I know that some will criticize us for being “wusses,” for not having real courage – but the truth is that we ran away again this year in Florida, towards a place in the sun.
Chautauqua County winters are long and it was good to sleep at night with the windows open and the sun coming up in the morning.
And, to be completely honest, this year in April it snowed at least three times here, and we didn’t miss it at all.
Still, Florida is not where I want to live. Everyone there is from somewhere else. It may be nice in the winter but it’s terribly hot in the summer and the traffic is crazy. In other words, Florida is a good place to visit and vacation – but not a place I would want to live.
We took our time and traveled by car for three days to get there. Highway traffic wasn’t bad until we got to Charlotte, NC. After that it started to build up and by the time we got to I-95 in South Carolina it was an absolute “zoo!” Sandwiched between trucks and cars traveling at 70 mph, you felt like you were being swept away by a current beyond your control.
On our first night south, I ran into a guy from Michigan who had driven north from Florida the same day. A trip that usually took eight hours had taken him 14 hours. He was glad to finally be able to climb into the mountains of western Virginia and find his way out of the bumper-to-bumper traffic. He blamed some of the traffic on the vacation rental system in the south. Many people rent accommodation by the week and these rentals usually expire on Friday or Saturday. He had been on the road for one of those days at the end of the month when it looked like half of Florida had started heading north.
So when you come home from Florida, as far as traffic goes, the reverse is true for the descent – you start out in heavy traffic, but the further north you go, the more you start to run out of it. Once past Pittsburgh, it almost feels like being on another planet. Trucks are more dispersed and cars less stuck. The rest of the way, to I-79 and then across I-86 from Erie is a “a piece of cake.” We exit the freeway at our favorite Route 394 exit, soon descend our very familiar driveway, and then – we’re home!
The daffodils are in place, the grass is almost ready to be mowed, and it’s time to put the outdoor furniture on the porch. Spring has arrived in Chautauqua County and summer is not far away. We have lived in this house for 30 years, the children and grandchildren are there to welcome us and the dog jumps halfway from the ceiling to welcome us home.
We cut the winter short by a month by going to Florida. It was nice to be in the sun again, but nothing beats coming home. Tomorrow I will resume my old routines which will start early in the morning going down to Hogan’s Hut to buy that newspaper then reading it with a cup of coffee in hand looking out at the lake. How could it be better than that?
Rolland Kidder is a resident of Stow.