You know you are deep in Southern territory when women driving open-air Jeeps keep an aerosol can of hairspray handy. Reminds me of the time many years ago when now-husband John Pitts called me from his office in Washington, D.C. “My ink pen exploded all over my shirt,” he said. “Any advice for getting it out?” I replied with the universal antidote: “Sure. Ask one of the women there if you can borrow their hairspray and then saturate and blot.” There was a pause and then laughter. “You forget,” he said, chuckling, “that this is not the South. I bet none of the women I work with even know what hairspray is.” Putting aside the argument that Washington IS, in fact, the South, it is true that hairspray — lots and lots of hairspray — is a Southern essential. Especially in Jeeps.
When it comes to travel, my husband and I are pretty laidback people. It takes a lot to rattle us. And by “us” I actually mean “my husband,” who traveled all over the world in his former job as a sportswriter and handles just about any glitch with style and grace. And even though to me “roughing it” means having to make do with generic brewed coffee at the breakfast buffet and “adventure vacation” means choosing between the pool and the beach (as in “sitting and reading at”), I’m not that demanding. Really, I’m not, despite the evidence of us going through three rooms in one night during a recent trip. But none of them were my fault. The first one had plumbing problems, so before we could even unpack I stayed in the room while he went to the front desk to get another one. It took him several minutes, though — because the second room we were given unaccountably had people already in it. So back he went to the front desk for the third time and we finally got a room with working plumbing and nobody else in it. Except the spider my husband found in the bed while I was brushing my teeth — and didn’t tell me about until the next day when we were back on the road. “It was a little one, though,” he said, “and if I’d found another one we would have gotten another room. I just really hated to go back to the desk a fourth time.” I secretly think even a second spider wouldn’t have done it — a third one, maybe.
For folks in middle Tennessee and north and central Alabama, a summer road trip to Florida means driving south on Interstate 65. And that means a stop at Priester’s Pecans in Fort Deposit, Alabama, at exit No. 142 about 35 miles of Montgomery. A gift shop and rest stop and restaurant, Priester’s is best known for its free-sample bowls of its famous flavored pecans. Now, I never get up in the morning dreaming about pecans — I’m not even a big fan of pecan pie — but if we’re anywhere near Priester’s, I have to stop and nibble on such taste treats as Key Lime, Peach and Honey Glazed pecans. This truly is marketing genius, because you can’t sample without thinking, “You know, the one thing that would make the rest of my vacation complete is a bag of Cinnamon Pecans.” There also are all sorts of Priester’s-made candy and even plain ol’ unflavored pecans there, plus a cooler stocked with homemade frozen casseroles to make the first night at your beach rental much more convenient and plenty of souvenirs and gifts for when you’re headed back home and you’ve forgotten to get something for the grandkids. These Priester’s folks think of everything! Go yourself and you’ll see: http://www.priesters.com/