At least 17 stories


When we began to plan our recent trip to Florida, I told my husband that I wanted to drive, rather than fly. I argued that it would be more economical than flying and renting a car. Of course, I wasn’t sure that was really true, especially if adding in the hidden costs of vehicle maintenance and the additional mileage on the car. Still, I had my mind set on driving. I wanted to see the land between here and there; I wanted to look at fallow fields and old barns, and muse about interesting roadside signs. Mostly, I wanted to have a slow travel experience, taking our time to arrive and slowly wending our way back to the cold north when we returned. I tried to explain this to a friend whose response was: “If you fly, you might end up with one interesting story. If you drive, you might have — who knows — 17 or 27 different stories. Tell him it’s fodder for more short stories.”

In the end, flights were very expensive and my ears had been bothering me a lot, so I won and we drove. Armed with a few audio books and CDs, my GPS and T’s TripTik (who knew that AAA still did those!), we set off. Despite someone’s alarmist fears that we would have ice and fog crossing the mountains in Chattanooga, we had excellent weather in both directions. (I hope he didn’t see the news reports of the massive pile-up on I-75 near Gainesville. We missed that by a day.)

I don’t know if I came across the seeds of 17 different stories, but, on the return trip, bored by the long drive and without the anticipation that marked the start of our vacation, I picked up my camera. Shooting photos out the window of a car going 70 mph is not the easiest thing. I’m surprised that I didn’t send more shots directly to the electronic circular file than I did. But, as always, when I look through my camera lens, I see interesting things. Like this:

Red Clay of Georgia

The landscape whirled by, but stayed the same. For miles. And miles.

There were billboards that appeared to have been remnants of abandoned stores. Like these, that pointed to an empty building:

Too good to be true -- at least for long

Lowest Price: Would that be zero?

I didn’t get a picture, but next to this abandoned store was an RV and Boat lot, now closed, with a lone, stranded motor boat. Signs of the weak economy are everywhere.

There were frequent reminders that I was traveling through the South, the “Bible Belt” and the part of the country that has referred to the American Civil War as “The Late Unpleasantness” or “The Second American Revolution” or “The War of Northern Aggression”. I have never spent sufficient time in the South to understand the deep-seeded nature of Southern loyalty, but I know that the region is different from “up North” where I have always lived.

It's the sign, more than the theology, that I find startling

There was a confederate flag flying above. No American flag nearby.

Sometimes, when I wasn’t driving, I was intrigued by the idea of capturing the motion of tires on the semis passing us.

Can you look at this and not hum a Willy Nelson song?

I especially like the shadow of the mudflap on this shot. But there were also skylines to shoot as we looped around major cities.

Music City From the Highway


And plenty of furling flags in the slight wind:

Whose broad stripes and bright stars...were so gallantly streaming

And clouds on the crisp blue sky:

A beautiful day

When we stopped, there was graffiti that I found interesting:

BabyGyrl's graffito make no sense 2 me

Did BabyGyrl change the spelling of her name? Makes more sense.

If miserable, I don't think I'd pick the Reststop Restroom to tell the world.

And, of course, there was plenty of farmland: cows, horses, silos, barns old and new.

Raw Milk

I love the color of this barn's roof.

The only stone silos I see around me are ones that have yet to be torn down.

Horses: More comfortable than Mitt's dog?

Love this barn.

This was another favorite.

A source of firewood?

There's a story or two in that decaying barn!

Old and Red barn, somewhere in Tennessee

At the Georgia/Tennessee border there were plenty of signs encouraging motorists to “SEE ROCK CITY”. As this was my leg for driving, I have no photos. But, as we crossed from Tennessee into Kentucky, having turned over driving duties for a while, I knew that there would be some interesting images to capture as we approached Mammoth Cave. While I don’t mean to offend (turn away for the next paragraph if you might be), I used to find that an attraction in this area, named “Golgotha Go-Carts”, to be a very funny site. I don’t understand the theology that sees go-carting around three crosses on a hill as a witness of faith, a cause for conversion. It has been years since I’ve travelled this section of I-65, so perhaps it wasn’t on this road, but, rather, on the State Highway that leads to the cave. Regardless, it wasn’t to be seen. However, there is now a place named Guntown Mountain. And, apparently, lurking in the caves are dinosaurs. I’m not sure if the “life-size” refers to humans or triceratops.

Mommy, can we stop? PLEEEZZZZ?


But, like all places were there are lots of attractions — and some where there is nothing else around for miles — there seem to be places like this:

A roadside attraction?

Open 24 hours. I hope no parent answers the dino plea with After I make a quick stop here.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think I am halfway to the end of a novella. At the end of the trip, the best site was my mailbox! As fun and relaxing as vacation are, it’s always good to return home, and to all of the stories that reside there.

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6 responses to “At least 17 stories

  1. I love road pictures! “Jesus Died For Your Sins”! And barns! Old barns in England just aren’t built on the same scale as American ones.

    • I could have predicted you’d comment on that sign Gabriel! My son laughed when I showed it to him & said that I had hoped to see a biblical sign next to one of the “adult” bookstore signs.

      I love old barns. There are Amish settlements about 2 hours north of me — their barns are amazing. I should drive up there sometime, though I don’t know if there would be issues photographing their barns. The Amish are opposed to being photographed.

  2. Wonderful photos; have made the drive between Atlanta and Madison more times than I wanted to, but always enjoyed the views! I especially love your barn photos!

  3. What great pictures! I have actually done more than my fair share of driving around the country, both north and south, thanks to a very dispersed family and I always feel oddly nostalgic/homesick/displaced when I do – your pictures are very evocative of that odd feeling of driving around parts of America not “home.” Glad you made it back safely!