By 7 a.m. I was awake, by 8:30 I was on the road.
Before leaving, I dropped off D-'s motorcycle cover at his home (he brought it over prior to the hurricane). Well, really, I left it on the kitchen table with a note.
Road-wise, I went from Henry to MLK (no signage) to Anderson to Ogeechee Road. (The latter becomes 17 South and goes directly to Florida.)
Without a doubt, 17 south has been one of the easiest routes of this three-and-a-half month journey.
I had pictured myself staying on Cumberland Island for a few days, then, on Jekyll Island for a couple days, but the hurricane changed all those would be plans.
The beginnings of Ogeechee and 17 greeted me with more than a handful of 4-way stops at unlit traffic lights.
Downed trees could be seen all along the shoulders of the road.
Later, 17 South became quite rural and desolate for many miles.
As I approached a town called Darien, familiar smells returned.
Salty air mixed with river water mixed with warm, humid temperatures.
The only thing missing was a giant, open-armed Publix.
Deep down, I knew Florida was close: no map required.
Before exiting Georgia, I ran into some checkpoints where the authorities were reviewing the licenses of those trying to enter the St. Simon Island area.
What a mess it was.
Call it the Tuesday, post hurricane, assess the damage to your house day.
I thought I would be stopped, but I was not. The only victims were those trying to cross over from 17 to the Torras Causeway.
As I passed signs for Jekyll Island, I refueled somewhere nearby.
Then, I found a big sign welcoming me back to Florida.
I thought about taking a picture of it.
My next immediate thought was: "What for?"
Jacksonville was getting close now, and I had not looked up directions to my college friend's address.
I decided to review directions once I began to see signs for downtown, and I did.
Stopping at a McDonald's, I sort of figured out how to get to Calley's home.
Some downtown construction altered my route slightly, but thanks to divine providence and paying extra special attention to all my surroundings, I found Calley's condo building located off of Atlantic Avenue.
When I parked the bike, I sent him an instant message.
He greeted me downstairs in the parking lot, and while it was great to see an old friend and notice that he had not lost his full head of hair, he looked tired. Moreover, I sensed pain.
We walked my stuff upstairs into his fiance's place.
I placed my backpack on an empty chair in the living room area.
Then, we took his little dog, Charlie, for a walk; later, we jumped in his car, and ended up at the Zodiac Bar and Grill for lunch.
There, we caught up on old times, present times, and politics.
The animated Syrian restaurant owner also joined in on the political discussion as did his matter-of-fact wife. It was wonderful to gauge their perspective on this election.
Calley and I ended up staying their much longer than I think either of us anticipated.
Next, we drove to a few grocery stores, so I could pick up the essentials for my dinner preparations for him and Julienne.
Unfortunately, she did not arrive until close to 8 p.m.
Long work hours... that's for sure!
When she got home, I was able to put the red meat on the iron skillet.
Calley captured our meal for us.
I adored hanging out with the two of them.
Multiple conversations happening at once, it was hard to keep up even though three of us sat at the table.
During our lively talk, I learned that Calley lost both his parents (for different medical reasons); now, the pain made sense.
Our discussion would move from the traumatic to the comedic.
Julienne was especially gifted at moving the conversation in a new direction.
An ultra smarty-pants, she would enthrall anyone: striking eyes, intelligent (really, really, intelligent), and a wicked sense of humor.
Unfortunately, I was so exhausted; sometime close to 11 p.m. I had to retire.
Not having ridden my motorcycle (in a week) impacted my staying-up strength, so I fell fast asleep in the spare bedroom Calley had set up, but not before Julienne presented me with new thermal socks.
Why does everyone want to make sure I'm warm?
Until we meet again, my friend.