My friend and fellow author, Alison E. Bruce (http://alisonebruce.blogspot.com/) suggested I call this blog "Monkey on the Road" since our cat, whose real name Raven is just too boring, is on this trip with us. My mind immediately went to "there's a killer on the road, his brain is jumpin' like a toad" from Riders on the Storm by The Doors. You see, there is a reason I write crime. (www.catherineastolfo.com)
The Comfort Inn lives up to its name and we have a VERY comfortable sleep. The bed is so high we have to take an elevator to get on, but it's worth the climb. Nice breakfast too! The place has been refurbished and it's quite nice. (http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-chattanooga-tennessee-TN311)
When we reach the parking lot, we're astounded to see the car covered with ice. We shouldn't have been surprised, given the weather yesterday and the predictions for this morning, but we still shiver at the sight. Chipping and swiping do the trick - well, Vince does the trick while I sit in the warm car with Monkey. She's in a bad mood this morning. Though it simply sounds like meowing and chirping, she's really saying, "The f*%# car again? When the f(#!$ do we get there?"
We stop for gas. Vince fills and Monkey and I sit in the warm car (are you liking this sharing of duties so far?). I stare at the Dixieland Fireworks next door. It's huge. Across the street is another fireworks place, just as enormous, that also sells ice. And sparklers for weddings. Georgians must like sound and light. A lot.
A couple of minutes after we hit the I75, we're in Georgia. The sign says, "Welcome! We're glad you have Georgia on your mind." Personally, my friend Tanya is on my mind. Here we are in the same state, so near yet so far. I miss her! Haven't seen her for months.
When I'm driving, each patch of highway is a little story.
Ford speeds up, then slows, then speeds, then slows.
A truck with huge tires and a light load spins along the left lane, races past everyone else.
The pavement sings in one spot, grumbles in another.
Some of the trucks carry oversize loads (I know this because the lights blink OVERSIZE LOAD!). Their cargo often appear to be great hulking monsters, the Hulk stuck in plastic, a giant Han Solo frozen in amber. You can see their shapes but have no idea what purpose they might fulfill.
Monkey continues to bitch and complain.
When I'm the passenger, I read the signs. Georgia has a lot of religious billboards.
Has the Truth set you free? (Not yet, I answer.)
After you die, you will meet God. (I take this as a warning. Your comeuppance will happen some day, so watch out.)
YOU are wanted! (On the back of a truck. I assume they mean as a driver. Or have they not seen my new hair cut?)
In despair? JESUS is your HOPE. (This billboard is planted over a gouged landscape, ruined trees and excavated bushes, the ground left neglected and empty.)
I love some of the exotic (translate: first land owners' language) names: Oostanaula River, Chicamauga, Allatoona (lotsa Allatoona stuff like lakes and rivers, gotta be Italian?), Dahlonega, Cattahoochee. The sun fingers Allatoona Lake and lights it up.
I make up words and phrases from the license plates. I even have rules for this game, which I may share another time.
Everywhere are directions to various Civil War memorials or sites. The "trail of tears". I think of Gone With The Wind's depiction of the bodies laid out across field upon field. People suck!
The Yonah Railway: site of the Great Locomotive Chase during the Civil War. The train was stolen to attempt to derail the delivery of weapons and soldiers. "It was unsuccessful" is the succinct conclusion.
Another truck on the road has this # on its side: 078910. What are the odds of that?
The Interstate is scraped through the mountains, forests and hills. On all sides, there are lovely evergreens and red shrubs. Here in Georgia the soil is deep red too. There is still ice on the bog.
There are plain names, too, for places and things. Red Top or Pine Mountain. Cobb County. Green Rd. Flippen. (I'm flippin' from Flippen.) Butts. How about Vienna and Pitts? They're side by side. I'm from Vienna. I'm from...Pitts.
What do you do on a long drive?
We talk, swear at bad drivers, note scenic spots, sing, listen and retort to talk shows, read to each other from Dave Hunter's book, talk about family and friends.
Monkey is asleep.
We take the HOV lane through Atlanta and suddenly we have gone from ice to nice. The sun heats up the windshield so much that we have to put on the air conditioning!
Another billboard shouts, STRIPPERS! NEED WE SAY MORE? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, I presume, but I do want them to say more: MALE OR FEMALE?) The non-religious Georgia side.
Now the topography changes quite a lot. Kudzu climbs up the trees and covers old stumps. Kudzu is an invasive species from Asia that's in the pea family. It's a vine that curls and coils and hangs like limp green hair from everything.
There's a small sign on the roadside. "Jesus is coming SOON". Peeling, letters dripping or missing, that sign looks pretty old to me. When is soon?
In the washroom at a rest stop, there are more signs. You're beautiful! You're in Georgia! Hello, fellow poopers! (accompanied by a very accurate picture)
We're in a Drury Inn again tonight. Valdosta. Yipee.
Even Monkey is pleased.
Vince is relaxed, as you can see.