Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thomas Wolfe Was Full of Shit

   I got back from the best trip of my life two days ago and I just have to share some of my experiences here. Let me start by saying I was born and mostly raised in Memphis Tennessee. We moved around quite a bit while I was a kid as my Dad was in the Navy. However no place else has ever felt as much like home as my dear Memphis. No wonder greats like Elvis, BB King, and Sharon Stone kept homes there throughout there careers and lives. Its a beautiful vibrant area that in spite of all the growth still looks and feels green.
   The evening before my trip I was packed with car loaded and in bed by 11 pm so I could get an early start the next day. I was too excited however and only managed to fall asleep twice for less than 20 minutes at a time. At 4 am I decided I wasn't going to do any better sleep wise so I got up and got ready. After a breakfast of Yorkshire Pudding (one of my new found favorites) I jumped in the car, hit the bank, filled my gas tank and was on the road by 5 am rolling out of town.

   I got to see the sunrise that morning as I drove west on I-70. It was a gorgeous sight. I am sorry I failed to get a pic of it but it was early and I hadn't thought to put my camera in the seat next to me so I could reach it while driving. Safety first kids! The orange and red hues slowly filling the sky over the flat Missouri farmland was like a painting. I traveled on Via I-64 and I-270 through St. Louis. The morning drive radio teams were talking about Cinco De Mayo and they had a call in discussion about whether you'd rather fuck a taco, a burrito or a donkey. "Unless it was a damn sexy female donkey and I was very drunk I'd take the burrito. Unless sexy Democrats count, no probably not." I thought to myself as I drove through the beginnings of rush hour on the outbound side of the city.

   Driving on I-270 turned into I-55 which turned into I-155. 400 miles into my trip time for refueling and liquid waste disposal. I stopped in a small Missouri town called Hayti for gas and Arby's. I thought it was pronounced like the island. I learned however that the locals prefer HAY-TIE. They were remodeling so I got to use a port-a-potty. Granted it was a nice trailer size port-a-potty with sinks stalls and urinals but it still stank. That could have been due to the large African American construction worker that had just exited it though.
   Back on the road the end of Missouri was not far off. There had been extensive flooding so the Mississippi river was way out of its banks. They had suspended barge traffic as far upstream as Cincinnati Ohio.

          This was along the interstate 3 miles out from the bridge.

          This was closer to the bridge which is in the center of the picture. Still almost a mile out.

           This was from the bridge itself.

    These pictures of the Mississippi River were actually taken on the Tennessee side on my return trip but they made more sense to insert here. I apologize for the quality of the pictures by the way. Keep in mind I was driving. So now I was back in Tennessee. I gave a loud YEEHAW to no one in particular as I crossed the state line.

   Immediately I notice that instead of flat farmland lining the interstate there were trees. Ahh trees! I forgot how much I loved seeing your green beauty graces the roadsides. I inhaled deeply taking in the fresh air and the scent of fresh honeysuckle. Oh my sweet southern mistress how I have missed you!

   I-155 turned into TN-78 which quickly turned into US-51. The highway that runs through Millington. The town I lived the most while growing up. From here on I was home. I felt like Kevin Costner in Robin Hood, "East is that way. I would know blindfolded, I'm five miles from home." I tune the radio over to see if I'm in range yet. 102.7 Rock 103 crackles to life over my speakers. I sigh another sigh of happiness.

    Further down US-51 I see some old familiar sights and of course some new ones. I drive and marvel. I smile and well up. Emotions run high but there is no where I'd rather be at this moment. I finally reach the Munford / Atoka area.

   This is where my oldest and best friend Melody lives. She is one of the reasons I've decided to take this trip. Not just because I haven't seen my best friend for 12 years but because she is graduating College. A momentous occasion for sure. Add in my 40th birthday and well if there's a better reason to take a rip I don't know what it could be. I stopped of at Sparky's Exxon for a bathroom break. It worked out that it was on the corner of where I needed to turn off of the highway anyway. I was greeted by an old familiar smell. This gas station always had a lunch counter but now they added a full blown restaurant out back.

   As tempted as I was I decided to be good and wait for dinner later. I had just had lunch a little over an hour ago so this helped steel my will. Now there is nothing wrong with Kansas City BBQ. Their beef brisket is delicious. But when it comes to BBQ there is nothing in the world like a good old fashioned Memphis pulled pork BBQ sandwich. I digress I had driven a long way, 462 miles. It was time to find my friend. I pulled down the road and was reunited with another old friend. Tree tunnels!

   Sometimes when driving down these roads canopied with trees its hard to remember you're driving at all. It makes my pagan heart beat faster being submerged in so much nature. I drive on turning down one suburban street after another. Finally I pulled up in her driveway. She lives in an absolutely gorgeous neighborhood and has a lovely home. Pictures of both have been withheld however out of respect as I did not ask permission before I wrote this.

   I wasn't sure if she was home or not as she had the last of her college finals earlier that day so I texted her asking what time she'd be home. Since I left out early and the trip took less time than I expected I was like 4 hours early. I made the trip including stops in 8 and a half hours. She answered that she was home now and asked where I was. I got out of my car and started up the walk to her door and texted back that I was here. She responded "In my driveway?" instead of answering I rang the doorbell. She opened the door and I was greeted by her lovely smile. I went inside and hugged her tight, so happy to see my friend again. In this world you meet and know a lot of people. You have many acquaintances and friends and family. However there are generally only a small handful of people that you are really close with. Of these there might be one or two you'd do absolutely anything for. Melody is one of those for me. I'd walk through hell for or with her just because I knew she needed me to and I know she'd do the same for me without my having to ask.
   OK sappiness over for now. We sat and talked for a bit and I brought in my stuff. Later she picked up her daughter mustardfreak (approved nickname she uses to refer to her online) from school. I had never met her in person as I hadn't seen Mel or her family in longer than she had been alive. She reminds me so much of her mother but you can see her father Mark in her just as much. We decided to take a drive around the area and head to dinner.

   In the south Jesus seems to be everywhere. Apparently he is even into modern communications and media. Jesus is a satellite dish, smh. We drove on looking at the sights in the town and area around Mel's home. We drove through Covington. They have a lot of pretty sights as well as a town square that looks like it came straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

   I found an interesting sight and thought of my British followers on twitter instantly. It seems even in the deep south there are those that wish American was still under British control.

   Its kind of hard to make out but this Memphian is proudly displaying the Union Jack. God save the queen! We talked. Mel tweeted. I came close to shitting my pants on several occasions. She needs to either not tweet and drive or get some kind of futuristic heads up display. Then we stopped for dinner at the Pig N Whistle.

   I had the pulled pork sandwich, fried okra, and french fries. It was good but not the Tops sandwich I had been dreaming of. There was plenty of time though that would come later.

This blog post has grown much larger than I expected so I think I will break it up into segments. Two or possibly three, that way it will be easier to get through for the reader plus it will give me more days to fill. So this is it for today but I'll be back with part two tomorrow. I guarantee it! Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome day!

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