Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Air Journal: Destination: Middle of Nowhere, USA

Lake Blackshear
Lake Blackshear (no, I don't know why the water is brown)
There was a gathering of my father's kin in southwest Georgia on Saturday, and as I haven't seen any of those folks in 4 years or more, I made the long trek. And by long, I mean about 7 hours on planes, then nearly 3 hours driving south from Atlanta. Some highlights:

When I was getting ready to leave for the airport to go on the trip, I got a call from BofA saying there was suspicious activity on my debit card. Yup, sure enough, some asshole had charged a $249 ad on Facebook. I called to confirm that the card had been compromised, reiterating that not only had I not done business with Facebook, I had never ever even had an account, and hadn't even replied when one of their recruiters contacted me on LinkedIn. So there. This also meant I had no damn ATM card while I was in the middle of nowhere. They said I could stop by a branch and get a temporary card, but the closest branch was in Albany, about 35 miles away, and I just couldn't make it during business hours. Fortunately it turned out not to be an issue. (I had been planning on going to Albany, but not until Sunday, to visit my father's grave, which I did do.)

On the drive down, it seemed like every other restaurant in Atlanta's sprawling suburbs was a wings joint. I also passed two "Chick-fil-a Dwarf Houses," which made me go WTF. Was it a badly named Ronald McDonald House rip-off? Or something named with even greater poor taste? Turns out it's their "fancy" sit down chain.

I momentarily panicked when I realized my hotel was 20 miles from the lake house where my first cousin (once removed) was staying and where the gathering was to be held. Then I remembered that I was IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, which means it was 20 miles with few cars. Indeed, driving out Friday midday, I passed 2 pieces of heavy farm equipment on the 2-lane highway and maybe a dozen cars. And a lot of pecan trees. When I say I hate driving in LA, I mean I hate LA drivers, both the quality and the quantity.

Some other metrics and highlights:
  • Some small roadside place I passed on the way to the lake had a handmade sign in front that read
    Drive around back
    Blow for service
    And I can't even figure out, um, what the service was, as there was no clear signage for that.
  • The closest Starbucks to where I was staying was about 33 miles away. The closest Walmart was about 1/3 mile away.
  • I saw more dead possums on the side of the road than I could count with all my fingers and toes. Oddly, though, I didn't see any buzzards, something there had seemed to be plenty of when we would drive around this region when I was a kid.
  • Those stories about predatory Southern county sheriffs setting speed traps? Totally true. I knew well enough to put the cruise control on and remind myself I didn't need to get anywhere in a hurry.
  • The hotel breakfast buffet featured, among other things, instant grits. (Just add hot water.)
  • I got a big piece of my great-aunt Margaret's coconut cake at the potluck, so nyah.
  • I ate more deep-fried food in 3 days than I normally do in 3 months, including fried catfish for two meals.
I was talking with the Oakland, CA native wife of my (first-cousin-once-removed)X2, it's like a different country. I noted that I had seen a full-sized Confederate flag, flying from an actual flagpole. She pointed out that it really was a different country...

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