Road Trip I: Rogers to Atlanta

Yesterday’s drive was more painful than today’s. I ended up in Alabama, leaving Arkansas at 4:35AM without looking back. I stopped at a gas station just past the Tennessee border and was rewarded with a peach after pumping. I asked for the prettiest one and the cashier said, “Ain’t no peach in there prettier than you, miss.” I was wearing a patched denim vest, a beater, and rolled up khakis. Compliments are better than hugs.wpid-wp-1408230022097.jpegPretty easy drive through Memphis, and pretty cruddy drive through Mississippi, thanks, in part, to a fine man in blue. I stand by the statement that the entire state of Mississippi is just a stretched-out, more terrible version of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Mississippi Board of Tourism, feel free to correct me on that. wpid-wp-1408130995500.jpegSubsequently, I saw many curious-looking eateries, but passed by all of them in sheer spite and punished myself with about an hour of contemporary Christian radio- Christianity is fine, the music needs work. Highlights included the song, ‘God’s Buildin’ A Church,’ by the Gold City Quartet, which made my ears bleed. Hear me out, guy with the deepest voice I’ve ever heard. You had two lines in that song, one of which included the phrase “mighty army man.” You’re better than that. Go join Brent Amaker and The Rodeo.
wpid-wp-1408130631686.jpegWhen I got into Florence, the hometown of one of my coworkers, I sensibly went directly to my motel, put all of my valuables in the safe, and watched vigil over my car for the next 18 hours. Haha, I’m not that smart. I went to the Billy Reid sample sale because it was Shindig No. 6, an awesome party with free concerts, paid concerts, dirt-cheap designer clothing, and amazing food trucks. I bought a velvet dress coat because my mother doesn’t buy my clothes anymore and I still manage to look amazing. And then I unpacked my car and took a nap after asking the cashier at least six times if someone was going to kidnap my car. And nobody did, though whether that streak will continue remains to be seen.wpid-img_20140815_172029.jpgThe concerts on the green were fantastic- I caught Nikki Lane, Dylan Leblanc, and T. Morris and Friends before wandering off to find some food. Biscuit Love and the Jeni’s team of Nashville were there and I ate a scoop of their beautiful biscuit and peach ice cream first, and a ‘Princess’ sandwich after- hot Nashville chicken, mustard, honey, and pickles on a fresh biscuit. Freaking delicious. Sole complaint was that the chicken was made with thighs, which made it impossible to eat as a sandwich.wpid-img_20140815_173723.jpgI decided that it was going to be one of those nights in a new town where I picked a direction and walked until I couldn’t walk anymore, or until the 9PM concert started. I didn’t get very far, compelled by the scent of fresh coffee at Rivertown and the darkness. For such a large festival, the town is tiny. There were still tables in the coffeehouse and I ordered a cold-brew with blackberry and basil syrup.
wpid-img_20140815_182942.jpgI bought a piece of original art from local artist and occasional barista, Butch Anthony. His latest series involves writing on Victorian portraits or adding to them along with pithy messages. This has a skull imposed over a young man, the skeletal hands over the heart, and says, ‘deconstructing the process.’ I am broadening my American art collection and it pleases me. The coffee tasted like the end of summer- the harshness of the extract combined with the sweet flavor of berries and herbs.wpid-wp-1408221906009.jpegI didn’t eat any more that night, but if you’re curious about the concerts, they were marvelous. Wild Cub and Apache Relay played until midnight and brought down the house. I sat in the front row and was approached by a number of people who were keen to chat and I rocked out and snagged a setlist as a souvenir.
wpid-wp-1408229951837.jpegAnd today, I drove to Atlanta.
wpid-wp-1408229971681.jpegAfter flirting with the sample sale again and not relenting, indulging in two great cocktails and a Mexican brunch at Odette, a remarkable Alabama chicken sandwich at Big Bob’s BBQ in Decatur, two stellar beers in Birmingham, from Trimtab Brewing and Good People Brewing, respectively, and a hilariously cruddy SNAFU with Hotwire, I’m at the Omni, exhausted and ready to go to the Bookhouse Pub, #teamlaurapalmer.
wpid-wp-1408229892697.jpegI’m waiting for the bars to open and debating whether I want to go to Ann’s Snack Bar or wait for the next time I pass through. True love waits. It gets better. Florence, Alabama, what a beautiful place. Atlanta is vibrant and busy, and I’m keen to explore.

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