After 5 days on the road and about 2,200 miles of numb butts, traffic jams, and other adventures and misadventures, Mom and I were glad to get into the car at Baton Rouge and start our last day on the road. In about 4 hours, we would finally arrive at my sister Erika's home in Pensacola, which would be our temporary abode while we got settled in our new life in Florida.
Mom, the zoo, and I hit the road for the final time about 9:30 on Saturday morning for what we thought would be a quick run across the deep south into Florida and little traffic being the weekend and no one was going to work over the weekend. WRONG! We weren't counting on Mother Nature to delay our trip a couple of hours along with stop and go traffic in Mobile, Alabama.
About 70 miles into the trip, the skies opened, and it was pouring buckets on I-12 East. Not wanting to get into an accident because of the lack of visibility, I got off the highway and pulled into a bank parking lot where we waited about 10 minutes for the worst of the storm to pass over us before getting back on the interstate again.
Good thing I pulled over during that storm because ahead of us just before we got onto I-10 from 12, we saw a three-car accident and a couple of Louisiana's finest attending to the people. "Glad I pulled over.", I said to Mom as we passed the accident site.
But the rain wasn't done with us, and we hit another storm shortly after getting onto I-10, but it wasn't as bad as the first one, and I slowed down and bore through the storm. A short time later, Mom and I crossed into Mississippi and I pulled into the Welcome Center so we could stretch our legs and take a potty break after 2 hours of rainy fun on the interstates.
When I was younger and studying for spelling tests for secretarial school, sometimes you had tests that were of the USA and the states. Sometimes, I had to study at Nana's because I took her shopping that day and would spend the night there to spend time wiht her. I would study at Nana's house which sometimes would be a pain because Nana would start singing words I needed to spell. It was really fun when the State of Mississippi came up on my list, and when I would start to spell the state out to my sister Erika, Nana would chime in and loudly sing, "M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I, MISSISSIPPI!" I had to tell Nana to be quiet after a while because I would be getting distracted and laughing at her at the same time. That memory was stuck in my head the whole time I was on Mississippi soil.
The Mississippi Welcome Center was one of the nicest rest areas on our whole trip. Designed like an old mansion, the inside had tiny rest rooms, but Mom got to walk around and check out some of the old furniture and jewelry displays inside. Outside, the grounds had nice magnolia trees and being the launching ground for NASA base tours nearby, a huge spaceship model is on display near the parking lot. After taking pictures and stretching our legs, Mom and I were ready to get to Florida.
I was hoping to drive the remaining 167 miles straight through to Florida, but traffic and another round with Mother Nature told me other. Mom and I hit Mobile, Alabama, which is only about 40 miles from Pensacola and traffic came to a stop and crawl. GRRR! We weren't counting on that and the tunnel that lay ahead of us. The only thing Mom and I could do was crawl along with the rest of the traffic and admire the nice buildings of Downtown Mobile. In fact being so slow, I managed to get some shots of the buildings with my camera before entering the tunnel.
The ride through the tunnel was an adventure itself when we finally got in there. I kept to the 40 mph limit, and then people were honking their horns all around us. Thinking they were for us, I was about to give my saluting fingers some needed exercise, but we realized that the honking was customary for traveling through this tunnel, and I holstered the fingers for a better occasion.
After getting through Mobile, I thought we were home free, but Thor and his other Norse God friends were having another bowling tournament in heaven and another rainstorm hit us. By this time, my butt was numb, and my back was screaming for a break. I told Mom I needed to pull over before I screamed, and we got off I-10 at Loxley, Alabama and into a McDonald's. It was pouring rain, and the parking lot was flooded in spots, but I managed to get the car into a parking place near the door and got out of the car into a little bit of a puddle. GREAT! Luckily, I had flip flops on, and the water was warm, and I squished my way into the restroom.
Bladder empty and a little bit hungry, I went to the counter for some chow. Mom wanted ice cream again, but I needed protein and got a couple of Ranch Snack Wraps. The boy at the counter was very nice, and I was talking to him about moving to Florida with the zoo, and he talked about his not being able to have cats because of his dogs. After getting our food, I said good-bye to the young man and returned to the car. The rain had let up a bit and would have been driveable, but I wasn't moving until I ate. We were making good time considering the rain and traffic and Mom had no issues about my eating before driving. Eating and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving.
Mom, Loki, Zoe, Xena, and I finally arrived safe and sound in my sister Erika's driveway about 3 p.m. Erika was getting out of work at the same time, and we had to wait in front of the yard for her just in case her dog Dakota was being protective. Mocha and Dakota were inside the house and barked at us from the living room window while we unloaded the zoo and our stuff from the car for the last time. The car blanket was hung on the fence next to the garage to air out after giving its life for Loki's comfort.
After we unloaded the car, Mom and I let Zoe and Xena walk around the front yard, but Xena went back into the car after a while. Loki was happy not to be crammed into the backseat anymore and enjoyed walking around Erika's yard sniffing all of the trees and tropical vegetation.
Thinking Erika would be home soon, we wound up waiting about 45 minutes before Mom called her on her phone to see where she was. After getting stopped trying to leave work by customers and co-workers needing help, Erika got out of work late and was en route. Mom asked her if she was talking on her phone while driving, and Erika said, "Yes", and Mom almost plotzed on the spot.
About 10 minutes later, Erika finally rolled into the driveway and we greeted each other. Loki was kind of out of it and didn't recognize Erika at first, and Xena totally blew her off. Zoe was busy checking out the bushes and didn't see Erika at first, but we got everyone in the house, and luckily, Dakota was happy to see us and too busy kissing her Mama and didn't go for our throats. She and Mocha gave us kisses though!
After getting settled and cleaning up, Mom and I got settled for the night while Erika went to a birthday party for a friend that was planned for a while. It was nice to be watching TV on Erika's big screen TV and sitting in comfy recliners and really great to crash in a real bed about 10 that night!
The cross-country trip across the Southern USA was an adventure for all of us and I have many fond and funny memories about it, but I don't know if I want to do it again. As for my life in Idaho. I will miss all of my friends there, but I am looking forward to a new future in Florida and to make new friends here!