It hardly felt like a road trip without a map in my hand. I like to see where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Just because I lived a good while in North Carolina doesn’t mean I remember where all the cities are in relation to each other and what Interstate highways run between them. I kept threatening to buy a map (even if only to myself), but that would ruin everything. A planless road trip requires no map. But it does require one of these:
Meet my hero. Yes, it looks like Mauri’s phone, but it is oh so much more than that. Just press the right spots on the touch screen and speak an address into it and a kind and gentle voice will speak out all the upcoming turns. If (or when) you miss one, she doesn’t get flustered or mad, she just helps you find your way back to the right road. When we wanted to take our time to get from point A to point B (to see the mores, as my dad used to say when he got us lost in timbukto), Mauri could choose an off-highway route. It was lovely.
We did know we wanted to spend a little time on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I wasn’t surprised to find it just how I left it thirty years ago. Beautiful!
Another not-so-vague goal was to find us some tasty Southern BBQ.
While on the lookout, we passed this:
Just the day before I said out loud that we needed to prioritize signing him up for social security when we get home. Seeing this, who could deny the handwriting on the wall? After all, I was with Mauri in Seoul, Korea, when he celebrated his 18th birthday, and it was required of him to within a few weeks of turning 18 sign up for the draft. And there I was with him in Toccoa, Georgia, within a few months of his turning full retirement age.
We turned around and went back. The sign-in clerk didn’t bat an eye when Mauri recited our address. Her deep Southern accent made us both smile.
Then the wait for Mauri’s name to be called. Was this a mistake? The visual kept reminding us we can sign up for social security online.
It definitely was not a mistake. Agent Gabe Jackson walked Mauri through the “paperless” process seamlessly, no doubt keeping us from pitfalls online. Agent Jackson even gave us his phone number in case any questions come up.
Did we have any question before he finished up? Yes. Where’s the nearest BBQ restaurant?
The one he sent us to was open only on weekends. But the “Places” app on Mauri’s phone took us right to the door of Hawg Wild BBQ and Catfish House, which served up grub like no other.
Don’t even talk to me. You should get yourself to Clarkesville, Georgia, at your calendar’s first available opening.
BBQ dreams fulfilled, Mauri used his gadget to find a Holiday Inn Express in Dunwoody, Georgia. He and Howard had once attended a conference in Dunwoody, a hop and a skip from the Atlanta airport. Just before we pulled into town, the skies opened, the first rain we’d had since arriving nearly two weeks earlier. We were reminded of the kind of deluge the South can produce.
We thought this was our grand finale, but it turns out the finale came as we drove home from the airport the next night just as Portland came alive with fireworks. We received it as our welcome-home celebration.