"Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference."
I have always been a topless kind of girl. In the last 30 years all cars have been ragtops or at least T-tops. So imagine my jubilation when I found a BMW Z3 roadster under the tree with my name on it on Christmas 2000. To say I have an amazing husband is an understatement. And the best way to enjoy such an awesome car is with the top down, ponytail flying (It's red right now.) and music echoing off the tree as you explore all the great back roads of our wonderful state. We were headed to St. Pete Beach last week for a few days and took our favorite route to south Florida.
The little one-stop light towns you cruise thru seem to have a church or two on every block. Makes you wonder if these are truly virtuous people or do they have a boatload for repenting to do. Either way, the pristine white crosses reach for the heavens against the brilliant blue skies.
Signs of civilization soon fade as you head into the Apalachicola National Forest and along the Big Bend Scenic Highway. The two lane road winds thru the stately 50’ plus hardwood and pine trees that crowd the edge of the road and you soon realize that the traffic has disappeared and you are the lone traveler. The temperature drops a good 10-15 degrees as the trees are dense and the shade plentiful.
This kind of trip does take a little more planning than normal as gas stations, lodging and five star restaurants are few and far between. Heck, you don’t see any restaurants at all. So it is always good to pack a picnic and fill up your gas tank at any station you pass if there is any doubt. That is experience talking. On one of our early trips, we pulled into a station in the middle of no where on fumes and prayers. We won’t make that mistake again. On this trip we had to drive almost to Port Richey to find lodging with indoor hallways. The old motor court is still a way of life in this part of Florida.
But it is a drive you should not miss. After all where else can you find such great names as Wakulla, Ecofina, Waccasassa, Homosassa, Chassohowitzka, and Withlacoochee. Such great sounding names make our own Choctawhatchee Bay sound rather mundane. At some of the larger intersections you can find the fresh produce stands with their mounds of recently picked tomatoes, watermelons, peaches and other delicacies. If you are really lucky you might even find the peanut man selling his succulent boiled goodies from the back of his pickup truck. You know you are living right when you drive away with a bag of hot, salty, steamy boiled peanuts. We have even been known to take a bag of these little morsels all the way to southern California for a little southern gal we know and love.
And if you love to read signs, it doesn’t get any better than the back roads. For example:
R&R Ranch”- Even I know that can’t stand for rest and relaxation. I think “Seldom Rest Plantation” is a better example of truth in advertising.
“Aunt Chilada’s Cantina” – Now that is a clever one. We will have to try it out someday and see if Chilada is around.
“Mugs N Jugs” – It is pretty bad when you make “Hooters” sound respectful.
“The Pickled Parrot Cafe” - Never had pickled parrot and don’t think I want to either.
“Dilly Dally Gally” – It is great shop with great clothes. Sometimes you can’t let a name deter you from treasures inside.
“Goose Pasture” – This makes you go “Hmmmmm?”.
“Weeki Wachee Mermaids – swimming our tails off since 194_” - Good place for me to get a job...
And that is just for starters. Yes, Michelle, it is in the genes! I could read those signs all day long.
Old Robert and I think that the road less traveled can be the best way to go. To see the other Florida, get off those asphalt parking lots that they call Interstate 5, 10, 75, and 95. Wander down the less travelled path. I think you will like it. And if you happen to take a detour to the “Goose Pasture”, give me a call. I am dying to know what’s there. J