–That it’s a very long distance from Northern New Jersey to Western Florida. Especially when you go by way of Tennessee
–That both my daughter and my mother are the bravest and most resilient people I know, charging forward despite uncertainties and dark clouds, and I can only hope some of that rubbed off on me
–That you can build a pretty good life-size replica of a Greek temple in a Nashville city park
–You don’t have to go to the Grand Ol’ Opry when you’re in Nashville, even if your daughter works at the Ryman theater. But you can still hear great music and have a good time
–If you have a chance to buy some fresh home-made pralines, you should jump on it. Glad I did, and sorry, not sharing what I’ve got left!
–A lesson for my husband: If you show up at the roadside antique mall five minutes before closing, the owner is not obligated to let you in for a “quick look”
–The cheapest gas in in Alabama
–What the ‘Emerald Coast’ beach is like in December: Pretty empty. 70-degree-plus water temperatures, but vicious rip tides and huge waves. But no seashells to collect.
–Shrimp and grits is still my favorite thing to eat in that part of the world.
–That Andrew Jackson was not a very nice man, and doesn’t deserve to be on the $20 bill. And I was not impressed with his house at all.
–The GPS on my new smartphone is a God-send. My daughter points out, with great humor, that we still use the map screen as if we were using a paper map. But that’s fine with me—You don’t have to try and fold the damn thing up or look for a road stuck in the crease.
–We visited author Ann Patchett’s bookstore, Parnassus, in Nashville, and it is wonderful, though I didn’t have enough money to buy all the books I wanted. And it sure is a nifty way to showcase her work. Will have to remember that when I become a famous writer.
–but the bookstore I could afford was in Knoxville, McKay’s, this giant warehouse just west of downtown, where I got a huge full-color coffee table book on Tiffany windows for only three bucks, and a good translation of Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross for only 75 cents.
–and old friends are the best friends. Even if you only see them once a year or so.
–And finally, I’m never doing a wintertime road trip again! But thank heaven for the heated seats in my husband’s new car.