bicycle touring Uncategorized

Two Rooms: Part I

On our last day in Birmingham, AL, Gabrielle and I stayed at the Sloss Furnaces too long, and ended up having to find a place for the night. We stopped and had an early dinner at The Bottle Tree, a cool place on the east side of town that has a decent menu and books some pretty good bands [full disclosure: we stole one of their Los Campesinos! posters from the ladies room–sorry guys! but we really loved it.] So anyway, we were hanging out for a while and drinking a few beers, and before we realized it, it was dark outside. We had to find a room for the night, and a close one. We did a little online research and found the closest motel was a mere .4 miles away: The Star Motel. So we rolled down there, and paid a visit to the office. Many of the low budget motels in the US are run by Indian family’s, and so was this one. We did did business through the money slot, bending down to talk so our voices would carry through the tiny opening, the rich pungent smell of curry punching us in the face. The women said: You pay rent first, 42 dollars, an expression which perplexed Brie to no end. We paid and were passed the room key and remote.

Opening the door to the room was akin to being slapped in the face with a giant pack of Double Mint Chewing Gum. As we ventured in, and our eyes adjusted, it was confirmed that we had indeed booked our night of rest in a flophouse, but it started to pour outside, and we generally sleep in a stank-ass tent, so whatever. As I do every time we get a room, I immediately turned on the television (a bad habit), and there before my weary eyes: The Playboy Channel!

Dildo TV

Brie thought it was hilarious that I was initially reluctant to change the channel for fear we may lose it, but in the end SHE was the one who kept turning back to it. Pornography’ll take a hold of you! So we watched that and the Weather Channel, while we waited for a pizza that never showed up. Later, after we had gone to sleep, a couple came in the room next door, and either the walls were paper-thin, or they were loud, or both, and she was excited to watch TV Land, but I think he was more interested in the PBC, because something prompted him to declare that he would “kick yer head in like a soccer ball if you keep messing with my station!”


Two Rooms: Part II


We got an early start out of the flophouse because we had to stop at Walgreen’s to pick up my maps. One of the things we discovered was that ain’t nobody out doing anything on Sunday in Birmingham. The place was a ghost town. Riding our way to the west-side with ease, we shortly found ourselves at the pharmacy, but we also found that just about every business around was closed. That’s why we ended up having breakfast at McDonald’s, which was regrettable at best. In any case, I ended up getting my map pics for free for some reason, which was a boon to my spirit, but it was still in the 30’s that day, and the will to get moving was hard to muster.

Pedaling for about six hours in the cold, we worked our way up Rte. 269 into Parrish, AL, all on a couple of bacon egg & cheese biscuits, snack crackers, and Pucker Powder.1024x768 wallpapers Needless to say, when we got there we were starving. It was almost dark, we were all out of food we didn’t have to cook (it was too cold to get all that going anyway), and the only restaurant in town was a Jack’s, a restaurant that reminds me of McDowell’s from Coming to America, in that the only real difference between it, and Micky D’s, is that their buns have no seeds. We both got 2 double cheeseburgers with fries, ate and then sat and had an argument about where we were going to sleep in between Brie running to the bathroom to put her clothes under the hand dryer. Not for the first time, it dawned on me that we could probably spend the night in the post office. The last time in was in extreme heat, in South Carolina. They left the AC on there, why wouldn’t they leave the heat on here? That was Plan A.

We sat, killing time in Jack’s, not wanting to nestle into the post office too early, when a large church group came in. We struck up conversations with a number of them, and then sat back and let the wheels turn, hoping to be invited to someone’s house. The minutes passed slowly, and by 7:00 the group had just about all up and left. Our hopes had been dashed. As Brie went to the bathroom to dry some more stuff, I began getting our things together, when a gentleman came to the table and asked what our plans were for the evening. I told him, and then he told me, that while it’s true the Post Office would be heated, he had a whole extra house he could put us up in for the night, that was also heated. His name was Hugh Plylar, the local Constable. We quickly and graciously accepted the offer. He, and his wife Lona, then brought us up to the house, got the heat going, chatted with us for a few minutes, and bid us a goodnight.

I showered and changed into a fresh set of clothes, and putzed around for a bit, then I decided to take a few pictures of the house. dsc_1000That’s when I discovered we were sharing our bedroom with a ghost. This blue orb was floating around the room, and only this room. Here it is hovering around Brie while she was writing in her journal. I took a few pics in every room in the house and it would only show up in the bedroom we were in, while the picture of the couple on the wall was in the frame. I have a number of these. Once I was struck with the reality of sharing the room with a ghost I got into the bed, and clutched onto Brie’s arm, who told the ghost we meant it no harm, and speculated that it was probably a friendly ghost. I was too scared to get up and brush my teeth. We remembered that Hugh had told us his mother had died in the house, and we wondered if it was her. . . it had to be.

We both woke up in the morning alive and well. I snapped a few pics and the orb was till in there, floating all over the place. We got packed up and going fairly early, and rode down around the bend to bid farewell to Hugh before continuing on. He gave us a copy of Peter Jenkins book A Walk Across America, which Brie is reading now. The whole landscape was covered in a thick layer of frost. I didn’t mention the ghost.