Have you ever heard of Cassadaga, Florida? Yeah… me neither, until a few weeks ago.
The day after Hurricane Sandy hit I left on a driving vacation… headed south. This trip had been planned a few months ago. My oldest daughter is getting married at Disney in June and we were to meet with the Wedding coordinator. As soon as I realized my house was not in need of immediate repair… I packed my bags and headed out a day earlier than originally planned. “Why sit in a house with no power or heat while the water slowly rose up the basement steps?” I reasoned.
When travelling I carry 2 debit cards and about $100 in cash. I don’t use credit cards… at all. One debit card is loaded with all the money I will need for gas, food, and lodging… plus a small cushion. A second debit card is used for emergencies and/or extras. On this trip I planned on charging my Disney Park Hopper Pass on it. Things didn’t go exactly as planned.
Due to the hurricane, the bank servicing the second debit card was knocked out of commission. So was my cell phone. Luckily a different provider services my iPad, so at least I had some kind of communication device.
Driving down to Disney was smooth sailing. I used my first debit card as planned. Trouble developed while purchasing my Park Hopper Pass. The bank red flagged the charge since it was out of the ordinary. I tried to contact them, but all their systems were down. So… I used the first debit card to charge the pass. It cost more than the buffer I built in, so I would have to be creative on the drive home, and cross my fingers the bank wouldn’t be out of service for too long.
Disney was exactly as you would expect… the place where dreams come true. When my daughter first mentioned she wanted a destination wedding in Disney, I was less than thrilled. Expecting guests to spend so much money to attend a wedding totally rubs me the wrong way. At least Disney has a lot of other attractions for the quests, in addition to becoming a family vacation.
The first day in Disney was spent meeting the wedding coordinator, florist, and chef. The coordinator asked which alcoholic beverage should be stocked at the bar for me. As luck would have it their house champagne is my favorite. YIPPIE! Cake testing came first; then menu tasting. They just kept rolling out the tasty food… plate after plate. We started with three hor’dorves … coconut shrimp, crab cakes, and spring rolls with dipping sauces. Continuing on to the mash potato bar, a salad garnished with grated parsnips, and the tastiest pork tenderloin you have ever placed in your mouth served with risotto and Gouda. Oh my!!!! We were stuffed!
By the end of the day I was convinced having a destination wedding at Disney wasn’t such a crazy idea after all. I know a lot of people might not attend because it is too far away and/or out of their budget… and that is sad, but overall this venue is the perfect place for my daughter. She glowed!
My other daughter and I decided to hit the outlet mall that evening on the hunt for a perfect fitting pair of jeans for her. It took all evening, but finally… Success! Since we were still stuffed from the tasting, frozen yogurt with toppings from Munchies seemed like a fabulous dinner idea.
Our second day was free until 3:30pm. We hit the parks. Roller Coasters, Haunted House and more kept us busy until we met with the photographers… and watched the engagement photo shoot. I witnessed first hand what a terrific sport my future son-in-law is. You could tell he thought some of the positions the photographers wanted to take were silly, but he did what was asked with a smile on his face. He explained that his fiancé was wearing her ‘ring of power’ (her engagement ring) and therefore had to obey her every command. Too funny!
That evening daughter number two and I hit up Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival. We set ourselves a limit of $20 each and were off and running. Yummy! I would definitely suggest if you are looking for the perfect time to go to Disney, plan to attend during this Festival. You basically eat and drink your way around Epcot.
The third day I was left alone to explore by myself. I knew this in advance, so I checked out places in my book ‘1,000 Places To See Before You Die’… and came up with Cassadaga. It is historically known as a place where spirits converge. Yes, you read that correctly… spirits… as in energy left behind on this planet when someone passes away.
Not only do I believe we are all made of energy and when we pass away our earthly remains are shed and our energy lives on… but I also believe I have been visited by some of these energies. Yes, really. Maybe I’m looney, but some crazy things have happened to me over the years, a few of them quite recently. I thought I might find some answers in Cassadaga. It is located only about 40 minutes outside of Orlando.
I seem to gravitate towards crystals and gems. In particular, I am searching for a piece of Moldavite. It is found in the Czech Republic among other places and is believed to have been formed when a meteorite hit the Earth a very long time ago. I figured if ever there would be a chance to see a piece of this, it would be in Cassadaga.
My original plan was to see the town and take the historic tour. My money situation prevented me from spending the $15 on the tour… Darn. I was in a severe cash- hoarding mode.
The town is so small, just a crossroad in the middle of nowhere. It consisted of a hotel, extremely small post office, three ‘new age’ stores, a church, and some old Victorian houses. Almost every house brandished a shingle hawking the ability of the owner. Tarot Reading, Aura Reading, Mediums to connect with your passed loved ones and more were all available to anyone who wished. I wasn’t interested in any of that. I drove down tiny dusty alleys amazed the houses were still standing. One two story Victorian that caught my attention had a hand lettered sign tacked to a tree reading: House For Sale – 2 Bedroom – $40,000. Really, only $40,000? I estimated it would take another $100,000 sunk into it before I would even consider stepping foot inside.
I meandered in and out of the stores, taking my time absorbing everything. Nothing jumped out at me. I was hoping I would get some kind of answers to what I felt at times, but no revelations came. The last store was the largest. Safely tucked away under glass was a piece of Moldavite! It was mossy green, shiny, and bumpy… looking much like a solid piece of seaweed. So… THAT’S what it looks like.
I didn’t ask to see it out of the case. I had no intention (or funds) to purchase it. Just seeing it with my very own eyes was all I needed. OK… my visit here is finished. Time to go back to Disney and sit at the pool.
I was a little disappointed I couldn’t take the historic tour… and I was no closer to finding the answers to my questions about what I feel sometimes… but I felt my time here was complete. As I jammed the car key into the ignition a strange feeling went shooting through me. The only way to put it into words is… it felt like a spirit entered my body for a split second… kind of like a ‘hitchhiker’. I involuntarily screamed a name of someone I know (still living), my heart clutched, and tears ran down my cheeks.
That was it. Nothing more. It was over before I even knew what happened. I have absolutely no clue what that was all about. It didn’t frighten me. It wasn’t scary. I simply shook my head, started the car and drove away.
The next morning I headed to Atlanta to stay with my brother for the week. My sister-in-law holds a gift sale in her home twice a year and I am part of the sales staff. I arrived with $72 on my first debit card, who knows what on my back up card and $20 in cash. Speak about sliding into home on a wing and a prayer. It was now Sunday, six days after the storm and my bank still has no power or computers. I am crossing my fingers this all gets fixed before I head home.
Worse case scenario is I cash in something from my investment account being held here in Atlanta, or I borrow enough to get home from my brother and pay him back when I return. Thankfully my sister-in-law paid my wages in cash AND the bank came back online before I headed home. All was right with the world.
While in Atlanta I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend from high school. We weren’t friends way back then… as a matter of fact I hardly knew him at all. Thanks to Facebook we reconnected. I visit him every time I get down that way. We grabbed a cup of soup at La Paz… and talked for hours!
A week later, with my car loaded down with firewood and food courtesy of my brother and his wife, I headed towards home. Leaving Atlanta on a Saturday, I spent the night in a MicroTel in North Carolina. It was the first time I stayed at this chain. Not bad. It was more than I expected for the cheap price, but as I tried to settle down I realized it wasn’t the deal of the century I thought it was. The walls were so paper-thin you could actually hear the guy snoring two rooms away. The jumping bean kids above me were having fun… AND my room was on the side of the building facing the highway. I heard every tractor-trailer, police, and fire truck race by. I decided to drown it all out with the TV… and fell soundly asleep.
The local news woke me up. I couldn’t believe I heard correctly… but the anchorman for CBS news was announcing that a little girl caught her first fish on Saturday… using a Barbie fishing rod. Seriously… this is news?? Back home I am used to hearing how many people died in a fire… not how someone caught a fish. I’m not in Kansas any more Toto.
Homeward bound, finally. It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning as I zoom north on Rt. 81 driving through the Appalachian Mountains. Listening to oldies but goodies on the radio, singing at the top of my lungs. I felt so free!
The view was spectacular. I wanted to pull over and snap photos, but with traffic flying by at 85mph I didn’t think that was a prudent move. Keeping my eyes on the road was difficult to say the least. It’s times like these I wish someone else were driving so I could at least take some photos out the window.
My whole life I have been the driver… always. My husband never drove… it was always me. I didn’t mind actually… it’s a control thing. A few years ago I dated a guy who took over the wheel. I will never forget our first ‘Sunday Drive’. It was fall… I was uncomfortable in the passenger seat. What do you do with your hands? I had too much space between the dash and me. I felt clumsy not knowing how to sit. I began giving him directions and got caught up looking at the scenery forgetting to tell him to turn. I got a little upset with myself for not paying closer attention. He replied I was working too hard at this and suggested I relax. Once I ‘let go’ I really enjoyed the ride. Being able to look out the window like a little kid and see all the beauty around me was awesome. It’s a gift he gave me I will never forget.
Eventually I became so comfortable being a passenger I eagerly sat ‘shot gun’ on every chance I got. Once I even fell asleep for the entire 8-hour ride home from a trip. Those days are gone, and I am back in the driver’s seat, reluctantly. So today, driving north towards home, I decide to go ‘rouge’ and take short jogs off the main highway onto some backcountry roads… trying to recreate the ‘Sunday Drive’ feel. I was a little disappointed since I had to concentrate on the twists and turn and didn’t have the luxury of staring at the scenery before me. A few times I was able to pull over to the side of the road and get out to look… but it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. That didn’t stop me however… I still took as many side trips as I could.
Stopping at rest areas I met the most fascinating people. One elderly woman was seated at the picnic table next to mine. Traveling by herself and eating a homemade sandwich drinking water from a neoprene bottle she told me she was on her way to a baby shower for a grand daughter. Normally her husband would drive, but he was busy. She lived an hour away and liked to stop at the rest area to take a break.
Another couple I met were riding a motorcycle. We were at a rest area in Virginia… and they were headed home to Canada!! Whew! And I thought I had a long way still to go. I loved their free spirit. I always wanted to travel by motorcycle, the wind on your face and bugs in your teeth. Unless I meet someone with a bike I doubt that item on my bucket list will ever get crossed off.
I finally pulled into my driveway at 7pm glad to be home. No one was here. My daughter was working and I guess my son went to visit friends. I was gone for 2 weeks and only the dogs were here to welcome me back. Sigh.