Laurie and I went traveling last week. Here's a few highlights:
Visiting two delightful Austin swimmin' holes, Deep Eddy and Barton Springs. It turns out that what I didn't like about swimming was clorine.
Spending time with Laurie's sister, a hilarious nurse who filled us in on the funny and dark sides of her profession. A sample: nurses call motorcycles "Donorcycles." Also, she wants her funeral music to include "Ghostbusters". That just gets funnier the more I think of it.
My return to Birmingham, Alabama, where I reconnected with some old friends, finally ate some V. Richards bread (A staple of my B'ham days which I've been pining for ever since leaving) and discovered a groovy bar, the Red Lion Lounge, a year too late to hang there regularly. Red Lion is a good quiet bar for sitting outside with a cluster of chums, or going inside to watch a fourtysomething guy in a suit chat up a goth Gen X'er ("See, I'm the last of a dying breed...")
(sidenote: there was an apartment complex near my old digs which was full of Latin American folks. Every weekend you could walk by and hear guys speaking spanish and playing Reggaetone as they worked on their custom-painted trucks. Then, one weekend, they were GONE. All of them. The building became an exhibit on the theme of broken windows and enigmatic grafitti; I was tempted to explore it but was afraid of antsy squatters. Now the building is also GONE, replaced by a tan grassy hillside.)
Driving through small towns in Texas. My notions about modern Texas have been shaped by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, Joe Bob Briggs, and the novel Stinger by B'ham native Robert McCammon, in which aliens invade a dying Texas town. I'm happy to report that Texas lived up to my pulpy hopes... rusty trailers, shirtless country folk with sun-browned muscles, odd jury-rigged diners...
Seeing Professor Cox again. He's about to spend a year in China on a Fulbright grant, which is more that I can say, so it was our last chance to catch him.
Another interesting and mysterious sighting: a dilapidated, closed rest stop in Louisiana. I believe it's one I stopped at back in the Nineties: it stank from the moment we got out of the car, and was full of bums demanding money. The march of the moaning bums was reminiscent of a George Romero movie. Now Louisiana's rest stop is clean and bum-free. Except when I show up.