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Thanksgiving Travel | Essex Column

This week finds me on the road, heading for Texas by way of coastal Alabama. On my way south, I spied a sign in Chattanooga announcing a newly opened tow truck museum, so I quickly exited and spent a happy hour there. Vehicle museums of any sort are deeply appealing, and I’ve been to dozens of them, but no one else in my family seems to get the same thrill I do. It was around lunch time, and the museum staff all recommended a place just down the street. The restaurant was genteel and quiet in a southern way, with excellent food; eating alone, I was able to eavesdrop on a neighboring table occupied by two women and an elderly gentleman sporting a bow tie. They mostly talked about mutual friends, but when dessert was offered, they grew animated and debated the merits of coconut versus strawberry pie. They went with the strawberry, a rich red, but got only one slice which was carefully split and eaten to great proclamations of deliciousness.

Yesterday’s adventure was a trip along Florida’s Gulf shore, just to see what it was like. Our first stop was a small, slightly seedy town with aging hippies and many bars. I drove out onto the beach, ignoring the signs about permits, and promptly got stuck in the soft white sand. It felt like driving on snow but much harder to extricate oneself from. A local guy with fat tires on his pickup pulled me out after delivering a lecture on illegal beach driving, and charged me $20. I gave him $30 for his efforts and the lecture and continued along the coast, which went from pleasantly weird villages to gated communities to rows of high rise apartments right on the beach, hurricane magnets to my way of thinking.

While we’re away, friends will be housesitting and Ginny will spend Thanksgiving with the neighbor. She sleeps on the bed and lords it over the neighbor’s dog, who also sleeps on the bed but on the other side of the neighbor. Ginny used to travel with me, but she can’t abide motels with their random sounds, and would spend the whole night woofing and worrying.

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