New Country

I haven’t done much long-distance driving on my own, so I’m sure that both my Dad and Sydney were wondering if I would actually make it to Mississippi.  To their surprise–and my own–I made good time yesterday and got into Ole Miss eleven hours after leaving home.  It was a bit odd to find myself back in rolling farmland and expansive highways after a pedestrian life in the towns and cities of England, but on my drive I saw plenty of indications that I was not in England anymore:

– Far more SUVs and, as I got further south, trucks, than I’m used to.  In England, the only pickups I ever saw were driven by the park maintenance crews.

– Two guys wearing “Brothers in Arms” t-shirts emblazoned with an image of a rifle and “Christian Brothers High School” below that.  If I hadn’t been a bit dazed from my drive I would have been tempted to ask them about their school.  I also saw a lot of billboards for gun shops on my route, and I realized that things have really changed since I was a kid.  When I was younger, gun shops all had a hunting theme (deer head silhouettes everywhere), but now I see a lot more with the word “game” in the title, or with psuedo-military overtones.  Can’t say I like the shift.

– Did you know that there’s a town named Braggadocio?  It’s an “unincorporated community” in Missouri that was apparently named after the character in Spenser’s The Faerie Queen.  The sign for that turn-off definitely caught my eye.

– In Missouri I drove through a massive thunderstorm.  I could see it for half an hour before I got to it, and the sky was gorgeous: rolling hills, large swaths of forest, and towering clouds of all shades of blue, grey, and white overhead.  I didn’t enjoy my ten minutes of pouring rain (I cut my speed in half and still had trouble seeing the road lines), but for a good half-hour afterward I kept seeing flashes of lightning in my rearview mirror.  I’m back in storm country!

– As I stopped just inside the Mississippi state line, I realized I’d parked next to a grove of thirty-foot tall magnolia trees, all with leaves as big as my two hands together.  They take “lush greenery” to a whole new level.


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