Been there, done that

Highway 82 (Bless the Guards) Rest Stop, 60 miles northwest from Pratville, Alabama
We take a different route (avoid Louisiana completely) through Mississippi and Alabama. We see nothing of the hurricane's devestation, just a lot of signs that point toward shelters. We drive all day, calling my Mom along the way to check on my Grandfather, who is now in the hospital with pneumonia. It doesn't look good, and we are really urgent travelers now. It's a weird goal, but a goal nonetheless, just like Alaska was a goal.

We end up looking for a campsite after dark, headed towards three different areas of National Forest in Alabama. Ha! The atlas says they're there, but there are no signs, no boat ramps, no picnic areas, not even any rest stops. We are ragged, running with eyes half-open, pinching ourselves, biting our lips in a pain-is-your-friend-it-keeps-you-awake strategy. Not good.

We finally find a rest area and pull in. Lovely place with trees everywhere, water, 24 hour restrooms, and NO OVERNIGHT PARKING signs everywhere. Everywhere. At this point we realize maybe we should have gotten a hotel, somewhere, but we didn't really think we could afford another one, and we expected them to be full of Hurricane Homeless. It's too late, now, we're a hundred miles from the next town.

There are two guards/attendants sitting at a desk inbetween the restrooms. Older white man, older black woman, shooting the shit and teasing each other, you can tell, this kind of almost-geriatric sexual chemistry between them. Not sitting close, but you can still tell. They take one look at us and tell us to go ahead and spend the night, stay as long as we need to, get some rest, don't you dare get back on the road. This seems like one of the truest kindnesses we've received on a trip full of them. If I could have any wish, it would be that this website would get around and around and around, that people would talk about these kind folks who were obviously just being themselves, that our appreciation of their ordinary goodness would get back to them, that they would realize how much they meant to us. People should know that they are better than they think they are. When they are, anyway.

We sleep in the foggy, humid air, just cool enough to be easy and close, no sweat on our clasped bodies. If we weren't so in need of it, it would be heaven.


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