Country Roads

One of my pet peeves is my home state's undeserved reputation as home for rednecks and good old boys, as if it's the only state where they we live. My experience has clearly shown an abundance of rednecks in virtually every other state.

I grew up in Tennessee - lots of redus neckus there. Drive across Ohio and who do you see? Lots of rednecks. Kentucky and Virginia it's all the same.

Yet, for some reason we are the ones with the reputation. The Carolinas and Virginia are seen as refined, while we're seen as a band of backwoods marauders.

And of course the State of Florida is seen as a Jewel of the South complete with a Magic Kingdom.

Well, having spent a very enjoyable week of vacation in the Sunshine State, I can assure you that there are at least as many rednecks and good old boys (and gals) in Florida as there are in West Virginia -- not that I think that's necessarily a bad thing.

As Exhibit 1, consider our trip from Orlando to Ft. Myers through the heart of central and southwest Florida last Thursday.

As we're driving through the orange groves, we came across these signs warning of bears crossing.

I didn't realize you could be attacked by a bear in this neck of the woods - an alligator maybe, but not a bear. (Also, doesn't that sign look a lot like a Polar Bear?)

We have deer crossings in WV, but I haven't seen any bear crossings. That seems a little extreme.

Then while keeping our eyes "peeled" for attacking orange eating bears, we came upon this pick up truck filled with DVDs. There were videos behind glass on both sides and in the back above the tailgate.

I know that southern West Virginia has our share of satellite dishes and combination tanning bed salons/video rental stores, but I have never before seen a pick-up truck used for a mobile video store.

Perhaps, it is part of Governor Jeb Bush's education plan -- instead of a book mobile, they watch the movies from the movie mobile?!

Then just when I am trying to figure out the video truck, we enter the small town of LaBelle, FL. I was thinking of many bad jokes related to Patti Labelle, when I was surprised to see this sign.

Swamp Cabbage FestivalHome of the Swamp Cabbage Festival - now if that doesn't make you feel right at home, then I don't know what does.

The visit also gave us a new addition to the family lexicon - "Phew, your feet, breath, cooking, dirty laundry, etc. smells like Swamp Cabbage!"

Just when I thought I had seen everything in one afternoon, I saw a sight that would make any country boy proud...

About halfway between the metropolis of LaBelle, Florida and Alva, Florida, I saw my first ever group of Ditch Surfers!

Unfortunately, I didn't get to snap a picture, and it's hard to describe, but the enterprising youth of Alva have found that they can use their Boogie Boards to surf in the standing water within drainage ditches just off the road.

Personally, I think they should just use a Slip 'n Slide like ordinary Americans, but apparently they do their surfin' differently in Alva.

Ditch Surfing -- can you imagine such a thing?!

If you told me that people were surfing on grass, I would have thought you meant something else, but maybe that's just me.

Carol also wondered whether it was safe for them to be surfing like that - not because of the water quality or the proximity to the road. She was worried about the Orange Eating Florida Polar Bears.

Who knows what kind of mood the bears would be in if they had eaten a bad batch of Swamp Cabbage? The results could be disastrous!

We eventually made it safely to Ft. Myers and continued our vacation, but I couldn't help thinking of home as I traveled on the back roads of the Sunshine State.

I guess the moral of the story is that Country Roads can take you home even when you're not in West Virginia.