The night before I left I was able to meet a few friends for dinner. My little brother and his girlfriend, along with Nate and Lauren drove all the way from Auburn just to see me off. Walker came too, but he's from just around the corner. I'm really glad I got to say goodbye to those that showed up. I forced myself to not swell and tear up, but now I feel I have to succeed or I will let down everyone who loves and supports me.
Next morning, after a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and a cup of tea, I strapped the bike on the back of the car and hit the road. Several tears were shed because I don't know when I'll see my mom next, similar to those indefinite goodbyes I mentioned previously. I do think that she took it a little hard, and since she had a funeral to go to later in the day, she just flat out did not have a good day back in Alabama.
Alabama gave me a farewell send off... it sent goats. Yeah, I said goats. About 15 miles south of Montgomery on I-65, there was roughly 30 goats grazing on the side of the road. Some right about the lanes, others well off the shoulder, none of them seemed scared of the cars. I fell compelelled to whine, "Only in Alabama..."
Speaking of Mississippi, they had an awesome welcome center. I like to stop at the first rest area of every state I visit on long trips. It's a chance to stretch my legs and it also lets me get a state map, which I like to collect one from each state I go through. Louisiana has closed all of their rest areas; it had been suspected that budgetary issues might be the reason. I had heard the ones on I-20 were closed as well. But in Mississippi, not only was the staff extremely courteous and helpful, but the facilities were amazing. It was set up like a museum of Mississippi history and culture. They had Elvis' Mardi Gras costume from his 1976 shindig! There was also a little exhibit about gulf coast towns pre and post Katrina. Mississippi was hit really hard, arguably harder than Louisiana, but it failed to get attention due to the issues around New Orleans. This little piece they had in the rest area was a moving memorial to the southern Mississippi victims of the hurricane. .
Following the two short stops in Mississippi, I was out of there ASAP! I got to Slidell, LA to gas up and eat lunch. The little GPS unit I have is a dream. Not only can I find a gas station, I can search for food and see what choices are available. It also lowers the anxiety level that comes with guessing on these types of trips. When traveling to D.C. I always thought the exit was "around the next bend".... then 37 "bends" later I still haven't found it. Now I'm able to site back and cruise until I'm told to prepare to turn "In Point-Nine miles." I feel as though I need to name it. I have a few options and I will have one picked before I get to California. But not a nice name, she's a meanie!
Baton Rouge, or as I like to call it Red Stick, LA was a fun stop for me. I dressed up the car with my Auburn flag and antennae helmet then drove through the LSU Campus. Fairly neat campus, but then again everything has a nice luster when you first see it. The city seems nice, but feels like it should be dirty. It was a roadway nightmare: horrible pavement conditions, crummy businesses and lots....LOTS of trash, graphitti, and condemned buildings. Red Stick doesn't make a great impression as one of those cities you'd love to be in.
Highlight of Red Stick was the park where I stopped. Granted it had an interstate bridge right over the lake, and it was butted up against the road way, it still produced a pleasant back drop.
Like a photographers photo shoot set, looking one way it's pleasing to the eye, looking the other direction it reveals its dissonance.
Star framed by the Texas and US flags. I've found out that Texas is the only state in which the state flag is properly display at the some height and with the same priority as the U.S. flag. It stems from Texas' acceptance into the Union. Being the only state to join voluntarily, the flag is just as important as the Flag of our Nation.
For you Dave, apparently you need to be able to so the rest of us are permitted to.