Vacation: Day Two

Today is the day the vacation really begins. I awoke at 4:07 AM. I have been awake since then. Miss Benita has been up since then as well.

I took us two hours to get ready and load the car this morning. I decided to take the southern route. The southern route is I-20 from Dallas, Texas to Birmingham, Alabama. Then I-59 from Birmingham to Chattanooga, Tennessee. There we change to I-75 taking it to Knoxville. At Knoxville we go east on I-40 to the Sevierville exit. The trip will take a day and half. It is over 900 miles.

This morning we departed The Colony, Texas at 6:05 AM. Stop one was an hour later in Terrell, Texas for breakfast. Stop 2 was for coffee and gasoline in Lindale, Texas. That’s country signer Miranda Lambert’s hometown. Contemporary Christian Music played to help us worship the Lord as we drove.

Miranda Lambert

The traffic on I-20 was not bad for any time of year. Usually it is crazy heavy. Not today. Our third stop was the Louisiana welcome center just west of Shreveport. It took until 9:45 AM to get there; The Carpenter’s Greatest Hits were our music of choice followed by John Denver’s greatest hits. Do you remember those artists from the 1970s?

Welcome to Louisiana


We travelled next to West Monroe, Louisiana arriving at noon. West Monroe is the home of the Duck Dynasty boys. We stopped for lunch.


After a 45 minute break we headed east on I-20. Garrison Keillor told us stories for the next hour and a half as we drove to Vicksburg, Mississippi. We stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center. We’ve been greeted there over twenty-five times since it first opened in 1981. We listened to Mur Lafferty’s podcast “I Should Be Writing”. She talked about her skepticism for productivity sites, and then had a LONG talk with her agent, Jen Udden of the Donald Maass Agency. She asked lots and lots of questions.


Welcome to Mississippi


Back I-20 we headed east. We stopped in Newton, Mississippi at the Sonic to get Miss Benita a Peach Slush. Their slush machine was broken.

Back on the road, we drove to Meridian, Mississippi. There I topped off my Ford Taurus with gasoline. The music of choice now turned to the greatest hits of The Seekers, good 1960s folk music.

The Alabama Welcome was whatever stop number this was. We took pictures and picked up hotel coupons.

Welcome to Alabama


Back on I-20 we headed to Tuscaloosa where the tornado damage from recent years was very visible and the on to Birmingham, Alabama. At Birmingham we headed north on I-59 and headed to Gadsden, Alabama. We made it there at dark. We arrived at our, got them to honor the discount coupon, unloaded the car and then went out for the evening meal.


It is bedtime now. Miss Benita and I are tired. Two queen beds insures we will both sleep well.

The adventure continues …

March With Me


Master storyteller Rosalie Turner makes the top of the best books I have read in several years list with “March With Me”. Her writing transported me back in time where I felt I was in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. I lived through the era as a middle school student and remember it well.

Turner has crafted two brilliant characters. The story is told through their eyes. Martha Ann (a white girl) and Letitia (a black girl) have you experiencing the Civil Rights movement. They meet briefly at Martha Ann’s sweet sixteen party where Letitia reluctantly helps her mother who is employed by Martha Ann’s mother.

The electricity reverberating throughout the black community when Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Ralph David Abernathy visit and speak is communicated in a way that gave me goosebumps.

We see the fear of the black adults as the Civil Rights movement grew. They were realistic and wanted no part of the protests or marches. They knew the whites would retaliate. We see them also working hard to watch over keep their children as they keep them in their neighborhood where they would be safely isolated from the whites.

The local radio disc jockeys and the use of the code words like picnic and party and message songs enlightened my understanding.

We encounter Bull Conner and the Birmingham Police and their use of fire hoses on Letitia and her older brother Sam. Sam is arrested and spends 12 days in jail.

The importance and influence of church and faith in the black community rings throughout the story. I obtained an amazing look at what it was like to grow up as a middle-class black family in the 1960s.

The tragedy of the 16th Street Baptist Church being bombed and four innocent young black girls dying drives home the ignorance, anger, rage, and misunderstanding as well as stupid actions of some during this pivotal time in US History.

Other events from the Civil Rights era fill the pages as we read of the march from Selma to Montgomery, the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the assassination of Dr. King and of the disproportional number of black men fighting in Vietnam.

Ironically, Martha Ann and Letitia become teachers. Martha Ann gets her education at the University of Alabama. Letitia gets her education locally at Miles College. Both end up teaching in the same high school.

Rosaline Turner is one of the best storytellers writing. This book is must reading. Do yourself a favor and order it online now. It should be incorporated in the curriculum of public and private schools and used as a tool to teach about those historic days of fifty years ago. The book would make a great feature film or television movie.