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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Search for Midgettown....the Real Munchkinland

After hearing rumors about the legends and fantasies surrounding a certain village near Cincinnati, I couldn’t help but get in my car and drive in search for it. You must understand how bored a person can become sitting in a hotel room in a city where you don’t know a soul. Especially if you are at all like me and you mistake loneliness for boredom.

However, the type of village this was rumored to be, was above and beyond the regular “something to do when you are bored” protocol, no, this was more into the type of thing that you wonder how other people could remain entertained and not bored since they probably never have, nor few ever will undertake the same search that I undertook. (If you have, then I commend you.)

What was so special about this hidden community was the fact that it is supposed to be composed of nothing but midgets. Yes, I am sure you are no doubt taken by surprise, by the utter joy and frolicsome pictures that this conjures for you. Others of you, undergo a sort of nightmare when I call up that portrait to your midgie-phobic mind. You have an unhealthy fear of little people and it should be treated. And still others of you, recline back and sigh to yourself, with the idyllic serenity of what such a community would entail…a sort of Shire-like Utopia…of perpetual children and it makes you feel all snug inside. Doubtless of what your feelings are about a full scale midget town are, I will relate the rumors that I have heard about this quirky stronghold for the vertically challenged.

The tale goes back years and years ago, (as all good stories go) where a circus owner, probably from Cincinnati, had tons and tons of midgets. The ringleader, this Buck-eye Barnum decided to make a town for them on the outskirts of Cincinnati. He constructed little houses and corrals and chow halls and all the like, so that his dwarfs could live all together in harmony and in one accord. You must realize that those of little stature were seriously persecuted throughout history. Well, if not persecuted and hated, at least ridiculed and feared. So, a town where they could thrive and no one could be an outsider no matter how short he was, was a marvelous idea. Segregation was the rule of the thumb throughout much of history until only a few decades ago. But the plan backfired. Instead of making the midgets more peaceful and harmonious, they become more defensive and more hostile. The mockery that they felt only fed their desire to keep us tall people out. For many years, people have reported incidents of those who ventured to wander through Midgettown. It becomes awfully quiet. No one is around. The little houses all shut their doors. The sidewalks empty. It becomes a dwarf-ghost town. But interesting evidences occur…swings still remain moving. Doors and windows are covered up. The whole place remains swept clean. And the most bizarre thing is that feeling of being watched…and if you happen to venture there at night…the bright gleaming of eyes watching you from the forest. Also, reports have been made about the movements of things out in the woods. Movement flashes here and there, like a blur you may be able to see something or someone. And then there are those who admit to having rocks thrown at them and still others that they are chased out of there.

So you see, being in Cincinnati with nothing to do in the evening, I had to go and find this place. I was a bit skeptical. I really doubted that the place existed. I googled, “midgettown” on the internet to find the location, but where stories abounded no one gave an exact location. How can so many people claim to see different things when no one takes the time to record the address? I was doubtful. But I decided that the search for it should be the fun of it. I wrote down as many description as I could find on the internet concerning its exact location, and then headed out really believing that such a place doesn’t really exist…………….And Oh, how wrong I was.

I drove and drove, up and down hills, along and across county roads. The Ohio countryside displayed its own beauty in a surprising largeness. But no where could I find that little town with its little inhabitants. There were no yellow brick roads leading me into this Munchkinland. I even stopped at a vineyard
and asked if they knew where the "Handlebar Ranch" was. I hadn't the courage to place the indiscreet, "midget" adjective in my inquiry. The vineyard waiter just shook his head in ignorance. I was making it all much too difficult for I would squeeze my car into the most narrow,the oldest trace of driveways or trails, sometimes coming upon old shacks that were every bit as spooky as an army full of belligerent midgets.

The search was exhausting me and it was just as I had foreseen. Nothing. I was about to give up when I thought to take one more stab at this puzzling mystery. I tried one last road that looped around one of the internet-given landmarks. The woods grew thick on either side. And there to my utter Hobbit-longing eyes appeared what was unmistakenly their village. On either sides of the road stretched these white buildings with doors that only came up to my chin. The roofs were nearly level with my eyes or forehead. On the left side, the white buildings were very long and sort of out in the open. They had staccato roofs and all over the walls there were strange drawings and paintings adorning the place in an eerie mural of color and imagination. The style of all the buildings were strictly that old German style that Gingerbread houses are imitated after. And if these weren't enough to convince me, I was at the right spot, there was a big sign that read "Handlebar Ranch". One of the indications given by my resources.

On the right hand side, even more eeriely, sat more square looking German style buildings that were half hidden by the forest that stretched its mystical arm out and enveloped half the scenery. You could see old worn stones winding up the hill into the woods to the other midget houses half glimpsed of in the branches and limbs that swallowed up that side. And of course, I should probably mention that there was not a sign of anybody.

When I pulled over to the side of the road, there was a truck that was in front of me on the same road that saw me stop. I sort of wondered what he thought. He continued to drive up the road when he got to the stop sign up ahead, and as I got out of my car, I heard him screech his wheels as he gunned his truck out of there. That, was not a very compeling sound, more like a bad omen.

By foot, I crossed the street, to the more inviting left side. There was a little moat, almost a big gutter, that I had crossed by way of a little bridge. And then I began peeking in all the little buildings that I could. All the doors were locked. The only things that moved were several cats that jumped here and there in alarm at my intrusion. I saw a an old-fashioned well, and what looked like an old corral, and a large long building that was accessible, but it was all dark inside so I wasn't daring to venture in. The only door that opened in the little buildings was the midget outhouse. I even climbed ontop of some roofs seeing if there was a hidden entrance somewhere. Exploring to me, is more than a hobby. It's almost an obsession. If I explore something...I can't ever seem to stop for that initial exploration only opens up other mysteries. So I keep going.

All the while, I'm wondering just how many midgets could I possibly take down, if an entire squadron should rain down from the trees or break out of their trap-doors. The whole thing is up to speculation for I've never had the fortune of wrestling a midget before. Perhaps, size after all doesn't really matter. They could be the fiestiest little people that two, maybe even, one could single-handedly slap me around. This I doubted though. I had the immediate strategic idea to just start grabbing their heads and kneeing them right in the face if they were to get violent. Or maybe I would convince them all to join me in my endeavor to be one of the world's greatest candy manufacturers.

But, no little guys here. Realistically, it all looked to be some sort of abandoned children's camp. I crossed over to the opposite, more creepier side. The daytime sky started to turn into that light haze of dusk. Nighttime was not too far behind. With boundless enthuisiasm, I jumped up those dwarven steps, further into the wooded mist. Several of these buildings had their roofs caved in. Entire walls were knocked out. This was not a midget habitat. But midget ruins. I started to walk up the trail further into the forest near a smaller midget shack when right behind a bush, in a split-second, appeared something that made my heart leap out with sheer adrenaline. In that split-second, what I saw was this moving blur as if walking towards me. It was not as big as a human. It would have came up to my chest. It was a light brown hue,...but before I could really react, I saw that this thing...was a deer. The strange thing about this doe is that it was not very afraid of me. It even continued to walk towards me and it didn't run away until I stepped toward it. And even after it retreated, it came back. Maybe the dwarves turn themselves into animals in the daytime. Or maybe these are those "bright gleaming of eyes" seen in the nighttime....and it all made perfect sense. I explored a little bit more, and saw a bigger, human size German-style house at the beginning of the trail that was also abandoned. Content with my adventure,I got into my car and drove off just as the rain began to pour down and the day grew darker beginning to descend into night.

Friday, July 20, 2007


We consider hitchhikers to be the vagabonds of the highway. You never know what you are letting into your car. It's a like a risky fortune wrapped inside a stale fortune cookie. Whatever it reads...it always raises an eyebrow and makes one wonder. Years ago, I picked up a hitchhiker in Dothan who said that he was on a mission from God. He was 3 times the size of me and had this massive red beard that made him look particularly like a highway Viking. Instead of wielding an axe, he had this huge thumb which he held out cutting the sky in half. His red beard fluttered in the wind as a passing by semi made it flap like the cape of Superman. And he did have his WWJD bracelet slapped around his wrist, which made me feel a little bit better about the whole thing. I remember my car rocked as he sat down in my passenger seat. He turned out to be a nice and gentle, Christian artist who went around by foot making artistic quilts to bridge the gap between the lost ties between the two generations of parents and their children. Why? you may ask. Because God sent him. -Or at least that's what he told me.

But as far as the guy from just the other day goes, where I left off in my story, he was of the more ordinary types of hitchhikers. You know very typical, rugged and sweating in the sun, a dignified redneck who was just trying to get from point A to point B, and if he could have a beer while doing so all the more wonderful. But I’m sure I disappointed him on this one. After, I clean out my passenger seat, an introduction is made. His name is William and he gave me a firm handshake, all the while exasperating how no one this day and age picks up hitchhikers, “I guess they think they’ll be robbed or killed. Yes, that’s what they think they’ll be mugged or killed.” His redundancy on this thought and the way he kept repeating “killed” didn’t settle to well on my ears. But I brushed it off. “He just communicates like that”, I thought to myself. He was on his way to South Bend, Indiana, and had left Florence, Alabama that morning. He hoped to be at his destination by that night, which was very, very unlikely. I told him I could only take him as far as I-840, before I had to turn off of I-65 to go to Murfreesboro.

For 20 years of his life William had been a first mate on a river barge on the Mississippi. He had rode the Missouri, the Ohio, etc. all those rivers that are branches of that one great flowing body of water that severs our nation in two. I asked him that he probably had some stories like Mark Twain who had a similar job back in his day; at which I believe he misunderstood me, or worse he didn’t know that Mark Twain was probably America’s greatest author. For he started saying that, yes, Mark Twain is everywhere at some city in Missouri.. Or maybe it was just the fact that him and Mark Twain and the spirit of the Mighty Mississip, heck , the spirit of America, were so close-knit , sort of like the Holy Trinity, that he could refer to Mark Twain in such a nebulous way. But I don’t know. I’ve never ridden on a boat on the Mississippi and who knows what it does to your mind and spirit.

I asked him to tell me some stories. He only mentioned that he had seen several people killed. I couldn’t get a real story out of him with details and all,( The kind I like as you can tell) until our conversation fell on the subject of New Orleans and he began relating this bar brawl he was in. Him and his opponent were fighting over beer. Not even, a woman.

He found out I was a church boy, pretty quick, and then he brought up the subject of how he had prayed only 10 minutes before I had drove up that some one would pick him up, and sure ‘nough, I stopped. He said, “God bless” as I dropped him off after only an hour of driving and he refused the water I offered him.

But the hitchhiking tales don’t end there. Today, I picked up this lady. It was in central Cincinnati, and she wasn’t really hitchhiking. She was just walking along the road right before a thundercloud burst and rain began to fall, so being in the hitching mindset, and striving to be the gallant gentleman that I wish to be, I offered her a ride and she got in right as the rain broke through the heavens. She smelled like alcohol, bowling alleys, more alcohol, Waffle House, still more alcohol, a Chemical plant, and still a drop or two more of alcohol. Her name was Beth and she apologized for her smell and admitted to the partying she had done the night before. She was about 40 and probably once upon a time was a cute. But not necessarily age, but other substances had made her wrinkles stand out a bit more noticeably. Where she was going, I couldn’t really figure out. I think to her house. But she only wanted me to drop her off at a store nearby where I was going. About midways through the short drive, I look down to where I usually keep my wallet ….in one of my drink holders. Seating lopsided in a car seat because your wallet’s in a back pocket is horribly uncomfortable. But when I glanced down, there was no wallet there…only two bottles. She notices my search and asks what I am looking for. And of course, I am thinking what you are already thinking and what she was thinking. I’m already getting my speech together of how I was going to lock her in my car until she gave me back my wallet. –But she looked behind my seat in the backseat where I threw everything that was in the passenger seat in a hurry to make room for her, and she handed me my wallet. Even after she handed me my wallet, I really believed that she had stolen it and seeing that I knew, she had given it back to me. But thinking back about it, I now think that she was honest and that I had thrown the wallet back there myself. For that is what I do when I don’t have any room for my wallet in those cupholders. I guess I will never truly know. But it shows a person’s paranoia about hitchhikers. She then went into this spill about how she understands not trusting people, that she had been back-stabbed many times. And that only the night before her own sister-in-law and her roommates had stolen 60 bucks from her. After, this bit of information relayed to me, I was sure that the asking for money was about to occur, but it never did. Me and my stereotypes. I dropped her off and she pointed me to the next Walgreen’s store.

However, hitchhiking has not entirely been on one side with me; I have been on the other side. And that’s when you suspect the person who picks you up. One time, I wanted to hitchhike from Dothan all the way to Arkansas. I got as far as my hometown’s Walmart, and then decided that hitchhitching is very, very stupid if you have a car. So I hiked back to my house and drove to Arkansas.

Another time, I was in Colorado and the guy who picked me up, was from New York and as things turned out, we ended up hiking Mt. Elbert (the highest mountain in Colorado) together, sharing life stories, and just having laughs. It was the best hitchhiking experience I’ve had and I don’t think it will ever be topped

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Day in the Life. Part I: The Morning, or There Around the Morning.

All that I could tell you was that Monday morning I must get up and go northwards. I was thinking Kentucky or so. I needed some more stores to "hit". A phrase that my boss, whom I have yet to meet in person, likes to use. I knew that I must stop in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the night and as for the coming weekend, plans were simmering to spend it at a friend's in West Virginia. Needless to say, I woke up not too late and certainly, by all means, not too early. I'll let you be the judge of my anti-rooster-like tendencies, for in the tenacious task of getting up in the mornings, nothing in this big broad world is as relative as the words, "late" or "early" or describing just how and what one's morning is like.

As long hauls in cars go, you can get easily get wearisome of all your CDs and every radio station on, that's where the wonderful invention of the audio book comes into play, as I was just recently introduced. And for the most part, the ever -trustworthy Crackerbarrel was always there with its own selection. But after 3 or 4 books from there, all that's left are Oprah Club books and other novels designed for menopausal ex-wives on their long drives to shopping plazas. I needed something different. And that brought me into Birmingham's downtown library. But the catch was, that a couple of days before when I knew a long drive was ahead, I had planned (I don't do everything spur of the moment) to get my library card there in order to check out an audio book. But they did the unthinkable and the insult upon all insults, they denied me membership.....only because I lived out in the middle of nowhere on I-20, and I am not a resident of Jefferson County. Thinking this rule absurd enough to step past (aren't all absurd rules this way?) I thought to try again on this particular day by claiming an address of my previous residence in Birmingham..aka..Jefferson County. A house that has been interestingly burnt down only a few months after I moved out. It's a long story that involves a friend of mine and his fireplace-making methods. So this house exists, it's just badly charred with no one but a stray cat or two residing in it. I was also hoping that the same stringent lady that had turned me down earlier was not working that day, but to my book-hungry frustration, she was still there, being the ever spartan-soldiered librarian. This only amplified my stubborn resolve to get an audio book from there, and amplified my rebellious revolt to do it by getting around those idiot rules. I needed a ploy. And let me tell you I have exceptional experience in such matters, most especially in libraries (Me and two other guys one time managed to camp out in my college's library). So I knew several tricks of the trade. And I knew that at such a time, I had to do what extreme circumstances in extreme measures of espionage calls for...and that's donning a disguise. Now mind you, I hate to work up your expectation. Here you are thinking of such fanciful characters as Zorro, or an Indian, or even a wild animal, like say, a large, hairy Bison, all costumes that I have not just worn...but i have more or less "become" in order to carry out specific strategies. This list could go on and on revealing my expertise in that fine art of disguises, but here all that was my disguise, was simply balling up my long hair and stuffing it under a baseball cap. -Not just your ordinary ballcap, but a ballcap that was given to me only weeks before by my Bigdaddy, as he had given all of the grandchildren for our extended families' stay in the Smoky Mountains. It had this picture of a bear on it and it read below the bear, "Smoky Mtns". Perfect! I also changed shirts and in the brief glimpse in front of a mirror, I was a new person. I looked.....Alabamian.

I got to the front desk with 2 audio books, I had picked out. One, a book that was a series of interviews with several well-known authors. The other, was nonetheless, Virgil's "Aeneid". I then marched into the library's front desk and proceeded with the request of all requests for book-lovers, "I would like to get a library card."
"Do you live in Jeffereson County"
"Yes", I pushed out the lie, not celebrating it, more like justifying it for the cause of greater understanding, and deep down inside of me there is that belief, however, wrong it may be, that "Integrity is pliable if met in the face of stupidity." And these rules where just that...stupid.
"What's your address?"
"1004 19th Terrace."
"I need proof that you live there." After one goes for physical deceipt his lips will not stumble too far behind in its deception.
"I have this." I pulled out my last fall semester's UAB card.
"You live on campus?"
"Well, I'm sorry I'm gonna need more proof."
I was foiled again.
I began to see how ridiculous this all was, here I was in route for my adult job trying to fight with the librarian over my address so that I could check out some books. I was turned down. Maybe these librarians are sharper than we imagine, maybe she knew the disguise from the get-go. I left irritated.

Driving off, I received a call from my company's secretary, it turns out that after inquiring about Cincinatti, we had many, many stores there. So I decided to make most of my work to be done there. I wasn't going to roam the Kentucky countryside. No, we hardly had any of our merchandise there. It was straight up to Cinicinatti for me. That's the muteability of my job, plans can change in the middle of my journey to get there. In Gardendale, a northern suburb of B'ham, I stopped at a Walgreen's intent on getting a reorder. But the store manager wanted to let the T-shirts die down a bit before another order come in, so I left with no numbers to give my company. I drove a little ways, and I remember getting ticked about something that I can't really remember. I think deep down I was still upset about not having Virgil to listen to, or getting beat by the librarian and her ridiculous rules, and you know how things can brood, and shape, and shift and before long you are focusing on everything that's negative. You must realize that on a long drive I can go through a vast range of moods. Sometimes laughing and giddy with extreme joy, sometimes sunk in bitterness and gloom, sometimes overflowing with the emotion and surge that's on the radio, and sometimes frothing in rage. That's why I wanted an audio book. It stabilizes me. It keeps my mind outside itself where all thought is passion, -alive and poignant, and gets me into the mind of another.

Just north of Huntsville, the whim hit me to call up a friend of mine, Chris Campbell, who lives there and see what he is up to. But I had already passed him and it would take about an hour's drive just to see him. So I scratched that whimsical idea aside , after talking it over with him. I was still on the phone with Chris when I see a hitch-hiker in the distance. The Sunday's lesson on the Good Samaritan flashed through my mind. So I decide to pull over. I tell Chris that I'm picking up a hitch-hiker and that I'll talk to him later. The man approached with his back-pack. When I drove by him, I gave that close intuitive inspection, trying to get a feel for his character before I decided to pick him up. He passed the inspection. But as he got closer I realized all the tatoos and the missing teeth that one can miss in a short glance. To be Continued...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Official Southern Man's Travel Guide

Bouncing back and forth through states, flying in and out of towns, and chalking up heavy, heavy dosages of car mileage, I’m coming to the realization of where the hotspots crammed into this divine land we call the South are, in some cases, hidden and blazingly pronounced in others. So dear readers, consider it your greatest fortune to be taking a glimpse onto this weary wanderer’s accumulating travel guide. From the Atlantic to the Gulf, from the bayous to the Appalachians, I am starting to get a real idea of where to go and where not to go in the land of Dixie. In no way is this list complete, as my job continues, I am sure that this list will continue. But for now let this advice suffice, and may this help you in any road trip you may take into our Southern frontier. (and it is a frontier, trust me.)

For white sands and little waves head towards the panhandle of Florida for the brilliance of the Gulf. I grew up not too far from there, and as far as my travels go on exotic shores (Mediterranean, Caribbean, Adaman, etc.) few can compete with this nice slab of paradise, except when it’s hurricane season.

Mississippi has no beaches or none worth mentioning. I went there intent on finding a beach with or without tourists, all I found were tourists and a bunch of casinos. No beach. And I ended up losing 5 bucks to the casino. So unless you are like some of the many poker-playing, slot-machine jerking tourist families who, yes, even bring their children to the spectacular casinos around Biloxi, I would not consider Mississippi for a beachy getaway.

The little visited Louisiana beaches, I found, are little visited for a reason. I, one time, drove 2 hours south from New Orleans just to get to a beach (that’s how beach crazy I can be) and came to find out on one of their more popular islands, the beach had brown, coarse sand and bad water. Here the muddy Mississip leaves its mark and so the coast here falls short of a beach connoisseur’s ideal. Although they have very good shrimp here…it was almost worth the drive.

Alabama…two words…Gulf Shores. Remember it, relish it, and be ravished by it. In some cases, it is rated better than the Florida Panhandle.

The Altantic is large and therefore its waves knock upon the US coast a bit harder. On that side of Florida, there is Cocoa Beach with its cinnamon sands and its uproarious waves…which make watching surfers in the dusk possible. Plus hurricanes stomping through this area are less frequent, therefore many clever businesses place shops, bars, and restaurants on top of piers jutting out into the Atlantic, where you can eat your tilapia AND watch surfers in the dusk. And not to mention the Atlantic has one advantage over the Gulf…you can have one spectacular sunrise, as the sun leaps over the waters. Also if you happen to be on Cocoa Beach, you may have the luck I didn’t have, and make it down there the same exact date that a rocket is to be shot of from Cape Canaveral, which is next door.

Georgia, can be surprising. There are communities down there that are pretty beachy and worth a visit. Although, I only got to see the beach at night.
South Carolina, I hear, is spectacular. Though I haven’t witnessed this yet; I will soon.

Few can compare with my love for beaches, as my love for mountains. For sheer beauty alone, I would say you must visit Mt. Cheaha in Alabama, our highest peak, which only rises a middling 2,000ft or so above sea level, but because this is the very toe of the foothills of the Appalachians you witness just how majestic a mountain can be as it juts up from straight forest. (That is if you know the right spot; which I guess I’m the only one that can help you there. So I would have to guide you.) Not to brag, but it still impresses me everytime I go there..And that’s coming from (okay so yes, it just may be so I can brag), someone that’s been to the Rockies, the Guatemalan Highlands, the Tibetan Himalayas, and several mountains and hills in Greece and Turkey.

The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee are refreshing. It’s just that you have to wade through heavy tourism to get to them. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, I had no idea a few weeks ago, are inundated with marketing strategies to make your getaway into the mountains not a getaway at all. But I guess once you get past the idea that it is the mountains that you have come to see and not the putt-putt course, you can sort of admire this strange culture in its own right. For there are some Ripley’s Believe It or Nots, a Dollywood, white-water rafting, myriads of dinner-theatres, and plenty of beautiful Russian girls that walk to these summer jobs of theirs on the main strip squeezed between these mountains, that give this area its own flavor. If you go to the highest point in Tennessee and walk up the paved walkway, along with the 50 other tourists, and you see a large tower, I climbed half way up that tower, for the scenery and to the amusement of my cousins.

Speaking of distinct flavors, the Ozarks in Arkansas can deliver something very unique. Here it is the mountain folk, not necessarily the mountains themselves, that really make the scenery. There is one town you can wander up to on any given Saturday that folks will crawl out of their cabins, trailors, huts, crags, etc. and all meet together with their banjos and fiddles and jam out to Bluegrass music all day long.

In North Carolina, you can be sure and stop by the Cherokee Indian Reservation nestled in the misty Appalachians here. They have all types of trinket shops and museums, and, yes, even tribal bingo. One day, right before a fierce rainstorm, right when the clouds wore that ominous gray hue and a mystical coolness is felt, I got tired of all the touristy Indian stuff and drove my car up into uninhabited white man territory. No Trespassing signs were popular and the road became a narrow dirt path crossing streams and rivulets while mountains rose up gigantically on both sides. The storm began to pour forth its fever while I whizzed by several redmen who gave me second glances as I sped down their backroads on their reservations, hoping not to get my tire stuck in the redman’s mud. Poor Injuns, not even these remote corners of Appalachia can they keep the white man out.

In North Georgia, there are mountain communities that revere the mountain communities of their former European ancestral homes. This is where I attended the Scottish Highland Games and where the highest mountain in Georgia is. The towns in this area are quaint and neat. I’m thinking of the Germanic Helena, though I haven’t been there in years.


Nashville. If I were homeless this is where I’d live. It is the buckle on the Bible belt, and many of the people here are wealthy, hence the name Cashville, which for a homeless man means free stuff. The climate is not really very cold or hot, and there is music…sweet music, erupting all down the streets. And then I could strum a guitar or a harmonica all day, and watch the rising country stars walk by. A fun city to walk downtown through. Though, stay away from the women who are from here and the outlaying suburban areas, from my experience there is something in the glitter and glam mixed with the staunch Protestant outlook, which with such adverse polarity of ideals, it makes them crazy. I guess God placed them there to give all those country singers something to whine about. If you ever see a big blue dumptruck with the slogan 1-800-GOT-JUNK sprawled across the side…wave to them I use to work there and if they don’t know me than they’ve probably heard of me.

Atlanta. A nightmare to drive through during the day; A dream to drive through in the wee hours of the morning when no traffic is about. Imagine a 6 or 7 open lane freeway with few cars in sight. All the while, skyscrapers shining forth their beautiful lights into the night sky. It’s magical. You can weave back and forth on this huge slab of asphalt and nobody cares. It’s like you’re in one of those racing video games where its just you in some magnificent metropolis. If you’re ever up in Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta, and you have a craving for a coffee, go to the Daily Grind there, find the guy with the Johnny Cash tattoo on his forearm, his name is Snavely, tell him you know me and that I sent you and he will pour you a free cup of coffee.

Little Rock. Had some remarkable encounters with some homeless people here. I really couldn’t tell you a thing to do here, nor do I think could anybody else really…except hang out with the homeless. Once upon a time, me and some friends from Harding spent the night in an alley with 2 homeless men. So if you’re ever strolling through downtown Little Rock and you see a mysterious figure named Brooks with a completely sloshed buddy of his named, Red,…tell them the 4 Harding guys said “hello”. Also if you happen to find a fellow living in a car who is OCD, that is hanging out in Book Stores, sipping Starbucks coffee (he was the most unusual homeless man that I’ve ever met.)…that is Frank. Tell him, that I said “hello” as well.

New Orleans. I’ve already raved on about this city. Just so you know though. It is one of the most interesting cities in the US. While the parts nearer the Ponchatrain were wiped out from Katrina and still striving to come back, some parts seem rarely touched. I speak of the French Quarter which is the heart and soul of what New Orleans is. If you are ever on Decatur Street where the tourist information center is…go in that little center and see the older blonde gentleman named Daneux (he’s Cajun) he will talk your ear off with story after story.

Memphis. Not a whole lot of good here. It’s best to just pass right on through. Beale Street’s okay. It’s like a miniature glimpse of New Orleans. And there’s that glass pyramid that looks interesting shining in the afternoon sun. I don’t have much advise, accept to, in that same afternoon sun, go down to the river and watch it flow on by. They’ve got lots of parks nearby where this is possible. And if you’re feeling adventurous, cross over to the Arkansas side…the town called West Memphis…it’s not far. And try to find an area on that side to watch the Mighty Mississippi float on by. When you’re out in the country…the river and all those books of Mark Twain take on a different dimension as you see that massive river flow on down. It’s quite poetic.

Birmingham. Ordinarily, I would tell you just to pass right on through this little metropolis, but since I am on intimate terms with this city, this being the place (or thereabouts) where I reside when not on the road, I know a good deal more than your average traveler. If you ever happen to be driving through this city and you have time to kill, you really must stop at a little building off of I-65 from exit 252, its in an Alacare building on Lorna Rd. It’s where I attend church and let me tell you…at anytime of the day things are going on there. On an ordinary day you can walk in there and just hang out with all the others who like to hang there. It doesn’t matter if you don’t even know them. You are more than welcome. But if you are around for Sunday Morning or Wednesday evening, then you get a special treat…you get to hang out with the entire church and a free meal to boot. We call it Disciples’ Fellowship. And it’s the primary reason, I feel a rush to get back to Birmingham, in my travels, so that I can attend this wonderful community. Also, if you happen to look up on Red Mountain and see the large statue of a man. That’s the Vulcan. I used to work there. Go there and tell the ticket operator, whomever it is, that I sent you to get in for free. You may or may not get in, but you’ll probably get a big smile and even a hug.

Orlando. There is probably a whole lot to do that I missed out on. If you’re ever in Disney World tell the head of the security there that her blonde-haired, blue-eyed terrorist said hello and that he was wondering when his ban from Disney would be lifted.

Dothan. Yes, I know,…I’m sure you get the joke. But, it is my hometown…and therefore it stars in MY travel guide. Dothan is the Peanut Capital of the World. If you’re ever around in the first week of November you can actually see peanuts being spilled out of the back of a cement truck.( I didn’t realize the sheer originality of such a concept until I moved out of Dothan and told others about this). You can also drive around this city and count all the little peanut figurines that are made to look like different characters, a radio announcer, a cowboy, Elvis, etc. And if you’re ever craving a cup of coffee here go to the Dakota’s on Ross Clark Circle and tell the heavy set guy in there with the Emo hair and the large earrings, that’s Brad Clayton, tell him that you know me, and you probably won’t get a free cup of coffee, but you will get lots and lots of stories about yours truly, most of them untrue. He he.

Well, that's it I'm off to Kentucky and West Virginia...in which I will surely learn more to add on to this list. And certainly probably newer categories, as experience on the high road teaches me.