Deep South Doo-Doo
Since you are anxiously awaiting word of our journey to the land of John Rocker, Strom Thurmond and Billy Bob Thornton, I thought I would relate it to y'all in an "lectric letter."  Ok, I know you don't really give a Hilfiger.  But you and I have "nuttin' better ought to dew."  So here it is:  Left Phoenix in the fourth overtime of the Penguins' and Flyers playoff game.  That was about midnight.  Flew four hours to Charlotte, NC for a layover.  I stayed up to watch a terribly trite chick flick, "Hanging Up."  Wasted my chance to sleep.  I got a half a hour sleep.  Arrived in Charlotte, East Coast time of 6:00 AM.  Charlotte airport is very nice.  The first twang of southern dialect comes from the waitress at "Cheers" all night breakfast inside the airport.  I passed on the grits.  Caught the second leg of my flight to Atlanta without incident.  Arrived and picked up my freely upgraded Suzuki Vitara with a six-cylinder!  You have no idea how big of a deal this is to me.  After negotiating the madness that is Atlanta airport, probably the largest in the world.  It is now 8:30 AM.  I meet some friends and we are on our way to their brand new home.  It is out in the plantation fields in a town called Newnan.  Sharon is enthusiastic, as she has a house full of relatives who have come to celebrate her graduation from college.  Think of Scarlett O'Hara with blond hair.  Her husband, Paul, is an English gent with the cockney accent and all.  He is right at home in the land of drawl.  Funny and the world's foremost host, he may be the only Englishman that this Irishman can stomach.  Besides, we are all Americans now.  Their Aunt Dot and Uncle Cecil have also come in from Houston to join in for the festivities.  Aunt Dot is a true southern lady and Uncle Cecil is a true Texan.  Think of Hank Hill's Dad.  This is without exaggeration him.  He is cartoonish, with the same accent and larger than life.  Cecil has done it all, or so he says.  Wildcatter, Texas A&M Aggie, Teacher, Uprising Queller, Rebel, Cracker, Hell Raiser, he wears all of these names with pride.  They drove from Houston via Vancouver or somewhere, or anywhere.  No one really knows.  We visit and listen to Cecil's stories.  I could do that all night and so can he.
Sharon & Paul's home is wonderful.  Large and on .62 acre of a lot, it sits in a new neighborhood along some Georgian woods.  They have constant activity with squirrels, rabbits and deer frolicking in the back yard.  But it isn't large enough for all of us so I sleep at our new best friend's house across the street.  I meet them and move into their house in the same instant.  After sleeping what seemed five minutes, I am up and on my way to Sharon's graduation ceremony at Oglethorpe University.  With pomp and some circumstance she gets her degree and we cheer like she just won the lottery.  She has graduated Summa Cum Laude!  Which means a GPA of 3.9 or better.  After buying our tickets we go to an elegant southern-styled, what else?, restaurant for lunch.  We meet some more of their friends and they join us with their new baby.  He is a Massachusetts Yankee living in Macon, GA.  Talk about a fish out of water.  He probably has never even eaten possum!  Sharon's Dad also meets us.  A true southern gentleman he doesn't even lynch me for reading, "Sherman's March" while I'm here.  Everyone has to work the next day so I decide to take a sightseeing trip.  I go to FDR's old southern resort.  It is called the "Little White House."  It is semi-interesting.  I found out he died here while having his portrait painted.  The still unfinished picture is there.  He also has a collection of canes, probably the largest in the world.  I continue on to Callaway Gardens.  An expansive, lush park with a lake and a collection of azaleas, probably the largest in the world.  I rent a bike and speed on through the Georgian woods.  It's beautiful and grueling as I rediscover humidity.  Stopping at the Butterfly Garden, is a big mistake, because it is heated. 
The next day I have lunch in downtown Atlanta.  Atlanta is much like I left it after the 1996 Olympics, without the shrapnel.  I manage to see the bar where the football player, Ray Lewis was accused of stabbing those guys after the Super Bowl.  It is called the "Cobalt."  It is in the nice section of Buckhead.  There were no chalk outlines.
I decide to check out the "Cyclorama."  It is the depiction of the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War painted on a 40 foot high and 360 foot mural that has a foreground constructed that you cannot tell where the painting starts and the stage depiction begins.  It was painted in the 1890's, sort of like a prehistoric IMAX.  It is in a circular room that revolves as they explain the battle.  A must see while in Atlanta.  Then I walked to the Atlanta Zoo.  An above average zoo, I was lucky in that the pandas were there and putting on a hilarious show of falling down.
The next day, it was off to Asheville, NC to catch up with Dot and Cecil.  We head to a five star resort built by a guy who made his millions selling snake oil.  The Grove Park Inn is beautiful and historic.  Presidents and Robber Barons have stayed here.  We have drinks like the high rollers that we are and leave before I have to buy a round.  We head home to a full evening of Cecil's stories.  They are getting bigger.  They are probably the largest in the world.  They leave at 5:00 AM the next morning for their 1200-mile trek back to Houston.  I promise to visit sometime.  But only if my storytelling gets much better.
I decide to foray to the Biltmore House.  It is a large home, probably the largest in the world.  250 rooms, 64 fireplaces and its own winery situated on 8000 acres in Asheville, NC.  The home is still owned by the Vanderbilts.  They charge $32 just to look at it.  I toured it all day and saw only 25 rooms.  It is a French castle with gargoyles and everything.  Full of priceless antiques and tapestries.  Built in 1890, it is the first house to have had hot and cold running water, electricity and a Brunswick bowling alley.  The gardens are amazing and the greenhouse is larger that two of my houses.  But the real fun begins at the wine tasting.  I buy three bottles.
The next day I take a road trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The prettiest road in America and could possibly be the largest in the...no, but real pretty.  I eat lunch at a diner at the top of a mountain and then hike around the area.  If I hear "Y'all" one more time!!
So it is time to make my way back to Atlanta to fly back home the next morning.  I bid farewell and decide to take the scenic route.  I take the Cherokee Trail through South Carolina.  I hide my book.  Then I stop at a lonely, lovely park where there is only mean geese and Ranger Smith.  She tells me of a large waterfall in the area and I decide to check it out.  Heading down a back road, then another.  The houses in this area are log cabins.  We see a bar, of course it is called "Bob's"  The yokels wave from the porch.  I hit the gas.  Down another back road and I have run out of asphalt.  I think, "This is a lovely country to die in."  I make sure none of "Bob's" patrons are following.  I have seen "Deliverance" way too many times.  I head down another dirt road and see a mailbox with the name "Hinkle."  A couple more miles and I see another mailbox, "Hinkle."  Banjoes are playing in my head!  Finally I find the trail to the waterfalls.  I start walking through the woods.  I wish Burt Reynolds was here!!  Hearing the waterfalls up yonder.  Then two scruffy guys carrying beers come up along the trail.  They are not carrying shotguns or banjoes!  And they even say "Hi."  Not, "Stick them up" or "Pull them down" or "Y'all."  So I continue to find the falls, probably the largest in the world!
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