Postcards from America

by Akim Reinhardt

Area of a triangleNot 7,500 miles this time. Nor a mad dash from one coast to another. Rather, a wiry triangle: the first leg from Baltimore to New Orleans; the second, up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to South Dakota; the hypotenuse, back to Maryland.

Abingdon, VA.  I’m vaxed and boosted, but a bout of Covid has delayed the bon voyage. No time to stop in North Carolina for long overdue visits with family and friends. Instead, it’s straight down I-81, still a bit weary and taking it as far as I can. I support small businesses and try to avoid chains, which is not always easy out on the road, but I find a delightful independent motel called the Alpine Inn. It’s clean, it’s cheap, and it’s the best paid lodging I’ll have during my twenty-two night sojourn. I get dinner at a Mexican restaurant the cheerful motel owner recommends, assuring me they’ll do spicy if I ask for it. It’s close enough to walk. I sit outside. Every other customer is inside, and I have the patio to myself. I order a cerveza. I assume it will be a pint. It’s a quart. We’re off and running.

Nashville, TN.  It should be only a five hour drive. But thirty miles outside of town, along a very rural stretch of I-40, I hit a flaccid snarl of traffic. It takes two hours to move six miles. I’m ninety minutes late, but still manage lunch with friends. Then it’s off to the airport where I pick up a compadre whose flown in from NYC; he’s a good sport, having agreed to hang out in the terminal and read a book for an hour so I can keep my belated lunch date. He hops in, we find a hummin’ community radio station, and are off. Next stop: Purgatory

Madison, AL.  It’s only about seven hours to New Orleans, and we have two days to get there. My friend has scouted out minor league baseball possibilities. The Biloxi Shuckers, with their lurid Oyster mascot, are appealing, but we opt for the Rocket City Trash Pandas. Madison is just outside Huntsville, which has a NASA center, ergo the city’s nickname. And the minor leagues specialize in catchy marketing, thus the Raccoon mascot’s nickname. We roll into town the evening before the game, and I espy another independent lodging, the Madison Motel. What dark incomprehensiblities await us? Read more »