Today saw a sizeable amount of open-field running as it was our first “full day” of driving. And I won’t bury the lead, Daphne absolutely rocked her part.
She sang happily in the backset for hours while Dad explained the importance of listening to at least one Bruce Hornsby and the Range song on a car trip to North Carolina. (And just the one will do, thank you.) She played with fidgets, read her “speak aloud” animal book, nibbled on Goldfish, and was as generally pleasant and giggly a traveling companion as you could possibly ask for.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… First, we had to leave Baton Rouge.
So we all slept in rather late this morning, which may or may not have had something to do with a certain little girl waking up and running laps around the hotel room from 5-7 am before going back to sleep.
And so we missed out on the hotel breakfast which, honestly, did not really sadden me.
I’m still working on my Reentry Plan after being on COVID lockdown for the past year, and sharing scrambled quasi-eggs with a bunch of unmasked travelers is not something I’m ready for here in stage 1. In fact, just riding in the elevator and seeing other people’s fingerprints on the stainless steel was enough to give me the jibblies…
So, we get no breakfast.
Fortunately, there was an angsty little single-serving coffee maker in the hotel room, so I at least got a bit of caffeine and some mild terror to help me start the day.
The halfway mark for the day was in Laurel, Mississippi, where I’m told they film a reality television show of some kind.
We stopped for lunch at Pearl’s Diner, which came very highly recommended despite both my wife and my daughter acting like I’m the iPhone paparazzi and they didn’t want to be seen at such an establishment.
Although I suppose that wasn’t far off the mark, as the eponymous “Pearl” apparently showed up as I was taking this shot, and I happened to snap a picture of her too.
I really have no idea who this person is other than the owner of a diner with some pretty damn good fried chicken. (Jen was a huge fan of their Red Beans, Rice & Sausage with a side of Okra Goulash and jalapeño cornbread.) But all those people on the street shouted excitedly when she drove up and clamored to take lots of pictures with her, so I guess she’s part of the television show.
Anyway, lunch was very good. You should check it out if you ever happen to be in Laurel.
Our next stop was to pick up some yogurt for Daph to have for lunch (Okra and fried chicken aren’t her thing), and then head over to the aptly named, Daphne Park there in Laurel.
A quick 30 minute swing/lunch session later, and Dad had to be the bad guy and get us all back on the road.
But even then Daphne was exceptional. I kneeled down and explained to her that we had to get back into the car, and that swinging was over for now. She pulled away for a moment and pointed back at the swing and looked up at me, wide-eyed… So I had to be the cruel, horrible, father that I am and say “no, I’m really sorry, sweetie…but we have to get back in the car now. We have to go.“
She just stood there for a moment, looking at the swings wistfully, then she hung her head and took my hand and we trudged back to the car.
I know she’s my kid and all, which implies some bias, but seriously…she’s a truly wonderful little person.
Anyway, we got back on the road and went straight through to Gadsden, Alabama, and there was nary a tear or fussiness from the back seat. Just a lot of singing and playing and giggling.
We Door Dashed some Wendy’s, Daph had her bath, and now she and mommy are lying in bed having a Goodnight Moon session while I’m here typing all of this up.
Tomorrow we head up the hill to Brevard, which should be a shorter overall day than this one, however much more vertically oriented than today’s path.
See you there.