Deep South, Sweet Tea and The Elvis of Country Music

Today I share the blogging with my son, Evan, age nine, who earlier today wrote an update of our time in the deep south (see below). Evan’s comments will be in a bigger font. We just arrived in Bryan, Texas a moment ago, so I don’t have much to say about Texas yet except that it is big and dark and rainy. [Oh, I just realized that as I type this, it is techincally by 41st birthday! 🙂 ]

EVAN: Ok, so yesterday we left Atlanta (we got up at 7:00) and did a 2 and a half hour drive to Alabama, and all Of a sudden, we see this sign that said: ENTERING ALABAMA CENTRAL TIME ZONE . What?! We shouted. Then the clock that before said 9:49 (which was when we were supposed to arrive) went down to 8:49. We could have slept an hour later! Well, at least we get to relive the past hour, said my dad. On the road we made up a game. The game was, if you saw a water tower and shouted torre de agua (that’s Spanish) first, then you would get a point. At the end of the trip, whoever had the most points, won. To me, the driving wasn’t very long, but that’s probably because I was waching tv.

MARK: I love the south. It’s green and lush, and the people are friendly and the weather has been beautiful. I also love that it has a chain of grocery stores called Piggly Wiggly. Whevenver we see one, we Hugheses are all about the Piggly Wiggly! I took this picture through the windsheild of our car on our way to Birmingham, AL:

Oh yes, Piggly. I will follow…

One thing I do miss about Massachusetts, though, is the availability of Starbucks. In fact, I’ve been on a daily quest to find one anywhere near where we go. On the way to Birmingham I found one! I was so pleased, I took a picture of my grande Gazebo blend.

Evan: We went to the Alabama welcome center and my dad and me got Hank Williams posters. Hank Williams is like an Elvis to country music. My dad was very happy. I was happy too, except I had never heard of Hank Williams before this. But I’m sure he must be pretty good.

Mark: Because of the unexpected time-change (what? did we miss a memo or something?), we arrived in Birmingham earlier than planned, which allowed us time to look around. Since Birmingham metal-working played a big role in the city’s history, they have a huge statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of the fire and forge.

EVAN: Later, we had lunch with Hester Bass the author of So Many Houses, and her family (father Clayton, kids Anderson and Miranda) in Birmingham. We ate at a Cracker Barrell, a southern place I’d never eaten before. It was good. My mom and dad ate southern food. I ate grilled cheese. It was good. Hester gave us copies of her book, which was very nice of her.

Mark: In addition to being the author of the early reader So Many Houses, Hester is also the author of a soon-to-be released picture book biography of American artist, Walter Inglis Anderson, to be illustrated by the acclaimed E. B. Lewis and published by Candlewick Press. Hester and her family were amazingly kind to drive all the way down to Huntsville to meet with us. It’s lovely to meet such wonderful people when you’re far from home. Many thanks to the ‘Bama Basses, our new friends!


EVAN: Next, we had dinner with the Campbell family In Jackson, Mississippi. I played with three boys named Graem, Nathan and Douglas. They had a big snail called a wolf snail. I let it crawl up my arm. It was so cool!

Mark: Sarah is the author and photographer of an upcoming picture book about wolf snails, snails that eat other snails — an amazing creature I’d never heard of before. Her photographs are absolutely beautiful and her book will be published in the Spring. Although we were total strangers, Sarah and Richard and their boys fed us and treated us like family. We had a wonderful Mississippi evening which we will never forget — complete with fireworks set off by neighbors. Thanks you, Campbells, our other new friends in the south!

This morning (actually, yesterday morning now) we stopped by at Lemuria Books in Jackson, a cool independent bookstore with a relaxing atmosphere. Here we are with a very nice bookseller named Ciel. 

Lots of traffic problems on the way through Louisianna to Bryan, TX, so it took us much longer than it should have. Still, we’re here safe, sound, and happy. Soon I’ll actually go to bed. 

A big, Texas good night to y’all. 
— Mark



  1. Happy birthday, Mark!

    And great updates. I know for a fact there are Starbucks(es?) in Texas, because I’ve heard comedy bits about them being directly across the street from one another in some places. And please tell Evan I liked his posts, and that there are Cracker Barrels in New England too (we’ve eaten at one in Rhode Island, for sure).

      • At your next Cracker Barrel, ask for a free map — it gives you a map of the country with all locations marked and listed. There are some here in NJ where I live, and they go as far north as Londonderry, NH (with four in Massachusetts, even!)

Leave a Reply