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Six different beds in seven weeks

Sherry, her husband Richard, and their new great-granddaughter, Madison Rose. Madison’s mother, Morgan, took the photo.

By SHERRY SHEPARD - For The Courier-Times

I missed submitting my column in February because I was what is referred to as “unplugged” for several weeks. Richard and I left Jan. 3 to visit our children, grandchildren, family and friends in Florida. We lived there many years and therefore most of our family live in several different cities in the state.

We have 39 members in our immediate family and 29 of them live in Florida. We had a great time. This year’s trip was highlighted with us meeting our new great-granddaughter, Madison Rose. She is a cutie. We always stop at my cousin, Cathy’s, on the way down. She lives in central Florida. We rest there for a couple of days and then head farther south to split our time with our family. We sure kept busy. We played a lot with our little great-grandchildren and quickly discovered they all have way too much energy.

I drove the entire round trip (my sweetie pie has vision issues). I don’t mind driving. I literally have thousands of miles “under my belt” and have driven from coast to coast at least four times. Each year our annual pilgrimage to Florida gets a little bit more difficult on both of us. We take a lot of clothes and miscellaneous things. I have a habit of saving things for everyone all year long. The car is packed full and we drive a big car!

I tell myself each year I am going to cut back but so far it hasn’t happened. This year we even invested in a folding hand truck equipped with bungie cords to haul all the stuff in and out of where we stay.

The drive down is always enjoyable because we are so excited about seeing our family. Traveling during the winter is tricky and we always watch for a two-day good weather window going and returning. For some reason, this year I dreaded the trip back home. I had several private conversations with myself (my best friend) psyching myself up for the journey. I decided I would try to pay more attention to the scenery in addition to the road. We departed from Melbourne, Florida with 1,069 miles to reach our driveway.

Our drive through Florida was bittersweet: happy we were going home and sad at the same time. To us Florida has its own “smell.” We theorize it is from all the non-stop vegetation growth and having salt water on both sides of the state. We both burst into song every time we cross the Suwanee River.

The 355 miles of Georgia and 353 exits are basically boring except for Atlanta. We never take the by-pass around the city. The traffic keeps the driver on their toes and the architecture is breathtaking. We always stop about 30 miles south of the Tennessee line for the night. That makes the journey just about the halfway mark. Tennessee is a pretty state.

Providing the weather is good, I do not mind driving in the mountains at all. This year’s return must have been a designated speed challenge in the Volunteer State because the traffic was running fast. I had to go at least 85 miles per hour to keep up with traffic and not get ran over! The traffic was bumper-to-bumper and our windshield suffered a hit by a rock. When we neared Jellico, Tennessee there was construction and I was so happy because it slowed everyone down.

Our favorite state is Kentucky. The Daniel Boone National Forest, home of Kentucky Sanders Chicken in Corbin, Renfro Valley’s Music Hall of Fame, the beautiful horse country of Lexington with their Man O’ War Boulevard and Kentucky Horse Park. My favorite exit is Hazard, the birthplace of my sweet mother. The remainder of the drive was easy. We were so happy to exit Interstate 74 headed to Rushville!

We were blessed to be able to go on our trip and visit with everyone. We slept in six different beds in seven weeks. The anticipation of snuggling down in our own bed made us giddy with excitement. When we finally pulled in to our garage we both said out loud, “Thank you Lord for keeping us safe.”

Sherry Shepard is a resident of New Castle. Her column, “That’s Life”, runs the second Sunday of each month.