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This. This is why I day trip. 

My daughter has discovered an affinity for photography. And she’s good. Crazy good. 

So I committed some of my remaining summer weekends to getting her out of the familiar, and letting her and her camera spread their metaphorical wings.

And I also decided to share these adventures with people we love. Because I love to make art, but I love to make memories. 

You see, long vacations are just not happening. For one thing, they’re expensive. And for another, I simply don’t have the time off to spare. 

What I do have is a new car that practically begs for some travel miles and thousands of options for exploration within 150 miles in any given direction. So the day trips are mini getaways. I told you about our trip to the Mississippi Delta

Here’s where we’ve been this month….

Last Sunday, our friend (and artistic mentor to both me and my daughter) LaRue joined us for a quick trip to the Gulf Coast.

The coast has changed dramatically in the last 12 years. Hurricane Katrina rocked our world in 2005 and there are many areas still recovering. Rebuilding. 

But the beaches look better than they ever have in recent memory. 

And though it rained. All. Day. We managed about a 30 minute break that enabled us to get some photos. But, alas, no sunsets. 

The pelicans cared not.

It was hot. Crazy hot. Mississippi-in-July kind of hot. But it was fun. And I’ll take a stormy day by the water over a sunny day somewhere else any day of the week.

We finished our day with dinner on the deck at Steve’s Marina in Long Beach. One of the advantages to traveling is the fresh fare of local restaurants. I enjoyed some of the best oysters I’ve had in a long time at this little gem on the water.

Would you just look at that? Beautiful. I’m sure, one day, a cardiologist will look at me like I’m an idiot. But y’all, life is short. I’m going to enjoy some fried delicacies along the way. 

Frying oysters is an art form. You can overcook them very easily to the point that they are just chewy bits of fried….stuff. But the people at Steve’s seem to know this, and I was not disappointed in my dinner. There are fans on the deck too, so even when it’s hot, it’s bearable.

Sharing this day with our friend just made it all the more memorable. We enjoyed a stop at Books A Million before heading south, and anybody that loves bookstores as much as Reagan and myself, well, they’re keepers as far as we’re concerned.

LaRue has become one of my dearest friends. There is a kinship that easily developed between us and she’s one of those rare people that puts actual effort into a friendship. In the short time I’ve known her, we’ve learned a lot about each other. Kindred spirits are hard to find. LaRue is definitely one of mine.

She is a precious and beautiful soul, an incredible artist, and a kind and endearing woman.

Yesterday, I picked up our cousins, Anna and Emma, and we took off for Natchez. 

Natchez is one of my favorite places in the entire state. I’ve been half a dozen times at least, but find new things every time, and love to revisit familiar places too. 

I knew, before the summer ended, I had to take Reagan to Longwood.

Natchez is fill of rich history. You can almost hear the Spanish moss whispering it’s secrets….

By the time we finished up our tour at Longwood, all the other places we might see from the inside were closed. We were hot, parched, and famished. So we headed to find sustenance.

We ended up at Bowie’s Tavern. Unbeknownst to us, they were having a benefit concert for a local citizen and the music was so loud, conversation was impossible. Still, we toughed it out. Ate our dinner. By the time we finished, these four introverts had experienced overstimulation in spades. So we left the baby boomers jamming out to Harold and his “sick beats”, and escaped to the quiet reverie of the Natchez Historical Cemetery. 

We wandered around in the pleasant evening breeze for a time. And then it started to rain.

We headed to some vantage points where we could get pictures of the mighty Mississippi, but again, no sunsets were to be had. 

 Still, the river itself is truly a sight to behold. Sunset, or no sunset. 

Anna and Emma are more than cousins to me. Or even nieces. They’re more like daughters. Extensions of myself. They are beautiful, unique, aspiring young women that, like my own daughter, have so much potential within. They are already exceptional in so many ways. Watching them grow up, just like watching Reagan, is the highlight of my life.

I hope when they are all grown, they’ll cherish the memories we made. The times we spent together. The laughs. The conversations. I hope they’ll do things together, long after I’m gone. And that they’ll remember these days. Look at the photographs. Maybe think of me. And smile. 

The summer heat will continue. The day trips will continue to happen some too, but with school resuming soon, they will be more limited. 

Life will soon cease to have the ease of summer and give way to the business of another school year. And I’ll get older. These girls will get older. 

The seasons will change. But the memories will remain. And we’ll continue to make them.