|Tracing a T to Tampa|
The first thought of this drive to Florida entered my head shortly after Christmas of 1975. That was the year that my grandmother "published" some of the poems her mother had written. I had some vague idea that my great-grandparents had done some traveling and that there was something about a trip to Florida but I was totally unaware that any documentation existed.
Grandma's publishing technique had a bit in common with that of medieval monks. Before the printing press, producing a dozen Bibles meant writing a dozen copies of every page by hand. The only thing Grandma had on the monks was a typewriter. There was no Kinko's in her 1975 world and each page of every one of her Christmas presents was typed by hand. They were then cut to size, punched, and bound between felt covers with a hand tied ribbon.
On a visit sometime after the holidays, I told her how much I appreciated the gift and she told me she had thought of doing the same with the Florida letters but that it was just too big a job. "Florida letters?" I asked and I soon learned of Granny's letters and about the copy Grandma had typed.
By not posting a guard at the copy machine, my employer unknowingly provided the solution. Copies were made, Grandma's goal was accomplished, and her fingers spared from typing a few hundred pages. In the process, I was able to spend some time with those letters.
At first I suppose I just thought of visiting some of the same places. But it wasn't long before I thought of visiting all of them. For years, it remained an attractive but vague idea. About two years ago, I started researching and plotting the route.
I am somewhat familiar with Florida. I've driven to it and through it and it doesn't seem terribly far away. I initially thought that this could be a one week deal. I plugged Miami & D.C. into a mapping program and plotted a loop from Cincinnati - 2700+ miles. That might be do-able in a week but I still had over 100 points to add and we were not going to be traveling at expressway speeds. Actually, we were not even going to be stopping at highway speeds since pulling into gas stations and restaurants along side roads doesn't often lead to the same "pump & run" operation typical on the interstates. It quickly became apparent that this was more that a one week outing.
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