Up early, make coffee and then stow the dishes, secure all the junk inside that accumulates when you sit in one place, hug my mom goodbye, and out into traffic in Jacksonville. These poor sods are going to work, whereas I’m going… someplace else Fiona is sulking under the bed. After all these months, she’s probably forgotten what it’s like to drive all day. After a few hours in the saddle, though, the memories come back – to me. I’m shifting in my seat and trying to get comfortable as we head up I-95 and the miles roll by.
We pull into an empty motel and make breakfast in Georgia, then on past Savannah and up into the Carolinas. A quick fillup with the cheapest gas on the eastern seaboard and we’re past South of the Border and into North Carolina. It’s 80 degrees, and Fiona emerges from her sulk to sit in the passenger footwell and glance meaningfully at me. Time to turn on the air conditioning and set it so cool air comes out the floor vents, onto the world’s most important kitty.
After months in the same location, I’m craving novelty, and indeed, the trees start looking different as we head north. Not just the pine trees, which are darker and denser than the scraggly Florida trees, but the deciduous trees too. Here they’re bright green, with the leaves just coming out. Even the grass looks younger and more energetic, with that hysterical bright green color you see in early growth.
Soon I start seeing flashes of white in the roadside growth – dogwoods. Last dogwoods I saw in bloom were almost two months ago, down in Florida. Wisteria covers the trees in places, putting out big splashes of purple. These are early, early flowers I had almost forgotten, they had bloomed so long ago down south where I spent the winter. We are driving back up into spring.
The temperature starts dropping even though it’s just mid-afternoon. By the time we turn off I-95 at Rocky Mount and head east on old Federal highway 64, it’s back down to 70 degrees. 64 is the old Albemarle Highway, on the south side of the Albemarle Sound, going through swamps where bears and wolves still live. Settlers have been here since before 1700, but they didn’t make much of a dent in the swamps in this area.
Highway 64 is a beautiful four-lane highway, but there’s plenty of lumbering farm equipment and the occasional moped to distinguish it from the interstates. The tobacco and cotton farming have played out here long ago, and long-haul trucking is what’s putting groceries on the table these days.
It’s getting dark as we approach the coast. Having checked my website, I know there’s a great overnighting spot at a boat ramp on the mainland end of the bridge that goes out to Roanoake Island and the Cape, so we pull in and set up the dish as the light fades. Fiona’s ready to get out and explore – she’s back into her road routine, too. I tell her about the bears and wolves, but, having never lost a fight in her life thanks to all the backup she gets, she’s not impressed. We cook dinner and turn in.
The next morning there’s a cool breeze and a beautiful view of the sky lightening out over the ocean, with the moon and Venus in the eastern sky. Out come the long sleeve shirts we haven’t used in weeks – it was 83 the day before we left, and daytime highs will be in the 60s here. It’s spring again. We’re ready to go out and get a great campsite at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It’s great to be back on the road.