It's that time again - I've got the back-to-school-blues. This morning I left my house in Georgia at 8:30 am or so, and tore up the highway until arriving (unexpectedly) at my aunt's door in Irving, Texas at around 8:30 pm. I sort of sprung that one on her at the last minute. It went something like, "Hi, Aunt Jana, I'm driving through Monroe, Louisiana right now... mind if I sleep at your house tonight?!" Anyway, here's my January 2007 Southeast Travelogue:
I listened to exactly 200 songs over 800 miles. And bellowed my own poor version of the lyrics (or uncertain mumbles when I didn't know them). With a little funky dancing here and there. (Well, funky for me.) At this rate, I'll have listened/bellowed to around 250 when I roll into Abilene tomorrow afternoon. (I realize that this is a silly, obscure fact about my trip, but stupid little details can really become fascinating when you're keeping yourself company in a confined space all day. Anything to keep the sleepies at bay!)
In the state of Alabama, I heard quite possibly the most extreme Southern accent that I have ever heard. I'm from the South, but I'd never heard someone whose real accent sounds like he's doing a Larry the Cable Guy impression. He was in line behind me at Arby's talking to another guy about construction. His profession is "framin', buildin' houses." At this point, I almost turned around to join in with, "Oh, my brother's in construction." I stopped myself just in time by picturing the scene - me rattling off my random interjection, having nothing else to say when they looked at me in consternation, giving a tight-lipped smile and turning back around. I ordered an Arby's sandwich instead, and thought, "It's only noon, and I've already been alone too long."
The Mississippi Welcome sign assured me that entering their state is "like coming home." (It's decidedly not - in fact, today it was quite the opposite!) Still, the magnolias planted by the road are nice. Mississippi wins the "Worse Roads in the Southeast Award" for about the 18th year in a row. (And there's really some steep competition.) It's like a roller coaster... only monotonous instead of put-your-hands-in-the-air exciting.
Finally, there was Louisiana. I try not to stop in that state. I'm still not totally sure why - must be some deep-seated prejudice that I haven't eradicated yet. And something to do with filthy convenience station toilets. I don't know which state thought of putting magnolias by the road, but Louisiana does it too - it's like Mississippi and Louisiana are vying over who has more right to the magnolia as their state tree (or is it flower?). Either way, roadside magnolias are nice. If the rivalry ends up meaning that 300 miles of road are lined with magnolia trees, may the fight live on. Apparently there is an epidemic being spread among Louisiana drivers: they speed up to pass you, swing in front of you, and then slooooooowwwwww back down. Way slower than you were going. Then when you try to pass them, they speed back up so you can't pass. Grr. It drives me crazy!
Once I hit Texas, I really felt like I'd accomplished something. I might even have given a little, gleeful rebel yell. (That's what driving through the Deep South does to you.) Then I realized that a full third of the 1,000 mile journey is in Texas alone. It's such a tease. Oh, well. Texans also have a distinctive driving... let's call it a "talent." One minute, there would not be a soul on the mile-long stretch behind me as I shifted lanes to pass a truck. The next minute, the bright headlights of a lifted pick-up would be blinding me in the rearview mirror. How do they do that?
If you've made it this far through this meandering post, you are a true friend! Thanks!