For years, it has been practice for a large number of Kokomo citizens to hit the road and motor down to Panama City Beach for spring break. No kidding. Whole neighborhoods have relocated in large condos and spill out to the sand and sun.
(Contrary to The Beach Boys, there IS no Kokomo Beach….except our municipal pool.)
We joined the exodus three times when our kids were in grade school. We’d take the middle seat out of the Aerostar, load it with coolers, snacks, clothes and the all important etc., and head south. Don’t get this wrong. I like my neighbors. But when we’d be in Panama City, we saw lots of friends everywhere we would go: restaurants, mini golf, go cart track, mall. The trip down and back took us on I-95, a two-laner. Traffic would back up, advance sporadically. Each time we changed location, we’d wave to Kokomoans.
PC is your typical spring break kind of place: lots of ‘best deal’ T shirt shops, lots of ‘souvenir' stands, lots of caramel corn and fudge stands. The kids enjoyed it, playing in the sand with friends from home. But the weather is dicey: sometimes in early April, it’s 70 degrees and cloudy. Sometimes, the weather back home is considerably better Also, each time we went, we would drive home on Saturday and arrive late, with a car full of dirty clothes, exhausted children, and no more food. The hub would spend Sunday catching up at the office and I would scramble to get the house in order for the next day, back to school.
I think those three years were the only spring break trips we took. So I was taken aback when, two weeks ago, the hub said, “When is your spring break? We should go somewhere.” That SOMEWHERE, for Mike, would be a return to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a small community 5 miles north of spring breakers. We have visited 3 times in the last two years. On our first trip, we discovered a small, private beach house, 10 rooms, no fuss, and 100 feet from the ocean. We’ve stayed there three times. Mike wanted to return.
Note: although married for 38 years, we have different travel modes. I’m all for adventure and the unexpected. Mike prefers to known. He likes to know where we’re going, when we’ll be there, what we’ll do when, and so forth. Return trips fulfill all those needs. His style may sound less exciting but, honestly, MINE has gotten me and whoever was in tow into some potentially precarious situations.
I did not even broach the subject about the impossibility of finding affordable air fares at this time of year. Or an empty room anywhere in south Florida. I just nodded and went on line. I plugged in a few dates and saw what I expected: no flights or fares 3 and 4 times higher than normal. Then, I spied one fare, surrounded by all the others, for $200 round trip. “Can’t be right,” I thought. But I jumped on it. The site confirmed that we had purchased seats.
I figured we could find somewhere to stay, even if we had to drive miles to the beach. So, expecting nothing, I called to our little beach house. Not only did they have a room, they had OUR room. So I booked it.
‘Nother God hug.
Look, I know that so many of you pray for us every day and you know that we are facing some new challenges with Mike’s health. So could this be how God answered your prayers? I have to say, Yes.
Our plan this time was to set a record for minimalist packing. Both of us always bring too much stuff. So we laid out our separate piles and decided that two small duffle bags would do.
Then, on Saturday, Mike began to feel ill again. Pain in his gut. No fever but feeling crummy. Sunday morning, he nudged me and said, “Come on. We have to go back to the ER.” Ok. And out we drove. He kept apologizing for messing with the trip. I kept saying, “Look, it’s ok.” More tests. More results. And doctor said that nothing was changed and we should go on our trip.
It was 11:00. We needed to be on the road by noon. It was a snap to load our piles into the bags and we were off. (We now believe….this is OUR diagnosis…that Saturday’s 4 authentic tacos were 2 too many.) We made our flights: Indianapolis to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale.
Seasoned travelers warn against ‘going through Atlanta.’ With our cheap tickets, we weren’t in any mood to worry. Well, Atlanta was packed. Lines and lines and lines of numb-faced humanity, marching to this gate, that smoothy stand to the coffee kiosk.
When we got to our gate, we found that our boarding passes did not have seat assignments. I explained that Mike was less than well and needed to sit down. I hoped to board early. “Don’t worry,” a jovial gate agent said. “You’ll be on the flight.”
We kept watching the screen that announced sporadically, that the flight was full, that the weather in Fort Lauderdale was fantastic, that the stand by people were out of luck, that quite a few people were cleared to board. But not the BOLs.
Mike was getting really tired. I was getting really nervous. But gate guy just smiled and said, “Don’t worry. You’ve got a seat.” We were the last two passengers to board. The gate agent escorted us. He pointed to First Class where there were two vacant seats.
Yet another hug.
So here we are, in from our first glorious day playing in the surf. We open up our French doors so we can listen to the waves as they lap the shore, 100 feet from our room. Ocean breezes and salt water relax and heal. Thank you for your continued prayers.