Barreling down Interstate 95

Boiled peanuts & Trump-Pence

Covid 19 was setting new records everywhere … Donald Trump was loudly contesting the 2020 presidential election … it was an uneasy time to trek from New Jersey to Florida. But this trip, which took place the week before Thanksgiving, was a mission of mercy for an ailing relation. It had to happen.

As I trekked southward, I kept my eyes peeled for Stuckey’s and South of the Border. (I visited both in 1966 when I was 8.) I spotted lotsa billboards hawking fudge, fireworks, guns, boiled peanuts, pecan candies, religion, and fast food (especially KFC). One two-fer billboard provided ironic juxtaposition. The top hawked Hardee’s; the bottom said “I Repent — Save My Soul.” The most ubiquitous topic of all? Trump-Pence 2020, by far. (No recounts in Florida were deemed necessary.)

Then it happened: A day or two after our arrival in the Sunshine State, the CDC issued its no-travel advisory. To be frank, I was alarmed at how many people were walking around maskless down South — not most, but many.

Anyway, I’ve been back in Jersey for more than two weeks now, so I’m all incubated. Here’s a few snaps from the trip …

Of all the Trump-decorated homesteads, this one had to be memorialized. Can you guess what “Trump 20” is spelled with?

Somehow fittingly, it was achieved using Red Solo Cups. Please note that the decorator was one cup short, so he substituted a Coca-Cola can. That’s called ingenuity.

I was a tourist, so I just had to visit a Waffle House. The signage alone is catnip to a Yankee hillbilly like me.

Um, the food was okay. In particular, the pecan waffle (one per order) was really good. Fattening, but really good.

Here’s a Florida Sandhill Crane on a golf course in Wesley Chapel. Actually, you’d see them all over the place, even in big-box-store parking lots. When provoked, these regal birds squawk like turkeys — a helluva racket.

While barreling down Interstate 95 through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, I couldn’t help but flash back to 1966 when I was 8, and my dad drove us from South Jersey to Miami Beach for a family vacation.

I saw a seedy outhouse behind a gas station in Georgia marked, in crude lettering, “COLORED.” It had an eye-hook on the door. (This was two years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.)

Our hotel, the Dunes in Miami Beach (not there anymore), looked like the one in “Goldfinger” (to a child’s eyes, anyway). We drank Mountain Dew (which hadn’t yet been heard of in New Jersey by ’66) and thought it was special “hillbilly soda.” It was the first time we ever ate cantaloupe. We saw an American Indian wrestle an alligator on a reservation. He was missing a thumb, so apparently, sometimes the alligator won.

Read about my Stuckey’s visit HERE.

Read about my South of the Border visit HERE.