We began our journey to Louisiana on Wednesday. We learned a few lessons from our last trip to Baton Rouge:
1. Avoid running over things in the middle of the road.
2. Go around Elizabethtown to avoid traffic.
Taking these lessons into consideration, we began our trip with a detour through Hodgenville. Apparently this area claims the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. Now, living in Kentucky, I am well aware that many places in Kentucky, as well as Illinois and Indiana, claim some sort of Abe Lincoln fame. Luckily, we got to drive on the road that claims Lincoln’s birthplace, boyhood home, and first schoolhouse. Woo! And so began our first quest of the day- the quest for Lincoln. We spent about 30 minutes counting down the miles to each historic site (they tease you with tons of signs telling you that you’re getting close), before finally reaching a giant statue of Abe in the center of town.
We also remembered (or think we remembered) that our friend, Chris Allen, once worked at an Abe Lincoln tourist attraction. And then we remembered (or think we remembered) that Chris is now a tennis coach in that same town. And so begins our second quest of the day- the quest for Chris Allen. Chris, I don’t know if you live or work in LaRue County, but you should know that we looked for you on Wednesday. We didn’t see you on the tennis courts. In fact, we didn’t even see tennis courts. But we did see the high school that we think may be your place of employment. We didn’t see you at the gas station either, which is good, because if we had seen you there around 1 pm, you would have been cutting school, if you actually do teach at a school. Just to reiterate, we don’t actually know.
Onto the other lesson from our last trip down South. Avoid things in the middle of the road. Last time, we ran over a giant tailpipe. We were determined not to rip up the bottom of our car this time. Of course, we ran over a million small things on Wednesday. First up was a bottle of honey. Eric contemplated whether or not he should swerve to avoid it, while I closed my eyes and braced for impact. Luckily, the little honey bear did no harm. And neither have any of the other tiny things, thus far.
The third quest of the day was the quest for Qdoba (or ‘The Doba’, as my friend Chris Swift so affectionately refers to it). I always seem to get very intense food cravings when we are in the car (and they are, therefore, the most difficult to satisfy), but Eric and I agreed that we needed to eat Qdoba or Chipotle for lunch. We decided to eat in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which is a college town and would surely have one of these two restaurants. False. In what can only be called an atrocity, the closet Qdoba was in Nashville. So the longest hour of my life occurred between Bowling Green and Nashville, as my stomach threatened to eat my entire body. No worries. We got to Nashville and ate our Qdoba. And we even happened to eat at the same Nashville Qdoba as Western Kentucky University’s BCM campus minister. I guess if you’re in Bowling Green craving some of the Doba, Nashville is where it’s at.
Nashville is also the hotspot for cicadas, apparently. As we got closer and closer to the city, the buzzing got louder and louder. Ar least a dozen of them met their demise on our windshield. And the rest of them swarmed us as we got out of the car. We survived this particular plague and pressed onward through Tennessee.
The next exciting adventure was the classiest gas station I’ve ever visited. It was somewhere south of Nashville, and it had a sitting area with leather couches. That’s some high class gas.
As we continued southward, our radio programming (NPR for my super adult husband) was interrupted with tornado warnings. Of course, we had no idea where the counties were that were listed in these warnings; nor did we have any idea what county we were in. This is one of those cases where an iPhone would have come in very handy. But we didn’t witness any tornadoes, and we appeared to outrun the storms.
Our next stop was dinner at McAlister’s. Back home, the only McAlister’s is in Louisville, so we pretty much never get to eat there. On our last trip to Baton Rouge, we saw tons of signs for McAlister’s, but decided to follow our GPS to a McAlister’s location. That ended up being a terrible choice, as we passed a dozen McAlister’s on our way to the location in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. And it turned out that we couldn’t eat there because there was no parking. So this time around, we went to the first McAlister’s we saw, located in Grenada, Mississippi.
We walked into the restaurant and looked at the menu, which I would assume is a fairly normal action. We must have looked really confused, or really Kentuckian or something, as the employee behind the counter said, “Are you from around here?” I guess we were clearly not native Grenadians. Then my friend Liz (who we were staying with that night) called to see where we were. So I’m talking to Liz, saying, “I have no idea where we are”, while Eric is trying to tell me that we’re in Grenada. Except apparently he pronounced “Grenada” incorrectly, much to the dismay of the locals behind us in line, who looked at my sternly and said, “You’re in Grenada, Mississippi.” And that’s where the McAlister’s dining experience went downhill. We had been judged by the Mississippins. And I was so flustered that I couldn’t even order correctly, which left the cashier looking frustrated with me. So I apologize, Mississippians, for having no idea how to speak Grenadian.
A few hours later, we arrived in our destination city for the night- Clinton, Mississippi, where we stayed with Jonathan and Liz Bennett. Liz is one of my favorite friends from SAMBICA (the summer camp I worked at in Washington). Although we got to their house pretty late at night, we got to enjoy a few hours of conversation and lots of laughter before heading to bed completely exhausted.
It’s now several days later, but I’m afraid the rest of the trip’s blog posts will have to wait, as my eyes are closing and my brain shut down hours ago.