Oh, the places I go and the people I meet

A Manhattan-like traffic jam occurred in the snow-covered mountains of Virginia on our way to Florida.

By Bruce Stambaugh

My wife and I love to travel. It’s a common interest that we’ve had since we met nearly 43 years ago.

We feel fortunate to be at the station in life that allows us to travel when the opportunities arise. Of course we enjoy the various places we visit. We also like the people we meet along the way. We encountered a cast of characters on our latest trip to Florida.

Walking the dog along Main Beach is a common sight on Amelia Island, Fla.

We have learned that a tank of gasoline will take us to Wytheville, Va., where the gas conveniently happens to be cheaper than most locations. We make it a regular pit stop if you get my drift. This go-round there was only one problem. The previous day’s heavy snow had brought down rural power lines. With no electricity, the pumps weren’t working.

I asked the kind clerks behind the counter where the closest station was with power. They said we had passed it seven miles back. I asked about further south, the direction we were going. They said they knew that Hillsville had power, and indeed that’s where we refueled.

We learned from a brief visit last winter that our destination, Amelia Island, Fla., had equally friendly and helpful people. It didn’t take us long to prove that correct again this trip.

The food was delicious and the staff very helpful at Kelley’s Courtyard Cafe in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
After settling into our rental lodging, we went to the Happy Tomato Café in Fernandina Beach, Fla. for a late lunch only to discover that the eatery had closed for the day. Not to fear. A staff member came out and steered us to a competitor just down the street. We weren’t disappointed.

The waiter at this café was kind enough to direct us to the local grocery store. His directions were perfect.

On my first long walk on Main Beach on the Atlantic coast, I was photographing a flock of wintering gulls and skimmers. A middle-aged couple and their teenage son apologized to me for disturbing the birds and making them fly. I told them they actually had helped create the picture I had wanted, some birds on the wing, others on the sand.

In further conversation, the couple and their son revealed that they were lettuce farmers near Jacksonville, and rattled off local restaurants that purchased their produce from the local farmers’ market. I indicated that we had sampled the fare of several of them.

Bike riding and para-sailing are just two of the many outdoor recreational activities on Amelia Island, Fla.

Later an elderly man walking his dog on the beach struck up a conversation with me about surfers and para-surfers he had seen. In our protracted discussion, I learned much about the man’s long, productive life as a government contractor.

At the Amelia Island History Museum, it was volunteer guide Paula’s turn. A retired social studies teacher, she was ideal for the job. She rattled off more information than my brain could absorb. I’m glad she didn’t give us a pop quiz at the end of her lecture.

At the Maritime Museum on the waterfront, Don was equally congenial, though more laid back. Retired Navy officers are like that. We spoke as if we were long lost friends. Now we’re just new ones.

In Savannah, Ga., Nate made roses from reeds.

On a day trip to Savannah, Ga., we met Nate, who made roses out of reeds for his living, which was modest by any standard.
“Just call me Peanut,” Nate said. And so I did.

My wife and I savor our travels together. We enjoy the outgoing people we meet even more.

Sunsets are spectacular over the harbor at Fernandina Beach, Fla.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

Author: Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, marketer, columnist, author, photographer, birder, walker, hiker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, township trustee, converted Anabaptist, community activist, my life is crammed with all things people and nature and wonder. My late father gave me this penchant for giving and getting the most out of life, my late mother the courtesy, kindness, and creativity to see the joy in life. They both taught me to cherish the people I am with. I try and fail and try again.

12 thoughts on “Oh, the places I go and the people I meet”

  1. Enjoyed this very much. We will meet on the road someday. You will look at my wife and say, what a stunning woman, and I will be the troll standing next to her. Walk up and say hi! HF


    1. Whether spontaneous or planned, it would indeed be marvelous to meet you and your lovely wife. I’m glad you liked the post. I loved your post about the sales lady and the desk. I happen to serve as a marketing consultant to a local furniture store, and I have forwarded your desk post on to their sales manager. I am certain he’ll enjoy it, and I can assure you that you would never be treated that way at Homestead Furniture in Mt. Hope, OH.

      Thanks for sharing.



      1. Oh, man, Bruce, that is so great! I hope I didn’t offend you or won’t offend their sales manager. I think the salesperson that “helped” me was an heiress that had to do a “real” job to get her fortune. I thought for a minute I might be on a hidden camera show! Great to make a new friend. HF


      2. No, I wasn’t offended at all. I thought it was hilarious. That’s why I sent to the sales manager. He does the training for the sales staff, which is mostly Amish. They’ll love it because it will be so foreign to the low key, congenial way they approach customers.

        Friends! I like the sound of that.




  2. Just found your blog through Amish America. I had to look up Amelia Island, as it sounded familiar. We vacation every April for a couple weeks on Jekyll Island, GA. Have you been there? We love it! The rest of the year we run a bed and breakfast in a quaint valley in PA that Erik of Amish American has visited. In fact, he stopped in last week and I wasn’t home. Anyways, you’ll have to stop by and visit our area sometime.


    1. Thanks for checking, Claudia. No, I haven’t visited Jekyll Island, but we may do that next Feb. when we again visit Amelia Island. Next time we’re in the Lancaster, PA area, we’ll try to look you up.



      1. Hey Bruce, you won’t find us in Lancaster County, although that’s where my husband was born and raised. We’re in Big Valley, which Erik has described on his site. Our valley is about 30 min from State College. The tourists haven’t found us yet! Three different old order Amish groups here; each different colored buggy tops (white, yellow and black). Amelia Island sounds alot like Jekyll Island; lots of history and nature programs. Beaches aren’t crowded either. Nice to chat today! claudia


    2. Claudia,

      I should have visited your website before my first reply. I see you are in the Big Valley. I haven’t been up that way much, but perhaps I should pay you a visit.



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