Monday, May 18, 2009

Ole Miss

Ron and I have been in Mississippi for the last couple of days. We attended the CMEN men's gathering last week (Saturday to Saturday). We both enjoyed the gathering, and I won a registration for next year as part of a raffle. We're seriously considering it for next spring.

Thumbs up: small gathering where you get to know many of the men; laid back and friendly gathering; pretty good food, considering. Thumbs down: mosquitoes, though they appeared to be slow and dumb; a few instances of uncomfortable crossing of intimate boundaries; a couple of guys who took themselves far too seriously.

I think what I enjoyed the most about the whole experience has been the road trip. I truly enjoy pointing the car down the road and watching the trees go by. After the gathering, Ron and I headed south to the Florida Panhandle, eventually arriving in Pensacola. We parked the car and took a walk around a boardwalk in one of the many beach towns. The air was hot and steamy, but we got in our daily walk.

We headed out of Pensacola toward Mobile. The weather was a little stormy, but nothing that a duck wouldn't like. We spent Saturday night in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The parts of the Deep South that we've seen look pretty much like what you'd see in Maryland, or Illinois. Lots of Chilis, McDonalds, and a hundred other familiar franchises. There are a couple of regional favorites. Sonic is a regional burger joint. Kangaroo is a service station chain. We ate at an Outback Steakhouse Saturday evening. The food is predictable, because you could eat it at a hundred other Outbacks, but it's a pleasure to sit, listen, and observe the locals. I speak differently than the locals, and I really enjoyed listening to the cadence and vowels of close by conversations. It was a treat to see the dress, manners, and culture of Hattiesburg played out in the local Outback.

Saturday and Sunday, we drove all the way across Mississippi from the southeast to the northwest corner. Southaven is the first town in Mississippi south of Memphis, and it's a different kind of Mississippi than one would find in the Delta (I mean, we are so far NORTH that we're almost Yankees here). Sunday night we had dinner with Sherry, Evelyn, Larry, Kymberli, and Kiel. Sherry is a great homestyle cook. She fixed us some wonderful chicken, white beans and ham, cauliflower, and fried potatoes.

Larry and Sherry are friends of Mom and Alex. Like Alex, Sherry is taking care of her mother. I see situations like this, and I'm grateful for my own good health, and hope that it lasts me for the rest of my life. Old age isn't very pretty close up.