Cruisin’ in the ATL – Part 1 June 27, 2010Posted by Matt in vacation.
Tags: Alabama, Atlanta, drive-by truckers, Google Maps, Mike the Eyeguy, Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, Salem Church of Christ, U.S. Space and Rocket Center, vacation, zip city
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FYI: I did not forget my mom’s birthday on Friday, but since we were on the road there was no chance for me to post about it. I did call her that day from one of her favorite places, Columbus, Mississippi, but I’ll get to that later. For now consider this a belated Happy Birthday blog post. We love you mom!
As you are probably all aware, our planned vacation to the Gulf Coast was, ummm, shall we say disrupted, so with vacation time already in the books, Diana and I worked quickly to find a new destination for our family. We soon settled on one of the larger locations in the South, one with plenty of family-friendly entertainment options – Atlanta. I poured over websites and came up with a rough itinerary, which we would summarily toss to the side, but which, in the meantime, at least gave me some peace of mind, an idea that I could have at least some control over the situation.
So, on Sunday morning, June 20, the five of us loaded up in the van and hit the road – Highway 72, to be exact – heading for our first overnight stay with some of Diana’s family in Huntsville, Alabama.
When I first checked map, I quickly found a stop that we would have to make, a small detour that would be unavoidable for me as a huge music fan – specifically that of the Drive-By Truckers. Our first stop occurred at lunch time of that day, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Even the fact that we had Pizza Hut for a Father’s Day lunch did nothing to deter my spirits. Soon we found the first landmark for which I had been searching – a smallish, nondescript building along a two lane highway, but one whose reputation and influence stretched far beyond the drab, gray brick walls. This is the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios where artists like the Staples Singers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, The Black Keys, and the aforementioned Drive-By Truckers, all recorded.
Following that, we continued the pilgrimage north of 72, passing through Florence as we inched closer to the state line and the next stop on our agenda, the small community of Zip City. In case you aren’t familiar with the town (and I reckon most of you are not), it is the subject of my favorite song by DBT and one of my favorites of all-time. It’s location is quite remote and the community does not even have a city limit sign. Truth be told, we did not even realize we were there until we saw these two landmarks – the Salem Church of Christ (mentioned twice by name in the song) and the Zip City volunteer fire department. I didn’t get to see the carpet inside the church, which according to the song is “blood red,” but I did get a picture by the sign.
I guess I haven’t spent much time in northern Alabama before, but it seemed as though there was a Church of Christ on every single rural corner. We ended up taking a bunch of backroads from Zip City to get back to 72 and it was like living in Searcy all over again. Nevertheless, we eventually made our way back to the highway and continued on our journey.
I can’t remember for certain if this happened before or after our stay in Huntsville, but there was another funny happening that took place along the highway and it was following this that I became convinced that the people running Google Maps are using some sort of illicit substance. By this time I had relinquished the driving duties to Diana, making me the de facto navigator for a time. Now, I have a tendency to be somewhat preoccupied and to not read ahead in the directions, so, when it said to turn off the highway onto another road, I thought nothing of it. She did so and, like a good map reader, I looked at the next instruction, supposedly taking place after only 0.8 miles – make a U-turn. So, I told Diana that the directions said to pull a Uwee. She did as I said, and I looked at the next instruction – Continue East on Highway 72. Seriously, the directions had us turn off the main road for a short time, do a U-turn, and rejoin the highway, all for no apparent reason. That was only the first in a series of times where we learned that Google Maps is far from infalliable.
We arrived at the Huntsville home of Diana’s Uncle Dan and Aunt Barbara that afternoon and they greeted us with open arms. I have spent very little time around them over the nearly 12 years of our marriage, but in their home we were all like old friends. The only regret I have is that we only took one picture during our brief stay at their home (this one of their middle daughter playing with Jackson), but, believe me, they are wonderful people.
Monday morning we hit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, where we got to read about many of the past and future exploits of the American space program. The girls were not nearly as fascinated by the exhibits as Diana and I were, but they still got to enjoy themselves and posed for a few pictures.
Before continuing our journey to Atlanta there was one more stop to make – lunch with my online friend and fellow blogger, Michael Brown a.k.a Mike the Eyeguy. It’s been an interesting and great experience meeting people who you only know through their words and perhaps a Facebook picture. He is a very pleasant man and I greatly enjoyed getting to spend a short time visiting with him during his lunch break. Hopefully we will be able to do so again – whether it be in Huntsville, here in Memphis, or somewhere in between.
To be continued…