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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

A Southern Country Drive

The other week, we had to drive from Point A to Point B and it necessitated traveling through the countryside on a route we had never taken.  Why in the world I imagined quaint villages to be awaiting our pass-through, I’ll never know.  Instead, trailers and junked cars abounded.

It’s a mystery to this city-girl why no driveways exist in the country.  And why they call their cars “vee-HIH-cles”, driving said vehicles helter-skelter onto scrappy front lawns where chickens roam at random.  We passed plenty of goats, as well.  Now, chickens I can understand, because you get some eggs out of them.  But goats?  Is goat’s milk a major commodity?  Goat meat?  I can’t imagine that chevre is a big seller in these parts, either.

My goal was to find beauty in the boonies.  Instead, as we started out long before the crack of dawn and the children were passed out in the car, I sped past other youth waiting for the country schoolbus, grouped together at the end of long, dirt lanes, shaved heads shivering beneath pulled-up hoodies and 3/4-length, drooping shorts, nary a book or notebook in their hands nor on their back.  Teens and pre-teens clustered by their mothers standing outside of pick-up trucks that had no doubt collected the crowd from this mobile home park and the next.  In the early morning mist, their other-worldly exteriors gave the sense that hoodlums were not relegated only to the inner-city.

Country lanes were well-marked, noting such gems as “Great Swamp Rd.”  My goal included making it to some kind of major highway before high noon, and MapQuest notwithstanding, I had a hard time telling in the pre-dawn hours whether I was traveling north, south, east, or west.  The state road signs popped up whenever they felt like it.

Many of the fields were farm-equipment-strewn.  It was as though a better offer had come along, and the farmers left their fields without even bothering to park the tractor or the plow off to the side.  Where had everyone gone?

Most of the pick-ups were parked outside country stores and general stores.  Too early in the morning for the Seed & Feed Store to be open, the smaller shops were doing a booming business selling country breakfasts.  From the amount of traffic generated at these two-gas-pump outposts, one could safely assume that nobody ate breakfast at home in these parts.

And why should they?  Many a rusty sign reminded, “Good Country Cookin’ Makes You Good Lookin’”.  I had half a mind to peek inside one of the eateries that probably had all of five counter stools and two booths, just to see if their claims of beauty were true, but since that involved only half of my mind, I felt it might be dangerous to show up anywhere where only 50% of my mental faculties were in operation.

In these environs, it might put me at an unfair advantage.

According to the handmade wooden signs by the sides of the roads, Sips & Chips were in high demand.  There were also a whole lot of Freewill Baptists, not that I had ever heard of Unfreewill Baptists, but if somebody was forcing somebody else to believe against their will out here in the sticks, that might be admirable as far as their eternal soul was concerned, but it should probably be something that the local sheriff might want to investigate further.

“I’m tellin’ ya, brother, ya gotta belieeeeve!”




“You have no free will in the matter!”

“Oh… alright….”

Obviously, a lack of sleep should not precede any drives in the country.

To their credit, there were handpainted signs for Peach Cider and Ginger Ale.  That sounded fairly straightforward.  Or might it be some sort of fermented moonshine, that only an insider would know about?  A number of plastic, snap-on signs appeared outside pseudo-business establishments, a few with flashing lightbulbs on the sides.  One advertised some kind of ‘R_PAIR” which got me to thinking if they couldn’t even keep all of the snap-on letters on their sign, could you really trust that they were going to repair whatever it was that they were supposed to repair?

Military recruitment posters that I had never come across in our part of America were liberally plastered throughout these country cantons.  Not far from Deer Processing Plants, at least they had a targeted audience of sharpshooters in mind.

Almost to the highway, we stopped for some gas, wrongly assuming that the Bait ‘n’ Tackle Convenience Store was attached.  “RESTROOMS FOR PATRONS ONLY” the crudely-lettered and faded sign on notebook paper announced on the grimy glass door.

“Girls, go ahead,” I shooed them toward the leaky bathrooms, half the ceiling panels hanging down and sporting smells that most truck stops had never encountered, as I bought Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the kids, buying my own ticket into the rickety stalls.

Once outside, a young man at a roadside produce market sold baskets of fresh peaches, tomatoes, jams and jellies.  A sign said that he was saving for college, and at his prices, I came to the conclusion that it must be for his Ph.D.  They certainly liked handscrawled signs in the south, I only hoped we could find our turn for the highway when the time came.   We settled on a loaf of peach bread to surprise Benedetto, who had grown up in farm country during his early years, only it seemed to be a picturesque type of country.

“God bless you,” the young man beamed as we paid.  “Y’all have a blessed day!”

“You, too,” I smiled back, sure that he was manning the stand and dispensing blessings of his own free will.

The country wasn’t all that bad, after all.




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