I left Jackson, Mississippi at 9 AM CT and it was 85, overcast, and humid. I skipped a formal breakfast and hit the road because today would be the longest day once again. I tuned into 930 the Sports Zone to the Rick and Bubba Show. Rick enlightened us about a recent survey in which Colorado was voted the least obese state and good ole Mississippi was the most obese. They said that being from Mississippi they were last in a lot of things but that it was good to finally win a poll! They also played a hilarious song that is worth a listen.
The elevation dipped below 200 ft in Southern Miss for the first time. I bounced into Louisiana feeling funkafied because I put on the Meters a little early. Just over the Louisiana border I saw a sign that said –Prison Area: Do not pick up hitchhikers. In Bogalusa, LA I saw a man riding a bike and carrying a cane, and I began a short spell of speaking in a southern accent, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and for a brief moment thought I forgot how to speak normally. The elevation dropped to below 100 ft, and it stunk in different places.
I reentered Mississippi after a short visit to Louisiana and drove through DeSoto National Forest. The hottest temperature I’ve encounter so far is 95 in Southern Miss. Mississippi treated me well, but it was a state of extremes. It had the cheapest gas, hottest heat, and the fattest people. None of which are bad, at least as far as I’m concerned.
In Alabama, I stopped at the Hickory Pit Too, figuring it had to be good since the name implied that there was another one operating successfully. The service there was prompt as it has been throughout the South. While I was lunching people were coming in and out, and when each person left they said bye in that way only Southerners do, like sheep, baaaaah. I had a pulled pork sandwich for $2.99, and it was ok.
After lunch I completely ignored the GPS, inexplicably, but when I came to my senses I rerouted and headed north, and the southern most portion of my trip was completed.
In Saraland, Alabama I hopped onto I-65, and I welcomed it because it had been a tough morning of driving, 243 miles through back roads of the Deep South, so I was ready to do a little cruising. I put on the Florida playlist early for two reasons – I would only spend five minutes in Florida, if that, and because the Alabama playlist wasn’t getting the job done. So, a confident and secure Tom Petty recommended that I save my money and my cocaine because she was going to listen to her heart, but I kept thinkin’ that her mind was going to change.
I got off I-65 and took the road to Perdido. On my way to a brief visit to Florida, two Perdido youths sitting on the roof of a van near the Perdido Church of God waved at me and pointed me in the direction I was going, so I kept going that direction. In Perdido I also saw a man checking his mailbox in a golf cart.
I was only in Florida long enough to reroute the GPS. It was 89 degrees and I set a course for Atlanta, but I wasn’t totally confident I would make it there. Leaving the town of Atmore, Alabama I found myself heading towards dark skies and lightning.
Almost as soon as I hooked up with I-65 again it began to rain heavily. I had checked the weather map, so I braced myself for 150 miles of heavy rain. I turned the radio down and just listened to the rain. After I listed to the rain for a bit, I felt reassured and didn’t think it would be that bad. I heard the voice of George Costanza guiding me –Eaaaasy big fella. Then an SUV passed me and I spotted a cat perched on the dashboard.
The rain continued as the temperature dropped 15 degrees quickly and all hell broke loose. When I turned the music back on, Tom Petty’s Wake Up Time played at just the right time because I was just a poor boy a long way from home.
Later, as Tom Petty sang You Wreck Me, I noticed that my back was getting a little stiff, but I twisted in just the right way that there was a pop, and relief. Sitting comfortably now, I caught a glimpse of blue sky again, and I knew I was going to make it to Atlanta. Shortly after that, there was a pick up truck with a smashed front, the grill and fender detached and missing, turned sideways on a slope in the median. The storm had taken at least one victim on the roads of Alabama today, but it wasn’t me, so on I went to do the Dirty Bird in Atlanta.
I stopped to fill up in Hope Hull, Alabama and talked to a pleasant gentleman at the register about beaches and the firmness of sand at the Gulf Coast and North Carolina. Getting back on the road I was in the mood for a snack so I opened a bag of Bold Chex Mix that I had purchased this morning in Bogalusa, Louisiana. After two bites I noticed an unpleasant taste and I said to myself –This doesn’t taste right, and checked the expiration date. This was happening just as Social Distortion was singing Story of My Life, and this was the story of my life. I am always the first person in the kitchen to know when something has spoiled or expired. I specialize in milk freshness and I am not afraid to pour it down the sink anytime of day.
I didn’t see much of Montgomery, Alabama except for a sign that said –Jesus was a street person. Dave Matthews Say Goodbye came on right around this time, and that has always been my favorite song by him. Today when I heard it I thought about it in a different way. I used to think that it was about desire and lust, but hearing it today it was different, it sounded as if it’s not a lament about not getting what you want, but celebrating what you have, and giving not taking.
Mark Knopfler sang about a Chevy in the dark as I entered Macon County Georgia. Then I saw a sign that said –Don’t litter, keep Alabama clean, and I realized that Alabama had a Macon County also and that I was not in Georgia. And just now I looked up the lyrics and the lyrics are –Shiver in the dark. Wrong again.
I gave a –WOO, as I crossed the Georgia state line for real, and immediately exited to the Georgia Welcome Center and ran to the bathroom, which had been recently mopped so I slid through the bathroom like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf. After, I booked my room at the Atlanta Airport North Motel 6, and I was ready to make my decent to the city.
R.E.M. played and it’s no secret that Michael Stipe has advanced the cause, by leaps and bounds, of mumblers everywhere. Then Outkast’s So Fresh, So Clean came on and I did not want to hear it because that was the farthest thing from what I was. I saw a sign for Chick-fil-a –next exit, and I was tempted to get off the highway and march in through the front door and kiss a man, but, somehow I resisted.
Zac Brown Band’s Overnight, Where the Boats Leave From, and Toes led me into the metro area. I listen to Toes on repeat for the last 26 miles. I didn’t have my toes in the water or ass in the sand. Right now, I have my toes on a hard, thin carpet and my ass is in a wobbly chair, but we can both agree that today life is good. I shouted –Adios and Vaya con Dios, with Zac, and I decided to skip dinner so I could maybe fit into the shirt he inspired me to wear tomorrow as I make my way out of Georgia.
Tonight when I left the car in the lot outside Motel 6, it was the first night that I didn’t forget anything. I packed tight and all the right things. Life is good.
Miles driven today: 564
Miles driven total: 2881
States today: 5
States total: 22
Cups of coffee today: 3
Song that made me feel like Ryan Gosling in Drive: College – A Real Hero
% of the drive I’ve been barefoot: 100
# of times listening to Say Goodbye: 2.5
Floor I’m staying on at Motel 6: 5th
Flavor of sunflower seeds I ate today: BBQ
DeSoto National Forest