May 23rd “drive 185 miles on I78 then take raaamp on right”

Road trips in the US can be great fun and the one I am on now is only a quick dash across Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and the tip of Tennessee to Memphis. Only 400 miles so 6.5 hours. The drive is not difficult as it appears to be freeway most of the way.

My GPS (called Gavin) has just put me on the I78 which is fine. The “raaamp” thing is because I set the voice to Australian Female a while back when England won the Ashes. That’s cricket for the uninitiated, think of it as the MLB or NBA playoffs but all played at the same place and a maximum of 5 games, or maybe 4 or 3. (Daniel I will change it to English when you win them back). So Gavin which is a she sometimes pronounces things a little differently than you might expect. I used him/her the other week driving in Belgium and we had some fun saying Vooruitgangstraat which was a little cruel of me.

So the important thing on these trips beyond staying alert is to stay amused. I am in Judi’s car and her choice of CD is not exactly the same as mine, much less country but I did rescue the “Creedence Clearwater Revival” CD from the hall stand. I had copied it for Brian the other week so it was to hand as I started out (thanks Brian) so a happy 40 minutes, now what to do with the other 5 plus hours.

Nothing much to see that is until I close in on Birmingham as this is at the bottom of the Appalachian range so I do start to see some rolling hills which reminds me when we do finally settle down I need a view.  Quite pleasant I think and suddenly an open space appears on the left and “Wow” Talladega sits there in a huge clearing. Talladega is a NASCAR track which gets 143,231 people in the Grandstand on race day and several thousand more in the center of the race area. NASCAR is a bit on an acquired taste but as a convert I can tell you it is a lot more than going around in a circle 400 or 500 times. Anyway as fast as it appears it is gone.

I recheck the speed limit is 70 and a tad over that but it should be ok, I really don’t want to get pulled over we have all seen these movies where some “city folk” get pulled up for nothing and spend the next couple of decades trying to get home. Not that I believe this ever happens at all but one should not tempt fate. I am not Rambo and unlikely to turn my CD collection, GPS or iPhone into a deadly weapon. I am also not in a rush I have already booked the room so no rush.

So continue and Gavin takes me off what seems to be a perfectly good road for a tour and she normally knows what she is doing so I just take instruction (I find out why on the way home). For some reason we drift through somewhere North West of Birmingham AL.
I think that’s a big bingo hall and so is that and that and that. Not quite sure what phenomenon this is but it would seem there is quite a rash of them. Not old or closed but bright and shiny and large. A couple at the grand opening stage and 2 more opening soon.  All a little weird I am used to seeing clusters of Fireworks shops as they tend to be at the county line. The same for sex shops in fact the one I passed earlier had a 40ft hording letting me know “Kalli’s Adult emporium” is now a “Superstore” which must be progress. There seems to be no rational explanation for the sheer volume of bingo halls. Maybe like some churches people split off and set up their own or maybe this is a retirement zone so lots of people available. There are Cash ones, charity ones, unlimited prize places, Eat all you can and more. Not sure I would want to be here on a Friday night at closing time. It must be a riot as they all empty out with everyone having a car it must be bedlam on the road. I wonder if there is inter hall rivalry and my mind wanders off to the Monty Python Hell’s Granny’s sketch. Try and focus there are lots of traffic lights.

Anyway back on the freeway now and behind a truck which suggest I should follow it to “Piggy Wiggy’s” I have no idea what Piggy Wiggy’s is so I think I will overtake it instead. Later on I notice it is the name of a supermarket chain, like Win Dixie and Dollar General.

I pass Tupelo which was the birthplace of Elvis and make a note to stop on the way back. 

Nothing much more happens so I put on a homemade CD “Steve’s choice 2”.  (We all do it we make our own CD’s then wonder why did put that song on). All saints, Boyzone, Cindy Lauper, Eric Clapton (Layla) Red Hot Chili Peppers, I heard it through the Grapevine Otis Redding, Living la vida loca Ricky Martin, Robby Williams (2) and an all time favorite song “when you say nothing at all” by a guy I can’t remember, Shania Twain, Van Morrison and finally Whitney Huston who I think had (and may still) the most perfect voice. Not sure what I was smoking when I made this one but I made 5 altogether.

Arrive at the hotel and Pass Sun Record Studios as I get close, ok another one for the list of places to go.

I have already picked my first stop tomorrow as there were two kings in Memphis.