Florida, Then and Now: Part One

It was a nice spring night and we were sitting on the porch at Spears Guest House enjoying a glass of wine with a guest. I was drinking red, Kay and our guest Grace were drinking white.


Spears Guest House porch


Grace was telling us about her plans for her son’s rehearsal party. I almost knocked over my bottle of wine jumping at the chance she offered me. The chance to play on a sunset cruise out of Tarpon Springs, Florida for the wedding party. Luckily, the wine didn’t spill. People will talk about you for spilling red wine, especially if it spills on something of theirs.


Somehow or another, Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina became the staging area for the trip. Maybe it was the ghost of my late friend Sydney Hughes guiding us. Sydney and I used to take trips and if we were going North, South or West we would go to Clemson University to start. I’ve never believed in ghosts, but after this trip I’m reassessing my beliefs. There were strange things happening on this trip, some I’ll share and some I believe I’ll just keep to myself.
Tarpon Springs Catamaran


The night before, we had packed up the pickup and backed it up into the driveway. With the truck headed in the right direction, we jumped up and left as soon as the sun came sneaking through the blinds. We didn’t even take the time to make coffee. After a quick stop for a couple of cups to go and a newspaper, we were headed down the road. We were somewhere between Wampee and Brittons Neck, South Carolina headed for our rendezvous with I-95 near Turbeville,  when the the coffee started opening our eyes and the cell phone started ringing. On the phone was our daughter Amy who also was headed for a rendezvous with her lifelong friend Katie Moore.


Katie Moore serving in Peace Corps in West Africa, 2010


Katie was returning after two and a half years of Peace Corps service in West Africa. She had a layover in D.C. and Amy had organized an elaborate  one-person welcoming party. Katie’s plane is late and they will have to settle for quick beer instead of a bottle of wine over a long lunch. Katie’s plane arrives but where is Katie? Maybe Katie is going through customs. It’s time to inquire with the officials about Katie. Where is Katie? It is almost time for her connecting flight to leave. Where is Katie? Katie is going to miss her connection. It’s time to call her parents.  Her connecting flight has left.  Where is Katie? Maybe she is still in customs and will have to catch a later flight.


airport sign


Where is Katie? Finally Katie’s dad uses his military clearances and connections and is told that Katie’s whereabouts can not be given out but that he should be at the airport in Florence, South Carolina when her plane is scheduled to arrive. We are coming into Amelia Island, Florida, our destination for the day, and have been talking and texting with Amy all this time.The phone rings. Katie is in Florence. Whew! It’s time for a drink or ten. Don’t ya’ think? A week later when we get to talk to Katie in person she says she had to pass through the area where Amy was. How did they miss each other? Why didn’t she see the posters, decorations and all the hoopla going on? Why didn’t Amy see her? Something ghostly? I don’t think so. I think that some times angels pass without noticing each other.


Waiting for Katie at Dulles Airport


I’m not kidding about the ten drinks—it might have been eleven. We fell in love with Amelia Island. We had drinks at the Palace Saloon, the oldest bar in Florida, and dinner in a courtyard cafe. I remember having a cup of she crab soup, but I can’t remember what my main course was. There is a picture of me holding a empty wine glass with a clam shell in it. I don’t usually eat clams.


Clam Shell in Larry's Wine Glass


We made friends with a young couple at another bar and then we all went back and closed down the Palace Saloon. I slept well and woke the next morning raring to go.


New friends at Amelia Island


I was having breakfast downstairs the next morning when the couple we had met the night before walked up. They were headed to the beach. I told them I had to load up furniture we had bought the day before and didn’t know if there was enough room in the truck. I was surprised they didn’t know about the furniture after all the conversation the night before.


To be continued.


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