John Eugene Yoder arrived in Miami 30 days after the Big One. Three stray dogs, 48 pairs of tennis shoes, one girlfriend's college degree, seven hammers, 300 condos, and four years later, he's riding off into the sunset.
"I've been here too long. My home's in Sarasota. My family. I'll always come back and see my friends, but your feet get itchy after a while. You get that yearning to go home, stand in that same fishing spot where you used to stand. I got probably one, two, three, four, five -- probably about five men over there I call friends, that I've known for a long, long time. I call every once in a while, but you get to a point where you need to see them, horse around with 'em.
"I'm gonna take the Tamiami Trail. It's the slower way back, and I'm not going to be in any hurry. Me and Alee came across that way one time. We stopped and took an airboat ride, saw the gators, threw some marshmallows at 'em. Maybe I'll stop and do that, just for myself. I'll be traveling alone. Everything I have will be in the back of that truck -- tools, clothes, guitar, TV, tapes. In four years I've gone through seven hammers, three circular saws, and a couple of drills. Kmart $5.99 tennis shoes, right? I went through probably a pair every month. So that's -- oh boy, 12, 24, 48 pairs of tennis shoes?
"I'm debating whether I should stop by Jimbo's one last time. It's another chunk of history they're gonna bulldoze over and fill in. The time won't be long. I might go out to the Redland Tavern and have dinner. That's where it all started, so maybe that's where it should end.
"If there was another one to come through, I'm not sure whether I'd come back or not. If I did, I wouldn't stay as long. I'd probably only stay a year and a half, two years. Of course, this was a gigantic hurricane, too. I'd say if I had it to do over again, I'd do the same thing. It's been a hell of a ride. The angels fanned their wings a little hard, and if they hadn't, my life would have been totally different.