The Call of the Conch

I found myself on the road again heading south to my adopted home Key West. I am dictating to the iPhone dangling from the dashboard, and the transcription spews out in fits and spurts, assisted by the omnipotent autocorrect. If our ability to communicate is not garbled enough as it is through direct contact (more about that later), autocorrect has energized the ability for humans to miscommunicate more than any other computer-generated enhancement.

First stop, McLean, Virginia, home to the CIA and high school friends – suburb to the home of our greatest mis-communicators. The residence of transient liars, thieves and tramps, who periodically shift with the governmental shifts dictated by elections – our beautiful capital, Washington DC.

A pit stop in DC always means a visit to some interesting sights. So having a bit of time since I did not have to get into stop number 2 until late evening the next day…we headed to town. Met up with J. Pop, one of my students who is graduating GWU this year, for lunch at Jaleo. A Jose Andres’ restaurant serving small plates…and an exceptional four course $20.00 luncheon. Thank goodness we were not into the Passover season, or I would have not been able to experience the fantastically subtle flavors of his cooking.

As we walked from our parking spot on the Mall (someone’s watching over me…always get a spot even in NYC) up 7th St. headed towards the National Portrait Gallery to take in the Orchid Exhibition, I noticed that as we crossed the wider avenues the pedestrian crossing time was set to 46 seconds, while crossing the narrower streets the allotted time was 61 seconds. The explanation proffered by my resident guide and high school friend, Lizzie, was that the timing difference allowed cars who were headed into more heavily trafficked streets additional turning time. Being the consummate observer of detail, I sweat the small stuff; I realized the numbers just didn’t match.

This year it was a quick and easy drive from DC to Wake Forest…for those of you who just might be making the trek south along that DC/Richmond corridor…make sure you take the EZPass express. There’s an additional fee, but it is worth flying by, on this magic carpet ribbon of highway, thousands of cars, and I do mean thousands, stacked up on 95 trying to escape the land of the feather-brained.

It’s always a joy taking that detour to spend time with my cousins. It has become a ritual…and since my life has shifted from the loosey-goosiness (a Judi synthesized word) of youth to the defined parameters of age, it is comforting to know that the proverbial and real-time door is always open for me at my chosen pit stops along the way. That there is always a welcome mat no matter what time of day or night, no matter what type of weather. These are not fair-weather friends or relatives. For a passing visitor in-search-of-truth like me, that is the most reassuring part of the adventure.

Departing North Carolina, I headed to Charleston, SC, originally planning to catch a Museum exhibit and dinner at Aaron’s deli. I was just in the mood for a good pastrami, albeit with a southern twist. Of course, story of my life, I left my cousins a tad too late. The best laid plans of mice and women.

Following the Archimedean principal that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, I departed from Interstate 95 and headed on the diagonal toward Charleston. Just outside of Florence, SC, I entered the low country. This southern appellation did not lose its import on me. Like the Netherlands, the water table is high enough to boot the trunks of trees.

Zooming (the roads were empty and well paved) through the hamlet of Laurel, at nearly every bend in the road, a Church cropped up. Nineteen, in an estimated radius of less than ten miles. One in particular caught my eye. The Pilgrim’s Church. I suspect that if the Pilgrims had made it this far south it was to re-find their Dutch roots and feel at home in the land below the water.

Just when I thought that these back roads weren’t as bad as New York City roads, I hit Rte. 521, in beautiful downtown, Salters, and confronted a huge steamroller face-to-face. The smell of tar was overshadowed by the trees redolent and blooming lilacs and of course the cotton fields. And yes, there are still cotton fields.

These are not NYC roads, but the undulations of swampland force the topography to mimic the Cyclone at Coney Island (for my friends who are not New Yorkers, or even Brooklynites – it’s the Roller Coaster at Coney Island’s famed Boardwalk Lunar Park, home of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs).

Knowing I was not going to make it in time to catch the Gibbes Museum, and too tired after the taxing road rally drive through the backwoods, avoiding all and every Beaufort County officer, I decided to remain on the Isle of Palms and dine at Crave Kitchen and Cocktails. It was as surprisingly good as any NYC highly rated restaurant. I enjoyed superb wild Atlantic scallops served on a bed of Boursin risotto and stacked with garlic string beans. AS momma would call it, “…a painting on the plate.”

The meal was paired with an excellent Chardonnay.The girl does like her wines. Doctor recommended to reduce the effects of my nightly myoclonic hypnic jerks. I know some of you might like to leave out the defining words of the condition…go right ahead. And on that note. I shall take my leave. Sweet dreams to all and to all a goodnight.

I will continue to periodically post both here and in the “Blog” section. Join the discussion about the future of American education, ethics and embezzlement. Both will be ongoing, particularly the blog as I get closer to completing the book. So stop in often and frequently.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about any of my writings from life’s continuous road.

Always with shalom,

Copyright 2018 Judith D. Winters content may not be used without express permission of the author

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