Sweet Home Alabama?

Today took us from Albany, Georgia and a unique RV park (which was part of a collection of parks, including a wild animal park) to downtown Albany and the Ray Charles Plaza (his music was piped in through strategically placed rocks all around the park--very cool!):

Many famous folk are from Albany, apparently, including Paula Dean and a number of Super Bowl champions.

Then we took US 82 (which goes all the way from St. Simon's Island, GA to White Sands, NM) through VERY rural Georgia and Alabama, including the lovely antebellum town of Eufala, Alabama--great driving tour of beautiful homes. Since I was driving and there weren't any places to pull over that weren't under low trees, no photos. But a neat little town.

When we switched drivers after Eufala (and after blessedly finally finding OUR diesel), Lisa turned on the regular radio (Julie had been listening to Prairie Home Companion on Sirius Public Radio) and we got the SQUAWK..SQUAWK..SQUAWK of a National Weather Service Bulletin. Whoa. Never heard that kind of warning: 70mph winds, hail, "constant" cloud-to-ground lightning, and TAKE COVER in a building and stay away from windows. We were in the boondocks, but like a mirage, a gas station appeared and the wall opposite the oncoming storm was empty. We pulled in as close to that wall as possible (as we had been advised to do by master RVers), Lisa walked the dog before the storm hit, and Julie went inside to buy something because her grandmother said you always should do that....

We ended up staying 50 minutes in that parking lot--along with a rumble of motorcyclists and other smart drivers. The wind howled through, then the rain poured down, then the lightning struck and shook the ground. No hail. The nincompoops who kept driving on the highway were treated to a parking lot of southbound cars (we were heading north) as there was a terrible accident. We were safe and sound and enjoyed a bit of lunch from the deli inside. We were SO grateful to hear the warning and then so grateful again that the one bar on Julie's phone allowed us to track Doppler radar to see when it was safe to leave. Technology is very helpful in these cases.

So, we made it to Montgomery and saw a few sites--only from the outside as this state observes its blue laws. NOTHING was open on Sunday and we had the entire city to ourselves, which was good, as these folks down south (GA and AL so far) don't post signs very far in advance of a turn or in obvious spots. (Who puts signs for highway turns over the oncoming lanes of traffic?)

At any rate, we did get to see Maya Lin's gorgeous sculpture at the Civil Rights Memorial. (Maya Lin was also the architect of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in DC.) Here, the wall has Dr. King's words (the memorial is across the street from one of the churches where he preached) and the granite table has a timeline of key events in the struggle for civil rights. I didn't get a good photo of the table, only the wall:

Very moving. A huge clap of thunder had the guard laughing as we ran back to the RV. Nothing came of it, but we weren't taking chances. Here's the view as we raced back to our vehicle. Those are not happy skies.

Tonight we're in a gorgeous Corps of Engineers park. You have to love the juxtaposition of bug spray and Citronella candles (we have been getting eaten alive the past week) with the splurge on nice wine to anesthetize us from the bug bites ;-)

For those of you who lean libertarian or are part of the angry white Republican crowd, I challenge you to consider the good that government does via the COE and National and State Parks. If you say you hate government and that it's "no good" as those vitriolic talking heads on TV and radio constantly expound, I dare you to travel this nation on its interstate highways (thank you, Ike), stay at its national parks (thank you, Teddy) and CCC parks (thanks, Franklin), and revisit the country's history via the Civil War and Civil Rights sites (thanks Abe and Lyndon), and then curse government. (Don't even get me started on the Louisiana Purchase--thanks, Thomas--or the Marshall Plan and GI bill--thanks, Harry--or on and on and on.)

Government certainly can be wasteful and there's plenty in ANY administration that we can all criticize, but it ain't ALL bad. So stop asserting that and be more thoughtful. I'm sick and tired of the Pillsbury dough boys (not my term, but I admire the collective name for Gingrich, Limbaugh, and Cheney) spouting bile and hatred without factual accuracy or any kind of thoughtful, persuasive reason. Read Peggy Noonan's column from the Wall Street Journal "The Case for Getting Off Base" from 6/13; she's a dyed-in-the-wool conservative (and a writer and thinker I greatly admire) and she basically says the same thing. It's time for the return of balance and reason, folks.

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