I showered and got dressed, but we got started talking again, and I didn't get out of their house until after 10:00. I bought gas and hit the road, called Patti to let her know I was getting a late start. Then I put the CD in the player and began the book, Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. I'd read his autobiographical book Three Weeks With My Brother, and I really enjoyed it. This book is fiction, and I was curious about his style with that. I'm enjoying it very much. I think I'll recommend it, but give me another day of driving to finish, and then I'll tell you more.
The drive wasn't long, about five hours, but it seemed to take longer. I took a couple breaks to stretch our legs and get fresh air, and that was good, but I was still very tired when I arrived here. Patti gave me good directions to the restaurant, and there she was!
We had a wonderful dinner and a good visit. Patti treated me, a much appreciated gesture, but not one I expected. Thank you so much, Patti! I was hoping that Stacy and Madison would make it back in time to join us, but they didn't. Patti was all I expected. We just chatted and enjoyed each other's company and took our time at the table.
Something was said about there not being a veterinarian hospital in Florence, and I expressed my surprise, asking what the population of the city is. Patti didn't know, so I asked the waiter, who, BTW, was great at taking my joking and teasing. He didn't know either. Both Patti and the waiter are natives of SC, and I had to laugh! I told him he needed to find out; after all, I'm a tourist here, and he should know this information. After he walked away from the table, laughing at this. The couple at the table behind us spoke out and told us that the population was about 75,000. When he came back to the table, I informed him, and told him he needed to work on being a better information center, and he just grinned. He was a very good sport, and I enjoyed kidding with him.
Patti enjoyed telling everyone all evening that I was here from New Mexico. People seem surprised that I've come so far, but gosh, I'm having so much fun that it hasn't seemed far for me. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because I've not been to South Carolina before. It was so far away!! LOL!! When I check into the motel, the girl at the desk was fascinated, too, asking me all kinds of questions about it, about the trip, etc. I feel like a "foreigner," for sure!
When the waiter first approached us, he asked about what we wanted to drink, and I ordered iced tea, unsweetened. then I looked at Patti and said, "Am I far enough south to make it necessary to specify unsweetened?" Patti nodded yes, and the waiter said, "Yes, or I would bring sweet tea." Silly me! Of course I'm far enough South! What was I thinking? All I had to do was listen to the accents around me to know that!! Again I say ... what was I thinking??? LOL!!
Patti is is as dear as I thought. She is down to earth, honest, and just who she is. What you sees is what you gets! I love that about her. We talked about how we both pretty much just throw it out there on our blogs, but I think she is more inclined to throw it all while I probably just throw 90%. Either way it makes it hard to do those tags that want us to tell some things about ourselves that aren't common knowledge!
My time with her confirmed what I thought I would find. I felt as if I already knew her via the blogs. She is good people. She is lovely people. Her heart is big and her nature is very generous. She is someone I'm happy and proud to have as a friend in person as well as through our blogs. Next time I'm here, I must meet the rest of the family, Stacy, Madison, Reilly and Holly. Oh, Patti got to meet Ali and China, and she took several pictures of them. Or she tried! Ali did the same thing to her that he's been doing to me ... when she aimed the camera at him, he would turn his head or his whole back toward her. When she put the camera away, he turned around and came right over to her for some petting! Goofy dog!! At least she can now verify that I'm not telling lies about my dog and his attitude toward cameras recently!
The hostess at the restaurant took a picture of us with my camera. It looked good at the time in the viewfinder, but when I loaded it into the computer, it is very blurry! Rats!! I'd forgotten to take it into the restaurant, so I only got the one. Patti got some on her camera, so I'm hoping hers turn out well. For what it is worth, here is the one .... :(
Since I left the Tulsa area I have been traveling through parts of our country that I've never been to before. Well, except for Atlanta. I've been there several times when my daughter lived there and to visit my nephew and niece since they moved there. The whole drive has been wonderful! I've driven through some truly beautiful places. As I've explained, it has been difficult to take pictures as there have been few places I could pull off the road when I saw things I wanted to shoot, then by the time I found a place to park, the views were poor. You'll have to rely on my words, not my camera.
I've seen many different kinds of trees and other vegetation along the way, many of which I can not identify. Lack of a name does not make it less beautiful. The fall colors have been gorgeous. The last couple days, I've seen a lot of green grass to serve as a matting around the golds, yellows, reds, oranges and browns of the trees. It is really wonderful.
South Carolina is different from the other states. The medians between the East and West lanes are filled with lovely tall pines with "naked" trunks up to heights of what I'd guess to be around twenty-five feet, so you can see through them, but the tops are full and provide shade. The sides of the highway are filled with more profuse growth, and if the center were the same, I think it would feel claustrophobic. It is really gorgeous, however.
I was planning to drive a little south of Florence before stopping tonight, but when I began looking in the AAA book, I couldn't find motels in the area that I felt comfortable driving, so I turned in at the Day's Inn here in the city. It isn't nearly as nice as the one in Arkansas, but I'm tired and it will do for tonight.
One last thing ... I was worried about how the dogs would adapt to the trip. Their ages, health issues, and the dementia which causes so much distress where Ali is concerned were my concerns. They are doing wonderfully! Ali gets "cranky" and whines after a few hours in the car, but he usually settles down when I stop and give them some stretch time. I understand that; as we age we all get more uncomfortable when confined to a limited space for periods of time. But both are doing well, and if anything, Ali's dementia seems less troublesome at this time. China is China. She is game for whatever I throw her direction, resilient as the day is long, and she just loves being where I am. I feel so much better. I'm happy that my babies can continue to travel with me, but I will be cognizant of their need to be home for significant periods between our trips to rest and rebuild their strength. I will need that, too.
And so, tomorrow we make the last leg of the trip on the east bound segment of our trip. We will arrive at Terri's home in Melbourne tomorrow evening. There we will rest for about nine days before starting home. We will replenish our reserves with our loved ones, including Mai Tai, China's sister. It will do us all a lot of good.
Life is beautiful!!!