Friday, November 28, 2008

Mississippi Thanksgiving

Driving all day on Thanksgiving Day is a weird and eerie thing to do! But that's what the plan called for and so that's what we did. The goal was to make it to Mississippi so that at least we would be with some friends to help celebrate on Thanksgiving Day. And mission accomplished. Most of the day, though, we felt like (and we were) about the only people on the road. Everyone else who had somewhere to go for Thanksgiving had apparently done their traveling the day before. I had thoughts of "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "Night of the Living Dead" as we cruised westward on one empty highway after another. We have no shortage of things to give thanks for, but on this day we added at least one other - the fact that we had no mechanical problems on a day when getting help would most certainly not have been an option.

So late afternoon we arrived in Meridian, MS (NOT to be confused with Meridian, MI, which is what I put in as the new default weather setting on Yahoo Weather upon arrival, thereby faking myself into thinking it was about to plunge below freezing and start to snow by morning) It turns out the weather pattern in Mississippi is strikingly different from that of Michigan this time of year! Another thing to be thankful for, you see, as only rain was produced by the approaching clouds. . A phone call to Dutch and Margie, friends from the gold prospecting circuit that we have also shared some time with in Georgia, North Carolina, and, yes, Michigan, helped to firm up plans to meet for dinner around 6pm. Now in some parts of the country, the restaurant business booms on this holiday, but it was more of a bust here in Mississippi, so the number of choices of Open For Business eateries was very limited. No problem, right? It would just be fun to get together and share some stories and catch up with what's going on in our respective lives. Their daughter joined us for dinner. All well and good.

I've been struggling with the idea of whether or not to name the place we ate because they are normally quite excellent and dependable and are heavily relied upon by travelers such as ourselves for those occasions when there just is not time or inclination to fix our own meal. And a full size, full meal deal on Turkey Day in an RV kitchen is best avoided whenever possible. But THIS PLACE ( I guess I won't be naming it, huh?) had a full turkey (with ham) dinner on the menu- beverage, entree, sides, corn muffins, biscuits, dessert - all for a more than reasonable asking price. I'll have that! Thank you.

The drinks came. The unsweetened tea was sweetened. That should have been a warning, but, hey, that's no big deal right? Five of us sat down to dinner. Five meals came out of the kitchen and were placed in front of us for our approval. Only I had her mashed potatoes. She had my beans. The coleslaw was missing in action. He had her stuffing. Who ordered white gravy that smells like onion soup? And what exactly is that? I don't know - you try it first. We juggled sides where we could, sent an item or two back, made a strategic exchange here and there and went about our business....and meal....and conversation...all the while laughing at the more than slight imperfection of the meal and the service. No one was mean or unpleasant. Just a bit miffed. The waitress, bless her pea picking heart, knew very little about bringing the food and nothing about clearing the table what-so-ever, so by the time we were ready for dessert, the table for two at which 5 had been seated was piled nearly 18 inches high with dirty dishes, most still containing the remains of the least palatable elements of the meal. So four pumpkin pies and one pecan pie arrived. Pray tell why does only one have a scoop of ice cream on it? Two we ate quickly by hand and the rest we took in plastic wedges made just for that- because there was no room on the table to put them down to eat them - not that there were any clean forks left on the table to use anyhow. And I suppose that would have been OK as well except we didn't get enough of those cute little plastic wedges to do the job so in one we "doubled up" and made the Pilgrim's first-ever pumpkin "whoopee" pie!

So the meal was strange to say the least, but yes we did have an absolutely good time at that table. Could we have the bill please? Yes, sure. Well, that bill was more bizarre than the meal, but let's just pay it and go back to the coach to visit and have coffee there. Sounds good.

Register clerk, "How was everything tonight?"
"Honestly, it was a little strange."
Manager, "Well did you get everything you ordered?"
"Sort of, yes, but it was on someone else's plate."
Manager, "Well, but was the service good?"
"Well, perhaps at some other table it was really good...."
Manager, "Yes, I know, it's been like this all day. No charge for today's meal. Please come back and see us another time."
"Uh,............ OK"

Long story (not short, but summarized): It was a holiday. The "A" team was off for the day. The "B" team was on the register. The "C" team was in the kitchen. The "D" team and any live body that wasn't dining at home with their own family was the wait staff.

We really did get plenty to eat, although I still remain unsure as to what some of it was. And had it been a regular meal at the local diner there would have been not one trace of a decent story to tell for years hence. But because it wasn't just so ordinary, and because it was shared with friends - on this day, and on all days, WE Give Thanks!

Now to some pictures:

The cotton fields were in full bloom as we drove through Mississippi, if that's the correct terminology, meaning that the plants were dried and the cotton balls were seemingly ready to harvest. Only a few of the fields showed signs the harvest had begun, but they all looked like they were ready to go.

Some of the cotton blows off the plants and can be picked up along the roadside. We got one cotton ball as a souvenir- but not to worry we checked it for boll weevils and other undesirables that we didn't wish to bring on board.

Dutch and Margie have three dogs and they simply begged to be included on the blog, so here they come!
After taking the tour of their property, we headed off in the rain to an adjacent lot where they are in the process of building a shelter. This is Mississippi. You may not think of it as prime tornado territory. But those of us who have lived along the Gulf of Mexico Coast know full well that the worst of the hurricane is neither the straight line winds nor the high water. It is the tornadoes that get spun off as the storm passes you by. This project is well worth pursuing. It is somewhat reminiscent of the nuclear bomb shelters that people planned when I was growing up. Whether or not they were a good idea, I don't know- but living here- sooner....or later....this will be a blessing to have.

The tornado shelter- a work in progress:

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