Epic Southern I-10 Road Trip // ft. five states, rainbows, & flaming (literally) cars

Hello hello my friends, and merry Christmas! The last time I invaded your screen was *checks calendar* way back in June, which feels like the last time I went on monkey bars – that is, an eternity ago. Summer and Autumn came and went and the Christmas season is now upon us and through it all, I’ve learned so many things and grown in so many ways I could never have anticipated. I made my first big move, packing up my childhood home in Texas and relocating to Florida for college (I never want to look at tape or a cardboard box ever again). I finished my first semester here at the University of Florida (which means I am morally obligated to cheer Go Gators! at every opportunity…Go Gators!🐊) I said good-bye to my childhood, to familiarity, to old friends and coaches, and I said hello to the great unknown.

Texas Hill Country, my home turf

That always scared me. The unknown. Counting down the days to the time when we would drive away, I looked at my calendar, at May, June, and half of July all planned out and scheduled. And then I stared with terror at the emptiness of the beyond, at the blank squares of August and September and October. I had no idea what would await me in my new life. I wanted to know, wanted to plan, wanted to map out my future in those neat calendar boxes.

At the same time, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want the happiness of my last summer at home to fade away. I wanted to stay there forever, basking in the glory of being a high-school senior, wise matriarch amongst the teenagers. It didn’t seem fair that right when I had finally figured things out, when I had wonderful close friendships, when I knew everybody on the swim team, when I had the confidence that comes from years and years of experience and my sheer presence being there for so long – that was the time I had to leave, uproot myself, and start all over.

Honestly, it’s been a lesson in pride. Thrown onto a campus with over fifty thousand peers (REAL peers, all adults, even though I’m the youngest for the first time ever), I immediately realized that I am very far from having things figured out. I’ll be sure to regale you with tales of my college experience over the coming weeks, months, years, but for now, I will start at the very beginning: the drive from Texas to Florida.

I will also promise that this post’s title has not a whiff of clickbait.

(Did this happen a whopping half a year ago? Yes. Did I fully intend to give an earlier update? Yes. Why did this not happen? Because I have the all-hallowed excuse of being a Busy College Student. πŸ˜‡)

***

If there’s one thing you need to know about Texans (you probably already DO know if you’ve met one of us πŸ˜‰ ), it’s that we are very very very proud of being from Texas and we are equally proud of how big it is. When I gripe and groan and complain to you that it took over 6 hours to drive from my house to the Louisiana border – well, this is in fact a secret flex. For the whole duration of that 6 hours, I was beaming to myself at how expansive my beautiful big state is, at our large skies, gentle hills, oak forests, flat golden plains, the horizon so vast that the road gets swallowed up in it for mile after hundreds of miles. At times, the land is just so empty yet so full of life, and you know that everywhere your eye touches, 360 degrees, no matter how distant, it touches TEXAN land…ah, it’s an experience like no other.

IT’S CORN, A BIG LUMP WITH KNOBS — okay I’ll stop. πŸ˜‚

As we progressed through the state and neared the border, storm clouds gathered and emptied themselves upon us. It was like Texas was crying, mourning our departure from her warm and welcoming lands in which I had grown from a toddler to an adult.

…am I sentimental much? πŸ˜‚

The change from Texas to Louisiana was instant and immediately obvious — even though I almost missed the border crossing because I was gaping so much. For one, there were swamps (or bayous or wetlands, don’t ask me to know the difference). For two, there were these big tall amazing green trees and many other amazing green leafy things that I had never seen before in my life (botany is not my strong suit, evidently.)

The bridges themselves were extremely fascinating, arching over these treacherous, predator-infested swamps and blasting an interstate straight through them. No matter how inhospitable an area is, humans always, always figure out how to conquer it. Meanwhile I entertained myself with imagining the bridges breaking, the cars all suddenly stopping, and how doomed we’d be. Stranded there in the middle of the vast swamps, prey to the mercies of all the gators and snakes and venomous creatures lurking in its waters…

We eventually passed through all these intriguing wetlands into meadows and forests, so impossibly lush and green, which made perfect sense because of how much it had been raining.

But you know what else rain heralds? RAINBOWS.

I absolutely adore rainbows and I become a little girl again whenever I see them, especially such vivid, double-arched ones. At this point we’d been driving for well over seven hours and I was quite bored, until the rainbows. I craned my neck, searching for the end of the rainbow where the bridge of colors touched the earth, and of course, no matter how far we drove, we could never quite reach it, could never quite see the end. And then it simply just faded away, and I was bored again.

Until I realized we would be crossing the Mississippi river, and suddenly I had something to look forward to: seeing that magnificent famous river, that romantic setting of most great American novels. At long last, as dusk was kissing the skies, we crossed the Old Man River, the Father of Waters, the Body of a Nation, the Mighty Mississippi —

…it was underwhelming. Very industrial, as well as the city of Baton Rouge along its banks. Square, squat cement and brick buildings, cranes and boats and machinery. One day I will return to the Mississippi River, but to the rural parts, and I will go on a steamboat and watch the rusty muddied waters swirl in the golden light of sunset and pretend I’m a hero in a Mark Twain novel.

However, on the plus side we crossed the river on this geometric cool-looking bridge, named the Horace Wilkinson bridge (I had to include that, the name just sounds so posh.)

At this stage, we were exhausted and felt like we’d driven across the entire continent, but most of that had been getting out of Texas and zipping through Louisiana. We were treated with gorgeous clouds during the final stretch to our hotel, which we eventually reached around midnight. Where was this hotel located? A small town called Covington (not Covid-ton, as I’d misheard πŸ˜‚) Why Covington? Well, Mama had pulled up the Google Maps route from our home in Texas to our new home in Florida and planted her cursor on the halfway mark, right in that sleepy little town. So Covington it was for the night.

We woke up the next morning…I’d like to say all refreshed, but we were still quite exhausted and not looking forward to eight more hours of driving. However, we certainly did not want to stay in Covington, so on we went.

Mississippi passed by so fast I completely missed the sign and almost lost the chance to rap M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I about five times, rather obnoxiously to the chagrin of my poor mother, who kept her eyes on the road and the pretty marshes, rivers, and bridges.

But the rap turned out to be a mere warm up because then we saw this sign:

…and I couldn’t resist belting out Sweet Home Alabama once or twice (or maybe three or four times – it’s a catchy song πŸ˜‚)

A few dozen miles later, due to traffic resulting from an accident on the interstate, we followed the GPS and took a scenic tour through downtown Mobile. It’s a charming old city, but my favorite part were all the trees, such sprawling, green, moss-cloaked oaks, arching over the roads and avenues.

LOOK AT THAT TREE 😍

We meandered through parts of Mobile even the locals probably had never visited until we reached downtown and the foreboding Bankhead Tunnel, which looked like it came straight out of an action movie.

After this, the road quickly dipped down into another tunnel, this one much longer and spookier as it wound underneath a big river. I always love going into such tunnels and imagining what would happen if a leak sprung, if the ceiling broke, if we had to abandon our cars and everyone was running and panicking and if the lights went out and where those mysterious doors on the side lead too…

…perhaps I’ve been watching too many movies.

Once outside of the tunnel, there were several sets of bridges in rapid succession. One of them was I-10, still backed up with traffic. The other one had cars zipping by but required an abrupt turn.

…which Mama missed, so we had a lot of time to enjoy the views of Mobile Bay from the I-10 bridge and gaze at the cars cruising by on the other one.

But in due time the traffic eased up and we were on our way once again. We were hoping to stop by a Buc-ee’s to refuel, both for the car and for our stomachs in the form of some yummy Texan brisket, but the line to the exit was so ridiculously long, and the traffic at Buc-ee’s itself was so ridiculously insane, that we had to pass. It was a sad moment in the day, but I was somewhat cheered by a sandwich from Subway a dozen miles later.

And then, shortly afterwards…

It felt like a momentous occasion, proportionate to the sign’s grandiose-ness, which I thought was a good omen as we entered our new state home, a sign of our happiness and prosperity to come. Mama pointed out that it looked like an amusement park sign, to welcome all the happy holiday-ing people driving to Disney World and the other parks…but I preferred my interpretation.

The Florida roads were lined with tall pine trees majestically guarding the interstate. I never realized Florida had so many pine forests, but it turns out there are acres upon acres of pine specifically cultivated for lumber and mulch.

It was at this point that at long last, Mama and I in the family car caught up with Micah and Papa, who’d been driving the moving truck with basic furniture necessities (we’d have to wait nearly a month for the BIG moving trucks with the rest of our stuff) and towing our other car. They’d had a big head start that morning and it was a very triumphant moment for everyone when we finally passed them.

Look how happy they are! πŸ˜‚

After that, it was pretty smooth driving. First we ran away from a storm through fields and meadows as green as the Shire.

Then the storm caught up to us and we could hardly see a thing.

And then there was a flaming car.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. o.O

When we passed it, there was a loud pop and I physically, viscerally felt the heat waves slap against our car. I might have shrieked. And then the questions came pouring in. Why was the car on fire? There was no one inside, thank God. But why was it abandoned? Was it done on purpose? Was it an accident? Was it done to erase evidence for a top secret mission to preserve national security??

You see how much I run away with my imagination.

And I continued running with it for the remainder of our journey, which was calm and noneventful. We arrived at our new home in one piece, and shortly thereafter so did Micah and Papa.

***

And that, my friends, is the story of our transplantation! It reignited my love of the South and made me excited for the adventures that were to come in the Sunshine State, of which I will be sure to narrate for you very soon.

In the meantime, some book-keeping. I am alive! I am back! And after sneezing because everything was so dusty around here, I was notified that all my storage space for this site was used up. Which was mildly annoying, but it’s gotten me thinking about upgrades and fancy technology sounding items like domains and hosts and whatnot. So I will be doing some brainstorming and some tinkering, thus you may expect gradual changes in the future, at no inconvenience to you, my dear reader.

Finally, for all you loyal, most awesome-est friends with razor sharp memories who are still here and still reading my silly little words…the Huge Surprise I floated at the end of my last post has not been forgotten. I will unveil it in due time, once I get back into the swing of things, so please be patient with me, just a little while longer. πŸ˜„

Have you traveled the southern I-10? What’s your favorite southern state (there is only one right answer 😜)? Do you know the differences between a swamp, bayou, marsh, and wetland? Opinions on the song Sweet Home Alabama? What are your theories about the flaming car?

Until next time,

Bon voyage!

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14 thoughts on “Epic Southern I-10 Road Trip // ft. five states, rainbows, & flaming (literally) cars

  1. 0_0 You weren’t kidding about the flaming car… 0_0 Sheesh.
    AHH IT’S SO PRETTY DOWN THERE!! Look at all the greeeeeeen!

    Great post! I love your writing style. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW! I feel like I’ve gone on a whole road trip with you through these fabulous pictures! Sounds soooo fun!! (Except for the flaming car. *gulps*)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was an absolute joy to read. I love road trips, and seeing all the pictures and your lovely (and hilarious) descriptions was so nostalgic. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’›
    Glad you had a safe trip (despite the storms and flaming cars πŸ˜¬πŸ˜…), and hope you’re having many wonderful adventures in Florida!

    And yes, I am very much looking forward to the Huge Surprise. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww this was so sweet, thank you Chalice! It’s been rough at times but God has been very good to me in my new life. ❀️

      *much secretive delighted giggling*

      Like

  4. Hi Elisha! How was your Christmas? I loved the photos (erm, wow, that car is on fire lol. Now I want to know if it was part of some national security cover-up thing XD.) Your state is huge! We had a couple friends move out to Texas just last year (that…feels so weird to say that. Really, it was just last fall.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Lillian! My Christmas was awesome! Some Florida friends recommended I celebrate an ‘authentic Floridian Christmas’ by going to the beach, but then there were record low temperatures (low 20s) and so my family and I just had some good quality time firmly inside. πŸ˜‚ How was yours?

      Lol how time flies! But that’s cool, Texas is pretty awesome (I will keep saying this until I die 🀠)

      Liked by 1 person

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