...But It's the South to me

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By now y'all know that I had quite the adventure to get home Sunday. I used up my roamin' data for the month. In return since I had no service my internet and GPS would not work. Phone calls became limited. I did however make frans throughout the Deep South as I embarked on my EPIC journey home. Ok, maybe it's just an epic journey to me.


I lied in the bed that Saturday night awake from all the events that had happened. My body was wired from all the sights and sounds I was able to taste. How could anyone expect me to sleep? I looked over to see my phone ringin', My aunt was callin' to tell me I'd used up my roamin' data and sprint was shuttin' it off until the next billin' cycle. I had no idea what that meant so I muttered ok before I said my goodbyes and drifted to sleep. I woke the next mornin' bright and early eager. It'd turned out that the town of Helena, Arkansas that I'd been in all weekend was less than two hours from my Paw Paw in Mississippi. I was gonna surprise him for church and lunch before I headed back to Texas. 


I hugged many necks and said my goodbyes; I was ready to hit the road. I pranced to my car and went to put Paw Paw's address in my GPS only to realize it won't work. No cause for panic I tell myself. I'll just pull up Google Maps. Wait, that won't work either. And then it hit me. That'e what Sprint meant when it said it was shuttin' off my data roamin'. Think I tell myself. I quickly call my aunt since no one will answer text. The call is muggy and doesn't last long. I try and frantically write what she's tellin' me. As soon as we hang up I realize I can't get my bearins' together enough to even know which way West is and it doesn't look like I'll be able to make anymore phone calls till I find service. Frustration begins to set in. I need to be in Greenville by 11am for service. I tell myself to keep drivin' straight. I come to an Exxon in West Helena. I pull in. Better fill up now I tell myself. I walk inside armed with my Texas Charm and a pink pen. I meet the nicest young man and shop owner. I explain to the lady that I have no clue where I am and I just need to get to the HWY headed into Mississipi. I tell them how I'm tryin' to see my Paw Paw before I get back to Dallas. The shop helper is visitin' for the festival and is clueless. The young guy walks over and goes, "I can get you as far as Clarksdale." I eagerly say, "yes sir." These are the directions I write in my pink pen, "Left at the left light. The road is tricky. Make sure to stay right. Right at the stop sign across from the visitor center. You gonna drive so far but keep goin'. You'll enter Mississip and finally a light. Take the light right and it'll get you to 61." I say my thank you's and promise to be careful.  And so it began
I drive and drive. Until it feels like I can't drive anymore. I pass many cotton fields on my left and right. I mentally wonder if my family ever picked from her bounty. Delta trails come into view. And then I see it. A glorious sign welcomin' me to Mississippi. I don't think I've ever been so excited. Or so I thought. He wasn't lyin' I tell myself. I take the turn towards Clarksdale like he said. Now, it's a party in my car I think. Taylor Swift comes on the radio and I'm jammin; Sweet tea in hand. I quickly call my Paw Paw. He is besides himself with joy. He wants to know how far I am. How long I've got. I don't know I exclaim. I tell him to get dressed and I'll eventually be at his step dressed and ready for service. I eventually reach town. I quickly call him as I know we'll be late for service. For someone who's lives in Greenville on the same street for 80+ years he knows exactly where I am.

We pull in front of the church in record time. Guess it isn't to hard when it's only down the street. Walkin' up to the little chapel with the big ol' steeple, I'm introduced to Ms. Haines. She's runnin' late for service but it doesn't matter. She's my Great Great Aunt and just has to say hi. We walk towards the chapel. I have to pee. I mutter I'll hold it. Ms. Haines looks over at me and whispers, "baby you ought not hold it. You hold your head high. Walk past all those people to the front of the church and you use that bathroom dear."  I smile as I take her advice. Halfway through this extended service I'm grateful for her widsom.She was right in her, "Ought not hold it"

They say things move slower in the South. Times like this I find that to be true. It's as if service dragged for days. People caught in God's Grace. The service eventually fades. I go to make my rounds. A yes ma'am here. A no sir there. Hug here. A smile there. I eventually make my way to the pastor. He's excited I've come to visit. I mean who wouldn't be excited to see their cousin I tell myself. We leave the little chapel and head west. Lunch is in our immediate future. More short introductions and much pictures later, are goodbye are muttered.

I'd church-ed. I'd eaten. I'd visited. I turned right, took 82 West outta town, I drove. I'd cross'd the state line into Arkansas. This is where the real adventure continued. A sign tellin' me to take 65 came into view. I contemplated takin' the exit. It seemed like I had heard it before. Tarter Sauce I mumbled under my breath. I drove. Again I looked to my left. An Arkansas rest stop was in my view.  But maybe I should keep straight on 82.  I'd once heard that, that would lead to a hwy into Texas. I take the first exit I see and turn around. Somehow I'm goin' further into Arkansas and that isn't what I want. I look over at my phone. Still no service. Time to make a new fran I tell myself. I pull into the Center. I immediately walk around back to see the Mississippi River in the distance. I'd once heard that it flowed backwards for two days. I wonder if this is where that took place. I breath in the fresh crisp air. It feels and smells so good on my tired soul. I find a bench and sit for a moment. God's lakeside portrait the apple of my momentary eye. I whisper goodbye to the beauty. Promisin' to return again. I rush towards the center. An older gentleman man stops me. Say's I'll trip and fall that way. I nod and continue on up the hill. I rush in the center. Before I can even catch a breath I'm greeted buy a worker. She wants to know all the details. Where I'm from. Where I'm headed. Where i've been to. The list goes on. I quickly stop her before she can ask more questions. I explain' how I'm tryin' to get to hwy 20 to get home to Texas. Hwy 20. Yes, Hwy 20 was all I needed. I elicite attention. Many come over to help. Louisiana was mentioned. My head became confused. From Arkansas to Mississippi and back and now Louisiana. Why most I go over to yet another state when Arkansas borders TexasI decide to keep my mouth shut. I didn't wanna question. After all she is paid to give people directions and general help. I laugh when the lady goes, "now come on over here and look at this map." I'm told I'll catch 20 in Monroe. I got this I tell myself. I've been to Monroe. I can make it home. After many smiles, yes ma'am's and  no Sirs were exchanged and a short chat later, everyone in the little center wishes me well. I'm on my way. Map and pink paper in hand.









I pull out of the litle parkin' lot and head West. Not entirely sure where I was but I know where I'm headed.  Again I drive for what seems like an eternity. Louisiana in my front. Arkansas in my rear-view. The welcome sign assurance I was on my way to the 165 she spoke of. Alas I come to a dead end. The road ends and a sign that reads 165 lays ahead. I should be excited I tell myself.  I look up to my trusty pink paper. I'd made it out of Montrose, Arkansas with no problems but now I was stuck. She didn't tell me which way to go on 165. Don't panic I assure myself. Remember that map she made you study. Get it out. I reach for my map greatful I'm in the middle of nowhere at a stop sign near a farm and no one is comin'. I quickly throw it back down. This darn thing ain't helpful. South I figure. I live South compared to where I am. So South is where I headed.












An hour or so passes by. The suns starts to fade, in the distance. And then I see it that beautiful sign tellin' me I'm headed on the right direction. I'm so excited I pull over. I glance at my directions to see that I'm headed right. But no that, that is not enough. I need a picture I tell myself. A few cars pass by lookin' amused. But one. One stops. A young Cajun who looks to not be much older than me stops. He wants to make sure I'm alright. I strain to understand him cause his accent is so thick. It's as if I'm pulled back in time. Growin' up listenin' to my Daddy when he got around his brothers and sisters. For a second I immerse myself in his words. The accent brings a smile to my face.  When I don't respond quickly He ask if I'm bein' chased. I laugh thinkin' these things still happen here. I reply that I'm fine and about to get back on the road. I explain how I'm tryin' to get home. He smiles and assures me I'm headed in the right direction. Again I promise to be careful and again I'm headed, im on my way. 

"...Operator won't you put me on through, I gotta' send my love down to Baton Rouge, Hurry up won't you put her on the line, I gotta' talk to the girl just one more time... Callin' Baton Rouge, Sweet Baton Rouge, my Baton Rouge" I sign the song to myself as I drive never more excited to be on my way.
It's as if 165 has ended and I'm no where near Monroe. I don't remember turnin' off I tell myself and I don't remember her sayin' much more needed to be done when I hit 165. I decide to keep going straight. Served me right thus far. I pass through a tiny town, Dustin Lynch "Hell of a Night" boomin' from my dashboard. People are line the small unpaved road. I'm assumin' I'm enterin' town. A man on a horse waves. Another next to a pickup smiles and nods. Town is not near I realize. But a little homemade shack on the side of the road next to the railroad tracks. I pull in. Why not I tell myself. Can't get any more hospitable than this. 

I thank the lady for my shake and I'm quickly on my way again. By this time the dark has set in early and the storm is approachin'. I gotta find my way home I think. But which way is home. Somehow the section of 165 I was on ended in this small town. I take the closest Louisiana road I can find. I try and keep my cool as it gets darker and darker and it isn't even 7. I quickly turn off Dustin Lynch and find the first workin' radio station. I need to be able to hear if somethin' interrupts. I come to a fork in the road. I don't know where it leads but I see many turnin' that way so I turn, too. Rodney Atkins "Makes me Wanna Take a Backroad" comes on. Any other day I'd be happy to hear the song but today not so much. I'm one with the Louisiana darkness and the only thing I can see for miles is farmland. The rain has set in. The pine needles coverin' my car. Many have pulled over. Others chose to drudge through, slow and steady. I follow the latter turnin' when they turn. About 30 mins in and much prayers later I hit a Sprint cell tower. I wanna cry of joy. As much as I love makin' frans I really wanna get to Texas at this point. I quickly take a screencap of the directions in-case I return back to no signal. 

A few left turns and I'm back on my way. My nerves are shot by the time I come to a sign lettin' me know i20 is near. But i'm safe I tell myself. Tank emptied and Ford gassed and ready I'm on my way one final time. 

It's hours before I hit the state line and eventually home. But that doesn't matter... It's on that long drive down i20 that I have time to think. Think of all those I encountered on my long journey home. If you're not from around here you may not understand: the thick accents, smilin' faces, friendly demeanors,  helpful hands and enchantin' food. The overall Southern Hospitality. It's what I've come to expect livin' here. No one ever hesitates to help a person in need. And that's why I'll never leave I tell my self...  

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26 comments

  1. I loved your story and adventure, and reading about you and your Great Great Aunt getting to mass on time.

    Omg I had a similar situation at around 6am one morning after dropping off my husband at the airport. Instead of my phone not working, I had NEVER used the maps on my phone and I took the wrong exit and went on a different highway. I also tried not to panic, and I too went to a local gas station to ask where I needed to go, to get home - so I could get ready for WORK! LOL.

    I could totally hear your accent as you were typing, I don't know - it must've been all the words their last letters (typin', roamin', billin')

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  2. Sounds like you had quite an adventure! I don't know what I would do if my data wasn't working, I don't have a GPS anymore, but my husband does. Guess he's better prepared than I am.

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  3. What an adventure! You went all over the South in one day... and you had some great stories to tell for it, even if the drive there and home didn't turn out the way you wanted them to. Nothing wrong with relishing in the randomness of a road trip when nothing seems to be going as you aspire for it to be...

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  4. Not sure if my other comment went through, but you had an adventurous time. I'm glad that you made it home safely.

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  5. What an awesome story! Love your pics too!

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  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed Arkansas!! & it seems like getting lost wasn't so bad in the end =)

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  7. What a trip, wow! I am SO lost without Google maps on my phone. I literally couldn't even get around my own city without it, hahaa.

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  8. I had a similar experience with my phone, I was in Germany when they decided I had used up all my data but lucky enough some nice people let me use their internet I printed all I needed. Such a lovely adventure you had x

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  9. Great writing. I felt like I was right there with you.

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  10. Isn't it funny how much we take our technology for granted sometimes?! I had a blackout a few months ago and nearly lost my mind because my internet was gone. Seriously?! Life without the internet?! How did we do it??!!! :)

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  11. aw! I'm from Lafayette - yay LA! i love that photo of you with the map..super cute!

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  12. What a great adventure! Well written :)

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  13. Wow! What an adventurer! I love your spirit and determination and courage to make the trip happen. This is my first time here and I love your blog style! I will definitely be coming back!

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  14. i don't know what i would do without GPS. i don't think i've looked at a real map in forever!! I do miss the South.. although Atlanta is so metropolitan that people don't think it's the proper south anymore.

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  15. Such an adventure! Glad you found your way.

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  16. Such an entertaining story!
    Long before people had GPS on their phones.... like... uhhh... 8 years ago I made a impromptu trip from Florida to Indiana (a pretty straight shot) just me and my mom. We were armed with out printout of Mapquest and I think we only got lost once. Or turned off on the wrong road once. Almost ran out of gas in GA, were directed to an "open" gas station by an old bloated State Trooper, lost again, found our way. Ran off the road going 60 on a too short exit (whoops). But we made it there and back! lol

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  17. 1. That coral dress looks fabulous on you.
    2. How is roaming even still a thing? Time to switch to verizon.

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  18. This looks like such a great adventure! Thanks for sharing!

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  19. Sounds like a fun adventure! I'm glad you finally found your way home though, it would be so scary to be in a foreign area without my dear maps, haha.

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  20. I can't read a map to save my life! I must have GPS lol. Sounds like a great trip, I've always wanted to visit the south!

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  21. Aleshea, I enjoyed this so much. It took me back to back in the day when I started traveling....back before there was such a thing as cell phones or GPS. Your descriptions of family and friends and your surrounding are always beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us at Treasure Box Tuesday- pinned! :)

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  22. Hahaha girl that is so funny to me. In the beginning I was like, "if this child don't pick up a map from the gas station!" haha. I'm glad you made it though. Sounds like you had quite the time!

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