Four States and Seven Days.

Peggy J Davenport
I had to run up to the office and came back after having coffee with the lady up there (this is the south, you don’t run in and rush out- you sit and have a chat and a coffee). When I come back he has the bed made (very important to me) my coffee made, the pets cared for, and has George hanging outside with him while he is fiddling with the jeep. My heart is warmed.
We are sunburned, tired, have been to every boat dock in four states on the coast just in the last week, six states beyond that so far, and more in the coming near future, and often in the bays but more to do. We have had long days and walked a million miles under the beating hot southern sun in July. Boat docks, btw, are like walking the damn desert with all their glare from white boats to hot decks both wood and cement and glistening water. The morning may at times begin overcast and cloudy and soft on you but the sun will make up for it with a vengeance when she does decide to wake up. Between walking and standing on hard ground a lot and a lot of driving and a lot of boat time and heat and sun and long days our bones are tired. We feel 80 in our 30-something bodies by the end of the day. But we hold hands and smile and say to each other “I am happy” with a satisfied smile.
I am becoming quite the expert (nowhere near it) on sport fishing boats and sport fishing yachts and Joe, in the falling into it, in the moment, the people who love to show off their boat and a good sailing time and because…boat people are the most welcoming, is learning sailboats, quite by accident. Though we are in search currently of the sport fishing boat/yacht for live-aboard and south islands fun, moving from RV to water, the sailboat is a future project dream of mine and where my expertise lies, so we are both learning quite a bit about the other, we call these his project and my project. I loved the old seaman who whispered to me “once he gets used to understanding sailing he will be much more comfortable with it and fall in love and you will have no problem with him on them”. Sailing people get me. Joe worries about me alone…out there, the times that he will be away.
We are looking along the lines of the Hatteras 50 (a yacht would be nice but harder to find especially in price range and a sports fishing is actually live-aboard super nice and bigger than our RV now) but open to good and bad, project redo and pretty well done and other boat names depending, but in the idea of. Being so open means more possibilities to look at. This will take us months. I only wish I could combine the interior of the Viking 48′ 1987 with the exterior of the Hatteras 50 in the 1960’s and I think my favorite boat would be born. This is about as far as my knowledge for them goes so far. Though listening to the engine talk…I somewhere in my dreams might be able to draw a very good diagram of them now.
We have had gelato slash book shops open for us on a day it was closed completely for the entire day by a lovely man in long graying dreadlocks and inviting smile waving us in after we realized it was closed and began to walk on. Who gave us samples and then free gelato to go, though we ate it up while conversation began and took awhile to find an end. They have the right idea with their Old Fashioned gelato, based off of one of two of my favorite drinks, though I do believe it might be more my winter drink while the Pimm’s Cup is my summer. We found and discovered Indie bookshops slash coffeeshops with grand displays of southern authors (the Mississippi Book Festival is next month) at  Pass Christian Books  and  Cat Island CoffeeHouse and and I hear the tongue of many when they say the name of their town like silk falling off of a woman’s shoulders. I drink up the accents and speech of some, of many, of all, from the harshest to the most delicate, and tuck it away for my own book writing. I find that that this is a place where Jesmyn Ward and many like her have come to read and been supported and where I am invited to come soon. I buy two of her books I have yet to read. (I have so far read and LOVE Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel and Where the Line Bleeds: A Novel.
so I picked up, The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race and her memoir, Men We Reaped: A Memoir And I still have her other book I will soon get,Salvage the Bones: A Novel. Not only because she is long an author on my list, an amazing author to read, btw, but also because I am in my Deep South Five writing project currently and currently reading books by authors and in the setting of New Orleans and of the Deep South, as well as the movies I am currently watching. When in Mississippi, read of those of Mississippi. And yes, the lit scene is vast.
I learn that the gelato shop owner is the same as the bookstore/coffeeshop owner and we discuss literary south, authors, readings, book events, and the scene. That they have no shortage of literary events and readings and authors and are half a year booked in advance and busy, they do not give up and lay dormant like one indie bookshops I met did and who had saddened me greatly at their defeat of a literary scene only a few cities and the same state down. Joe has an understanding here that I have listened to talk of boat engines enough to not rush us to an end.
We stumbled into an antique shop in the middle of the beautiful (and one of my newest favorite places) Mobile, Alabama. Historic buildings…this one in particular has seen better days but I am more saddened while traveling through New Orleans and Mobile and other like smaller places from Miami/Hollywood Florida to Texas how little Galveston Island actually does put the effort in to preserve what should be even easier. I am more saddened that the Hughes building there is no more. And then here I see so many…so many and never going away and so much harder work put in and so much more they have gone through in hurricane and storm and flood and yet standing so gallantly. And as much as I love the island and thought once they did well I see how little is really there, left, and standing and how flat the peoples efforts really fall and yet once had so much more potential but so much of it is already lost…gone. I even see so many other states with so much preservation effort put into the nature side of it and know that there is about one lone woman who works so hard to do all that Galveston offers in that aspect. Without her they don’t care and even with her the city itself is one of her main enemies and with whom she battles against their destruction. I see how other places take care of their tree’s, even smack in the midst of great city and down town’s…from San Antonio to Florida and I know another woman of the island who places her work there but when you leave the island you find that you have missed trees, and funny enough, it is so far the least of the boating community for which we both love and felt we were missing. I am not done there with dreams I have built but I am glad I am broadening these horizons. I honestly don’t know if there will be enough left for me when I come back, able to put in myself. For those who put in…keep it up, you are the islands saving grace. For the city, I ask you to visit San Antonio, New Orleans, Mobile, Alabama and Pass Christian, Mississippi, Hollywood, Florida and Miami and a few conservation and state parks along the way and all in between and too many to count for both city/town and nature conservations and architecture and economy and …life, for a few suggestions of how to do better. Funny enough for resources you have much more at hand than some of these do.
In Backflash Antique in Mobile Alabama only a short few blocks away from what is now the Malaga Inn, that was in the 1940 census the address of my great grandparents and two of their four daughters, one of which was my grandmother, aged 10, I discover the perfect camera bag (thanks to Joe’s good eye) that I have been in search of for months. And I hear the most beautiful name I have ever heard…Charlana, added to a combination with a last of exactly the kind of name amazing people are born with, Charlana Quiovers. And a gentleman there, meek and quiet and a love for antique and history who was amazing at tour guiding us through to exactly what we would like to see. He got us immediately. We aren’t the typical RV’ers. We don’t do it for the BBQing and pools. We do it for the exploring, the history, the learning of the people, the architecture, the discoveries, the antiques and art and literary and music and the food…oh…the food. We exhaust ourselves with the miles we put our feet to in walking all around a town or city, and when in the right place and time, the mountains and hills of the nature a place has to offer, and now even, by boat more often, the swamps with a rest upon our feet but a sharpness for our safety, and our senses. Birds and nature and animals and trees upon the cool waters in the warm air underneath the shade of these grand ancient moss laden trees. But the walking…It is the only way to stop for hours on end in an afternoon and have perfect conversations with perfect strangers. And at times be invited upon a boat for the next several hours and taken out into the open waters, sails unfurled. If you never hear from us again, we likely died happy.
In seven days and four states I haven’t taken one picture. I have simply enjoyed it all. Good thing my storytelling is in words…..more coming on all of that. Within the binds of a book and a story of a character.
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