Now entering Alabama. I am riding behind a log truck. It’s your all-American log truck, stacked with pines that wobble with each bump in the road.
On the truck bumper is an “I-heart-Alabama” sticker.
We’ve crossed the state line into the Yellowhammer State. So far, I’ve driven past nineteen Pentecostal churches, eight Methodist chapels, and I’ve lost count of the the Baptist meeting houses.
We stop at lunch joint. I park next to an old pickup truck. It is a Ford F-100. Lawrence County tags, mud on the fenders. There is a black Lab in the front seat. My father had a truck just like this.
The restaurant is busy, George Strait is singing overhead.
My waitress is originally from Chelsea, Alabama, and she sounds like it. She brings us extra cornbread just because that’s what people from Chelsea are like.
I pay my tab. There’s a gift shop near the register.
A pair of baby-sized cowboy boots catches my eye. I almost buy them
for my infant niece, but my wife talks me out of it because my niece will only outgrow them in seven days or less.
So, I buy a University of Alabama jumpsuit instead.
We are back on the road. The countryside looks good today. We see big golden fields of dead grass, mobile homes with chimneys poking from the tops, billowing smoke. And cattle.
Farm equipment dealers on every corner, used RV lots, discount fireworks stands, and a hundred thousand barns that hold the history of the world within them.
I pass shotgun houses with the eighteen wheelers parked in the driveways. Many have freezers on porches, with loveseats beside the screen doors.
In the distance, I see a pile of burning trash behind a two-story house. It’s tended by a man in overalls, stabbing the fire with a rake. He throws a mattress atop…