Monday, February 2

love me tender, love me true

I received such a positive response from my post on the Holy Land Experience that I've decided to retire. I'm quiting while ahead and just driving back home.

Today involved a great deal of driving and very little not driving. Following a weather-induced departure from New Orleans, I drove to
Moundville, Alabama, to see the remains of what was once the largest city in pre-Columbian North America.

The Mississippian culture had this habit of building giant mounds of dirt and placing important buildings on them. In fact, some archaeologists believe the cumulative works of the mound builders make the Egyptians look like a bunch of amateurs. All that is left today are the mounds which are not entirely impressive to look at, but are a remarkable achievement for North America's greatest pre-Columbian civilization.

The entire visit took less than an hour, but there was an informative movie on the site and the Mississippian culture and you can scale any of the mounds, including the 58-foot Mound B, the mother of all the mounds.

Because it was only thirty minutes from Moundville, I drove to Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama. Two days earlier, I took a detour through Gainesville to see where the Messiah, Tim Tebow, performs his football miracles every Saturday and was unimpressed. Tuscaloosa, on the other hand, is a great college town. The campus is beautiful and there is a block of bars and restaurants next to campus called "The Strip," which is where I assume the students go to party. The gates to Bryant-Denny Stadium were open so I walked in to see where the Great Satan, Nick Saban, lives and leads his men to the top of the polls before embarrassing losses against teams like Utah. I suppose I should mention what my beef with Saban is.

Nick Saban used to coach Michigan State until bailing before a bowl game to make more money at LSU. He bailed LSU for the NFL where he promptly sucked and took a bazillion dollars to coach Alabama, exceed the NCAA limits for signing for recruits and be a general ass. Secretly, part of me wanted Tuscaloosa to be a terrible place so I could justify my dislike for Saban and the UA football team. It was not meant to be. Tuscaloosa would be an awesome place to watch a football game. Roll Tide!!

Next on the list was Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Elvis' dad built the 500 square foot, two room house with his father in 1934. Elvis and his parents only lived in the house for the first three years of his life, but it had such an impact on his life that he eventually bought the house and gave it to the city for preservation. A little park has been built around the house along with a museum and a visitor center and it's all very well done. I can imagine the place is a zoo during the tourist season.

I am finishing the day at a hotel in Memphis. I just got back from dinner at Marlowe's, a BBQ joint that was a gastronomical delight. Food is one of the reasons I stopped in places like Charleston, New Orleans and Memphis, and it has yet to disappoint. Tomorrow morning I am going to Graceland and then heading out west, not stopping until I get to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Admittedly I am a tad melancholy about leaving the south. This trip was my first adventure in the Deep South and it exceeded my expectations. I didn't see any chain gangs or slaves singing spirituals while picking cotton, but everyone was extremely friendly and the only time I had trouble understanding thick accent was in Tupelo. The woman was so nice that I didn't even care. Even in the middle of nowhere, where country music and psychotic evangelical talk shows reign supreme, I could always find a radio station playing "normal" music. I've heard Taylor Swift so many times I think I'm developing a liking for country music...HA! My friends will say I've always been a tad dismissive of the south, but it will always have two things us northerners will never be able to match: good food and southern hospitality.

Time to head out west and seek my fortune looking for gold.

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