't health food, and you're not going to lose any weight, but damn, does most of that stuff taste great (although it's not less filling).

If things go well, we'll stop somewhere just north of Richmond, Virginia. From there it's just a ten- to twelve-hour drive to home, depending on traffic. I'm looking forward to trying to find a hotel to stay at for the night while the Lovely Louise furiously works her iPhone to find the absolute very best deal on a room we can stay in for about ten hours. She'll make me drive another ten miles to save two dollars. I've even seen her stand at the front desk and argue with the desk clerk that she can get a better deal online than he's giving her while she's standing in front of him. She will then make the reservation online and tell him to turn around and check his e-mail. That girl always gets her room!

The second day is the worst part of the trip—the part from New Jersey to Rhode Island. Last year, the Lovely Louise had a suggestion only she could have made. She was looking at a real map, trying to figure out some way to avoid New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. “Look,” she says, “if I fold the map just right I can make Rhode Island touch Delaware and we can skip those three states completely!”

Sometimes I don't know why I let her navigate.


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