Just in the nick of time

The early part of this week was hot for this time of year in Ottawa. All over twitter, I was seeing the #Hottawa hashtag in use as everyone tried to make it through the days without melting.

I had a few interesting conversations because I don’t like the heat, yet I’m from Florida. Born and raised. How could I not like the heat? Well, I just never have liked hot weather. I’m a moderate weather girl, preferring the comfortable temps of a spring and fall to the extremes that come with summer and winter. Hot weather reminds me of the many years without air conditioning in houses or cars, which is miserable in Florida, let me tell you. Heat rash, itchy sweat, lethargy. Heat drains me much the same way that being in a crowded room does to an introvert (I might know about that from personal experience too).

The worst summer, by far, was 1998. Perhaps because I was old enough to actually remember and document it. Perhaps because it was just a memorable year in general. Perhaps because it was just so hot it was burned into my brain. Or maybe that was just the year - for better or worse - I finally started making decisions for myself.

One decision I made was to go with my best friend to visit her father and step-mom on the east coast. To get there, we had to drive east from Tally over to US Route 1 around Jacksonville and down the coast to their town. This wasn’t the quick way, but the faster route was closed thanks to the rash of forest fires that year. 

The trip from Tallahassee to Jacksonville was fairly uneventful, probably because we left at approximately 2:00am-ish. Our methods of staying awake were questionable, but effective. What we weren’t prepared for was the drive down US Route 1. The smoke from the fires was so thick in places we had to slow to a crawl. The smell permeated the car and I’m not sure that car was ever the same again.

The most alarming part of the trip was the charred forest we drove by for miles, only to come to a lush green section that went on for just a quarter of a mile (if that) before we saw a gas station.

After that sight, much of the trip is a blur. I don’t think I remember anything about our return home. But I will never forget the sight of smoke, charred wood, and the visible evidence of just-in-the-nick-of-time work that was done to keep a bad situation from getting exponentially worse.

*****

This post was based on the prompt “Share a memorable road trip story!” from Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.