We recently took to the highway through the U.S. South and I couldn’t help but notice that the roadside reading market seemed a bit slow. A lot of signs were shouting RENT ME. Not all of them, though. There were still lots to look at, from the Bible-verses signs alongside the adult superstore signs to the attorney customer-seeking signs to the vasectomy customer-seeking signs. My favorite, this trip, was the one calling an answer to the traveler looking for a road snack.
The global pandemic and the local statistics have us staying close to home these days. The view through the windshield takes in the palm trees and canals in a Gulf Coast Florida city.
This week, we ventured sixty-two miles to Boca Grande, a gorgeous strip of beach on Gasparilla Island. The tourist maps use little yellow and red umbrella symbols to show the public beaches that dot the shoreline and the islands between Naples and Sarasota, but there were none pictured on this stretch near Boca Grande.
I was not expecting a beach day, just an opportunity to see some new territory, with houses and gardens that have been described as gorgeous. But after crossing the water (with a small fee of $6, cards only, no cash), I was delighted to find an access point to the Gulf waters, with free parking, lots of empty spaces, and a beach with only four other people on it.
After a relaxing barefoot walk in the sand, the drive through town took us past charming beach houses, as promised, and the Gasparilla Inn and Club, an appealing glimpse of ‘Old Florida’, with a gleaming, two-story-columned main building and about twenty cottages and villas nearby.
Our last stop on this single-day, stay-safe road trip was the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse. Built in 1890, the lighthouse is the oldest structure on the island. This spot is popular with people who want to fish, and was a lot busier. Coolers, umbrellas, beach chairs, big fishing tackle boxes, an old-school CD player blasting classic rock, and no face masks added up to ‘not my scene right now’, and we put it in the rear-view mirror.
Isn't that one of the best parts of a road trip? The music that you listen to while you put on the miles? I made a playlist for each of the Rumble Strip Books as I wrote them -- Canada coast to coast, USA Off the Interstate in twenty-five states, Europe while we thought about moving there, and Benelux while we drove through Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. They are online at www.spotify.com. If you search MusicFanWriter or anyone of the Rumble Strip Books titles, you'll find the music And every time you hear a tune, an artist gets their fees! If you do listen to one of my playlists, please Like and Follow. Each list has songs from the country we were exploring, organized by the geography we were driving through -- except the U.S. list, which is organized along the lines used in the chapters in the book. It's a system all writers use all the time ...
Rumble Strip Books is a series I started in 2018. It features a travel diary about a personal journey over noteworthy roads in an interesting car. So far, four books have been published: Rumble Strip Canada 150; Rumble Strip USA Off the Interstate; Rumble Strip Europe; and Rumble Strip Benelux (And a Boat). All are available for online ordering at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and Bookshop.
I’m excited to announce that I have a fifth book underway—Rumble Strip Legendary Road Trips. This one will be an anthology and there will be dozens of voices, not one, and dozens of destinations. I’m inviting travelers to send pieces they've written (300 to 1000 words), so if you’d like to add your story to the collection, please visit the website and take a look at the anthology submission guidelines.
If you know other writers, bloggers, travel diary keepers, or avid reviewers on the hospitality and travel sites, please share this with them so that they can sign up to receive information and updates on the progress of the book and how to submit their stories!