Road Trip: Destination Unknown?

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There?s nothing like an adventurous road trip to clear your head and let your tendonitis elbow rest. I love to hit the highway with no particular destination in mind except to forge deeper into the old South.

All we knew when we struck out on a trip last week was that we were going to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Why, because we had never been to those states. My husband, Jerry only has five more states to visit and he will have been in all fifty. I have twelve more. Slowly but surely we?re checking each one off our bucket list.

On the first day of our six-day excursion we are five and a half hours into the trip and trapped. There are cars, trucks, tractor and trailers, and SUV?s all around us. Going through Downtown Atlanta, the ten to twelve lanes of traffic were jam-packed. Not my idea of a leisurely, Saturday, afternoon drive. The big city is not for me. Give me a two-lane highway with gentle rolling hills and cows grazing on each side of the road over city lights any day. Scarlet and Rhett, you can have Atlanta.

Camping on the road is truly an amazing experience. I?ve stayed at some pretty grand places in my day: A resort in Cancun Mexico, Kauai, and some ritzy place in New York City, but those spots don?t hold a candle to my old salvage yard RV. Inside I have everything I need, plus, I get to sleep on my own sheets with my favorite pillow, not to mention the atmosphere in a campground. People who camp are a different breed; we?re earthy folks who love to be outside enjoying God?s creation.

Each night as Jerry and I sat in a different campground we tentatively planned the next day?s excursion. I?ve learned that if I travel the same path every day I experience the same things, the same scenery, sounds and souls. How boring is that?

The first night of our trip we stayed in Montgomery, Alabama. The campground wasn?t anything fancy but it did have cable TV. I know, cable TV and camping? Oh well, what can I say we?re ?modern? campers. The next morning our destination was the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama.? Here we camped on the Intercoastal Waterway, chilling out while watching boats pass by. We walked a short distance to the marina and had supper at Lulu?s. Lulu?s is owned by Lucy Buffett, Jimmy Buffett?s sister. Neither she, nor Jimmy was there, but the food and atmosphere were great.

Day three came early. We headed to Fort Morgan, Alabama to ride the ferry across Mobile Bay to Dolphin Island, then on to downtown New Orleans and Bourbon Street. You?re thinking, Sarah Byrd on Bourbon Street? Well, maybe in my younger day. I was not impressed. I didn?t see the draw factor. Maybe I missed the sparkle. I suppose the promise of going to Houma, Louisiana, home of J. Paul from the swamp people show was overshadowing the partying town, either that or I?m getting really old.

Day four took us deep in to alligator country. We booked a swamp tour with Munson?s World Famous Swamp Tours in Schriever, Louisiana. The two hour boat ride into the bayou revealed lots of hungry gators, some really unusual birds, probably a couple of dozen raccoons, buzzards, a bald eagle, an apple blossom snail and a snake. Yes, the two-hour trip was more than worth the twenty bucks a piece that it cost. We didn?t meet J. Paul, but our boat captain?s sister lives next door to him. Close enough for me to say I know him, don?t you think?

Day five found us programming our Tom Tom for home, but not before traveling on the Natchez Trace Parkway. This two-lane road is 444 miles long and stretches from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. It is a lot like the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through my home state of North Carolina.? After traveling several miles on the parkway and seeing a couple of red foxes and lots of wild turkeys we pulled off at a sign that read, ? The Emerald Mound.?

The Emerald Mound is the second largest Native American ceremonial mound in the United States. It?s original name was Selzertown site and dates back to somewhere between 1200 to 1730. Later the name was changed to Emerald Mound after a nearby plantation. The mound covers eight acres. As Jerry and I climbed the steps to the artificial plateau it felt sort of spiritual. At the top gazing down at our RV below I wondered about the Native Americans who had once trod on the same ground where I now stood. It was sort of like I was trespassing. Then we saw the bear scat, and knew it was time to go. The old fellow was probably close by protecting this sacred ground.

If I hadn?t left the safe haven of my home I would never had seen these amazing things, nor would I have slept along the banks of the Mississippi River and watched a tiny tug boat push thirty-five barges up the river. I would not have happened upon the Noccalula Falls in Gladsden, Alabama, or rode an elevator 260 feet into Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee, then strolled down a carved out path of rock, one-half mile into the mountain to see the magnificent Ruby Falls.

I saw black squirrels, which are pretty rare and rumor has it that if you see one you?ll have good luck. Must be true, because most of the time I feel like the luckiest lady on earth. I wouldn?t have heard the story of an Indian maiden who threw herself into the Noccalula Falls because she did not want to marry a brave from another tribe that she did not love. Look at all I would have missed if I had not ventured into lands unknown.

In life I long to hike along trails un-traveled, but in death I want to be sure of my destination. As Easter approaches, knowing there is an empty tomb, I rest assured that when all my earthly voyages are over I will make one final journey. To a place like none I have ever experienced. To a land where there is no darkness or pain, a paradise of beauty beyond imagination. My final GPS entry is set for heaven. High gas prices won?t keep me away, because I have a one-way ticket, and the price has already been paid by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

John 14:3

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

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