Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sung to the Tunes of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Joggers were loping past my car when I awoke on a muggy morning in Murray, KY. I figured if I put in a solid day's drive, I'd be in Austin by bedtime. As I look at Google maps now, it's a 12-hour drive by the quickest route and I was nowhere near the quickest route. Still trying to abide by the no maps, no interstates rule had me going straight south and then straight west. Besides, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana... that's where all the good food is. Speaking of food, pork brains and fried bologna were on the menu for breakfast. I went with a meaty cheesy omelet, heavy on the partially melted American cheese squares. It was too early in the morning for pork brains. I wonder how those are prepared... maybe scrambled like eggs..? This is your brain on hash(browns), any questions? You come back now. My morning tradition included getting lost, so I spent about a half hour on that venture before I got on whichever highway said south.

Draplin? Glass? Beauty.

Speaking of beauty, the sheer density of barbecue restaurants in Tennessee was enough to bring a tear to my eye and a rumble to my stomach. Then, I was in Alabama before lunchtime (you could spit across Tennessee from north to south). That would have to do. I've heard they serve their barbecue with a mayo-based barbecue sauce in 'Bama, but my sandwich had no such thing. It did have that southern hospitality, though. I walked up to what turned out to be a drive-through only joint. The lady convinced me to order and eat my meal on a picnic table out back. Who was I to argue? Oh yeah, if you don't like your cole slaw on the pork sandwich, ask for it on the side or without. Standard practice is to pile it on like so much lettuce and tomatoes. Try it, you just might like it. That was Muscle Shoals and I've heard they have the swampers who have been known to pick a song or two. Whatever that means, I didn't stick around to find out.

Not long after I entered Alabama, I was out the other side of the small corner. That's when the rain began. Because of my southeast then back southwest trajectory, I had to drive through the worst of it twice. At one point, it was so bad that I considered calling someone to see if I was in a post-hurricane, severe thunderstorm type of thing. When it finally ended, I was in Mississippi. That's a fun one to type (as is Tennessee, to be sure). There I stumbled upon the Natchez Trace National Parkway. Think of a national park all lined up on a road and you're part way there. No commercial vehicles allowed. No restaurants, no gas, no lodging. You must exit, then find your way to those. No billboards. Speed limit 50 mph. The only thing they didn't do was pull me along on a string. You must chill now. Everything will be fine. Problem was it started pouring rain again making things slightly less dude. I only stopped once (besides the visitors' center). That was at a cypress swamp. I stepped out of my car and landed in a shoe-top puddle. Neff softshells weren't made for this. A 20-minute walk had my fingertips pruning up. The signs said there could be alligators. I'd like to see one, just not from the inside of her mouth.

Later, gator.

Roadways like the Natchez Trace National Parkway are the sorts of paths we should all travel on more often. Unfortunately, the only other one I know of is the Blue Ridge Parkway, connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Less than 1000 miles of such roads. Mountain roads will have to satisfy. Too soon it was over and Louisiana was before me. I made it as far as Shreveport that night. The Reno of the South, I called it. I'd have taken some money at the poker tables had it not been so late. Hotels were booked up in here. Luckily, I found a cheapo in the next town back east and crashed out at 2am after the longest haul of the voyage. All I needed was a bed, which is good because it didn't have much more. Tomorrow would surely see me to Texas, to hang out with my sister while the weekend still offered its free time.

1 comment:

  1. love the swampy picture! I didn't know you saw anything like that.

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