As much fun as we were having driving from Massachusetts to Florida; when we knew we were getting close to Frank's house in North Carolina, we welcomed the thought of stopping for the night. Setting out on a life changing journey was exciting and the ride there was to be savored and not rushed. There was some sadness that immediately overwhelmed me when Robin got out of the Gran Torino and greeted Frank. We would be driving the rest of the way without our female companion and I knew the dynamic would be very different the rest of the way...
Franks home was a two story farm house set on a large heavily wooded lot without any other homes in close proximity and it had a somewhat unkempt look. There were several rusted pieces of farm equipment that looked like they'd been planted, scattered about the property. Frank was a carpenter and lived there with his business partner, who at 2:00 am, was sound asleep in his unheated room on the second floor. Frank's room was on the first floor where there was some heat. He offered us either rooms on the second floor where there were spare beds and linen, or the couches downstairs with no linen and some heat. We crashed on the couches where the effects of the beer and the smoke had us sound asleep in minutes.
In the morning the daylight entered through the cheap curtains that hung over several tall double hung wooden windows in the living room that looked out to where the dirt driveway was. Frank and Robin came out of the bedroom locked in a playful embrace and then accompanied by the creaking sound of heavy work boots on aging bare wooden stair treads, Frank's roommate made his way down the open staircase.
Frank made a pot of coffee and we all embraced the mugs for not only the caffeine, but for the warmth. After some laughs, Frank's partner went outside to where their early model, faded green Ford pick-up truck was parked under a weather-beaten, tin-roofed carport and attempted to start it. Minutes later he ran back in and out of the cold morning air and told Frank it wouldn't start. Frank immediately suspected the battery and made a call to a contractor and explained that their truck wouldn't start and that they'd try to start it again later and if it didn't start, they'd try again the following day... There was no urgency in his voice and I got the feeling that in these parts, life operated at a slower pace, and that work could easily wait to the next business day.
With six empty coffee mugs spread out on the seven foot long dining room table and an empty glass pot under the coffee maker in the kitchen, we said our goodbyes and got back in the Gran Torino to start the rest of our journey. We decided it was Kenny's turn to drive and Moose moved into the shotgun position and I manned the backseat alone, tending to the beverages in the Styrofoam cooler.
Moose was tired and he nodded off quickly, and so I kept the conversation going with Kenny so his attention to the road remained focused. We stopped at a rest area in South Carolina to empty our bladders and grab some lunch. The weather had started to warm up and we were able to remove our coats. The effects the warm weather had on our spirits was obvious.
I wouldn't get my turn at the wheel until we entered Georgia...