Day 4 I pretty much knew I overstayed my welcome. The driving situation kinda tired me out, having to unsuccessfully ignore LITERAL TRUCKS TAILGATING ME BECAUSE I WONT GO 20 OVER THE LIMIT IN THE SLOW LANE. DUDE, JUST GO AROUND. THERE ARE FOUR LANES, AND THIS IS THE ONE FOR PEOPLE GOING UNDER THE LIMIT, AND YOUVE ALREADY GOT ME GOING THE FULL 70 MILES. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?!?!
I stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Tuscaloosa for lunch, when I was stopped by an older gentleman speaking a language gifted to him by the purple dragon he seemed to be chasing. Esther gave me a piece of advice before I left: don't talk to strangers. So what did I do?
... I spoke to this stranger.
I understood nothing he was saying, and it only occurred to me a few sentences into his nonsense spiel that he was under the influence of heavy substances and asking me for money. I had no cash on me, so I apologized and he dropped whatever story he was telling me and went on to do the same to the next customer.
I drove all the way to Mississippi. Columbus, specifically. Once I got well away from Birmingham, it was great. Beautiful even. I sang songs with the Heavenly Choir in God's Court. I seem to find a pattern that, the further away I am from big cities, the happier I tend to be. Heck, even people on the road seemed nicer out there.
Went through a few towns, I thought Reform looked really nice, and the open roads were great. Amazingly there was green grass and golden strands of what looked like wheat, disrupted every now and then by pine trees. A few times I passed logging trucks and just rolled down the window to get a whiff of pine. On the rare occasion I'd get stuck in front of an insatiable speed demon who, rather go the speed (or, heaven, slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of this marvelous land), but there was ample opportunity for them to pass. I realize now I've become a jaded and ornery driver. Huh.
Columbus itself was actually I really nice town. Buildings were pleasing to look at and the people seemed incredibly nice, though I did little more than stop at a gas station before heading back.
This time, I took a longer road. Off the interstate and more into the country, and I'm so glad I did. I've seen sights that will stick with me for my entire life.
Words cannot express the pure adoration I have for God's creation upon experiencing the country side as I did, so I shall instead express it in abstract sounds.
AUUUuUGHHHHoooooHAAAAAAAAMAAAMAAMAAGGAAAAAJAGABADABABABA. NAMANAMNAAAAAAAAUUUUUHAAAHAHAUGH. OOOOOGGHHHHUUUGHHHHHHHH. OOOOOOOHHHHIIIIAAAAAAAAYAYAAYAAAYAMAMAMAMANALAMAKALA.
Did that come across? No? Just take my word for it then.
... also take a some picture.
Any who, back in Birmingham, I realize I'm hungry. I hunt down a place that looks nice and head out for dinner. What I didn't realize is that I accidentally stumbled upon Uptown Birmingham. A quick Google search confirmed that the prices of my desired restaurant were indeed reflective of Uptown, so I put away my poor-college-student wallet and started wondering if one of the neighboring restaurants may be cheaper.
By this point, another gentleman like the one from Tuscaloosa knocked on my window and started asking if I remembered him. Knowing full well this wasn't the same man from Tuscaloosa, I indulged him to see what he wanted. He spoke pretty clearly up until the last few syllables of his sentence, which made me realize this man was both high as a kite and looking for money and was pretending to be old friends with me to see if maybe my memory was bad enough to lend an old pal $200 for totally-not-drugs. I am now wondering if my superpower is attracting junkies.
With one potential dinner location off of the table where I keep my options, I gave up on local and decided to find a chickfila, knowing they were my tried and trusted go to when in unfamiliar lands. I hunted down the nearest on on my map and made a beeline for it, only to wind up at some strange tower. Perhaps a mall? Perhaps a business? Either way it was not a fast food restaurant specializing in moist breaded chicken, and it certainly had no clear way of entering, so I changed course for the next chickfila.
... this one was in a university. I couldn't even find it, I just got lost in the campus' parking garage because for a location that pretends to be full of academics no one seems to know how to optimize a parking garage. This is what happens when everyone wants to do liberal arts degrees: No one can get to chickfila and everyone starves because what else are you gonna eat? Burger King? Don't make me laugh.
I head towards the last and final chickfila I can be bothered to find. I double triple quadruple check the location is accessible, that it's open, that it's dine in and drive through. I go all the way there to find...
There is a HUGE line of cars. And they're not there for Chickfila it seems, they're lining up to go through some gazebo to get checked by some dude in a high vis vest. I don't know if this is some kinda police checkpoint obscurely placed in a chickfila parking lot, or of these people are being checked that they are good Christian diners before being allowed in The Lord's fast food restaurant, but I'm hungry and tired and frustrated with the local drivers and don't have the patience to sit in a 30 car line up. I pull into the McDonalds two blocks down and just sorta sit into the parking lot waiting to calm down before I interact with people and accidentally ruin their day. I sit, I calm down, I call Esther, and leave the car to find the front door is shut (even though it's between dine in hours).
I pull into the drive through instead and sit in front of the speaker for a good while realizing that it's been longer than the usual amount of time it takes for a cashier to answer the drive through call. The lady behind me starts calling out to me, telling me to move forward so she can order, while I start calling back that there's no one in the booth.
Eventually a voice comes through, and I order a spicy chicken sandwich... for her to tell me they don't have any. So I order a big Mac with a shake... for them to tell me they have no shakes. Or root beer. Or anything I want, including bottled water. I order a sweet tea instead, and ask for an apple pie... for them to tell me they have no Apple pie. I l e ave it at that and go to the payment window to see some woman, not in a car, just standing in front of the window, harassing the workers, something about not getting her food (which at this point I'm willing to believe), but I'm in a car and she isn't, and I'm hungry and frustrated, and sick of nothing working out for dinner, and not in the mood to deal with whatever this is. I honk, I rev my engine, and try to coerce her out of the drive through because the silly lady forgot that of someone gets in the way of a car they aren't going to loony tunes flatten and then moments later reinflate. Thankfully she moves, only to do the same at the order window. There's cussing between her and the workers, but I sorta shoo her off again. The workers are thankful, and I get my food, and that's the end of that. I get back to my room and start writing this post. Honestly, can't wait to get back to Texas.