We are driving down the road which has become shockingly flat; gone are the rolling hills of green, replaced by miles upon miles of farmland, also verdant but with a different, somehow lusher scent.
Small towns dot the landscape like little beacons of humanity and their storefronts look like Norman Rockwell postcards with hints of Banksy.
I’m white-knuckled while stopped at yet another red light. Pauses are becoming increasingly anxiety producing because the engine is starting to make her faint, Gruvph-grr-gruvph, noise indicating she’s had enough, (and will pull this whole damn thing over if she has to.)
I’ve been grumpy and out of sorts all day, the kids have run out of any steam and are unable to do much more than to play 20 questions ad nauseum.
Are we there yet?
Looking out the window I see a palm-sized flying insect. Distinctive glistening wings in a wonderful shade of ochre decorate what is easily the largest dragonfly I’ve seen on our trip so far. The light turns green and I move past it, loathe to relinquish it’s beauty.
I need something pretty right now.
We make a left over the bridge, and start to wind through a country lane taking note of roadside fruit stands. Next we are enveloped in a parade of shimmering, darting, creatures. Dozens of dragonflies surround us making it appear that we are driving through some kind of prism.
Oh Joy! Now, where is that left turn?
We arrive at the site somewhat breathless and tired, making inquiries to the attendant as to just when we can check into our (Air Conditioned) cabin. Having missed lunch, and suffering through a heat index that “feels like 104 with 70% humidity” we eye the pool sadly knowing that until Princess is safely ensconced somewhere, we won’t be able to cool off.
“Well,” the attendant says after clarifying that we weren’t looking for a dog-friendly restaurant, but rather a simple place to plan out our picnic, “You are welcome to use the grounds. Tell you what; drive around the building and take the one lane driveway down to the dock. There’s a picnic area right there.”
Dragging our sweaty, whiny and miserable selves back into the van we head down the way and find ourselves bouncing down a rather steep incline. I’m focused on getting down without any distractions. Then I look up.
The dragonflies are here. Hundreds if not thousands of them dance in the air in the open field to our left.
The bridge which we crossed earlier is in the distance. Beyond that is the Gulf of Mexico, resplendent in a rich cerulean blue that I thought only existed in pictures. By contrast the bay is nearly grey and is also quite soothing. The soft splash of an occasional fish is all that mars the stillness.
We Ooh & Ah, and then set about to making our lunches. We slap together PB&J’s, eat unwashed grapes out of a bag, sip on Dr. Brown’s sodas, and wave flies away; at first lazily, them more vigorously until we look like a pack of lunatics waving our arms about madly.
Lunch finished and goods packed up, we walk down to explore the fishing dock. There are a couple of boys fishing here, kayaks for rent and only about five other people.
Looking back at the beach there is a smattering of cabins are as varied as can be; some the basest of shacks, others actual “mini-homes” with full kitchens and bathrooms. “Which one will we get, Mom?” The boys ask.“I have no idea, I asked for ‘no-frills’ though.”
Heading back to the van we realize: The dragonflies have left. The sky is darkening. Storm clouds are rolling in.
Time to go.
We walk back to the office. I go and collect the keys to our place for the night… Or perhaps the next two.
There is a beach after all.