Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Road Trip: Day Four

Road Trip: Day Four
Mileage: 1007 – 1336
Location: Pearl, MS – Lindale, TX
Weather: Misty overcast with sun breaks, 50 – 67 degrees

We didn’t get out of Pearl and back on the interstate until after 11:00 because my husband was on the phone with various car insurance brokers working on our dual US-Mexican coverage plans. We thought we had it settled months ago after learning of our posting to Juarez, but it turned out that the US carriers won’t cover us in Mexico and vice-versa. So, many, many phone calls and two separate insurance plans later, we received the necessary proof of coverage via email for Mexico and packed up the furry buddies to leave.

Western Mississippi didn’t offer much more to look at than eastern Mississippi did, to be honest. It’s not that it’s ugly (it isn’t), it’s just that they don’t put the nice stuff along the highway. We reached the Mississippi River just about lunchtime and turned off the interstate north into the town of Vicksburg looking for some kind of funky BBQ shack. The road wound along the top of a high cliff overlooking the river, with a view of the Big Muddy and a massive, flat barge just barely taller than the water level being pushed upstream by a powerful tug. Along the clifftop drive were dozens of statues memorializing lots and lots of dead Confederates, as my husband put it. In 1863 it was the site of the siege of Vicksburg, which effectively “split the Confederacy in half.” (I didn’t know any of this before, but looked it up later.) Anyway, it was a very interesting town, half of which was spruced up with new stores and some obvious local investment, but the other half had been let lie since maybe the 50s or 60s. We never found that BBQ shack, sadly, so Church’s Fried Chicken would have to do for lunch, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Dodger, who demanded his share straight away. Still licking our fingers, we said goodbye to Mississippi and crossed the bridge into Louisiana.
Barging up the Mississippi

Taken while driving by - mentions supporting the right to bear arms

Circa 1960s menswear shop in Mississippi

Lovely hilltop museum that was probably the Town Hall in better days

Faded balcony along the Mississippi River

Interstate travel offers such a homogenized and boring view of the countryside, so we decided to hop on a parallel country highway to see more of the towns, houses and in general get a sense of what Louisiana was like. This meant giving up about 15 mph on the speed limit, but we decided that if it was holding us back too much, we’d just hop back onto the interstate. Louisiana straight away had a different feel to it from its eastern neighbors. The trees grew ankle-deep in murky gray water, with Spanish moss draping from the upper branches. In the “no surprise here” department, there were still huge numbers of trailers or pre-fab homes as in Mississippi, but there were also nice wrought-iron touches on the eaves or front porches of the brick houses. This is a state we’ll definitely return to explore more, but for now we could only make time by cutting across the northern width. It didn’t take long to get to Shreveport, near the Texas border, a city whose people consider themselves closer to Texans and Dallas than New Orleans. This was demonstrated in the truck window decals we saw showing Calvin peeing on the Saints emblem, and heralding the Cowboys instead.

Finally, just before sunset we left Louisiana behind. It’s always so interesting to me how different a place feels just after crossing a border, and entering the Republic of Texas was no exception. The horizon broadened and the rolling hills gave us a view of a wide expanse of state that we now had to cross. In fact, we’ll spend the next three days working our way across the wingspan of Texas.

First night: Lindale, TX.
First impression: Not great. While checking into our hotel, I chatted with the front desk clerk, noting that we were happy to be here as we’d been driving since Washington, DC. This was her reply:
“Washington, DC? Oh! I’m so sorry!” she says with a snarky smirk.
I figured she was talking about the distance we’d been driving. Nope.
“We watch the news and we know about all the horrible things that are going on up there!”
Uhhh… what? Did I miss some recent atrocity on the news yesterday?
“Horrible things? What do you mean?”
“We just see it all on the news – all that awful stuff that’s going on up there.”
“I still don’t know what you mean. What stuff?”
“It’s on the news; it’s just awful.”

Oh, I get it. She’s talking about politics. Of course now she’s made me mad and I can’t let it go and continue to tell her that it’s just a great place to live, so many different kinds of people and great things to see. We had a wonderful stay there etc… But now she can tell I’m on to her and has clammed up. I silently dare her to make a remark about the President, but she doesn't take the bait. Wise girl.

We unload and Ugly Surprise #2 comes when my husband goes to the mini-mart nearby for a beer. It seems we've picked a dry county to bed down in for the night. With the advice from the young guys working at the mini-mart, my husband was able to find a “wet” county just 15 minutes north, and knowing that a few cold beers would be worth it, he got back in the car to make the trek.

This could be a very, very big state indeed.

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