The Deep South by Jane Wheeler
Wow, we had such a great trip to the southern states. We landed in Atlanta, rented a car and put on 1,300 kms travelling around Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. We only had 2 places that we needed to be at, the rest of the time was literally as we found it, no agenda.
It was such a great way to travel, we got to discover many things we would never have seen and saw parts of the south, we would not normally have gone.
We found travelling the interstate highways was not always the best way to travel because the interstates bypassed towns, in order to see anything, you had to go off the highway. We decided to branch off to take the parallel side highways and they took us through so many quaint little towns.
Many famous books were written in the settings of small towns in Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fried Green Tomatoes, Forrest Gump, Rosa Parks- My Story and Paper Moon.
We travelled on small country lanes, to 16 lane highways with 70 miles per hour speed limits.
We saw/visited churches, pecan farms, road house BBQs complete with wood smokers in their parking lots, department stores, antique shops, craft corners, rocking chairs and checkers, zoo, aquarium, swamps, red dirt roads, water falls, wooden covered bridges, awesome Chris Tomlin and We The Kingdom concert in the amazing Alabama theatre. We discovered Hobby Lobby – a combo store between Michaels Crafts and Home Sense – Wow!
We found out great coffee is hard to find as is a great cup of black tea. Unless you like “sweet tea”, you will be looking for a while for an alternate beverage. We decided Cracker Barrell restaurants are great places to eat and shop, besides BBQ’s.
Brian and I in one small town decided to have lunch in a local hangout. Walking in took us right back to the 50’s with formica tables, nonmatching chairs, and a vibe that said – small town. The food was good and as Brian was drinking his coffee out of a Christmas mug when he commented, “I think they bought this mug at the dollar store.”
I replied, “it does look like it could have come from there.”
He said, “Oh I think they did and they have not washed it yet.”
Baffled I looked at him curiously as he turned his mug around.
There right in the middle of the cup was a dollar store price tag, still attached to the cup.
I started to laugh and did not stop for quite a while, and to be honest, I still laugh every time I think of it. Brian stopped drinking that cup of coffee at that point.
You know what was refreshing? Everywhere we went, people were not ashamed to believe in God. As a matter of fact, God was predominantly still in existence in the deep south. We were blown away by how many churches we drove past while motoring away. There are more churches almost than stores. Most stores we went into were playing Christian music, license plates in Alabama say “God Bless America” and their money says “In God we trust.” Every shop had Godly sayings or quotes for sale. I had not realized until I saw how free it was there, that we in Canada are so stifled, we almost are ashamed to believe God exists because we might offend someone by declaring it. It was a breath of fresh air.
It is not a small area either that is considered the Bible Belt : This region includes most of Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, as well as the southern areas of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana and the central areas of West Virginia and Virginia.
People in the south greet each other, you can count on someone in passing saying to you, “how ya’all doing?” even kids. Brian even had someone greet him in the washroom. People talk to each other, they are not too busy to have a chat. I had a few giggles as the deep accented people tried to have a conversation with a Newfie! Sometimes it plain did not work out well.
It is not all great in the deep south, we saw our fair share of poor neighbourhoods and homeless people who asked us for help. We pulled up to a Walmart in a non affluent section of Atlanta and 6 Marshall cars, at least 10 marshalls and several security guards all standing around talking. We wondered what we find would find inside, nothing exciting happened while we were there but it was weird to find such a large police presence outside.
We drove past mansions, brick houses, houses with front porches – just waiting to be rocked on. We drove by houses that looked like they needed a match but yet people still lived there. Roofs covered with tarps to keep out the rain, windows out and boarded, paint barely an existence. The neighbourhood around that Walmart was a rougher section. We were humbled as we drove, because we realized how much we had to be thankful for. Not all the south is booming and the recession that hit a few years ago is not what we would call over for a good many of those folks.
Our trip opened our eyes to new cultures, new food, new scenery, friendly people and restored the fact that one little corner of the world is not all that much different than the other and we as people are not so different than each other either.