My desire to ride the back roads wherever I go continues to take me to unexpected places where I meet some really interesting people.
After breakfast I departed Tallahassee in the warm sunshine heading south on highway 27. It’s a divided 4-lane highway that runs for miles without much to see and I soon began to question my choice of routing; the speeds on the highway were as fast as any expressway with lots of semi-trucks to blow you around.
It was nearly noon before I came upon anything I wanted to take pictures of which made me happy; I’d begun to wonder if today would be like yesterday.
Pulling up by a handmade sign advertising melons for two bucks I dismounted and approached the pickup full of melons. For a moment I thought maybe the guy was sleeping but before I got too close he’d popped up and was ready for the big sale.
Pointing at Green Girl I explained I wouldn’t be buying any as I had no way to carry them but with his permission I’d like to take pictures of him and his melons. “Sure thing” he said and posed for me. His name is Bill and he told me he doesn’t grow the melons, he buys them and sells them alongside the road. I haven’t a clue what sort of income you can earn doing that but it's probably marginal.
Yesterday I read an article in the paper about this year’s bumper crop of melons and how it’s affected the market. There’s such a huge surplus the smaller growers are having to contract with brokers to find buyers whereas in regular years buyers would show up at their farms with trucks ready to negotiate right on the spot.
As I was departing a big Lincoln pulled up by Bill’s truck and he was onto a genuine sale. I liked that.
I stopped at McDonalds (where else?) for lunch and noticed as I was leaving it seemed a lot warmer out. A bank down the street had one of those Time/Temperature signs and it was already approaching 100. As warm as that sounds it didn’t seem to be affecting me as much so I didn’t put the vest on. Maybe I’m becoming acclimated to the higher temps?
After I’d been there a bit the door to the office opened and J.R. Harris the owner popped out, big grin with a firm handshake.
Gawdamighty I thought, this guy is the archetypical salesman of all time, and I shot his picture. He liked the idea someone would take his photo, especially if that someone mentioned he’d be famous. I’ve used that line more than once lately and it seems to be pretty effective; maybe I’m on to something…
Across the road while turning around I’d noticed a clothes line behind a house sporting a line of quilts. They were all different colors and patterns and evidently drying in the warm sunshine. I have no idea what anyone would do with so many quilts, especially in such a warm climate but there they were. Go figure.
My route continued to take me on a seemingly random collection of quiet scenic back roads, many of them past some really upscale ranches and horse farms. Culbreath road was especially inviting.
At first he gave me the song & dance show about they're contracting with a new vendor but not having reached an agreement yet so no coffee in the rooms. “But we have coffee in the lobby all the time, you see?” he said. “Nope, I don’t see, that’s Motel 6’s way of doing things and they charge a lot less for their rooms.” I’m intimidating sometimes I think and he disappeared into the back and within a few seconds reappeared with a full coffee service, all smiles and bobbing. What is it with the bobbing thing? Anyway I had my coffee and that’s what counted. I thanked him and almost caught myself bobbing back at him.
Dinner? Ah yes, it was great, the place was next door and called the Cracker Barrel Barn or something like that. Sadly I forgot my camera so no magnificent photos of fried catfish & coleslaw & mashed potatoes with homemade gravy. And biscuits, don’t forget about the homemade biscuits. Mmmm….