After driving most of the day on Friday, April 23, the family stopped at a steakhouse just south of Memphis, Tennessee, for a day-late birthday dinner for yours truly. The food was great, the service cheery and timely, and the little “Hey y’all, we have a very special person in the house tonight” birthday song didn’t embarrass me all that much. After dinner, we got back in our vehicles and drove to Jackson, Mississippi, for a nice overnighter.
The next morning we headed southwest toward our vacation destination, Dauphin Island, Alabama. I highly recommend the island for a relaxing getaway, but I’ll talk more about that in the future. For now, I want to sing the praises of Mississippi.
I’ve never been to or through the state before, and frankly didn’t know what to expect. Just south of Memphis I saw what I expected: lots of old looking small "delta" houses on “stilts” and lots of swampy looking areas along the sides of the roads. Further south, the road started to undulate more than I thought it would, and the forests of pine trees, with scattered hardwoods here and there, lined the highway on both sides for miles. It was very nice to see.
Obviously the state’s highway department had some well-planned rules in place for where and how far back from the highway buildings and businesses had to be. The road was rough from time to time, but no worse than I’ve experienced in any of the many states I’ve driven through.
When we needed to stop for fuel or food or rest breaks — or just to walk around for a minute or two — the people we met were all very kind, friendly and helpful. I can tell you from personal experience that this isn't always the case in many states I’ve been through (or to).
And I’m a sucker for a nice, slow southern drawl. Listening to folks talk — even just a short “Thank you … Be safe … And come see us again now” made me feel safe and right at home.
Again, I’m not all that sure just what I expected from the state — it’s people, customs, geography and topography — but I was pleased with what I found. I found it to be a peaceful, picturesque, friendly place; the kind of place we could stand to have more of these days.
On a small, two-lane highway somewhere in the very southeast corner of the state we stumbled across a large white marble block with a line down the middle with the names of the two states for which it marks the state line — Mississippi and Alabama — carved into its face. Nearby there is the usual “welcome to” sign posted by the state. This one was exceptional for one reason and one reason only. Instead of stating simply “Welcome to Alabama” it proudly proclaimed these words: “Sweet Home Alabama.”
My first thought — and my first words upon seeing the sign — I believe many of you will be able to relate to. I simply said … “Turn it Up.”