|Mississippi Old Capitol; Jackson, Mississippi; December 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Even though I've lived in Los Angeles for the past 23 years, I don't really think of it as home. It's a place where I have a house where I stay most of the time and keep my possessions. My house feels like home but that's about the extent of it. The city, though I've become familiar with much of it, does not feel like what I think of as home. When someone asks me about home my mind immediately conjures up memories of Maryville, Tennessee.
I didn't move to Maryville until I was in high school. Over the years this Tennessee town has been a sort of home base for me. It's where my mother still lives as well as my brother and sisters. Fortunately I manage to make it back to East Tennessee at least once, sometimes twice, each year. It's a long trip from Los Angeles that requires a three day road trip or a flight. I prefer the road trip and that's what I've done again.
After leaving my wife off at her daughter's house in Houston, Texas, I continued on by myself on the 15 hour drive to Maryville. My wife will be spending a month with her daughter while I spend a month with my mother and family. Toward the end of July my wife will fly up to join me and we will continue our travels.
The drive from Houston to Maryville was pleasant and not particularly stressful. I broke up the trip with a stay at the halfway point in Jackson, Mississippi. My original plan was to eat at a somewhat famous soul food restaurant called the Big Apple Inn. I'd seen something about it on television a couple weeks before we'd left home and figured I'd try the food--most famously the pig ear sandwich. This was not to be since they are closed on Mondays and that was the day I happened to be there.
Jackson has some atrocious streets as I discovered in my drive around town. And the city from what I saw seems a bit run down. Since I'd arrived at about 3 PM I had time to kill so I checked out downtown and the area around the capitol building. There's not much I can rave about regarding this city. I'm sure there are some nice things that maybe I missed, but Jackson is not high on my list of cities I want to spend much time in.
As things turned out, I had an early dinner at some nondescript seafood joint that specialized in fried plates--didn't kill me, but didn't set all that well with me either. A hard rain shower came as I sat in the restaurant eating. Since I was seated by a window I had a grand view of the rain storm and the cars passing by on the interstate. The rain stopped when it was time for me to leave.
My room for the night was a freebie at the Country Inns Suites. Having found this chain to be rather nice, I'd stayed in various locations enough times to acquire enough points for a free room. This location in Pearl, Mississippi--right outside Jackson--was the worst I'd stayed in. Not to say the hotel was bad--I'd say it was among the best in the area--but it didn't meet up to the standards of my other experiences with this hotel chain. I guess this is kind of par for the course for a lot of hotels in places like Mississippi and Louisiana. I don't mean to disparage these parts of the country, but I think there's just something about the climate or something that leads to places not being quite as nice. That probably sounds kind of weird I suppose and I may be totally wrong about this. It's just been my experience.
The next morning I left the hotel at about 6:30 and had another uneventful relaxing day of driving through Alabama and into Tennessee. I pulled into the driveway at my mother's house at 3:22 PM--eight minutes ahead of the schedule I had predicted for her. The whole family dropped in to visit that evening. It feels good to be "home".
What has been your experience with traveling in Mississippi or similar climes? Do you have any favorite motel or restaurant chains that you frequent when traveling? How far do you live from family?