We are setting out tomorrow, headed North to the “Big B.”(Buffalo, N.Y.) It is hot here already in SW Florida, with temperatures running to 90 degree highs daily. The rains have not come this year and the months-long drought still locks the area in its sweltering grip. Forest fires have raged up and down the state, closing major highways for days at a time, due to thick smoke obscuring driver vision. Alligator Alley, to our South, was shut down for three days in March because of the intensity of fires raging in the Everglades. And Route 75, just north of us in Sarasota County, was closed yesterday for the same reason. The rainy season is just a few weeks off. The cooling rains will come daily and shut down the forest fires. They will also fill up the many ponds and canals that are at precariously levels everywhere in SW Florida. Nearby Cape Coral has resorted to purchasing and piping water from interior counties, to try and fill its many canals. Many dock owners have their pleasure craft moored in mud, awaiting the rains of Summer.
The Mosquito Control District has its aerial fleet prepared to spray the area to retard the enormous swarms of airborne pests seeking plump and tasty humans. The Zika virus is still a threat to unborn children, so there is caution in preparing to remove as much of the threat as possible. Genetic mutants, that cannot propagate the species, have also been released over the Everglades, hoping to help stem the tide.
There are also the yearly warnings posted urging homeowners to get ready for Hurricane season. It lasts from early June to Late November. Hurricane Mathew skittered up the east coast a few years back, causing flooding and damage in the NE portions of Florida. The last weather monster to hit SW Florida was in 2004, when Hurricane Charley left her calling cards of devastation. Down here, it is not a questions of if a hurricane may hit you, but when. We make what preparations we can to secure the place for the summer and early Fall when we return. That is all you can do and hope the hurricane season is another mild one.
Tomorrow, we will reach the long ago fabled winter playground of the wealthy, Jekyll Island, Ga. A hundred years back, none of the rabble like us would have been admitted to the island. Here, we plan to play some golf and walk the beaches where once the scions of wealth and power had held exclusive sway. Most of the island is a Georgia State Park, so the beaches are wild and free for everyone to enjoy. The former quarters of the wealthy are now a craft and arts boutique center surrounding the fabled elegance of the Jekyll Island Club. We have had lunch at the stately hotel, but are not willing to fork over the arm and a leg it requires to spend the night, imagining the wealthy ghosts who once walked her verandas and grounds, playing croquet in the breezy sunshine of a Georgia day.
Route 95 through Georgia and the Carolinas is a pleasant alleyway lined with slash pines and redolent of the pleasant tree sap that these trees exude. Rural farmlands still predominate but civilization encroaches more each year. Virginia is fertile and verdant and always a pleasure to drive through. Horse farms and elegance along the Shenandoah Valley are a visual pleasure that lulls you. There are multiple battle sites from the Revolutionary and Civil War up and down the state. There also five Presidential residences available to tour. We have been to nearly all of these estimable venues.
Finally, we traverse into rocky and heavily forested State of Pennsylvania, for a visit with family in Altoona. Who could have imagined travelling these distances, at these speeds, even a hundred years ago?
Our last day will bring us along the Lake Erie plains and on into the Empire State of New York. The green here amidst the grape vineyards along the Lake Shore is always startling and welcome. We near the rural suburbs of the “Big B” and can see the deep blue of Lake Eire far ahead, from the highlands around Genesee Road in the Town of Sardinia. And then, we motor through the busy hub of Buffalo, with its excitingly resplendent Canal District. and on into the busy suburb of Amherst. We are home for another Summer to enjoy some of the finest and most pleasant weather in the Country.
Like every experience in life, the pleasure lies as much in the journey as it is does in arriving at the eventual destination.
Joseph Xavier Martin