Driving into the Distant Past

My night camping at Davis Bayou worked out so well, the next day I headed for Pensacola, hoping to get a campsight at Fort Pickens in the Forida part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, but that campground was full. I did get a chance to see Pensacola Beach with its white sand and dark turquoise waters, which was nice. I felt cold on the beach, but there were hundreds of people in meager swimsuits playing in the water, sunning themselves, or walking around. Ah, youth.

I might not have been lucky in finding a campsite for the night, but I was lucky to meet someone I have admired for six years — Mike Pettit, writer and promoter extraordinaire. We had a fabulous seafood lunch at an oyster bar near the beach, and an even more fabulous conversation.

But even good friends must part, so eventually I headed down the road.

Not finding another campsite, I continued driving. But even that part of my day was spectacular. For many miles, the moon rose in the middle of the road directly in front of me while the sun set in the middle of the road directly behind me. Truly a unique sight.

As lovely as the celestial evening was, that was not the highlight of my drive. The highlight was the revelation that came as I continued to drive the tree-lined highway. Ever since I left central Texas, the highways have been forested. Trees, mile after mile of trees for hundreds of miles. And today I realized the awesomeness of what I was seeing.

Although in many cases, the trees didn’t extend very far off the road, they were thick enough to appear endless. As if the highway were cut through an eternal forest.

Once upon a time, a forest did cover almost the whole of the United States. And as I was driving, it suddenly felt as if the highway were like a path to the past, and I could see that primordial forest all around me, millions upon millions of acres, and because of those hundreds of miles I’d driven, I could sense the forest’s magnitude and magnificence. What an experience!

I thought I was spinning my wheels, just driving, driving, driving, when all along I was preparing for the great revelation. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, though I don’t know what.

I do know that in the future, when I look back on this adventure, one of my fondest and most inspiring memories will be my long and seemingly unending drive into the distant past.

***

(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

***

14 Responses to “Driving into the Distant Past”

  1. Juliet Waldron Says:

    Lookin’ good Mike and Pat! What an adventure! Keep those stories comin’!

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I’m glad you’re seeing Florida’s “Forgotten Coast,” or at least some of it. My favorite part of the state, those roads through Apalachicola, Carrabelle, hugging the water all the way to Tarpon Springs. If you’re really adventurous, you’ll drive into Tate’s Hell Forest at Carrabelle. hahahaha

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I didn’t drive into the forest, but did take 98 all the way from Panama Beach to Tarpon Springs. Besutiful! Ate dinner last night on the sponge docks. 

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

      • Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

        The sponge docks are something to see. I’m glad you enjoyed the route. My favorite in Tarpon Springs was Pappas restaurant and their wonderful Greek Salad. If you get into Tampa and see Ybor City and want to splurge at a very old restaurant, try the Columbia Restaurant.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          We went to Dimitris on the water. We split a combination plate so I could sample several Greek foods since I’d never had any of those particular dishes. It’s been an interesting visit — so different from the Florida of film and myth.

          (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  3. Carol Krois Says:

    I’ve not written to you previously but your blog has carried me through to the (soon to be) second anniversary of my husband’s death. You are headed in my direction in Florida and I wonder if we can connect for a meal? I have an extra bedroom if you are interested after we talk or email. If you are interested, how might we get in touch?
    In any case, Google Florida Springs. You will not be too far from amazing natural springs

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Hi, Carol. At the moment I am in New Port Richey. How far away are you? I would love to meet you for a meal, and maybe even take you up on your offer of a place to stay for a night depending on where you are. I emailed you.

  4. Kathy Says:

    Pat, that’s exactly how we felt when we left our Las Vegas home to live in Florida again – after desert-living, I was so struck by the awesomeness of the trees and water East of the Mississippi – even the rest areas were a welcome change. The first time we moved to Florida, we’d been living in the Pacific Northwest so the change wasn’t as noticeable. You’re making me homesick for Florida – especially for those yummy seafood meals overlooking the Gulf.

    • Kathy Says:

      PS – That is a great photo of you – you look enormously happy. Btw, we used to live near New Port Richey.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        How funny that you used to live near New Port Richey. I’d never even heard of it.

        And yes, I was happy when that photo was taken. Mike was both charming and funny and it was great to finally meet him.

        (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The gulf is spectacular.  I had never really considered the idea that the US has three coastlines. Odd to discover that the gulf shore is as long or longer that the others.

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

  5. Tropics Are Calling My Name | Kathy Holmes, Indie Artist Says:

    […] friend, Pat Bertram, is traveling across the country and is now in Florida. In her recent blog post, Pat reminds me of exactly how we felt the last time we moved to Florida from Las Vegas – the […]

  6. Mike Pettit Says:

    Fair winds and following seas, Pat. Love ya , guuurl.


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