There isn’t much to say about our journey through Alabama other than this: we finally realized that we were driving across the country, that it was going to be a long way, and that it was going to be a lot of car time. Also, Grace and Garland are towns that must feel like “home” to those who live there (and have mostly likely always lived there and will always live there); however, it feels like anything but “home” to those passing through for food and fuel. We took an exit which lead us to a sign with arrows pointing in opposite directions. One lead to the town of Grace, the other to Garland. We drove both ways and each looked identical – dirt roads with people sitting on porches staring at us as if we didn’t belong….and we didn’t. You could almost hear crickets, banjos and the clicking of shotguns (“and the whistle of wind through teeth….no tooth!” – Jason).
We stopped at the Alabama Visitor’s Center to take a picture and get some information. As we were doing so we were greeted by James who had a thick Alabama accent (I didn’t realize southern accents had their own twang but they definitely do). He was an older man who had probably been working there for years and new a lot. He took pictures of us by the Alabama sign. Jason was sure that James was either staring at my necklace or something in that general vicinity and that Jason himself may not have made it into the photograph that James was snapping.
Although our next scheduled stop was Dallas, we decided it would be nice to drive a bit out of the way to see the Gulf Coast….so, that’s what we did. We had checked into accommodations in New Orleans, but they were not in the budget. Biloxi, MS had plenty of cheap hotels right on the coast line so we headed that way excited about a good night’s sleep in a room by the water. As it turns out, in Biloxi, cheap = skank. We aren’t pretentious by any stretch of the imagination; however, the Flamingo at $34.95/night wasn’t worth investing in bullet proof vests and watching our luggage (and our backs) overnight in shifts. We drove around and around Biloxi checking out hotels and finally came to the conclusion that it’s either pay a little more or give up peace of mind. We stayed at the Super 8 on the coast line of Biloxi. We requested a room where we could park the Jeep right by our room window and brought inside the valuables – guitars, cameras, laptop, etc.
For dinner we went to Shaggy’s which is right on the beach and completely open. It is most likely the site of lots of drunken nights and debauchery among college students and spring breakers, but was a neat place to see the water, have dinner and not discuss the road for a minute. I had a blackened chicken club and margarita and Jason had the grilled fish sandwich and Indian Summer Ale. We chowed down on food and made small talk with the bar tender about our travels. It didn’t go far beyond how horrible Texas is to drive through and how miserable we would be. In her defense, she did the drive through Texas all by herself and with a 5 month old baby. Yikes.