Happier Girl
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Day 26 - Petersburg, VA to Fairfax, VA

A good nights sleep, but woke to find bucketing rain... still, no tornado warnings which was nice :) Actually, it may be sick to say, but both Jen & I had kinda hoped we'd see a tornado... from a distance I mean, but to add a bit of spice to these storms we kept getting caught up in. We did see some funnel clouds at Myrtle Beach, but nothing that touched down or did anything.

We headed towards Washington, DC only to realise that we'd I'd left the map in the hotel room d'oh, so we had to turn back and start our journey again.

We were only a couple of hours away from Washington and before long we were following signs to The Pentagon. Whoa. Big building! I'd hate to have to put the hoover 'round that place I can tell you. The Pentagon is in the centre of a triangle formed by three interstates so we tried viewing it from all sides, although I think we only got to see 4 of the 5, as we didn't manage to see the damaged side... unless it's all patched up already.

Next up was a drive across the Potomac where we were met with the sight of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial to our left. We took a right up Independence Avenue to see the Capitol Building. As Jen was driving, I was playing tour host... "To our right, ladies, we have NASA, and coming up on our left we have the National Air & Space Museum..."

We then headed down Pennsylvania Avenue in search of #1600 and what a palaver that was! One-way streets, blocked off roads, security guards, policemen... you name it, it was blocking our way to The White House. There was no way we were going to get anywhere near the damn place. In a last attempt to catch a glimpse, we drove past the Washington Monument and down along Constitution Avenue which runs along the gardens in front of TWH. We could barely see it through the trees in the distance, but we caught a glimpse and took a couple of pictures. Actually our first glimpse was pretty disappointing... it didn't look like it did on TV and was covered in some kind of dark mesh stuff, but we grumbled and took pictures anyway. It was only after we started to move forward to leave, that we spotted the famous balcony part duh. What we'd been taking pictures of was the west wing offices *rolls eyes*

The next thing we wanted to see was the Lincoln Memorial, but we wanted to view it from 17th street, looking up to it from the far end of the Reflecting Pool in West Potomac Park, but again, as was the theme for the day, no such luck. The entire area was fenced off, although we did manage to catch a quick glimpse of it up at the top end, before leaving DC via Arlington National Cemetery.

The next move was to find somewhere to stay the night so we rang ioevri1Jill, who we were meeting for dinner that night, to find out what area she lived in, so that we could stay somewhere nearby. When we finally got hold of her, she was just on her way home from work so said she'd meet up with us right then. We met up with her in Fair Lakes and had a gorgeous dinner at Logan's Roadhouse before all heading off together around a few shops to find some packing supplies as Jen wanted to mail some stuff home. We still hadn't booked into a hotel at this point, so Jill pulled out her coupon book [watch out, justmecinCindy! You have a rival!] and called a couple of places to get the best possible rate for us which was really cool.

After finding somewhere and getting the car unloaded, we headed off to Denny's in search of some key lime pie. Whilst there, we had a rather amusing server whose name escapes me now, but who turned out to be Afghani... the revelation of which made Shan choke on her pop and Jen's head spin 'round like that chick in The Exorcist. Why this was so funny is inexplicable now, but I knew that I couldn't make eye contact with either of them if I had any chance at all of keeping a straight face. Poor Jill just looked confused at the weird Brits... bless her. We had a good laugh and a good gossip and never did manage to track down some key lime pie heh.

Back at the hotel room we continued chatting until almost midnight when Jill sadly had to leave us as she had to be at work the next morning :( A bloody good night with a really lovely girl :)
Happier Girl
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Day 25 - Myrtle Beach, SC to Petersburg, VA

I woke a few times in the night and just lay there looking at the ocean. Nature has a mind of it's own, doesn't it? The tide came in, the tide went out, and the waves kept breaking on the shore. In a moment of morbidity, I wondered how many people had lost their lives out there... I mean there's the Titanic for one, and all who went down with her, but there have been countless tragedies since the big bang but nature just carries on doesn't it? Damn, I'm a cheerful soul at times, aren't I?

I woke up for the last time at 7am and went out onto the balcony for a closer look and to take a picture. Already there were people on the beach. Probably Germans. A few people were out for an early morning stroll, a couple of joggers wore me out by just watching them, some bloke was scanning with his metal detector, although he didn't look as if he was being very successful, and some were just paddling in the water.

As the sun rose, it became very hot on the skin. I smiled at the possibility of picking up a suntan, if I'd wanted to, in November. I'd probably be freezing my bits off at home heh.

Jen and Shan returned from breakfast, and Jen caught my eye and said that there had been some tornados over night in Alabama. "Yeah, where elysiangirlHeather is," added Shan. We all stood just looking at each other at that thought, hoping she was okay. Then Jen, who was stood behind Shan at the time, mouthed to me, "and they're coming this way..." You know it's quite hard to believe that such bad weather could possibly be about to arrive when you're stood there looking out at clear blue skies, with the sun practically burning a hole through your t-shirt.

Shan was worried, but as in New Orleans we did our best to reassure her, letting her know we weren't worried in the slightest, only this time we both knew that we were.

After the paddling in the ocean thing when we'd arrived the day before, Shan was itching to go for another swim, so Jen took her down while I stuck the Weather Channel on. At that time, 33 [now 36] had died and many more were injured in the 46 [now 70] tornados that had touched down over night, and the storm was indeed heading our way. The eastern seaboard would be on tornado watch until 3pm... still, at least it wasn't a "warning" as it had been in New Orleans, right? The Weather Channel said that the storms would be moving right across the I-95... that'll be the road we'd been planning on taking north to Richmond, then...

We checked out of the hotel, and decided to make a detour via Barnes & Noble to relieve them of some of their merchandise. We weren't there too long I don't think, but by the time we were ready to leave, the blue skies had been replaced by the most incredible black clouds... so low in the sky you felt you could almost reach up and touch them. People, us included, were appearing out of nowhere to take pictures of them... they really were like nothing we'd ever seen before.

It started to rain... the clouds were getting blacker and there was lightening. Jen & I looked at each other across the roof of the car... that look that said, "ummmn... this doesn't look good... maybe we should get a shimmy on and head out of here..."

We took the coast road north, stopping briefly at the beach again to take pictures of the clouds, which seemed to be only inches above the horizon. The rain then started absolutely bucketing down so we decided to take shelter in some tourist shop to buy postcards and a few other bits until it eased a bit. By then it was after 3pm and it seemed that the main storm system had passed, and we were left with regular "English" rain, as we described it to Shan :)

We headed northwest up the I-40 towards Raleigh, NC then north up the I-95 towards Richmond, VA. Once we'd got underway, the journey was pretty unremarkable, except for a bit of a traffic jam as a result of what looked like a major smash... I think a truck had tried to get under the narrow end of a bridge or something. We'd made surprisingly good time, but decided to call it a day at about half 7, 30 miles south of Richmond, and spent the rest of the evening sorting our many bags out for the last few days.
Happier Girl
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Day 24 - Pooler, GA to Myrtle Beach, SC

After a lazy morning, we set off at about 11am. It wasn't long before we crossed the state line into South Carolina, and I think my best description of it, was that it was very "swampy" - lots of rivers, flooded land, bridges, plantations and on the whole very pretty. We stopped in Charleston for some lunch; here even the roads were flooded, although I think that may have had something to do with the bad weather a few days ago.

We took the US17 through a series of seaside towns, all of which seemed to be advertising the Pacific, which was a little weird. I mean isn't that particular variety of wet stuff on the other side of the continent?

Jen wanted to find a bookshop and I needed to find a chemist so we stopped off at Palmetto and visited it's huge outdoor mall, with just about every sort of shop you could think of. It even had an "English" pub with Newcastle Brown brollies outside heh. It also had the first roundabout that I'd seen on our trip so far. What's up with that? Why don't they have roundabouts here?

We arrived in Myrtle Beach late afternoon. We'd had it in our minds that even though we'd had this pegged as a possible stay over place, we might not actually stay if we arrived here early enough... that we might carry on driving a bit heading towards Richmond, VA. However, after parking the car up and taking a walk along the beach and a paddle in the ocean, we were sold. We checked into a 6th floor room of a beachfront hotel, with a balcony overlooking the ocean and couldn't believe our luck that it was actually no more expensive than some of the other hotels we'd stayed in.

I reckon this place would be buzzing in the summer, but it was out of season so a few places were closed, but we were only here for the night so that didn't bother us.

After meandergoosing up the road for dinner, Jen & Shan were going to have a mosey along the beach, so I went off to do a couple more updates and said I'd meet them back at the hotel. When I got back, though, they'd apparently decided that a walk along the deserted beach at night was a little dark and scary so changed their minds... can't say I blame them, myself.

Back up in our room we could see the white horses breaking on the beach, even in the dark, and we went to sleep with our curtains open and the balcony door open so that we could hear the waves crashing against the beach.

I drifted off to sleep having said nunight to those at home... just over the other side of that pond I could see out of the window.
Happier Girl
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Day 23 - Tampa, FL to Pooler, GA

Early to bed, early to rise gets footie fans in front of the TV at 7am to watch Man City well and truly spank Man Utd [you don't think I'm gonna link to them, do you?] live on Fox Sports World :D Actually, it was a bit touch and go to start with, the watching it bit I mean. After watching that DVD last night we couldn't quite work out how to get the TV to show cable, but after mucho fiddling about and looks of sheer panic on Jens face she finally got it sorted, only missing the first 10 seconds of the match. And what a match it was! Even though I'm not a City fan, I wanted them to win simply because they weren't Utd, but Jen is one of the biggest City fans on the planet and was quite animated about it all the way through. It's a shame we didn't video her reactions throughout the match really... pure comedy I can tell you. Mind you, even the American announcer seemed to be on City's side, awarding Gary Neville donkey of the match award... and that was only at half time!

After the match we set off on the road again. Heading east along the I-4 again, the first hour of which we'd already done the last couple of days on our way to Orlando. But for me, this time was different as I was passenger and able to have a nosey at the huge advertising billboards and fancy hotels all trying to out do each other in appearance, and the worlds largest Maccie Dee's, which looked like it was shaped like a huge doobery of fries.

Soon after Orlando, Jen wasn't feeling too well so we swapped seats and I drove with Shan as my co-pilot as Jen slept on the back seat. We continued east until we reached the east coast of Florida at Daytona Beach, where we started the northbound leg of our journey up the I-95.

We arrived in Savannah, GA after dark, and unsuccessfully searched for the sea, which we never did manage to find, but we did have a rather nice tour of the city in the process. What we saw of it, Savannah looks very nice and reminded us of New Orleans, but kinda bigger, newer, cleaner. It had little street café's on corners and lights in the trees that lined the streets... and hotels which were all full :| For the first time on our trip, where we'd just arrive somewhere and pick a hotel to stay at, we found hotel after hotel was fully booked, mind you it was a Saturday night, I guess. Instead of spending ages trying other hotels, we decided to carry on heading north and see if we had better luck out of the city.

We finally found a place in Pooler and were intrigued that the car park seemed to be full of Porsche's with numbers on them. We never did find out why they were there... probably for a convention or something but they were all gone in the morning. By now, time was getting on so we ordered food and slipped off into the land of nod.
Happier Girl
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Day 22 - Tampa, FL

We headed back east to Orlando again this morning for Jen & Shan to go to Universal Studios. I was originally going to go with them, but I've already been there 3 times before, and okay they might have a few more rides etc., but most of it I will have seen before, so I just dropped them off and went on my merry way.

I thought about going to Daytona Beach for a paddle, but instead decided to have a mooch about the area and see what else there was. Whenever I've been to Orlando before, it's pretty much been to do the theme parks etc., but I haven't really ventured out other than that. I didn't actually land up anywhere specific, more of a drive around sightseeing, really, but I enjoyed myself.

After stopping off at a Kinko to fling a couple more updates up, I picked Jen and Shan back up again at 7pm and headed back to Tampa again.

Bob ordered pizza for us all as we watched Blast From The Past on DVD... although some of us were unfortunately struggling to keep our eyes open.
Happy Girl
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Day 21 - Tampa, FL

A leisurely start to the day was followed by a one hour trip along the I-4 to Orlando to drop Jen and Shan off at Sea World. I'd been before, and to be honest it's not really my cuppy tea, so I decided to give it a miss and have a meandergoose around Kissimmee instead. I stopped off at the IHOP for some brunch and then went in search of the places we'd stayed in when I came here with my family a few years ago, as my SIL had asked me to grab some pictures.

As Bob was meeting Jen and Shan at Sea Word in the afternoon, I didn't have to hang around to give them a lift back so I headed on back to Tampa in search of a net café to get some updates done, and maybe take a drive down to the beach. The drive back was gorgeous. I had my window wound down and the stereo turned right up. The sun was burning my left arm, and it was pretty damn hot in the car, but I begrudged putting the air/con on as I figured I should lap it up, safe in the knowledge that I'd be freezing my bits off again when I got home... or in a few days actually once we started heading north.

By the time I found the net café, and got a couple of updates typed up, the time was getting on, plus it was dark, so I decided to call it a day and head on back to Bob's to await the return of the others rather than head to the beach.

Jen and Shan returned armed with loads of shopping bags and it seems they had a great time, despite getting soaked by Shamu heh. We went out to the Golden Corral for dinner... one of those all you can eat buffet type dealys that we really should have over here in England... then headed back to Bob's to watch Ocean's Eleven. Now that is one seriously damn fine movie... might have to invest in the DVD myself... not that the fact that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia being in it sways my judgement at all :) *Homer drool*
Happy Girl
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Day 20 - Bonifay, FL to Tampa, FL

I should probably leave the fact that I'm writing this journal entry whilst sat on a balcony watching the sunrise [Thurs 7th am] over what I guess must be Tampa Bay, but after the drama of yesterdays entry, I should probably state that we're all okay. Although thinking about it, if we weren't then you wouldn't be reading this journal entry anyway, but there you go.

Before we went to bed Tuesday night, we decided that as we now had distance to make up in addition to our long drive to Tampa, whoever woke up first Wednesday morning would wake the others, no matter how early. So at some obnoxious hour with a 6 in it, Jen turned the lights on sending both Shan and I into Gizmo mode, although Shan wasn't at this stage aware of just how early she'd been woken, until I opened my big mouth by accident, that is. We got a shimmy on and by 7am we were on the road again.

Thankfully the weather had passed... despite a little more rain in the night, the skies were now clear, the sun was shining, the oppressive humidity had gone and the roads were starting to dry out. Listening to the radio, we heard that the tornado has apparently touched down in southern Alabama, just north of us, killing 2 and injuring 25 :( The weather guy also added that northern Florida was 'only' going to be a cool 70 degrees that day, so people might like to take coats and windcheaters to work with them. Huh? 70 degrees would be a near heat wave at home!

The journey to Tampa didn't actually take us as long as we'd expected... we'd figured all day, but we actually arrived at about 2pm... and that included the hour we lost crossing into the Eastern Time zone. We found Bob's place and after going out to get some lunch together, we just chilled for the rest of the afternoon, chatting and stuff.

For dinner, Bob cooked up a rather pleasant meal of steaks and chicken, which we enjoyed whilst watching the Man U vs. Saints game on TV :) You know, it seems weird to me that Americans get more of our football matches on TV than we do, or does it just seem that way? It does seem that quite a few of them are Saints ones, too.

A relatively early night followed, with the promise of a much more restful nights sleep.
Happier Girl
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Day 19 - New Orleans, LA to Bonifay, FL

Plan A was to have set off early this morning on the long drive to Tallahassee, however Jen and I had both woken in the early hours, thanks to the TV and the lights still being on, and got caught up watching some idiots make complete fools of themselves on Maury. We finally woke again at about 9am and shuffled our arses into gear a bit pronto, however, while we were getting ready and packed, we turned the TV on an our plans were suddenly changed.

At 10 o'clock, a weird buzzing alarm came on the TV over the program we had on. Details of a tornado warning were scrolling across the bottom of the screen for the City of New Orleans. Great. Apparently, the city was only going to be under warning for about 45 minutes, but people were being advised to move to inner rooms or basements until after that time had passed. Up until now, our rooms had been mostly outer facing, but as if by fluke this one was overlooking the inner atrium of the hotel instead.

Being more intrigued than worried, I took an amble down the hall to have a look out on an external balcony, but all I could see was sheeting rain, no wind or anything, and people seemed to be going about their business. Whether a tornado touched down or not I don't know... I don't think so, but we stayed in our room until advised otherwise.

We set off east on the I-10 towards Tallahassee. We had spoken about a riverboat trip on the Mississippi, but with the weather being as it was, i.e. still pissing it down with rain, it didn't sound like such an attractive proposition. We'd also thought about paying some plantation houses a visit, but they were an hour away in the wrong direction so we decided to give them a miss too. We did, however, satisfy my morbid curiosity and go and see some of the old cemeteries, which were kind of on the route we needed. No tiny lil gravestones or plaques in these graveyards... flaming great tombs of all shapes and sizes... rows upon rows of them... cemeteries next to cemeteries. If it wasn't such a morbid thing, bearing in mind what they were, they could actually be described as being quite a sight. If you've seen the film Double Jeopardy, you'll have seen one such cemetery towards the end of the film. Now me being miss snap-happy camera person, I decided to pull the car over on the side of the road across from one of these cemeteries, roll down my window and take a picture... just as a car came flying past straight through the flood I'd managed to stop in... and a wall of water came winging it's way straight through the open window literally drenching me from head to toe, along with the whole of the inside of the front of the car. For some obscure reason, Jen and Shan found this hysterically amusing... the buggers... all tucked up nice and warm and dry on the back seat of the car grrr...

As I believe I may have mentioned, the weather was terrible... we were following the tail end of the storm, which had made us prisoners in our hotel room first thing. It was not a pleasant journey by any stretch of the imagination, especially with big trucks on the road kicking up spray, but we were doing okay... it was daylight, we were keeping up with the flow of traffic, and although the roads were like lakes, we could see the lane lines.

Thanks to the oversleeping and the tornado thing, we were running behind schedule, which would mean us arriving in Tallahassee after dark... not the ideal situation, but it wasn't the first time and it probably wouldn't be the last. I reckoned we'd get there by about 6.30pm which wasn't too bad, but by about 5pm the rain was getting heavier and heavier and within moments we were driving through a massive thunderstorm. Shan was understandably unnerved by the size of the storm, all the thunder and lightening all around us, and she wasn't the only one. By now, the freeway was completely flooded... even with the windscreen wipers going full speed I could hardly see anything in front of me, no cars... even though I knew there were some, no road... all I'd get a glimpse of were the white lane lines to the left of me. I was crawling along at God knows what pathetic speed, with my hazard lights flashing in the hope that other vehicles might be able to see me, because the only other vehicles that I could see were the bloody great bastard inconsiderate thoughtless trucks that went flying past in the fast lane. The trucks were way above any spray that was being kicked up off the road, but when they went past, they reduced my very very VERY restricted view to absolutely nothing. All I could do when one went past was pray that in the moments until I could glimpse a white line again that I didn't land up taking us off the freeway into a ditch, or a barrier, or into any other traffic. I literally couldn't see anything.

I don't mind admitting that I was petrified. I could feel myself shaking inside and gripping the steering wheel so tight, but trying to keep a hold of my emotions and channel my panic by singing at the top if my voice to whatever was in the CD player. I considered pulling over onto the shoulder until the storm had passed, but I figured that we'd be a sitting target for other unsuspecting vehicles, so all we could do was keep going until we spotted the next exit, which seemed forever.

The next exit appeared. We didn't have a clue where we were... it didn't matter... as long as it was going to get us off the freeway where we could at least park up for a while. As luck would have it, there was a 'lodgings' sign posted at the exit, and although we couldn't actually read what it said, it would be somewhere we could hole up and sleep the night, resuming our journey in the morning.

Jen checked us into the hotel and she and Shan went into our room. I just sat in the car for a few moments to try and calm down. I didn't want to worry Shan any more than she already was, by seeing me shaky and upset.

I've never driven in conditions like that before, nor do I ever wish to again. I really thought that was going to be 'it' for us. One minute it was bad rain, the next we were surrounded on all sides by dark curtains of water, thunder and lightening.

I grabbed my bags, went into the room, and we all hugged. We sat there in relative silence for a bit until we turned the TV on, only to be greeted with our second tornado warning of the day. It seems we'd just been driving through the very storm that was fuelling this warning.

The whole area is on tornado warning for the whole night, but as I sit here writing this, all is calm outside and the rain has stopped. Please God let it stay that way.
Happy Girl
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Day 18 – Birmingham, AL to New Orleans, LA

I think the call about meeting for breakfast rather than dinner was a good one. I slept like a log so I must have been more tired than I’d thought. We drove into the city, two Brit chicks in ball caps driving a white car, trying to spot an American chick in a pinky/purpley top and hound’s-tooth skirt... simple really... It was actually Shan who landed up spotting her, despite Jen and I wandering up and down streets and hanging around on corners like we were touting for business.

Heather is a really lovely girl and has a wonderful ‘suthen’ accent. She immediately greeted me and “hugged my neck” as she’d been threatening to do every since Birmingham was added to our itinerary heh. She took us to a pancake house for breakfast where Jen ordered grits. Now I had no clue as to what these things were... I imagined something quite, well, ‘gritty’... but really they were more like the consistency and taste of rice pudding... they weren’t too bad actually, although I think a blob of raspberry jam would have gone down quite nicely with them. Heather, however, being a ‘suthen’ girl had hers with scrambled eggs. *twitch-twitch* :þ

After breakfast we, tried kidnapping Heather to come to New Orleans with us, but she had this small obligation called ‘work’ or something and apparently her boss would probably have sacked her if she’d just disappeared :/ we said our goodbyes and headed south through Mississippi [every time I write/type that word I spell it out loud in my head... M I double S I double S I double P I...]. This is where we had our first run-in with the law. Not too bad really considering we’d already got a few thousand miles under our belts. Jen was accidentally *cough* doing 84mph on a 70mph long, straight, clear, dry road. Unfortunately, there must have been a speed gun hidden somewhere, because a State Trooper appeared out of nowhere onto the hard shoulder and motioned us to pull over.

He sauntered up to her window with a bloody great gun on his hip and asked her what we were doing in that part of the country... obviously having seen the Washington license plate on the car... Jen told him we were headed to New Orleans... he then asked to see her drivers license, which she showed him... “Ooh, you’re from the UK!” He then added that she’d been doing 84mph in a 70mph limit. Jen apologized, he then said she just needed to slow down and wandered off. That was it! No fine, no caution, no nothing! I guess ticketing a foreigner is too much paperwork or something, but we weren’t complaining. Needless to say, the cruise control was set at a dead 70mph from then on... well, until we crossed the state line into Louisiana 11 miles later, that is.

Arriving in New Orleans, or Nawlins as the locals apparently pronounce it, was a beautiful sight. Even though the cloud cover was low, the city just looked beautiful... one of the prettiest city arrivals we’d made. We checked into our hotel on Canal Street, just a few blocks outside of the French Quarter. After putting our feet up for an hour or so, we got a taxi into the Quarter, and had dinner at the Olde Nawlins Cookery on Conti Street. This is another restaurant I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the city. The food was absolutely delicious. We had Opelousas Onion to start with, then Shan had blackened chicken, Jen had redfish, and I had shrimp creole. I may also have partaken in a cocktail or two. Actually I was only going to have the one, but you got a free glass with each cocktail and Jen wanted one so I was forced to have another just to get the glass :) One was a Hurricane and the other was a Binge... I have no real idea what was in them, although I think copious amounts of rum was involved... either way, I left the place considerably buzzed :)

After dinner we went for a walk down the famous Bourbon Street. What an amazing place! Even though it was a Monday night, there were loads of people milling about. Jazz and blues music was blaring out of every bar and shop as you walked down the street... the place was so alive and it was nice to be able to go out at night without a jacket or anything, because even though it was late, it was still warm enough to be walking about in sleeveless tops.

After covering the length of the street, we grabbed a taxi back to our hotel and fell asleep in front of the football.
Happy Girl
  • ella

Day 17 – Memphis, TN to Birmingham, AL

Shan and I were rudely awaken at about 3am by some kind of row outside our hotel room. It sounded like a family had arrived to move into the room next to us, but instead of taking into account the time and talking in hushed voices, they decided to shout to each other... for about half an hour... before settling down in front of a television at full volume. I was getting more and more wound up, but remembering the Harley l’incident a couple of days ago, I managed to retrain my desire to go out and tell them to shut the f@%! up for fear of getting a gun in my face. Instead I just hoped that someone else would have the nerve. Either they did shut up or I just got used to the noise because the next thing I knew it was 7am. I vaguely thought about getting up, but again I must have dosed off because the next thing I knew it was after 9am. Then started a mad panic because we had originally planned on having an early start for the long drive to Birmingham, Alabama.

Being in Memphis, we of course had to visit Gracelands. It’s like the law or something. All the way there, as in just ‘round the corner, I was singing the classic Paul Simon song in my head, but once there I have to say I was a little disappointed. I think so much had been built up about this place in my head and/or expectations about this huge ‘magical’ place that most everybody has heard of and a lot of people aspire to visit, but it felt slightly weird being there. It was like we were intruders having a nosey around some dead guys house :/ It didn’t feel very Elvis-y, whatever that is. The massive ‘musical’ gates were actually quite small, and although we got to have a look around most of the downstairs and basement of the house, the upstairs was out of bounds because that was Elvis’ personal residence. Erm, I’m sorry, is that not what we were supposed to be seeing? I’m not a huge Elvis fan, although I do like his music... and to see all his gold & platinum records was quite impressive. The meditation garden, i.e. the place where he and his close family are supposedly buried was quite weird too, but like I said at the start of this waffle, I’m not really sure what I expected. Despite all that, I am glad I went... it was a sight to see and somewhere else I can say I’ve been. By the way... if you’re an Elvis fan and you go there, dance around, sing and do Elvis impressions whilst in the queue for the tour bus... it will provide endless moments of amusement for those stood in front of you...

We finally left Memphis at about half 12... by now thinking that we weren’t going to make to Birmingham in time for dinner with Heather [elysiangirl], but despite the rain absolutely bouncing down the whole way, to the point where the road was barely visible at times, we actually made good time and arrived at about half 5. By the time we managed to get hold of Heather, though, it was about 8pm-ish so we all decided to make plans for brunch instead. I quite like this meeting up for breakfast thing... it’s much bigger here than it is at home and it’s quite a social thing to do really... as long as I’m not expected to be too conscious, that is.

We ordered take out, stuck the TV on and then curled up with a book for the night. Ooh, ooh, ooh, I almost forgot... I tried one of those Twinky things today! I’ve heard of them several times in the past but never even knew what they were, so when we were in Wal-mart the other day, I saw a pack at the checkout and grabbed one. How do I put it? They’re like sponge-y textured sugar with plastic cream inside. Apparently my face was a picture when I took my first [and last] bite, which Jen & Shan found amusing for some l’obscure reason. Still, at least I satisfied my curiosity :)