It was bound to happen eventually, the “meh..” point in our travels. Our unflagging curiosity and enthusiasm since August 2012 is challenged by Alabama. Perhaps it is because my son is home from college visiting our friends in Albany, CA and…I wanna be there with him!
Perhaps the multigenerational poverty, seeing people and places where “tough times” is a chronic condition, not a new concept from a recently bad economy. Driving through too many small towns where the housing stock is characterized by stove in trailers, or every 5th house is boarded up, burned and sagging, creates sadness in any compassionate person. Maybe ugliness, like observing a merchant ( a new immigrant himself) denigrate an older black man with a snarl (he lost our business instantly) is getting to us. We found some downtowns with populations of 17,000 just like Albany, CA where there was no WiFi and no public bathroom available in the Downtown area, no matter how many merchants we asked. Was it our attire? Accent? Did we just look too much like Blue State people to merit their welcome? We just weren’t feeling that Southern Hospitality in Alabama. But then again, we failed to visit Birmingham, the “Big City”, where they might even have Wi-Fi somewhere in the Downtown area….
We got a momentary thrill from some local art exhibits like the amazing glass exhibit at the Montgomery Museum of Art! Watch out Dale Chihuly….you have some competition out there!
We also got a lift from a wonderful children’s museum, ArtWorks, especially the duct tape art…..
…and this totem pole:
Perhaps we are just tiring of constant movement? We have had at least week long stops monthly with friends and family in Reno, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, and Nashville, providing the comforts of home: wifi, laundry, great meals and deeper connections. Part of the problem is that we now enter the land of antebellum architecture and civil war sites, which gets less thrilling after multiple examples. It is hard to get excited about states that still celebrate the Confederate President’s Birthday with a state holiday.
Also, after the very moving Civil Rights exhibit in Auburn Sweet (Atlanta), every other similar exhibit pales in comparison. Even walking the Selma-Montgomery Civil Rights March Trail over the Edmund Pettus bridge where Bloody Sunday occurred, felt unremarkable as the downtown there is mostly closed down due to the loss of manufacturing jobs overseas. We keep seeing the results of this flight in small towns across the South. Depressing. This is why the Blues exist as a musical form…to bring joy from suffering. We are hoping that getting to Western Mississippi to explore the Mississippi Delta Blues Trail will inject us with, “What “The blues are… living, loving, and, hopefully (sic) laughing”, as Riley B. King said, (A.K.A. B.B. King).
We wonder how those who have been domestic traveling for almost three years (see the travel blog: www.Everywhere Once.com) handle the travel blues. The main blogger has solved the problem by becoming a skilled photographer who creates photographic essays, and writes less. They travel in a larger RV towing a city car (the two of them live in about 5 times the space that the 3 of us share in our 17 foot RoadTrek). Maybe that extra space is exactly what is required for extended travel in a vehicle. We are thinking we may need to rent a furnished apartment for a couple of weeks and “layover” for a rest…but where? New Orleans is calling, with a ready supply of our passions (extraordinary food, lakes to paddle, trails to bike, quirky artistic culture, and live music and Tango!)…maybe after everyone else’s holiday travels end. Then again, we will miss the rural South’s lousy economic position in this gas guzzling nation… that allow us to fill up our gas tank once again for $2.95/gal.