Last night, I got back from a short visit with my Dad in southern Louisiana. He lives on the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain just outside of New Orleans. As some of my long term readers know, my Dad is quite ill. When I last saw him in January, I wasn't sure that I would get another chance to see him but somehow, someway, the old man keeps on ticking. When I left yesterday morning, I couldn't help but feel that once again, I had seen him alive for the last time. Hospice has been called in and his weight is down under 100 pounds. I don't really know how long he has, no one really does, but it can surely be measured in weeks or months.
It was a very nice visit but more than a bit sad and by the time I left, I was mentally exhausted. This old man looking back at me wasn't the father I grew up with and I really don't want that to be the last memory I have of him. I want to remember the young and vibrant man that taught me how to swim, how to throw a baseball and most of all, taught me how to live. Now it's no secret that my Dad and I have had a rocky relationship, he and I see the world very differently, but these past few years have seen a real effort by both of us to mend some fences and bury our grudges. While we haven't totally succeeded, we have managed to at least make these last few years rather pleasant.
Anyways, by the time I got back last night, I was as physically exhausted as I was mentally. The drive from Louisville to Hammond isn't an easy one. Once you south of Birmingham, the terrain gets flat, ugly, boring and more than a bit depressing. Driving through Mississippi isn't exactly my idea of a good time. Despite what Ulysses Evereet McGill might have said, hooking the south up to the grid didn't exactly change things, especially in southern Mississippi as it truly is the land that time forgot. With that, I thought I would lighten things up a bit and give a rundown on some of the more offbeat things I saw on my trip...
License plates I saw: Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Wyoming.
Best River name: The Chunky River in Mississippi.
Most Depressing Town driven through: Laurel, Mississippi. From the highway, you see delapidated public housing, empty storefronts, an industrial wasteland and one slauther house after another. It sucks in everyway possible.
Best town driven through: Besides my hometown, it has to be Nashville. It's a booming metropolis and by all accounts, a pretty awesome place.
Favorite town name: Toombusa Mississippi. It's so small that the internet doesn't even recognize it. Wow!
Best road side attraction: While I want to say Dinosaur World in southern Kentucky, I have to go with the Boobie Bungalow in Tennessee, just across the state line of the sexually repressed Alabama. It's located at exit 6 an exit that offers Alabama residents everything they can't get at home: Liquor, fireworks, sex toys, porn and strip clubs. Evidently it's quite famous for various reasons.
What more can I say?
Best Rest Area: The Louisiana Welcome Center on Interstate 59. In the pet walking area, the good folks of Louisiana have put in a couple of fire hydrants for our four legged friends. Too cool.
Worst rest area(s): Mississippi, all of them. Would it hurt to actually have some? There must be 5 parking areas, no restrooms, between Alabama and Louisiana. Of course, this is Mississippi we are talking about so I shouldn't be too surprised.