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Published: November 13th 2015
Another month, another road trip - right?
This time, it's not just to get out of town, or for recreation. I've got a symposium to attend at TCU on Friday (tomorrow!) afternoon, and I'm presenting a short story that I wrote for one of my classes this semester. It counts for 30%!o(MISSING)f the course grade, so it's kind of a big deal. It's also the first time (as an adult) that I'll be presenting my creative writing to an audience. A new career in the making? Sure.
I suppose I technically began the trip yesterday, since I spent the evening with Jack in Woodstock, GA. It saved me an hour or so off the drive today, and it allowed me to get through most of that Atlanta traffic, which meant I could leave earlier today and not have the frustration of all that mess. I did have to sit through it a little bit yesterday afternoon, but it wasn't all that bad. I have no interest in moving back to the ATL any time soon, mind you. But I guess it could've been a lot worse. The evening was pretty low key - we went to see Hotel
Transylvania 2 and had Chili's beforehand. That's one of our traditions, so why break it now? Food was good, and the flick was better than I expected. He had do leave this morning around 7:15, which also meant that I had to leave by then, so we didn't stay up too late.
The drive this morning was pretty uneventful. Somehow, the GPS found me a way around the morning ATL nightmare, which always makes me happy. It was a little drizzly from time to time, but once I got to Mississippi, all I saw were sunny skies. I wanted to stop by Talladega, since I've always driven past there but never seen it up close. I'll have to wait until another time, since it was closed until 9 AM. I got there at 8:35, and I was going to have at least another hour to wait for it to open and then take the tour. I did use their facilities, since they were open. I got on my way and decided to see a couple of things in Tuscaloosa, where the University of Alabama is. The Denny Chimes are an example of Art Deco, and my faithful readers know
how much I love that architectural style. I did some more digging and found the "Fallen Giant" statue a couple of blocks away - it's an homage to the former days in Alabama when iron was king. It reminded me of the Iron Giant. And of course, I made a trip back to the big stadium; they had redone the plaza out front - lots of fun statues, but I think the last time I was there (2009) they only had one.
I will say that I was concerned about walking around that campus with my UGA hat and jacket, and my Texas t-shirt. But only one guy even noticed, and he actually seemed impressed. I needn't have worried, though, since probably 90% of the students were all too engrossed in their mobile devices to notice what I was wearing. Sad.
As I moved into Mississippi, I needed to eat and fill up the car. I stopped at one of the first stations available, just past Meridian. Gas was $1.799/gallon!!! I filled that up gladly. But before I could start filling up, a man approached me and asked if I could help jump-start someone's car. He pointed to
them, and I said sure. When I finished, I drove over to them, and it was really no big deal. It was a Hispanic family in a minivan, and a couple of late middle-aged white guys were helping them. The family had the cables, so all they needed was my battery for juice. When it was finished, the family thanked me, but the white guys were even more grateful. It turned out, they were homeless, and living across the street from the station. One guy told me I had "done the work of Jesus" today, and when I offered my hand to the other guy to shake, he looked a little surprised at first. Only after we had shaken hands did I realize that he probably wasn't accustomed to people offering their hands if they knew he was homeless. It took me aback, and it gave me more to think about as I continued on my way.
Next stop: Jackson, MS. The War Memorial Building was fantastic - Art Deco, and a good tribute to the fallen victims of our wars. Next door is the Old Capitol, which served as the state capital of Mississippi from 1839-1903. It was
free, and it looks pretty good both inside and out. There's a welcome center, an intro film (10 min long) and an exhibit on the restoration of the building on the 1st floor. The 3rd floor has the upper gallery for both houses of the legislature, so you can look down into them. The House chamber was hosting the Mississippi mock legislature - high school kids from all over the state - so I couldn't see much. But the senate looked pretty cool.
After this, I wanted to check out Vicksburg. I had toured the majority of it back in 2007, and I found out that there was a loop to drive around outside of the main park. I started down it, but it was not well marked - or marked at all. I have no idea, since the map was useless (no road names that intersected the loop), so after about 10 minutes, I was on my way to Louisiana.
Going from Mississippi to Louisiana means crossing the Mississippi River, and that's always monumental, no matter how many times I do it. I stopped first in Ruston, since I wanted to get a pennant from Louisiana Tech.
I had visited back in 2009, but none of the stores were open. Now I have my pennant. The sun was setting as I left the campus, which meant the final hour of my drive would be in darkness. 9 hours of driving spread out over 12 hours. Pretty good to me.
Once I got to the Shreveport/Bossier City area, my hotel was easy to find. It's a hotel/casino, and there was a massive sign visible for about a mile down the road. And it was less than a mile from the exit ramp, so that always helps in a new town. I'm not doing any gambling, since that requires expendable money; they have several food options in the lobby, and I'm going to check out the VaTech/GaTech game on ESPN as I prepare for the presentation tomorrow.
Also, the name of this town is pronounced BOH-zher, despite the way it's spelled.
Tomorrow, I'll make my way to TCU, but I don't have to leave too early. I need to be there by 12:30, I think, which means I should be fine to leave by 8:30. Of course, that'll feel like 9:30 to me. I've gotten in
contact with several friends in the past 24 hours, and now I've got several visits lined up for this trip, and that makes me very happy. Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky - should be a good trip once I get done with the presentation. And how could I forget my first TCU home game on Saturday? Even better.
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