Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama: This must be the south

The landscape hasn’t changed much since we entered Arkansas from Oklahoma. Today we drove through the south western tip of Tennessee, diagonally through the north eastern tip of Mississippi and again diagonally through the central portion of Alabama, stopping near Birmingham. It all looked pretty much like this:

Tennessee? or Mississippi? or Arkansas? or Alabama? All I know is it was highway 78, or 22, or 4. They all had signs on the side of the road.

We planned to stay near Jasper, Alabama, about 50 miles west of Birmingham. We stopped in the town of Jasper just to check it out. Here are a few photos I took from the RV when we were looking for a place to park:

a whole block full of empty stores

Main Street, USA


Outside the courthouse in Jasper, Al. There were painted donkeys all over the main street. (?) A mystery.


There is no doubt that we are in the south now. Everyone we talk to, besides each other, has a real, unpretentious southern accent, complete with all the y’all’s you could ask for. It is a slow and thoughtful way of talking and there is no energy wasted on trivial emotions, especially when it’s hot out. We parked the RV and as we were walking through a parking lot looking for the entrance to the only restaurant in town, this girl flings open the window and yells, “Kin I hep y’all?” It seemed like everybody on the street looked at us and laughed. It was obvious that we weren’t locals since we were walking IN the drive through line AGAINST the traffic. People were being very patient though. We asked if this was a sit down restaurant and she just smiled and pointed us in the right direction.

Once inside we got a real taste of Americana. The place was peppered with tons of flags and Uncle Sam’s and red, white and blue decor. Most of this seemed like it had been there for at least 20 years.

Hickoryland BBQ, Jasper, Alabama


Parts of the ceiling were falling in due to some sort of moisture problem and there were lots of plastic flowers, I guess to add color. There was a table of older men sitting near the back having coffee and talking about the mill and how hard it was to find good help. The waitress was complaining because the “air” wasn’t working. It WAS over 100 again outside and she seemed like she was having hot flashes on top of the intense natural heat of the day.  She kept running to the bathroom and coming back out flapping her shirt up and down like a fan. She made us feel like we were bothering her by coming in and ordering food on this day when the air wasn’t working.  We ignored all that though, having just been rejected by the haves and the have-nots in Memphis.

We ate our lunch and navigated the narrow backroads to “Sleepy Holler” Campground, which is off of “Buttermilk Road” near “Union Chapel Mine Paleozoic Footprint Site.” I guess there are fossils nearby if we’re interested. When I looked up their website I found that the campground is run by some of my distant relatives. They have the same last name as my father anyway. If I get a chance I might ask them if they’re from here or farther up the Appalachain Trail.  I also saw a headstone in the cemetery with my dad’s name on it. Maybe my “family” is bigger than I thought it was.

Tomorrow we will drive through Birmingham and Montgomery, probably stopping for breakfast and lunch, then going to Columbus, GA. I’m guessing the landscape won’t change much and neither will the accents. I love it–the rolling hills and the way people talk. I feel at home again. Even though I don’t speak with a southern drawl, I understand it and appreciate it the way you appreciate good music. It feels soft in my ears and easy on my soul.

And maybe one day I’ll talk like these folks my own dang self!


  1. pathubbard

    Love It!, lol. Coming back home…But when you get to Virginia, you will hear a more sophistocated “southern.” Southern, but with sprinkles of other twangs because of the military implants who have settled here. You will fit right in, lol. Love this blog!

  2. You’re amazing!

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