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Rated: E · Fiction · Travel · #2303849
Adventures of two young lovers to celebrate a birthday
Author's note: (Word count 794) excluding author's note. This is a contest entry for the daily "The Writer's Cramp for September 4, 2023

         As daylight peeked over the horizon, signaling the Sunrise in Oscoda, Michigan, the sky began to hum with an ethereal tune. The twilight hues were gently replaced by a symphony of orange and pink, creating an exquisite canvas of light and warmth. The sun, a fiery orb, slowly ascended from the quilted blanket of Lake Huron, casting a gentle glow upon the azure waters. The mellow whisper of the waves meeting the shoreline harmonized with the rustle of leaves, creating a soothing melody to welcome the day. This spectacular sunrise, unique to Oscoda, was a daily spectacle that beautifully marked the transition from the calmness of night to the day's excitement as if nature was gently nudging its inhabitants towards the promise and potential of a new day.

         With dawn breaking, Joey revved up his old, faithful 1964 Ford Falcon, ready to take on the 1,300-mile journey from the frigid Michigan winter to the tropical embrace of Florida. He thought trading the cold, hard snow for the warm, sandy beaches was enticing, a pilgrimage. The journey would lead him along the historic US Route 23, which bore countless tales of travelers seeking warmth and dreams.

         The first day on Route 23 was a stretch of endless asphalt, scattered towns, and winter-kissed trees. The scent of pine and the cold air was comfortingly familiar, though Joey was hoping for a different melody of the wild, a composition of salty ocean breeze with a dash of tropical fruits. His excitement surged with every passing mile, the anticipation of the adventure unfolding like an unwritten script.

         Joey and his elusive passenger, Sherry, an infectious spirit of adventure, clad in her travel clothes of a sleeveless tanktop, baggy gym shorts, and sandals, made their first rest stop in Ohio at the State University a welcome reprieve from the road. In the vast library, they found a not-so-rare book, How to Live Safely in a Science-Fictional Universe, inside their next clue.

         They faced the initial task of their scavenger hunt, deciphering their second clue. This curious map had been transcribed onto nothing more than a piece of tissue paper. The map was a fascinating enigma, void of written clues yet filled with potential secrets. Joey hypothesized they were meant to overlay this uniquely crafted map onto something, perhaps a physical landmark or a more detailed city map. The only markings were of what appeared to be an egg and a plate with curious cross-stitching.

         It wasn't until thirty minutes after seeing the Welcome to Tennessee sign that Sherry yelled, " I got it. See, it's here in Erwin." One and a half hours later, they stood beside the old station wagon, surveying the intersection of old US 23 and Johnson Road. They did not see anything resembling the symbols on their tissue clue. "I'm hungry. Can we study this at that Bojangles over there? When Sherry ordered, Joey said, "That's it. Chicken and Waffles, see, it's plain as day. Below the menu listing, it said, "Best in Tennessee. Don't believe us. Ask the queen of the country. She is just ahead on the Country Music Highway.

         Joey studied the map, his fingers running back and forth with quick, broad strokes. Then, as he neared what he thought was the right spot, they moved slowly, steadily with precision until they stopped.

         "Where are we going," asked Sherry.

         "Why Butcher Holler smack dab in the middle of Pisgah National Forest two hours later, Joey and Sherry visited Van Lear Historical Society Miners' Museum. There, they found the last piece of their quest. They paid for the old single of Loretta's 'Get What Cha Got and Go.'

         Finally, after days of driving, the tropical panorama of Florida unfolded before Joey. The air smelt of salt and life, palm trees swaying gently to the rhythm of the ocean breeze. The final leg of his journey was a symphony of waves crashing against the shore, the cacophony of seagulls, and the rustling of palm fronds. Jax Beach was as beautiful as he had imagined, with its sun-kissed sands and azure waters. He reached out, putting his hand on Sherry's swollen belly.

         "Well, did we win?" asked Sherry, rolling over on her blanket to brush away the sand Joey had tracked on it.

         "We won't know until tomorrow. I turned in all the required clues and highlighted everything I was supposed to. The judges will announce the winner with the next prompt."

         "Good, then you have time to rub my feet. Can you believe how swollen you've made them hauling me all over your US? Route 23. Did you figure it out? The quest I mean... what's his name going to be?"

         "William David Clark what do you think he'll be WDC to all his friends."
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