The kids are getting hungry. “We have two choices. We have Arby's or the gas station connected to the Arby's,” jokes my daughter as we eye the billboards, though she’s not laughing.
We’re on a whirlwind two-day tour of colleges in Gainesville and Tallahassee, seeing if the boy can picture himself at one of these fine institutions. No doubt, getting accepted into either the University of Florida or Florida State University is a tall order. But we’re hopeful, and we’ve got some time to consider a range of options.
This trip is as much about family time as anything, though my vision of bonding with my teenagers heads south as they give priority to making fun of their parents, in the car, walking, eating, pretty much everywhere. I hear stuff like, “Dad, why do you have to be so weird.” That’s fine.
I scoot out of the hotel by myself and hit up a few shops on Gaines Street in downtown Tallahassee, among them Retrofit Records. The dreadlocked dude at the counter is prickly when I pull out my phone to snap a picture (“no photos in the store, sir”) but he warms up once we start talking music. I leave with a used copy of Philip Aaberg’s piano solos for $4.
Wrapping up our morning tour of FSU, we’re sweaty and tired and running on empty. Whataburger, a fun-looking joint on a leafy side street of the state capital, calls to us. “This has got to be one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m so hungry or it really is this good,” says my son, perfectly content.