I woke up on the morning of May 29, 2020 in the Econo Lodge of Marion, Virginia. I felt so refreshed, the most refreshed I’ve felt in a long time. Don’t underestimate the power of a decent pillow and bed at night.
Initially, I planned to turn in at a hotel in Tennessee and was in a hurry to get there the night before. Alas, I was near the border before surrendering to my exhausted mind and was relieved when realizing that Virginia had their hotels open.
So after waking up, I cleared out the room, dropped off my key, and went back onto I-81 to head south. I quickly made it to TN and pumped some gas and nabbed a Dunkin.
Now, TN was probably (just probably) my least favorite stop of the whole trip. It’s not that I despised the state, I just didn’t like the route I had to take. When you’re entering TN from Virginia and intend to get into Alabama, you may have to go through Knoxville and Chattanooga. They’re cities, man. CITIES.
Cities with TRAFFIC. Cities with CONSTRUCTION CREWS WORKING THE HIGHWAYS.
When I started this trip, I wanted to avoid the cities and avoid all that time-wasting traffic. That’s why using I-95 was a no-no at the very beginning.
Granted, my trip through TN could’ve been a lot worse. If I went through either Nashville or Memphis, I would’ve been stuck there for hours. Bright side, man, look at the bright side…
I stopped by a Walmart in Knoxville and noticed a stark contrast from Connecticut: the customers there didn’t give two shits about the Corona-facemask policy. For a born-and-raised Northerner like me, it was genuinely inspiring to see a citizenry rely on and trust themselves during this pandemic. Let each individual decide what’s best for themselves and how they can best benefit those around them. What do governments know? ZIP!
I kept going South and slid past Georgia, while staying as far away from Atlanta as I could. About a half-hour later, I was in Sweet Home Alabama. Where the skies are so blue…
Now, this may come as a suprise, but Alabama was genuinely the best stop of my entire trip: no contest. Maybe I was just in a good mood during those particular hours of my trip. Maybe the weather happened to be decent at that time. Maybe I was lucky for skipping Birmingham (big city) and going straight for Montgomery in the southern region (decreasing overall traffic).
But Alabama was still the best stop of the entire trip, I’ll tell you why: Lynyrd Skynyrd wasn’t lying when they said the skies in Alabama were blue. The skies were especially blue. You’d have to see it to believe it.
And the trees were lush as they were green. They hugged the interstates and gave it the look of an endless green-walled corridor devoid of an overbearing roof. The only roof was the vast sky reaching infinity. And the rest stops were simply fantastic and relaxing. Many of the stops I went to on the trip were a single-line parking space with a building behind it.
But the rest stops in Alabama were very clean, and well-designed with their usage of trees to provide shade for the weary traveler. Overall, there was an aura of complete relaxation. The rest stops were flat and spacious with ample space to sit down (and maintain social distancing, in case any of you are concerned about that).
In my video of Day 2, I pointed out how it was a shame that Alabama has such a bad rap in the US because of their low literacy rates, alleged racism, and conservative leanings. One thing I can tell you, though, is they really know how to build a beautiful state. Aesthetically, Alabama is simply gorgeous. Go there, and you’ll feel like you’re in heaven.
Once I crossed the border, I finally made it to Florida. Now, I was on the back roads again. I went 80+ on the Interstates and suddenly needed to ease on the gas around Pensacola. I had to actually stop at the red octagon signs for a change! Man, was it tough.
Also, it’s like every driver in Florida is either fast as crap or slow as hell. There’s no in-between.
Anyway, my joyride through the Interstates was over. I needed to be more precise with my directions since I was in the suburbs. After 30 minutes of navigating, I finally reached my destination after 20 hours of total driving time.
And that was that.
More to come, obviously. Every day’s a journey. Every journey’s a story to tell. And every day’s an opportunity to tell said story. Till next time!