The trip down is broken into two perfect parts. Travelling down I-85, one must pass through Montgomery and on to I-65 south to the Gulf Coast. Montgomery is a little more than half way. Once we pass through Montgomery, the next thing we start looking for is the twin bridges over the delta at the top of Mobile Bay. It lies about forty miles north of Mobile and indicates our trip is almost over.
On the outskirts of town, you begin to notice the billboards.
Jesus is Lord!!
I don't think the advertisers along the interstate ever have to worry about having an empty sign. Religion is THE cottage industry in Mobile. Pretty much every street corner has The Church Of Something or Another. This, of course, doesn't bother me a bit. I have yet to meet a (truly) religious person whose heart was not in the right place. It just kind of sets the mood.
We arrived kind of late at Nana's and didn't spend too much time talking before bedding down for the night. Big day ahead. I woke up kind of early, and once my stomach started rumbling, it didn't take long to realize that there wasn't any breakfast food in the house. After showering and getting dressed, I took off up the road to Walmart. Praise and thanks for the heathens at Walmart. If it weren't for them, thousands of absent minded people would be in trouble on Thanksgiving.
Upon setting foot inside the store, the first thing I noticed was that I was not suitably dressed. I left all my camouflage at home. Even the babies were dressed in camo. I ducked in and out of the aisles, quickly gathering what I needed, avoiding the looks of Walmart patrons in brightly colored Alabama and Auburn sweatshirts. Nothing, and I mean nothing, goes with camo pants like college sweatshirts and a backwards cap.
Back to the house to cook breakfast for the family. After putting the turkey in the oven and cleaning up, I barely had enough time to shoot over to my father's place to spend an hour with them. Then it was back to Nana's for the Thanksgiving feast. If my mother had been in town, I would have really been in trouble!
Dee Dee can cook a turkey. It was 20 lbs. of golden goodness, and I did a fairly good job of dicing it up. By the end of the day, my tryptophan level was through the roof. That and a few beers had me passed out by 9 PM. That's a good day in anybody's book. Besides, I needed to rest up for the Ironbowl.
What? You don't know what the Ironbowl is? It's the biggest rivalry in (southern) college football. Every year, tens of thousands of rabid Alabama and Auburn football fans gather in Tuscaloosa or Auburn for the big game. They are joined by millions on national TV. The game rarely disappoints. The last ten games or so have been decided by 10 points or less. Rankings and record do not matter for this game. It is truly a season all unto itself.
We headed back over to Paw Paw's to watch the game. He's an Alabama alum, ya know. We were not disappointed in the game. Auburn set Alabama back on their heels in the first quarter, only to have Alabama bring the game back to even Steven by the end of the first half. Auburn took the lead again in the third quarter and fought valiantly to hold off the Tide, but alas, they succumbed in the end.
Watching football is hard work. More beer. More turkey. More early to bed. I was determined to get a long run in for the weekend, to see where I was "at" for the marathon in January. Saturday morning, I climbed out of bed by 8:30 AM. I had some toast and a few cups of coffee while I watched the Foodnetwork and QVC with Nana. By 9:30 AM, I was out the door. I wasn't sure how far I was running, or at what pace. I just wanted to... run.
I set my Forerunner 50 to a run 2 walk 1 cycle. This wasn't about pace. The first ten to fifteen minutes were hard. The beer and turkey had taken a heavy toll on my body. I ran out of Nana's subdivision and made a right on Hwy 90, sticking to the service road. I ran down to the bank and made a left into the neighborhood towards my elementary school, dodging broken bottles of Bud Light along the way. I had an idea. I wanted to relive some old memories.
As I ran past St. Dominic's, I was struck by a few things. The distances I experienced as a child really aren't all that far now that I am grown up. What seemed like a long way and a "big" hill are very minor now. The school itself was locked up tighter than a tick. A sign of the times for sure, compared to the openness when I attended. I was delighted to see soccer goals sticking up over the fence in the back. Soccer is becoming more and more popular.
The rectory used by the priest when I went to school there had long been replaced, and the driveway was closed off. I passed the school and made a right on the road and began to follow the path I used to ride my bike to and from school. Again, what once seemed like such a long way as a child was really on a few short miles. I ran by the Presbyterian school by my old house and was again, disappointed, to see broken beer bottles thrown onto the school grounds.
I wound my way into my old neighborhood, and the names of people long gone came floating back into my memories. The Sheltons lived at the house on the corner. The Wiedemiers lived at the bend, and they owned ice cream shops in Mobile. This is where the Petros lived, and they had two beautiful daughters (hubba hubba :-) I ran past the house that I used to live in, made the turn around and started back out the neighborhood. So much had happened here. Some good memories. Some bad memories. All cherished.
Not really knowing the existence or lack there of the sidewalk situation, I headed down Cottage Hill Road towards the mall. The first house I ever lived in was down that way. Approaching I-65, the aches and soreness in my legs indicated that I had just about reached the halfway point of my run. A marathon was not in my future. I felt strong enough to make it the last half mile or so to the house, and then, I would turn around and head for home.
The houses in the old neighborhood were small, 800-1000 square feet max. Many of the homes, by now, have had their garages closed in to provide more living space. I ran past my first home and marveled at how tiny it was. The old telephone pole at the end of the street was gone now. I think it had lasted for thirty some odd years. The woods and fields behind the street had long been converted to mall and office property.
The legs and hips were definitely complaining as I made my way back. I had been sticking to the R2/W1 cycle, bringing in about 11:45-ish miles. All in all, I did 10.3 miles in 1:58:00 and some change I am sure, but it doesn't really matter.
The marathon is definitely off the plan, and that's fine. I read somewhere that sometimes, it's no longer about the finish line. It's about lifestyle. I like that. This is my lifestyle, and I know that there will be plenty of finish lines in my future.
Sunday, we got up early and left for the house. On the way out, I got to thinking. For what ever reasons, Woodstock is the place where I live, but that little going no where fast port city on the Gulf Coast will always be my home away from home. I guess that's just where my heart is. Along with the beer bottles, the churches, the camo, the football, the towering oaks, and of course, the azalea bushes, that too is part of what makes Mobile so special.