I was a lot more enthusiastic about my Ala-Freakin'-Bama trip of 1600 miles, before US-Air stranded Hot Sauce Pete and I in Charlotte along with 20 other travel weary passengers who missed the 8:00 pm CLT TO RDU flight although the plane was sitting at the gate when we got there.
We ended up renting ANOTHER car and driving home at 11:30 pm, because US-Air failed to mentioned they listed us as stand-by passengers on the 10:30 pm flight. It was either drive or stay (at our own expense) in Charlotte until 8:00 pm on SATURDAY when they could assure us CONFIRMED seats!! We arrived home at 3:30 in the morning. This put a damper on an otherwise good business trip.
**On with the show! (or word-crazy)**
By day two of traveling, it was clear that Hot Sauce and I are like minded – and traveling compatible. Like … tacos and hot sauce – or better yet … oysters on the half-shell and hot sauce!
On Monday we’d already established our short-hand talking pattern. We didn’t notice that it had developed until the poor GM was in the car with us. Then – when we were driving from Eclectic to Shorter, Hot Sauce said, “Lawn Mower”.
“Swing-set”, was my reply.
“Washing-machine." Turning to the GM sitting in the back seat I said, "Aren’t you going to play with us?”
“What the hell are you two babbling on about?!” was his reply – which just caused us to convulse with laughter. I have NO IDEA why calling out random things spotted on the side of the road amused us so … but it did.
I’d like to say the silliness ended once we put the GM on the plane, but it didn’t. On Wednesday we drove past the exit for “Flomaton, AL”. This town name became an endless source of amusement.
“Watch out or I’ll use my Flomaton!” we’d say to each other. Or we’d describe a client by saying “Clearly they stood in front of the Flomaton rays too long.”
We didn’t just pick on Flomaton either. I mean, who could resist joking about the brand new Best Western in Opp? It’s called the Opp Inn … and it WASN’T Hoppin’! lol (I still laugh over that).
Then we went through 'Elba' Macaroni. Or did we avoid the “Elba”–virus”? If you’re dyslexic *coughcough* it might look like Ebola-ville!
Sailing down another road I pointed out a mousy-brown brick house. Hot sauce said, “That’s 'interesting' looking.”
I relied, “It’s flat out ugly!”
Traveling a few more miles he looked my way and said, “Ya know, if you practiced being nice away from people, it might come a little easier in public!” This statement sent me over the edge of hysteria – as WHO ELSE BUT HIM was in the car to hear my architectural pronouncement? From then on, when I did, or said, anything remotely NICE, I’d point out I was “practicing niceness”, could he tell?
Between Andalusia and Eufaula (often, after drinking? (Get it? "You-fall-ah") we passed a grader (land-scrapper) going down the road. Then another. Keeping my eyes straight ahead I said, “Grater-than”. (Get it? Two graders are greater than > one.) I was informed I should give up my hopes of becoming a mathematical comedian. *sigh*
Lest you think it was JUST ME being silly – let me reassure you IT WAS NOT. In Hobdy, AL we were stuck behind a chicken truck. Hot Sauce was RELENTLESS with the yolks. After about the twelfth one, I cracked. “I wondered how long ‘till you got tired of your ‘egg’-ucation”, he told me. Of course he DIDN’T STOP! Why would he?
Along with the bad humor – we had some amazingly good food. Tuesday night we ate at LuLu’s at Homeport (owned by Jimmy Buffett’s sister Lucy) where the Gumbo was excellent – as were my fish tacos – and his Jammin’ Jerk Chicken Sandwich. Of course, I think after Hot Sauce had his second JB Margarita (yes, Miss Dyslexic me thought it was a ‘BJ’ Margarita which created its own joke) … I don’t think it mattered WHAT was set down before the man, he would have eaten it and been happy.
In Eufaula we ate at the River City Grill. A lucky find in a city full of fast food and bar-b-que places. The bartender is a Russian emigrant and his wife a waitress (and niece of the owners). They were charming and fun to talk to – along with the other regulars at the bar. Following their suggestions I had the Marsalla Pork Tenderloin and Hot Sauce had Penne Chicken Alfredo. My tenderloin was flavorful and perfectly cooked, while his Chicken Alfredo had a haunting smoky flavor. We also split a bottle of Pettie Sirah from Concannon. At $18.00 a bottle it was a bargain!
Monte Cristo sandwiches at “Mom’s Kitchen” were a total surprise – and surprisingly good. Who knew the little town of Hartford was familiar with the Monte Cristo? Our best seafood meal was Thursday night. We started our happy hour at the Flora-Bama and dipped our toes into the Mexican Gulf. A few cocktails later and it was time for dinner - and then our hotel in Mobile. I told Hot Sauce I knew of a great “locals” place – and he said, “Let’s go.” Doc’s Seafood Shack in Orange Beach lived up to my memories and his expectations. My Fried Oysters were crispy and juicy and sweet – while I barely saw the scallops on his plate before they disappeared into his mouth. We were equally happy with the Gumbo. At the end of the we trip decided it was the best out of the three different versions we'd consumed.
Our last Alabamian meal was a "locals" only place in Monroeville, home of Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird fame) and David's Catfish House. Here we satiated our desire for catfish, coleslaw and cheese-grits. With the exception of one unfortunate breakfast at the Awful House in Montgomery (where it was noted with glee how "uncomfortable" I looked) we managed to eat only at local places.
** A word about Magellan **
It’s true, Ferdinand Magellan was a renowned Portuguese explorer. However, perhaps the makers of the Magellan GPS system should pay a little more attention to their history. AND I QUOTE,
“Ferdinand …. tried to find a westward route to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.”
After listening to him FOR A WEEK telling me he was “re-calculating the route” when I’d made NO TURN WHAT-SO-EVER off the highlighted path … I am not convinced he’s worth following. It’s no mystery to me why he found so many previously unknown places. CLEARLY he was following his own DAMN GPS device – or he was in Alabama. It’s difficult to figure out which is the real curse. Of course – I felt MUCH BETTER, when Hot Sauce took the wheel and was EQUALLY CONFUSED about some of the directions.
In all fairness I must say Ferdinand did save our butt on Monday morning. Lord only knows what I was thinking about when I mapped our route from Prattville to Tuscaloosa – but anyone with half a brain knows you don’t want to be in morning rush-hour traffic going through Birmingham. Quick thinking by me, and reprogramming by Hot Sauce, kept us on back-roads and on time – for which I was very grateful.
**Voted Best of Ala-Freakin'-Bama**
At the end of the trip I asked Hot Sauce about his “favorite moment”. Hands down it happened Tuesday morning.
We were in a cotton merchant’s office (think imposing two story building – large, valuable art collection hanging on the walls) talking to the CFO about world economic pressures bearing down on the cotton market. He made the point there might be a silver lining in this for North Carolina. With the current high price of transportation there’s a chance some US spinning mills might come back on-line or increase spinning and weaving production. Following this thought I said, "It wouldn’t surprise me, if to see a decrease in man-made fiber production because of the high-cost of petroleum products."
Our GM chose that moment to say, “My wife works for a man-made fiber company …” I interrupted him before he could finish his sentence.
“Heretic!” I exclaimed.
“No, the name of her company isn’t Heri-tex”, he told me without a trace of a smile.
The CFO, Hot Sauce Pete and I almost fell off our chairs laughing. I still don’t think the GM got the joke. <>
But I think this is the best part of our Ala-freakin’-Bama trip.