Along the way, I caught a cold. I guess that'll happen when I have a propensity to get sick a lot and I've been traveling hard. So my SIL insisted that I fly home from Atlanta as the cold was just starting to fester, rather than wait 2 more days and have to fly home in full blown cold-mode. I'm so glad I did because I slept 10 hours in my own bed and after a few hours of night sweats, hopefully I've broken the fever. My throat is still scratchy, but I don't feel as congested. I just got off the phone with my SIL and she just crossed the border into Virginia so she'll be at her brother's in less than an hour from now. She did have to spend one night alone in South Carolina, but her drive into Richmond today is short and she dropped me off at the airport at 5 so we were able to spend most of day 5 together.
We left New Albany around 8 in the pouring rain. We considered stopping in Tupelo, Elvis' birthplace and the Tupelo National Battlefield (continuing our National Historic Site tours) but it was raining so hard we just wanted to continue on. Essentially, Mississippi was just a place to sleep for us. Didn't get the chance to see much of the state, if there is much to see even.
We were driving away from the storm so by the time we got into Alabama, the rain was gone. The landscape was a little bit more interesting, more pine trees and rolling hills along with the barren, leaf-less trees of winter. Did however, see one house with a confederate flag and one truck at WalMart with a confederate sticker, but I still didn't feel uncomfortable being there because I know those people are in the minority, they just like to be outspoken about their beliefs. Birmingham seemed a little gloomy as we drove thru the big city. There was something just a little dismal about it that I can't pinpoint. Maybe because it's winter and everything in general was gloomy, but the city just seemed a little tired. However, we stopped to eat in Moody, Alabama just east of Birmingham and met the coolest lady. We ate at the Cracker Barrel (Yahoo!! Love that restaurant) and our waitress was awesome and so full of character. We started chatting with her about our drive and she asked us where we were from "cuz you don't talk like yur from here." After we told her we were from California, she chatted with us and said "well, you got no winders in California." SIL and I both look at her blankly and just shake our heads. She continues, in her very thick accent speaking very fast "We got a waitress here who's from California. She's been here for a few years now, but she always used to ask to service the window section. Finally, we told her: hon, we don't got a window section. All we got is a winder section." She was hilarious! Whenever she came back to service our table, bring us back some sweet ice tea (there is NOTHING as refreshing as southern sweet tea!) she'd tell us snippets of her life. Her 11 year old son, 22 and 25 year old son and daughter. Her sister, her mother and father and her dawg. Her dawg is a little rascal and chews and bites and her older old son tells her "Maw, you gotta be the alpha. You gotta teach that dawg that yur the alpha and yur in charge". She says to us "Now, I'm just a skinny ol' redneck, so I don't know what no alpha means. And her comes my son tellin' me that I gotta be the alpha." She was so cool, sharp-witted and tough as nails. And, believe it or not, we ate our healthiest meal at the Cracker Barrel: grilled chicken salads. Finally got some greens! Atlanta was still a couple of hours away, but we enjoyed our drive thru Alabama. The roads were good and we watched our speed and the truck drivers because our waitress told us "Them Atlanta truckers'll drive you off the road, an' our state troopers'll putcha in jail fer 10 days if they catchya goin' over ahunnerd so just keep an eye out for 'em". Before leaving Alabama, we saw the big Talladega speedway from the highway. Now I have to watch that movie "Talladega Nights". As well as "Sweet Home Alabama" again. Alabama was good to us.
And so was Atlanta. I only wish we had more time to explore this beautiful city. As we crested a hill from I-20, the beautiful Atlanta skyline appeared. It's a beautiful city. The architecture is amazing. But we only had time to go to the MLK Jr birthplace since we didn't get into the city till close to 4. Spent about an hour there and headed to the airport. I caught a 7pm flight out and my SIL continued on to S. Carolina for the evening. I felt bad leaving her alone, but she's familiar with that area so wasn't driving blind and she had her pup with her. I was home by 11:45 and in bed by 12:30.
Driving cross country is an amazing experience, especially when you can do it with someone you love and truly enjoy spending the time with. There's a lot to see, but there's also a lot of down time sitting in a car just trying to make it from point A to point B. There are countless times when you're asking "Are we there yet?". But a trip like this really isn't a vacation because the days are long and arduous, trying to drive as many miles as possible yet see a few sights along the way so it doesn't get boring. Luckily, weather was on our side till we left Mississippi. We were glad that we went south rather than north thru Knoxville since that rain storm would have probably been icy or freezing rain. And we wouldn't have met the cool waitress in Moody, Alabama or seen Atlanta, as brief as it was.
I'm just so grateful that I have these amazing relationships with my in-law family. Being an only child and with both of my parents gone, I just feel so blessed that Jimmy's family is a part of my life. His family is my family and no one makes a distinction.