Two of my favorite words - my very favorite words - are "Let's go!" It usually doesn't matter who says it and it usually doesn't matter where they are talking about going. If somebody says "go," I am on my way.
In fact, my goal in life is to be like the late Edgar Wood, Covington's "Mr. Bulldog," who is said to have kept a packed suitcase right beside his front door. If someone said "Let's go" Mr. Edgar wanted to be able to be out the door before they could change their mind.
Many of you are aware of my penchant for travel because you have read of many of my adventures in this very space. For those of you who may be just now coming to the party, let me give you a little background.
On the first day of January, in 1999, I began writing a weekly column in The Rockdale Citizen. I considered it a great honor, and still do. I had been writing every week for about three months when spring break came along. I would be out of town for a week - camping on Jekyll Island - and didn't know what to do about my column,
A normal person would have simply written and filed it ahead of time, but I have never claimed to be normal. I am a procrastinator's procrastinator. To me, being on time means filing my work an hour after the deadline, instead of three. I could no more have written a column a week in advance than I could have sprouted wings and flown to Mars.
I could have just skipped a week, but I was afraid that if I did that they would find out how easily they could do without me.
So I wrote my column from Jekyll Island - with a ballpoint pen on a yellow legal pad - and sent it to the paper on one of those new fangled fax machines.
I didn't own a laptop computer and wireless Internet was way, way, way in the future for me and mine.
And since I was on vacation, I wrote about being on vacation. I described what it was like to camp and ride bikes and cook and roast marshmallows by the fire with the Huckaby clan - and it turned out that the column on camping at Jekyll was one of the most well received of my fledgling career. People actually wrote letters to me, thanking me for making them feel like they had been on vacation, too.
That very summer, we went on an extended camping trip, up the East Coast, all the way to Bar Harbor, Maine. Remembering the positive response from the Jekyll Island column, I put pen to paper throughout our two-week journey and I won't say that a star was born, but a tradition was. I was still faxing columns written on yellow paper - and spent far more faxing the columns than I was paid to write them, but from that point on, wherever my family went, so did my readers - from Maine to California and all points in between - and beyond. After every trip, I heard from lots and lots of folks who had "kept up with us" on vacation.
Some had been to the same places we had been and wanted to compare notes. Others were planning similar trips and wanted advice. Others - and these were the most special to me - knew that they would never get to visit some of the places I wrote about but assured me that reading my descriptions of our travels was the next best thing to being there. There were times, of course, like when I took 65 or so of our readers to Alaska for a couple of weeks, that some people got tired of reading about my travels and complained rather loudly about it.
But I continued to write about our travels and pretty soon it got to the point where people would stop me on the street and ask me where we were going next. It didn't take long to realize that, once we had finished our planned odyssey to all 50 states, I would need to record our experiences in a book so that all of the people who traveled vicariously with us over the years could have a permanent record of our treks - and so that people who had never read my columns could join in the fun.
And so that's what I did. It's called "A Southerner looks at All Fifty States" and has stories and anecdotes about every state in the Union, as well as many of my favorite travel columns. It will be ready in a month or so and it will make you feel like you've been there. I promise.
You can order your own numbered, limited edition hardcover copy in advance at www.darrellhuckaby.net.
In the meantime, I think I'll try to figure out where to go next. I almost asked for suggestions, but there are already too many people out there who would like no better than to tell me where to go. So I'll just say, enjoy the rain and I'll see you this weekend.
Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.