August 2011


48: 10 Southern States

As you read this, I’m enjoying my day of jetlag – waking obscenely early (for the USA), and generally being dead to the world for a day. I’ll be better tomorrow.

In this weakened state, I’m starting to think that the United States has too many States – perhaps states should merge so that, like Canada, there are only 10 spanning from sea to shining sea…


Florida is one of those states I love to hate – too hot, too humid, and bizarre politics make this state awful – and I’ve only been to a tiny sliver of the state: Pensacola and Panama City Beach – on Spring Vacation with The Travelling PhD. I’ve always wanted to say that I was on the beach in Panama City Beach for Spring Break, and I was. But not for too long. What sticks out about this piece of Florida is the incredible number of Waffle House restaurants. Surely there is one every kilometer, if not more frequently – and never mind their competitors.

Georgia, on the other had, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in – assuming one counts the Atlanta Airport as Georgia. I counted Georgia because on the spring break trip, we’d driven up the western edge of the state, but it wasn’t until I left the airport to visit two friends who, at the time, were living in Atlanta that I learned how well informed its citizens were: I was informed by a woman trying to justify an enormous portrait of Ronald Reagan in the governor’s office that it was hanging there because Reagan was “president when the wall fell,” which, of course, he wasn’t. Says a lot about the state and its educational system.

Next door is Alabama, and I can say that I remember driving through the Bankhead Tunnel with The Travelling PhD, and spending the night in, errr… Dothan (right?), but the state didn’t seem to leave a huge impression on me.

Nor did, realistically, Mississippi – although we had a grand time driving down Natchez Trace Parkway from Jackson to Natchez. This was part of our drive south from Bloomington to Louisiana that included the stunning glory hole in Arkansas. I remember driving along the coast through Biloxi – and I still do not understand why the city is so “large” – I think too many people find gambling interesting, and I do not.

Aside from seeing Graceland from a pink limo and the panda bears in the Memphis Zoo, my most significant Tennessee memory is again with the Travelling PhD: We were camping on our spring break trip and it was our last night. With exactly one match, I managed to light the campfire and get it going. I’d never done it before (my family never went camping), and I’ve never done it again (camping’s not really my thing). The next morning I was the first to wake, and as I stuck my arm out of the sleeping bag, I thought, “holy cow, it is unbelievably cold out there.” I had to go, so I braved getting out, opened up the tent and stepped outside. It was a lot warmer outside in the spring air than it was in our tent.

Just north is Kentucky, and I have a lot of memories there – and although it’s advertised as being in Cincinnati, in truth, the Creation Museum is in Kentucky. Not really a credit to the state—and my most vivid memory of Kentucky. The other vivid memory from Kentucky is incredibly fantastic fried chicken from this restaurant in the middle of nowhere, near-ish to Henderson, Kentucky. I can feel the cholesterol increasing just thinking about it.

Meanwhile one of my friends was puzzled as to how I’d missed West Virginia (he’s from there) despite the fact that I’d been to every state around it. The answer: airplanes. I finally fixed this error of omission by going to Weirton, West Virginia, while in Pittsburgh. Wish I could say I remembered a lot – mainly I remember abandoned factories – presumably steel mills. Not really sure. Had dinner in an Italian restaurant and then returned to Pittsburgh.

Virginia I could sort of cheat and only talk about the part next to Washington DC – I’ve flown in and out of Dulles Airport a couple of times and stayed in Virginia, but that’s boring. Instead I remember Colonial Williamsburg, this amusing living history museum where people live in the past and we can find out what it was like to live in Colonial America.

In North Carolina, I’ve really only been to Greensboro when the Cynical Queer lived there. Hadn’t realized that the Woolworth’s sit-down strike was there until I visited – way cool history.

I might note that it was the Cynical Queer who took me to South Carolina – we drove across the border and bought gas. My only time there – In contention for the least amount of time spent in any state, in competition with Arkansas and Massachusetts.

2 comments to 48: 10 Southern States

  • You’ve also been to Raleigh, NC (well Morrisville), once on a layover on a now defunct airline. I seem to remember you were flying from Indiana to Denver, or something like that, and I drove over to visit you on your layover and we had dinner. So technically you were in NC since you left the airport. 🙂

    Obviously this was in 2001 before 9/11, when I could come meet you at the gate and you didn’t get strip searched going through security.