Traveling to the not-so-distant past

Day 1 of the grand road trip finds us in Jacksonville, visiting with some old (not in age, unless you consider me old and we’re not going there) friends.

First, some props are due to my redoubtable Avalon.  With its seventh birthday just months away, the car (freshly detailed and shampooed) purred along the highways, cruise controlled and navigated, arriving in Jax averaging nearly 31 mpg!  Tell me how many other luxury cars are gonna give you that, let alone seven years after purchase.

The trip itself seemed especially fortunate.  Despite ominous predictions of adverse weather, it appeared every area I drove through had already had the weather…recently, if the puddles and roadside ponds were any indication.

One big plus, I have to say, was having XM (sorry, Sirius-XM) radio.  Being a baseball nut, I was able to listen to hours of MLB network radio, always fascinating listening and excellent for keeping me awake.

When I got to Jacksonville, I met a number of people I used to work closely with and we talked of past times and my current adventures in writing.  It was fun seeing “the gang” again.

One in particular was someone I had been looking to get together with for a while.  He and I shared being fans of the Gators and Dolphins (yes, we’re suffering) and had great times traveling both for work and to a couple of awesome Gator victories at the SEC Championship game and the following National Championship game.

I next popped into the office of another longtime friend, who shared my passion for baseball and always provided a dazzling portfolio of debate on topics both financial and political.

The three of us spent a fun lunch at a local BBQ restaurant ranging through all sorts of topics.  I played the impoverished author card and they sprang for the bill.  They might have done it anyway, but it was more fun and they got to spend a good portion of the trip considering the jobs I might currently qualify for (they thought I might be underqualified as a sign spinner).

Since I wanted to make a visit to one notable place in every city on my trip, they suggested the local museum which had well-regarded collections and some fabulous gardens.  That sounded perfect to me.

Before saying goodbye, I visited with one other member of “the gang” that I missed on first pass.  He and I got to talking about still loving to read “real” books (not tablets or readers).  I mentioned the alarming loss of new bookstores and mourned the disappearance of the used bookstore.  I had a love of used bookstores since my youth managing one (hmm, grist for a future post).

He dug up a reference for a monster used book store in town and gave me two addresses.  I was torn, since I didn’t think I could get to both the museum and the bookstore.  Still, they were close to each other, so I said goodbye to everyone and headed out.

I paused in the parking lot to input the addresses into the nav system and then searched on the iPhone for the museum hours.  Maybe they were open later and I could go to the bookstore first.

Well, I did get to go to the bookstore first…because the only day the museum is closed is Monday.  Ah well.  But, what a bookstore!  Awe!  Some!  I could have spent two days in there!  And I got to find some old first editions of my all-time favorite author, Jack Vance.  What a cool finish to the day.

Tomorrow, back to the 5 am up and at ’em.  Off to Atlanta and my old college roommate.  My plans are to meet him for lunch (wonder if I can pull the old impoverished trick again?) and then visit  the aquarium and maybe the World of Coke.

If I have an internet connection tomorrow night, I’ll post on that day’s adventures.

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