Monday, January 4, 2010
The Southern Southern Adventure Continues
As noted in the last few posts our southern adventure covered the south over Christmas break. After 6 days in Florida we headed "north"...the only direction you can go from Marco Island..towards Memphis, TN. We discovered that FL is a very long state. It took us until 7pm to reach Alabama where we stayed for the night. We paid homage to the University of Florida Gators as we passed by their home. After a short night's rest we loaded in the car again to cross Alabama (home of the soon to be national champion Crimson Tide), cut through Mississippi, and arrived in Memphis in time for dinner. Over 1,000 miles in 2 days...ugh. Make sure you thank a truck driver next time you see one. Thankfully we were able to park the car at Aunt Sandy and Uncle Pete's house for 4 days. The 4 Ribbe and 4 Hansen cousins energetically filled the Hansen home with noise and fun from mid-morning til night. We celebrated a second (or third) Christmas, ate very well, and had many great conversations. On New Years Eve we blasted off a slew of fireworks over the backyard pond in 20 degree temperatures. It was freezing!
On New Year's day we loaded the car again and headed east across the long state of Tennessee to the Knoxville area to visit HoneyRockers and former Ribbe babysitters Kit and Ryan McCaffrey. Ryan is ranch manager at Wears Valley Ranch, a year round boarding school/ministry for teens that also runs a summer camp. We had great fun catching up, playing Wii, feeding the horses, reading stories to Louise and holding baby Hope. Our snowless winter was smashed on Saturday morning when we woke up to falling snow...what a bummer! Though it only snowed an inch, it was enough to close the Great Smokies National Park and force a 2 hour detour around the perimeter of the park. On the up side, it gave us an interesting tour of the backcountry hills of TN. I only saw 2 rusting stills on the tour.
To pass the time on our 2,600 mile journey we participated in 2 surveys that are worthy of note. First, we could only eat once at a fast food company restaurant and then voted on which was the best when we arrived home. Sonic--the southern drive in burger restaurant--received 3 first place votes, Chick-fil-A received 2 first place votes, and Subway received 1 first place vote. The Jack-in-the-Box burger chain was voted last by all 6 of us. The second survey involved checking off the state license plates we saw on the journey. We saw 42 states. It took about 5 days to see WI (we couldn't count our own). The far west states of UT, AZ, NV, ID, ND, SD, MT, and HI were the only ones we didn't see. All in all, it was a great trip with many fantastic memories, connections with great friends/family, a few crazy moments, and lots of fun. We're grateful our rusty Suburban made it all the way without issues. Ironically, when we arrived home the hot water heater was busted so cold showers and 18 degrees greeted us on our first morning 'home'. Wasn't it supposed to be warm in SC? The boys have received their back to school haircuts and tomorrow morning we get back on schedule with early morning wake-ups and school.