7200 miles. 1 former truck triver male. 1 ambitious blogger. 1 20 year old Ford Explorer.
We left Smithfield, VA on Saturday, May 23rd. For whatever reason the boyfriend decided late (like 5pm) Friday evening that we were going to get everything packed and meet The Kid at the bowling alley so that they could bowl a double in the National Tournament then leave from there, so I started running around like a chicken with her head cut off to make it happen. Obviously it didn’t, haha. Nah, I knew it wouldn’t, but we’re both procrastinators, so it’s better that we did this because then we’d have left later on Saturday. I had to update the GPS which originally said it would take 3 hours to update; luckily it only took about an hour including a glitch that stopped the process mid-way.
I woke him up at about 10:30 on Saturday. We still had to finish packing the Explorer and he had to pick up some of his pills from Walmart, so we didn’t officially make it out of town until noon. Here’s the first thing you need to know about truck drivers: they do not stop. There is point A and point B and unless it’s explicitly on the list, they don’t stop except to use the bathroom and to eat. It was all interstate (85) from Southwestern VA to Mobile, Alabama. It was kind of nice to see Downtown Atlanta at night, but for the most part I just napped until we made it into Mobile at 2am.
Our destination was the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. Wow! I’ve been on a few navy ships in my life, but this one (actually 2 since the USS Drum is located there, too) are probably the best. They have as much original equipment as they can while still being visitor friendly.
First off, we slept right next to the USS Alabama in the back of the Explorer. Yep, this was all part of the plan, though the boyfriend decided that we only needed 3 comforters to use as bedding (2 as mattress and 1 as blanket). This was one of our only errors. After the first night, we left the bedding comforters simply flat under the rest of our stuff (rather than refolding them and packing them next to the pillows) and a flattened comforter isn’t very comfortable. We needed at least one and probably both of the two that were left home. The other issue is that we aren’t used to sharing a blanket and many a morning I woke up completely wrapped in it while he had none (though he would take it at times himself). I seriously believe that the secret to happy bed-sharing is simply having separate blankets. It’s what we do at home.
We started the museum with the USS Drum (a submarine). Because the park is designed for this to be your last stop, we decided to tackle it first and I’m very glad we did because we had the submarine almost to ourselves. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in it with a large crowd and being that it was Memorial Day Weekend, by the time we left, the whole museum was crawling with people.
I was really excited that we could climb up to where the periscope is (pictures 1 and 2)! 3 is the rear torpedo room.
To get between the Alabama and the Drum, there is a hanger full of various airplanes. One of the things we noticed while driving around the parking lot the night before was that a lot of the aircraft parked in the yard were damaged. The boyfriend asked about it and we were pointed towards a digital picture frame which showed the destruction from Katrina in 2005. The entire back wall was ripped off and airplanes tossed around like toys. They are still trying to recover.
We finished our tour on the Alabama which I would call a floating city except that aircraft carriers are so much bigger! I lost count of the number of kitchens. Had a prolific thought about segregation and the military (because the marines had (have?) their own areas including kitchens and everything seems to be about every class having their own “separate but equal” stuff and no intermingling). Norfolk has the USS Wisconsin, but since it must remain in a condition ready to go back into service, I don’t think the public is able to see as much as you can see in the Alabama. I haven’t been below decks on the Wisconsin yet.
We continued west from here, only stopping at the Louisiana Visitor’s Center where I learned all about the Atchafalaya Basin.
Crossing the Mississippi at the mouth wasn’t as impressive as I expected it to be. I fell asleep at some point (I ended up sleeping in every state except Tennessee during out trip) and woke up at about 2am when he stopped at what was supposed to be a rest area, but didn’t have any bathrooms. We decided to park anyway and made our bed in the back of the Explorer. This is what we saw when we woke up:
Shortly after, on the road again, we had a bit of fun as we blew the doors off a State Trooper as we went 82 mph in an 80. We do live recklessly, haha.
We were supposed to arrive at his brother’s house by Thursday the 28th. Instead we rolled into Los Lunas, NM on Monday the 25th at about 6pm. ‘Cuz that’s how truck driver’s drive.