My Impressions of the South

Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida

John 3:16

My husband and I have never really experienced the South. Sure I had fleeting visits with my grandparents in Sarasota. Since they were relative newcomers to the South but my grandpa was a pastor, they were known as “Good Yankees”. I doubt that Craig and I could ever be known as good Yankees. We have a hard enough time as it is being acceptable new Midwesterners. In any case, we were very excited to see a new part of the Country in the best possible way, which is by road trip!

Our first southern state to visit was Arkansas. My impression was a good one, particularly towards shopkeepers of the area. They would greet you upon arrival, cheerfully help you with any questions you need answered, and even bid you a good day when you left. This is in stark contrast to places in the Midwest where I feel I’m visiting Europe. I have to smile first, greet first, and brave any “tude” if I happen to ask for help. Once I walked out of a Pizza Ranch in Nebraska after the cashier treated us like the Plague because we answered his question, “Would you like a special pizza made?” in the affirmative. He went from cheer to scowling belligerence in less than 2 seconds. We really welcomed then, the kind hospitality that the South is known for.

Entrance to Vicksburg Battlefield in Mississippi

Next up on the list was a brief tour of Mississippi. Here we spent the night in Vicksburg and had the patriotic experience of travelling through one of the most important battlefields of the Civil War. At the time of the Vicksburg battle, President Lincoln was looking for a reliable general to head the Union Army. He was faced with a somewhat hostile leadership that outright refused the President’s orders. Vicksburg was an essential post to the South. It was a port from which major supplies were shipped to the Confederates. General Grant was given the task to conquer Vicksburg, a nightmare for battle in the middle of swampland. Grant managed to conquer surrounding cities and eventually encircled Vicksburg with his troops. With enough time Vicksburg was forced to surrender and Grant leaped to the stage as the Union General to lead the US to victory. While the battlefield was impressive, we had the unfortunate incidence of driving in to a speed trap while leaving Vicksburg and got the souvenir of a speeding ticket. From what my mother says, this is not unusual to happen to an out-of-towner in the South.

I had a good feeling about “Sweet Home Alabama” when we started driving through the Northern parts of the State. The roads were excellent and lined with pine trees (something I never see in Kansas but miss). The cities we drove through were also well-kept. I even looked up houses in the area and was surprised by the good deals you could get. It wasn’t all sweet in Alabama, however. I was left with a sour taste in my mouth after viewing hoards of dogs for sale kept in filth in a parking lot of a small town. Some were sitting in bloody stools. At least none looked like they were starving. I later saw on tv a raid on a puppy mill with the rescue of several bull dogs. I’m hoping and praying those little dogs get a loving home.

Both South Carolina and Georgia stood out for beauty. In South Carolina, Craig visited what he said was the most pristine 711 convenience store he had ever been in. We both admired the drop dead gorgeous city of Savannah. I was surprised that it is a seaport! Wonders never cease.

The South held many exotic flavors for us Midwesterners.

Florida astounded us with its diversity of people. From Bikers to Mennonites to people of the backwoods, Florida has every type of person you could imagine. Panama beach struck me as a feast for the eyes. A feast for my stomach was supplied in Pensacola where I enjoyed the world’s best Key Lime Pie!

A trip to the South would not be complete without a visit to an alligator farm. At alligator alley in Alabama we got to cradle a young alligator in our hands. The skin of an alligator was surprisingly soft! That was an amazing experience looking at the hundreds of alligators swimming beneath the boardwalk. The alligator was fascinating to me. Its eyes looked intelligent and not menacing. I’d probably think different if facing the beasts in the water and not viewing from several feet above.

What an experience holding a tiny alligator!

A mighty gator slides through the waters in Alabama

My overall impression of the South is that it is a wonderful mysterious land. I don’t feel at home there but I am fascinated with the unique people, foods, and lovely cities of the South. There is no traffic quite like Atlanta. There is no fried plantains like those in Florida. And most importantly, there is no place like home!

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.

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