Spring break is just around the corner, y'all -- at least for those of us who labor and learn in the school system where I'm employed. I realize that for many the concept of a week off from work in the spring of the year is completely foreign and that for others, spring break has come and gone. You'll forgive me if I revel in the fact that I have a week off looming on the horizon.
In a different life, when I coached high school girls' basketball for a living, the site of the NCAA Women's Final Four would determine my spring break destination. In 1985, my lovely wife, Lisa, and I drove a couple of vans full of teenage girls from Atlanta to Austin, Texas, to watch the Georgia Lady Bulldogs compete for the national title. The Lady Dogs had Teresa Edwards, Janet Harris and Katrina McClain on that team and, I thought, were a lock to win the championship.
You haven't lived until you've taken a 2,000-mile road trip with 18 teenage girls and a pregnant wife -- especially when most of the teenage girls thought Austin, Texas, was a lot closer to the beach than it actually was.
We spent the first night in New Orleans, where Lisa and I had honeymooned three years earlier. That trip ended with me in the hospital. I had to be flown back to Atlanta for emergency surgery. I promised Lisa then that we would return to New Orleans one day -- and there we were, on a second honeymoon. Somehow my lovely wife didn't quite see it that way. I don't know if it was the morning sickness or the entourage of female athletes accompanying us that ruined her mood.
Things got better once we arrived at the Friday night semi-finals. Andy Landers hooked us up with great seats, right behind the Georgia bench. His wife Pam happened to be pregnant, too, and Lisa's mood improved considerably once she had someone with whom to commiserate.
Georgia's victory over Western Kentucky put everybody in a good mood. On Saturday we motored down to San Antonio. We visited the Alamo, rode in a little boat and had lunch on the Riverwalk and watched them move the Fairmont Hotel five blocks down the street.
On Sunday afternoon we settled into our prime seats for the National Championship game. The Lady Dogs were playing Old Dominion and we were ready to party hard and celebrate the victory long into the night. Alas, it was not to be. Old Dominion inexplicably dominated the boards and somehow won the game 70-65. The journey home wasn't as pleasant as we had hoped -- but we still made some great memories.
In subsequent spring breaks I watched Texas win the Final Four in Lexington, Ky., Tennessee win in Austin, Texas, (we flew) and Louisiana Tech win in Tacoma, Wash. After that I said to heck with it and started seeking warmer spring break climates. (Translation: Lisa said enough women's basketball.)
Most of our subsequent spring breaks have been spent in idyllic splendor on Jekyll Island. It has become a family tradition to camp out under the Live Oaks on the north end of the island. I have spent some of the most serene moments of my life sitting around campfires on Jekyll, surrounded by those I love, being eaten alive by gnats and no-see-ums, toasting marshmallows and swapping stories -- some of which were even true.
Our days were filled with long morning bike rides, afternoons on the beach and some of the most competitive mini-golf games in history. The bike rides were always the best part of the trips -- except maybe the seafood. There's no better feeling on earth than coasting along the bike path next to the Jekyll River, under the Spanish moss laden live oak limbs, breathing in the salt air and gazing out over the beautiful marshes of Glynn County that Sidney Lanier immortalized 150 years ago.
We won't be making the trip to the Georgia coast next week. If any of you happen to, though, tell the guys at the City Market that I'll be back next year and will buy double the shrimp and flounder. This year I am going back to Texas for spring break. I am looking forward to spending the week at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I'm not being facetious, either. I really am looking forward to it. They tell me that the folks at M.D. Anderson are about the best in the world at dealing with cancer, and mine seems to be particularly stubborn.
We learned this week that it has shown up in my bones, so we need to find a solution soon. I'll let you know how it goes. And who knows -- maybe I'll take Lisa back to New Orleans on the way home.
Darrell Huckaby will be signing copies of his books this afternoon at the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival at the Georgia International Horse Park.