The first adventure (I broadly consider this sabbatical having three: road trip from Florida to NYC, visiting family in Rome and studying and traveling in Central America) is to visit my mother's sister, my Aunt Nancy and to pack up a van with what's left in a small storage unit that included many items that belonged to my mother and her family. It was a quick visit to St. Pete but I was thrilled to catch up with a couple of high school friends and enjoy one of the best treats the town has to offer, beautiful beaches and sunsets!
Waking up the first day of my travels at Fort De Soto Park.
The warm waters of the Gulf seem to bring out the best in Chad and my high school friend Debbie and her husband Mike.
View of the sunset from behind the Bilmar on Treasure Island.
We took the slow road back home to New York with the first stop in Savannah, Georgia where we camped outside of town for a couple of nights. It was a delightful, sunny day where bits of American history were available at every turn. With my eye on urban planning, I was excited to check out the historic district’s amazing architecture and many planned pocket parks. And so many trees! The students, I assume mostly associated with the Savannah College of Art and Design, create a youthful vibe that juxtaposes the hundreds years old buildings. A very cool town.
A 500 year-old tree. Amazing!
After Savannah, we drove to Raleigh, North Carolina and stayed with my cousin Allison and her pup, a boxer-mix rescue named Minnie Mae (yes, you must say it with a Southern accent). Allie suggested we visit Stagville [http://www.stagville.org/], one of the largest plantations in the South that got its start in the late 1700's. At over 30,000 acres, it is a huge testament to the country’s history, as troubling as it is. The official tour was in three sections: the home of the owners, the homes of the slaves in Horton Grove and the Great Barn. The barn built by slaves was immense and seemed as strong today as when it was built in 1860. The most moving moment of the tour was visiting the homes of the slaves where the guide pointed out fingerprints in the bricks of the chimney. We were encouraged to touch the bricks and to appreciate the tactile-ness of the museum. Words can't describe what it was like to touch those bricks.
In the center, the imprint of a hand.
At the top right, toes, possibly of a child.
After nearly a week in a car, we arrived safely in New York. By the way, has anyone driven long stretches of Interstate 95 lately? I lost count of how many drivers are texting, talking on their phone, eating and sometimes doing a combination of all of these. I certainly prefer the slow road.
Anyway, we were back in time for Easter.
Now, it's time to unpack from the road trip and get read for family and friends part two: Italy!