Recently, 60-year Saugus resident Betty B. Stirling, 86, returned from a 4,800-mile driving trip to Florida. Betty was accompanied by her granddaughter, Brielle Beasley, 24, formerly of Saugus. Brielle is the daughter of former Saugus resident Heather (Stirling) Albano and the late Daniel Beasley. Brielle shared driving responsibilities as well as being luggage carrier to and from the various motels along the way.
Driving through the Great Smoky Mountains was challenging and beautiful. Brielle spotted an elk family near one of the visitor centers. A tourist kindly took the photo of Brielle and Betty as they stopped to enjoy the view of the mountains. They drove through Nashville, stopping at Spring Hill, Tennessee, to visit Caroline Madden, Betty’s former high school classmate. The main purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of Betty’s grandson, Michael Messina, son of Vincent Messina and former Saugus resident Holly (Stirling) Messina. The wedding was held in Birmingham, Alabama, home of Michael’s future wife, Meagan Willingham. Traveling south to Pensacola, Florida, they continued on through Tallahassee and Jacksonville, ending up in Stuart, where they spent a couple days at the home of Fran (Kelley) Levin (photo with Betty). Fran, another former Saugus resident, taught 6th grade at the Waybright School for many years.
The visit was cut short because of Hurricane Ian, which followed the travelers right up the coast. They managed to stay one day ahead of Ian, only experiencing heavy rains and gusty winds in South Carolina. Their last scheduled stop was to visit a former church friend in Wilmington, North Carolina, where they enjoyed a delicious pot roast dinner and homemade squash pie! The trip was cut short again due to Betty’s attacks of vertigo. All in all, they enjoyed a wonderful two-week vacation.