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Seven States So Far! Many More to Go!

Are you ready for a crazy amount of photographs? Hope so!!

After a crazy day on Sunday packing, we took off around 6AM Monday morning. Neither of us slept that well so when we woke up around 5 it seemed like there was no point in not leaving ASAP. We began the trip on what I still call the East-West Expressway, the same road we left on when we drove to California some 40 years ago.
Driving due North we decided to skip the Florida panhandle,
instead we got off the interstate, after heading into Georgia, as Bruce's first goal was to get out of Florida.
We were driving along just fine and dandy when all of a sudden the sky got so crazy dark, sort of like it was 8:30 at night instead of about 11 in the morning.
After a huge downpour, we stopped for a little rest in Thomasville, GA, the site of a major Rose Festival every year.
In fact, as I recall we visited said Rose festival during Matt's time at FSU as Thomasville is just across the Florida border from Tallahassee. Onward we drove, stopping for lunch in a cute little town called Bainbridge. Baxter has been super great, I mean crazy good, never making a peep and dutifully peeing every time we get to a park such as this one in Bainbridge. I suspect, unlike Orlando, they will not be removing their Confederate statue any time soon.
You always have to wonder how folks in little towns like this earn a living, don't you? We had a delicious lunch, seated outside at the little cafe on the corner.
We continued our drive on a two lane road which fortunately had a gas station! Can you believe the rust on these silos behind the station?
Onward into Alabama...
at first I was a little bummed that the car windshield got in the way, but actually this photo says a bunch about Alabama...we saw fireworks places everywhere!!! Crepe Myrtles too. Dothan, Alabama was our stopping point. We stayed in a La Quinta Inn because they are pet friendly, however, for Bruce and I we are planning on finding places a tiny bit nicer for the remainder of the trip. Fortunately, Bruce was able to walk over to the nearby Red Lobster for our dinner which somehow seems really fitting as it was his work at Darden that has got us to this place in our lives. Plus, the food was super good.
Each night Bruce is bringing my computer and sewing machine into our room for safety sake. Today, because we got to the hotel I finally unwrapped my computer to write this blog post which is a good thing for any reader because if I waited any longer,  just think of how many photos that would be!!!

Early Tuesday morning we began our journey to Crane Hill, Alabama, where our long time friends Doug and Kathy live. How long? Doug was in every single one of my elementary school classes! Kathy and I met in jr. high school, and have remained friends for all of these years. Most people, or so I imagine, when they think of Alabama, their imaginings are probably somewhat negative but I'm hear to tell you that Alabama is really, really pretty.
Along this road we came across a "Country Mall" that sells merchandise like Levis and Birkenstock to name two. We stopped.
As should you if you ever find yourself driving North on SR 231. There was a food truck in the parking lot with signs advertising, "maybe the best hamburger in Alabama," which was hard to resist but as it was only 10:30 in the morning, we did.

Crane Hill is North of Birmingham, way off the Interstate so Kathy told us to meet at a little corner store and she would lead us to their place.
Up and down hilly and winding roads, we finally arrived and oh what a delightful surprise.
There was a super steep drive down which definitely gave us Floridians pause. Look at their view and pontoon boat!!!
Astonishing isn't it? Doug took us out in the boat, driving all around the lake which cooled us off some,
but what really cooled us off was swimming off the end of the dock! It was just perfect. We ate dinner on one of the decks overlooking this idyllic scene, catching up on old times while listening to the music of  what seemed like hundreds of cicadas. Plus, I saw the first fire flies of my life!! We slept well, with Bruce getting up very early to chat with Doug before he went to work. Here's my good pal.
Baxter also slept well on the little doggie bed Kathy provided. We are just so pleasantly surprised at how well he is doing. Looking cute in his new color coordinated diaper on Kathy's pretty porch with chairs made from old Jack Daniels whiskey barrels.
Although I never did get any shots of hummingbirds, here is a nest they watched this Spring.
You may recall, well probably not, but anyway, one of my most favorite documentaries I've ever watched is Muscle Shoals, the story of Rick Hall and Fame Studios. Because we could, we went to see it for ourselves.
If you love music, it should not be missed. Or, at least that is my opinion anyway! Watching it you learn that after making hundreds of hit songs together, the musicians left and began this studio which is very nearby.
When you see it for yourself it is so hard to imagine the likes of the Rolling Stones heading into this building to record hit songs! Just across the Tennessee River is Florence, Alabama where about 12 years ago Bruce built and Olive Garden with a very talented group of people, one of whom has now passed away. As an homage to Rex, we drove to see how it is faring and honestly, it looks as if it was built last week.
From here we left to make some time, heading into Mississippi.
All across that state which is not nearly as pretty as Alabama, and into the West corner of Tennessee through Memphis.
Before long we crossed the Mississippi River into Arkansas.
It turned out to be a really long day, made even longer because we still had Kathy and Doug's wonderful home in our minds. Finally, we crossed the Arkansas River into Little Rock.
Thank God for the internet where I found a darling bed and breakfast that took pets. The garden was just beautiful and the shade welcome as it was very hot.
We stayed in a little cottage behind that staircase and it was super cute. The only drawback was no thermostat where we could set the temperature more to our liking! Baxter was thrilled with all the place to roam.

Leaving Little Rock around 8AM this morning, we drove on Interstate 40 today, arriving in Oklahoma mid morning.
Neither of us have ever been in Oklahoma which bills itself as the center of the country. We were mostly pleasantly surprised. This stop for gas was an exception! $29.99 for a hotel room?
We stopped again soon thereafter for lunch in what turned out to be what you can imagine an Old West downtown looked like. Turns out it was the birthplace of Woody Guthrie.
Who is both immortalized in a mural,
as well as a yearly festival advertised on the movie theater marquee.
We had a wonderful lunch at the Hen House, sitting outside, thankfully under an umbrella, as it was most definitely not pet friendly. Who can blame them, right?
And now, here I sit in a gorgeous Hilton, in downtown Oklahoma City which is absolutely wonderful. Bonus points for a thermostat set at 68 in the 101 degree heat!! So much to stay about this lovely city which will be saved for another post.
In spite of the insane heat, it is time to find an outdoor cafe for dinner. I can hardly wait to share the beauty of this city but hunger beckons. Not to mention I need to find lodging for the next few nights before I can't!

Please forgive any errors, I'm typing this on a nightstand!

Next stop...Dodge City, Kansas.

yours truly,

Gail




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