Amazingly, I woke up to my alarm on Saturday. I packed and such and by 9:00 Mamie and I were on the Indiana Toll Road, headed west. The drive to Mississippi felt kind of like driving into spring. We went west on I-80 for a little while, which was uneventful, but then we turned south on I-57 and driving on that was cool, because things subtly got greener as we got farther south. We crossed the Mississippi river twice, caught I-55 at some point, drove through Memphis (and marveled at the bunches of Elvis/heartland signs) and made it to the Trifone's place in Jackson before 21:00 central time. So about 800 miles, in under 13 hours. Stopped twice for gas and once for lunch. So despite only getting five hours of sleep the night before, I had no trouble doing 13 hours of driving. I think I could've easily gone several more hours. I think it's fair to say I'm now very confident in my long range driving abilities.
So we got to see the Trifone's house in Jackson. It's quite nice. And I think they were at least somewhat amused by my hair... Sunday they were nice enough to let me sleep in a while, then I aided in some yard work they were doing, it was nice to spend some time outside. I've had enough of the cold in south bend. Then we went to Barnes and Noble and other such places for a while, then mass. The church here is new and takes a round approach to things, the altar is in the middle, with seating all around. It was an interesting service. The priest at one point was talking about how Abraham was the father of the three largest religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. That statement struck me as odd, it seemed like Hinduism or Buddhism might belong in the top three, I'm not sure of exact numbers, but ... oh well... then after dinner watched "Mr Nice Guy" with Jackie Chan. An amusing movie, if nothing else.
Monday, 9:00 central time: leave Jackson, headed for the gulf. Spent some of drive coding on pptms. Found a little oddity in inilib Debug.h that causes g++ to generate a warning. Should make Barrett aware of this...
It was a slow drive, heavy rain, downed trees, and a detour due to flooding. But I enjoyed the drive, this area is really green. We stopped at an Outlet Mall a dozen or two miles away from our final destination. I bought a pair of blue jeans (my only remaining functional pair of blue jeans is nearing retirement...) and a shirt I found for $7. Also picked up an Orson Scott Card book: The Memory of Earth. By 17:00 or so we arrived in Orange Beach, Alabama, which is apparently right on the Florida border. We stayed in a condo that is right on the beach, you walk out the back, across the patio, and you're on the beach. Excellent. So after unloading and such we wandered around on the beach. I immediately realized that wearing shoes was foolish. So despite grey skies and intermittent rain, we wandered around a good while. The water was warm enough to wade in. I certainly thought the beach was cool. But with the rain and the onsetting darkness, it was getting cold, so we headed for the heated pool. Haha. Then dinner, then we watched the new Colombo movie on abc. Not much in the way of plot, but I think Peter Falk is cool, so I enjoyed it. Sophomore year, I used to watch Colombo in the Keenan basement late at night when I needed to wind down before going to sleep.
Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day. I woke up at 8:30 or so, having gotten a good 10 or so hours of sleep. Nice. Got up, had breakfast, and immediately went swimming in the gulf. I must say, I really like the beach. Waves are really cool, I've never been to a beach with large waves before. So Alexandra showed Mamie and I how to use the "boogie board" and I failed to fully master the subtleties of its use, but had fun none-the-less. I got my ass kicked by one particularly large wave and lost the sunglasses I was wearing. Luckily I'd brought a second pair. But those got damaged later the same day. Then after lunch we headed to Gulf Shores, AL, and checked out the shopping scene there. I was unimpressed by the souvenirs (I've never really been big into cheap junk) but came real close to buying one of them surfer style printed shirts. Wednesday is pay day, I may end up buying one, just to have for the hawaii club luau later this month. Then more swimming before dinner. After dinner we went crab hunting. This was an entertaining new experience. Mamie was terrified of the little things but became most proficient spotter. I didn't spot any but caught one someone else spotted. Then I finished up the Card book I bought. More thoughts on that may follow. Saltwater has been doing interesting things to my dreads. Also, the fact that they've been almost continuously wet since we got here tuesday has made them do odd things. Underneath the rubber bands, where the wax is still heavily concentrated, the salt seems to be turning my hair yellow. So I cut the rubber bands out of five or six dreads that were holding together well. Then I rubbed out the large wax buildups and got rid of the stain. The dreads seem to be doing fine without the rubber bands. We'll see how they hold up...
Wednesday I woke after another 10 hour sleep. Nice. It was cloudy again. So we were slow in getting out. But eventually we made it into the water. Much colder than the day before. But still fun. After a while we opted for the warmth of the pool instead. Then after lunch we drove east into florida. Visited some beach in that area. Then visited a few stores. Picked up a Hawaiin printed shirt and a bracelet. At about 15:00 or so it started raining, and did so the rest of the day... It proceeded to rain hard all night. The power went out at some point, alarm clock lights were blinking in the morning. But when I woke up it was sunny.
Thursday featured the biggest waves yet. And it was again nice and sunny. I didn't put in contacts before going to the beach, instead I headed in blind. So without fear of getting saltwater into my eyes, I rode into fullscale battle against the waves. The waves won. But I had fun. Mamie claims to have some good action shots. Then we had to pack up and leave Alabama. We stopped by the Outlet Mall again, I picked up Orson Scott Card's "The Call of Earth" and the Trent Summar cd I've been looking for for a while. So I will be returning from the south with a new country cd, which seems appropriate. We then stopped in Mobile at the USS Alabama museum and toured the USS Alabama, A WWII battleship, and the USS Drum, a WWII submarine. Cool stuff. Finally we make it back to Jackson. We meet up with John and Mamie and I treat the Trifones to dinner at the Maccaroni Grill as a thank you for their hospitality. Then after returning to their place and unpacking and such I do battle with AOL, trying to get it to let me check my mail. Finally I discover that since I'd been connected under Mark's screen name, AOL's parental controls were hosing my attempts to ssh to wizard. So I got Alexandra to log in with her screen name instead and I was able to access my mail for the first time in six days. I think that's the longest I've gone without checking email in quite a while. I don't think I minded the break from email at all.
Friday, after saying goodbyes, we made it out of Jackson by 10:00 central time 13 hours later we were back in South Bend. The last 300 miles of the journey were through moderately heavy snowfall. What a great welcome back to the midwest. I think it should not be allowed to snow in the midwest in any months other than december and january. They lack the mountains to make the snow worthwhile. But alas, I am home. More later.