Monday, February 14, 2011

ABEL RAISES CAIN heads to Alabama

Crossing over into Mississippi, we were treated to the most unusual rest stop experience. A massive NASA Lunar Excursion Module loomed atop stilts over the parking lot (apparently this was the only trainer that the crew of unlucky Apollo 13 ever used). Inside the welcome center were dozens of elegant stage-lit ball room gowns, oil paintings and matching velvet-roped staircases that spiraled to nowhere. Everything was so grand, yet bizarre. As we were leaving with our free coffee, my dad reported that the men's room smelled like a dead raccoon. I guess there's always a spoiler.

Alabama creeped up faster than we expected, along with nightfall. As soon as we pulled into Fairhope, a quaint coastal town on the Gulf, an eery feeling sunk in that it might be Christmas year round here.

There are Christmas displays in store windows and all of the trees are lit up downtown as if the holiday season is just around the corner...even though it's mid-February.

In Los Angeles, people leave their decorations up all year long, even in the blaring summer months. This may also be customary in Fairhope, but I'm afraid to ask anyone. It's as if we've stumbled onto the film set of Groundhog Day (except it's Christmas), Pleasantville and an episode of the Twilight Zone all wrapped into one!

The streets are completely empty. I imagine we're being watched and listened to, even in the quiet of our upstairs room at the Church Street Inn. This could be due to the portraits that perpetually stare, with eyes following your every move. Of course, these two hung near the bed where I slept.

The door to the bathroom creaks so loudly, I feel like Mr. Bean trying to dampen the sound of it. There are signs everywhere telling you what to do and how... "Leave this light on," "It is necessary to read this book upon arrival," "Flush as you go." It makes one a bit paranoid about breaking the 'rules' and then wondering what happens as a result.

While Nina, the host, was lovely (she runs the inn on behalf of the owners), I must say I'm pretty sure the place is haunted. I woke up to what sounded like the familiar strain of "It's a Small World After All," sung by little girls, far off in the distance through a tinny megaphone, followed by the echo of a domineering woman barking orders. I don't know if I imagined this strange snippet of audio or not. It was so fleeting and creepy. I really felt the need for us to get moving and on the road already. I was getting the willies.

On the way to Andalusia, AL, I was in hog heaven over the visual feast of oddities, relics of the past and the marquees that beckoned you to do things, like "Honk if you love Jesus." This was one of my Valentine's Day favorites...

While my dad went into the Piggly Wiggly, I amused myself by capturing the famous pig pointing to a 'sausage sale' sign. He's unknowing of his inevitable demise.

I love the sweet ironies of life! Just as much as I love being on the road and spending time with my crazy dad.
Location:Auburn, AL