– Birmingham, Alabama to Denton, Texas –
Today was a major driving day, obviously, with it being the last day of the trip. Last night, we packed up everything but today’s clothes and our toiletries and prepared to run out the door as quickly as we could this morning. With that in mind, we got up at 5am, and we were out the door by 6am. Our drive didn’t make for too interesting of a day, so I’ll keep this one brief.
Since we’d had such fun at welcome centers yesterday, we of course had to stop at the Mississippi Welcome Center. We didn’t stop at the one as we came into Mississippi, though. We stopped at the one in Vicksburg. The welcome center has a lovely view of the I-20 bridge across the Mississippi River, as well as the closed bridge for Old Highway 80. People really love taking pictures of those, Mark included. He also asked me to look into an old cannon on the top of the hill next to the rest area. It feels a little scary, even though I know the thing is totally empty and probably impossible to fire anymore. Self-preservation is a strong instinct.
The Vicksburg Welcome Center is a little unfriendly towards our four-legged friends. They make a nod at having a “dog walk,” but it’s really a four-foot square pad of sand that’s filled with poop that no one’s picked up. There’s also an aggressive-looking guard hovering around the building, which is pretty odd. I got the feeling he loved telling people off for random things. That’s at lest partially why we climbed the hill with the cannon. Ripley wouldn’t have done any of her business on a patch of sand while a stranger eagle-eyed her. She’s a real lady, or something.
We stopped for lunch at a McAlister’s Deli, which are quite prolific through Mississippi. Apparently that’s because the first one was opened in Oxford, MS, in 1989. No wonder they make such a big deal about their “McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea.” We stopped at one in a little mall area in Monroe, and it was almost unbearably hot. Ripley and I hid under a shade tree behind the restaurant while we waited for our sandwiches. It ended up taking forever, but the pickle that came with my sandwich was worth the wait. There’s something supremely satisfying about a nice, salty pickle on a hot day.
Ripley enjoyed the wait, even though I did not. She’s not used to such nice grass, and she had a blast rolling around in it like a little weirdo. She actually does stuff like that a lot when we come across soft, fluffy grass. She really liked the grass in Prince Edward Island a few years ago. We couldn’t get her to walk two feet without rolling in the stuff. It’s adorable, in case you were wondering.
A couple of hours later, when we needed to stop again, we grabbed Master Blasts from a Sonic attached to a gas station. Mark always gets a peanut butter one, but I’m partial to the one with brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough. Ripley, unfortunately, didn’t get any ice cream, but she did get some water and a treat. We waited in the air-conditioned car while Mark went into the gas station for our ice cream. His was a little gritty for some reason, so he ended up being slightly disappointed.
We didn’t go to any Texas Welcome Center, although we did go to a rest stop in Van Zandt County, which is just outside the Dallas area. I think we’ve stopped there before once when we were leaving for a trip, but I forget exactly which one. Ripley was glad to get out of the car, since she’d missed out on our last stop at the Sonic. As we’ve made our way home, the temperature just keeps rising, in spite of the fact that we’ve been in the south for three days. I missed it a little, which sounds crazy. It’s all in what you’re used to, I guess.
We finally made it home before 6pm, which wasn’t bad at all. Ripley was very excited to see her yard, and I was worried about my tomatoes, which are definitely dying now that summer is really here. I guess I will replant in July. That’s when you’re supposed to plant for a fall crop, from what I understand. Last year I didn’t plant until August, but I had tomatoes until it froze in November, and maybe a little after. We had a very mild winter, so they lived for a long time.
Our next trip takes us back up to the Great Lakes with Mark’s parents in late July, and we’ll be getting our last two continental National Parks. We’re pretty excited about that one. I don’t think we have anything scheduled in between, but you never know with us, especially during the summer.
– Trip Total : 4,302 miles –