Land Down Under – Part I of V


When funds won’t permit, as they often don’t, I have to make hard choices during the summer. The dream is always to travel. Take off to someplace in Italy and eat my way across the country, moving from marinara sauce, to pesto, to cream sauce on one glorious rail pass and a series of sturdy napkins. And don’t even get me started about the breads. Just the thought of all the bruschetta I’ve missed this summer makes me well up a bit. But thanks to minor surgery and a huge insurance deductible, I found myself stuck in the western hemisphere with only one jaunt scheduled to Maine. The rest of my excursions involved the assistance of my trusty Corolla and the kindness of friends. So after several texts, weather reports, and a couple of glances at the alignment of the stars, I managed to work out four stops that resulted in a southern destination of Melbourne, FL. If you can’t make it to Australia, at least go to a kindred town.

I first pointed the car east to Jacksonville, and it was on I-10 that I hit my first lowlight of the trip. A gray pick-up roared past me and then pulled in front, only to slam on the brakes. I hate it when idiots make me break my cruise control. When the speedometer dipped below 60, I sighed and pulled into the fast lane. I’m sure you see what’s coming here, but it would take me another twenty seconds to catch on. As soon as my Corolla pulled abreast of them, they accelerated to keep me from passing. Instinctively I glanced over, and oh, what a treat.

Five guys were crammed into a double cab, all yelling and waving at me. Which is exactly why we have strict laws against drinking and driving people crazy in this country. The fellow behind the driver was draped over his open window, and I had a clear view of black hair, a full beard, and a naked torso filling the glass on my passenger’s side. While I’m sure he was proud of the beer gut his Budweiser workout had afforded him, I really wanted one of his buddies to hand him the “I Starred in the Cast of Deliverance” t-shirt that was certainly littering the floorboards. Maybe he was just trying to dodge the notoriety that such a prestigious role brings. It must be easier to stalk females under the guise of anonymity.

Knowing that I couldn’t outrun them, I glanced in my rearview mirror before braking and forcing them to pass. The incident made me long for my days in Indonesia when I rigged a water pistol filled with hot sauce to my motorcycle mirror to ward off overzealous teenagers. I wondered how much it would cost to install a pepper spray launcher on my Corolla. I could patent it and call it Redneck Repellent.

Later that evening my brother asked me if I was seeing anyone. This is a depressing question since the answer rarely changes, but I thought I’d liven things up, so I told him about the truckload of dating options that had passed me earlier.

“Great,” he said, sipping his Coke. “You’re interstate dating now. Fabulous.”

At least I got him to change the subject.

© 2012 – Traci Carver


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