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Lone Star State

I don't believe anything is actually bigger in Texas, rather, it is proportionately scaled to the size of the state

sunny 94 °F

We leave Lafayette around 11 and stop by a local produce store for bananas and coffee. The sun beats down hot and strong, and boils the water from the bayous into the air. My hair is contained, a last ditch effort against the frizz. To no avail.
We head west towards Texas, passing hitchhikers I the entrance ramp to the I-10. A man and a woman, traveling together, it seems. Shari and I debate if we would ever pick up a 'hiker, and the possible consequences there of. We're out of Louisiana in about an hour, the land and sky unfolding before us in flat green fields and mountainous clouds. We pass many cattle farms. Near the border, there is a ranch directly connected to a Texas Longhorn Steakhouse. I don't suppose meat gets much fresher than that.
We cross into Texas over the Sabine River, which my phone soon alerts me in running at 23.4 feet and the levees only on go up to 23 feet, so there is minor flooding in some places. But there is little standing water aside from in the swamps, though there is the threat of later in the day thunder storms.
Our host for the weekend recommended the first rest stop after the river. There is a boardwalk behind the information center, going through the Blue Elbow Swamp. The swamp resounds with peepers, bull frog , and song birds. A man says he spotted a gator hanging out under the walk, but we don't see it. They are pretty well camouflaged. It begins to rain intermittently and we walk to the "welcome to Texas" sign to take dorky pictures with the sign.
Back on the road towards Houston, we set up to meet with my friend from home who recently relocated, Kyla. We find each other and take off towards Green's Vegetarian Cuisine, which is delicious. And reasonably priced. And Kosher. They make their own chips and just wow. Everything we tried was wonderful and super filling, which is important, especially with so much traveling.
Shari and I hang out with Kyla and her beau, Jacob, for the rest of the evening, master planning for tomorrow. Part of the master plan is being out of the house by 10ish, so an integral part of the plan would be my heading to bed fairly soon. Like, now-ish.

Posted by MiriG 21:38 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip lone state star texas lower_48 long_day Comments (0)

Sweet Home Alabama

Where the skies weren't so blue

sunny 86 °F

Alabama is also somewhat boring. It's lovely, in the way that many of the other states we've been through thus far have been lovely: Lush, green. But there's less variation. There's no thrill of rising mountains or the illusion seeing forever across flat farm lands. Maybe we've been spoiled. It isn't Alabama's fault that we've already experienced 11 states before it. But there's something very sad and sleepy that permeates the air around here and I don't mean the humidity.
In Montgomery, we head to the First White House of the Confederacy, where Jefferson Davis lived before the Confederate capital removed to Richmond, Virginia. We pay for 36 minutes of parking and successfully tour the entire house in that time span. The tour is self guided with little copy paper printed booklets. The lighting is dim, reminiscent of gas lamps, and the air smells old. The interior of the house is gorgeous, filled with artifacts and relics from Jefferson Davis and family, as well as the Confederacy as a whole. I'm really glad that we went. I think it's important to learn all aspects of history, especially those parts that people are uncomfortable with. I recommend going if you're near Montgomery (which you probably aren't, but if you're in Atlanta, you're close enough). Admission is free and the Civil War was kind of a big defining point of the character of the US.

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After the FWHC, we head to downtown Montgomery. It's almost like a ghost city. Shops are open from 11-2, and are closed for the day. Workers park in the middle of the wide boulevards. A lot of properties are for sale, and look like they have been for sometime. We're near Court Square, where slaves, goods, and land were auctioned off and where Rosa Parks boarded her bus home from work and refused to sit in the back. The march on Selma went through this square. Sit-ins happened at the now defunct cafes and department stores. The Square, devoid of people, is peppered with historical markers. Near the bus stop where Rosa Parks boarded her bus, there is a small park and a bible is a glass case, opened to Psalms.

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Leaving Montgomery, we opt to get off the interstate and onto local highways. The drive is immediately more visually interesting. I-64 has almost no views of anything around in thanks to tree banks flanking the sides. On the local highways, we are routed through towns, can see logging operations, and cattle farms. And several dozen churches. And the occasional Confederate flag. We are well and truly in the Bible Belt and Deep South, and now we can at least catch a glimpse of how people here live. Part of the off-the-interstate operation is to pick up Florida. We stop in the town of Century, at a supermarket just past the Welcome to Florida sign. We have no choice, Shari says. We need a picture with the sign. So we walk through long grass and red clover and take dumb photos with the sign. And then we walk across the highway to the Alabama state line sign, and take pictures with that sign, too. Truckers and other drivers honk as they pass. We get back en route to Mobile, Alabama.

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Mobile is larger than I anticipated and driving over wide waterways is surreal. We stop in the downtown area. Mardigras bead tangle in the tree branches. There's a community garden and a cathedral from 1835. While admiring the architecture, a man stops us and shows us his stab wounds. "Gnarly," I say because I don't know what else to say. Shari and I look at each other and move quickly around the rest of the block to the car.
We are now safe in our hotel room, a good half hour from downtown Mobile. We'll be up early tomorrow to take on New Orleans. Thanks to Central Time, we gained an hour, and I'm tired from this 25 hour day.

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Posted by MiriG 19:48 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip history alabama florida highways civil_war montgomery lower_48 long_day first_white_house_of_the_confed civil_rights Comments (0)

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