Trail of the Firewriter…
2010 Road Trip: Day Twelve

I got up late this morning. I wondered if all the revelry at Julie’s bar last night contributed to that fact. It was a fun time but that lady who came in and sat alone still preyed upon my mind. She told me her name was Ellen. Her main goal was to make the finals in a National Karaoke Contest. What bothered me was how she seemed so out of place in a roadhouse bar.  Ellen was tall and willowy. She had strawberry blond hair cut long and combed straight. After she asked me to sit with her, the conversation was about her hopes and dreams. She was nervous about getting up to sing and I felt it was a test of her courage. Ellen’s body language mimicked a frightened rabbit ready to flee. The three songs she sang were ballads about love. She was drinking ice water and said her boyfriend did not approve of drinking. It sounded like he was a domineering person. She gave me her number and said she would return to Julie’s the next time I passed through Tallahassee. After she left I knew I had been talking to a character out of a George Jones love song. My heart went out to Ellen.

The rest of the day was spent traveling on US-10. I was headed for Oviedo, which was about a four hour trip. I stopped at Lake City to eat. I went to a Wal-Mart and bought an orange, a small serving of macaroni and cheese, and a cup of popcorn chicken. It was a real step down from the hummingbird tongue soup and loin of Unicorn served at the Beau Rivage but it made the moth in my wallet happy. I took my food outside and went to the area where the store employees ate lunch. It was near the back of the building. A small awning covered two picnic tables and I sat at the table where two hefty young ladies were smoking cigarettes. They were both in their late twenties. One had tattoos on both arms and the other girl had several piercings. She had studs on her nose and the gristle part of her ears. I told them I was a heifer inspector traveling through Florida looking for local talent for a cattlemen’s association. They did not question my credentials and were glad to meet me. We talked mostly about the tattoo ladie’s duties trying to stop food stamp fraud by customers of Wal-Mart. The nose-stud girl talked about getting enough money to leave Lake City. They told me there were a lot of tornados that came through this part of Florida. I felt more akin to these gals than I did to those guys at the spa back in Biloxi. The litter and cigarette smoke in the eating area made me feel like I was at home in Southwest Detroit.

Those two gals were the excitement of the day. Not much, but an encounter that made me think about the poverty that is creeping into our county. I spent the rest of my trip practicing my Spanish. I added another word to my vocabulary. It is la playa and it means the beach. It is an appropriate word for Florida. My Tom-Tom GPS system talked me all the way to Oviedo. I hit a toll road on the last leg of my journey. I paid $2.50 at the first booth. My guidance system told me to stay in the left lane and I zipped by several other toll booths. I thought you only paid when you got off or on. I didn’t realize my guidance system was urging me to break the law. When I got to Kathy’s house my son-in-law Doug told me the road commission has cameras taking pictures of cars by-passing toll booths. I was now a wanted man owing the state of Florida at least four dollars and fifty cents. I was on the run and it would add flavor to my road trip. Maybe my friend Greg Pearn, who has a place down here, can help me out now that I am on the lam.

Tomorrow I play golf.

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"Fire Horses" book authored by firefighter R.J. Haig.


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