Roadtrip part two.
In the words of Willie Nelson, we were on the road again. After our unpleasant pit stop it was wonderful to get out of Georgia…but I forgot about speed limits in Alabama. We were trying to get as far as possible before dark, when the boys would go ballistic but were promptly stuck with a speed limit of 55 on the highway. It was like getting the heck out of Dodge City and getting stuck behind a cattle drive.
It was apparent that by dusk we would have to choose between stopping for Tuscaloosa or a Mississippi town. I was wearing a Texas A&M shirt and suspected it would attract comments in Tuscaloosa. It is hard to be gracious after a full day in the car with kids. Standing and smiling while deflecting comments about a game I didn’t play while trying to get kids ready for bed in a new place didn’t sound fun.
We booked a room from the road and got accurate directions from the desk clerk, which came in handy as we approached the town. The GPS was still angry at me for turning it off at the beginning of the trip, so it told us to take a 5 mile detour in a loop around to reach the hotel. As we exited the highway the GPS (Hal) told us to turn right down a deserted road that had no lights. A large, unlit sign read, “Begin State Maintenance”. It was hard to read the sign because the grass was literally reaching the sign. We glanced at each other and decided it was worth the extra 12 miles to follow directions from a human being, which turned out to be much faster anyway. I am starting to think that GPS directions are entered by sociopaths that try to lure directionally challenged girls into a knock-off slasher movie. Once a dear friend ended up in a corn-field that was supposed to be a post office. Pretty sketchy.A Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one thing, but a Mississippi Massacre…no thank you.
As we happily entered the hotel in Mississippi, the boys were on the verge of melting. They looked a bit like this:
As we went to our room, I saw that several men were gathered around the lobby television. A few were staring over at us—or, more accurately, my Aggie t-shirt. I then realized I was wearing an Aggie shirt in Mississippi 10 minutes before the kickoff between Texas A&M and Ol’ Miss. Again, you think I am about to be intimidated by a few glares? I’m a mom of a two hear old. Please.
We wrestled the boys into baths, mohawked their hair with shampoo, made them little towel mummies, and put them into warm jammies. Johnny Football was beginning his moves just as my little runner finally decided to call a time out. As two little boys drifted off to sleep, we watched the football game nearly on mute. Just then, The Hell’s Angels arrived.
Loudly revving their engines in the lot between the hotel and the Roadhouse, we could not only hear but SMELL the burning rubber. As the 2 year old stirred, we were ready for a throw down. She popped out of bed like toast from a toaster and grabbed her room key with a swift motion, gathering speed and steam as she flew out the door. At that point in the day, I think my mother could have taken on a biker gang. I wish I could have seen it. She returned a few minutes later with silence surrounding her.
When the door opened she quietly slid into the room. “What happened?” I whispered. “When I got downstairs the group had gone out, but I talked to the girl at the front desk to say how outrageously loud the bikers were. The whole lobby and second floor reeked of smoke, so some of them are probably here. If they come back, I’m going to hurt someone.”
Again, two Texan women watched a football game and could not wake the babies sleeping 2 feet away. This became increasingly difficult as the game remained close until the last minutes of the game. Sadly, we were both so incredibly exhausted that without sound, we both fell asleep in the final minutes and hoped the other was awake. When we woke up the next morning we had to search the scores to see replays of what happened. The Aggies made the clutch plays and beat Ol’ Miss. Whoop. Satisfied that I could trudge down to the breakfast area in the t-shirt of the winning team in enemy turf, I joined my mother downstairs.
My boys were happy, but with a full tummy the 2 year old started getting the wiggles. Time was running out, as so was Firstborn. As he escaped his seat and ran a lap, I looked up to see three men at the table near us, staring around in a bit of a daze.The young one was tattooed, wore a black t-shirt and a black baseball cap on backward. The other had a scruffy beard, a dirty shirt and red eyes. The last one had his back to me, but there was a very familiar sense to him. The soles of worn black boots backed up to the chair, under black jeans. A loose white shirt was rolled up enough to show arm tattoos. Long, blonde hair cascaded down a thick back.
It was Dog the Bounty Hunter.
I looked over at my mother. She looked at me. I motioned with my eyes over to the table and raised an eyebrow. She looked and shook her head to the negative. I made the “Really? You think not?” face.
“Not rough enough.” She said quietly.
Honestly, look-alikes? At this point Firstborn took off past the table, and I followed. He had crashed headlong into the chair next to Dog.
As I wrangled him, I gently scolded, “Don’t run off. He’ll come after you. He’s used to chasing people.”
I gave the three men the nod, knowing full well that I looked like an exhausted mother who was traveling across the country with babies. Still, they looked equally worn out and much more grumpy. Completing the meal, I gathered trash and searched for a can. I asked a very chipper clerk where the trash was to which one of the men called out, “It’s over there where Dog is standing.”
As I returned a darling couple in their 80s stopped me and asked if I went to Texas A&M. A Class of 68 Aggie and I had a wonderful chat about the game and Texas, sharing that special Aggie bond. With that lovely encounter, I returned to my room to tidy the room and load up. With everyone in place I checked out with a very nice young lady who had been on the night shift. I mentioned that life must be exciting if Dog the Bounty Hunter showed up early in the morning. She immediately stopped, pushed out her hip and assumed the “Let me tell you!” position.
“That is NOT Dog.” I smiled. “Really? My mom thought it wasn’t too!’
“Honey, that is an imposter. They drove us crazy all night insisting that they smelled weed on the second floor. We didn’t smell anything but they were wanting to knock down the doors! They had little bounty hunter badges and everything. It was a mess. Who impersonates a bounty hunter? Honestly.”
I was trying not to chuckle. No wonder the boys looked so terrible. Fake reality television bounty hunters. You can’t make this stuff up.
Around lunch time we were nearing the state line of Louisiana, but would solidly be in Cajun Country before it would be time to eat. Now, I’ve made the drive from Texas to the east coast dozens of times and if there is anything I’ve learned it is NOT to eat in any places on I-10 or I-20 in Louisiana. This is now a cardinal rule. I reminded my mother of this. She was skeptical but trusted me. Still in Mississippi but dangerously close to the state line, we pulled into an establishment for brunch. While the food was good, we soon learned that we were too close to the Louisiana line to have good water, which was in the drinks. Lord have mercy on the women changing diapers.
Deep in the bowels of Louisiana we pulled over to a gas station and Popeye’s in a attempt to regain cleanliness and composure. Ironic, I know. I sat with Firstborn while my Mom went in. She came out shortly after looking jaundiced and haunted.
“You will NOT go in there. Go to the gas station across the street.”
I was befuddled. “You mean I have to leave a restaurant to go to a gas station to find a cleaner restroom?”
“Yes. It smelled like rotting chicken skins, as if the water backed up and wasn’t cleaned out. On smell alone it might have been worse than the Deliverance bathroom.” (See Part 1)
Driving through the state of Louisiana was dismal, which only increases the sheer joy of finally reaching Texas. Exuding excitement, we stopped at the state line to use a clean restroom, kiss the ground (not in the restroom) and hug the state.
We made it through a few more hours and finally reached home. There is no place like it.