The Story of 12 Women Who Went On a Cruise, Part 3: Road Trip to Our Cruise Port
The day finally arrived for us to leave! Lots of us put our kids on a bus that was going to Kids Across America (a camp in Missouri) early that morning.
Then around 10am we met at our church (NOTE: This was NOT a church trip!). Whitney and I had matching shirts. Sarabeth surprised us all with feather extension clips for our hair that she and her very talented daughter, Elizabeth had made.
We all squealed as we picked out feathers to match our hair and outfits. Then we circled up, said a prayer and took a picture before we loaded up in 3 cars to head to Mobile, Alabama.
Two hours down the road, we made our first stop at a restaurant about which Rhonda had heard wonderful tales. I later learned it has also been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
It did not disappoint. We all LOVED Rhoda’s. We also loved Rhoda, her husband and her daughter. One of us even changed her cruise name to Rhoda while we were there.
The hamburgers and the fried pies were out of this world. And the tamales. I could get in my car right now and drive the two hours just to taste them again. Out. Of. This. World.
We filled up the place, not just because it was small but also because we were becoming a presence. The 12 of us. Between spouting opinions, shouting out cruise names and laughing VERY loudly, we began to be somewhat noticeable. Plus we just kept exclaiming, We’re going on a cruise!! And then we would all yell Whoop! Whoop!
Somehow this Whoop! Whoop! chant sort of evolved. What began as one or two people saying, Woo Hoo! here and there started to sound like a pack of siamangs calling back and forth to each other all over the cruise ship. By the end of the cruise our wait staff Whoop Whoop-ed us as we came into dinner, which thrilled us to no end, but back at Rhoda’s, we were still whooping in smaller tones. However, I could say peach fried pie to any one of the other 11 girls this very minute and she would definitely give me a Whoop! Whoop! with a hand in the air.
After Rhoda’s we had our first conflict. And that my friends, is a miracle. We were pretty far into this adventure already as a group of 12 opinionated Southern women and we were just now having our first conflict.
The gist of the conflict was this:
To stop or not to stop.
And more specifically, to stop to shop or not to stop and shop.
This conflict simply stems from some of us doing road trips with people like my father who are not above handing you a can to pee in so that he doesn’t have to make an extra stop and others of us doing road trips where when their mama said,
Ooh, honey, there’s a cute little antique store right there! Let’s turn around and go back.
well, their daddy would actually turn around and go back.
In recent years, I travelled with a family who did not fuel their car and go to the bathroom at the same stop where we ate lunch and so we had to stop about 30 miles later to take care of those things. This behavior was completely baffling to me.
My daddy would no sooner turn the car around for a surprise outing than he would pay 50 cents more for a 12 pack of diet coke at the grocery store when it’s on sale for less at the drug store. It’s just nonsense.
So, you can guess which side of the conflict I fell on. However, we all decided to stop at the first shopping destination.
Because we were on vacation. Relaxed. Not in a hurry. Playing nice.
The first shopping stop was a home furnishings store that was only about 10 minutes from where we ate lunch, which is not even far enough down the road for a refuel I tell you. We all 12 went in. But in less than ten minutes, eight of us were back at the front of the furniture store.
As an aside, I should mention that none of us had packed light for a week full of fun in the sun, so we had no room for furniture anyway.
In some way I don’t really remember, the eight of us who were not meandering around the furniture store managed to load on up in two of the three cars and start on down the road. We weren’t leaving the other gals really. Just getting on down the road bit. They had yet another stop they were hoping to make to purchase special kinds of flip flops so we thought maybe we’d head on in that direction.
Only somehow we miscommunicated (12 women. A miscommunication. No!) and our two cars went one way and the third car ended up leaving the furniture store and taking a different route. Apparently there’s more than one way to skin a chicken. Or drive to Mobile.
However, much to the delight of the ladies in the third car, who were smarting a bit at being left behind at the furniture store, even though in their extra hour there they did not purchase even a candlestick, much less any real furniture, we were soon stopped in stand still traffic because of a wreck.
Of course, we only KNOW we were stopped because of a wreck because after we had been sitting for some time, Mercedes (I am using her cruise name to protect her identity) and I got out of our car to see if we could walk up and over a hill to see what the problem was. I’m not sure why we thought this was a good idea but we all just got tired of waiting.
So we walked for a while on the side of the road, passing the other car of cruise ladies.
We’re just going to see what the problem is.
Now it was June. In Alabama. On the interstate.
We did not anticipate how hot it was. So after about 100 yards, we looked like we were dying. After we walked about a half a mile, we were able to tell that it was a wreck and they were starting to get the traffic shuffled over to the median so cars were slowly beginning to move.
We turned around to walk back, and by this time we were beyond hot. Strangers began to offer us rides. Mercedes looked like she might keel over right there on the median. She was hoping we could get to the car and get to a service station quick for a drink. And maybe some ice cream.
Soon, we saw Stormy’s car which was travelling a few hundred yards in front of ours and was just beginning to merge into the lane of traffic that was starting to move. We thought we’d just hop in with her and catch up to our car at the exit ahead, so we headed for her car. But she waved us away. She would not even let us in!
We totally thought she was kidding but then she locked the doors and pulled on ahead and away from us.
Later she explained that she felt that she was just getting her car rolling and she was afraid that if she stopped for us she would miss her opportunity to get into the line of moving traffic.
This of course did not stop us from teasing her mercilessly all week about it.
If you are ever in a tight spot, don’t count on Stormy to help you out. She would not even pick her friends up from the side of the road!
We finally made it back to our car and soon we were in an air conditioned service station guzzling cold beverages and eating jamocha almond fudge ice cream.
Once back on the moving road, we conferred with the third car to see how much time we’d lost. We figured out that they were just enough ahead of us to make their flip flop stop and still arrive in Mobile just ahead of us.
Thank heavens for that. I did not want to stand between Isabella and her flip flops.
But we were done stopping. Mobile, here we come.
It was beginning to get dark as we all came into Mobile. And somehow car number 3 took a wrong turn and moved from being first to the hotel to last. Once a meanderer, always a meanderer.
By 8pm we were walking from our hotel to a restaurant around the corner and we were all tired and famished. We split plates of shrimp salads and seared tuna. We had drinks and laughs and all the days’ crazies were smoothed away.
Soon we were giggling in our hotel rooms. We crammed six of us to a room so we’d only have to get two rooms at 20 bucks each. Mercedes prank called the other room just as I was drifting off.
Then we laughed for 30 more minutes. Snickers and giggles finally turned to snores. I dreamed of summer camp and laughing with friends until late at night.
The next thing I remember was Elle coming in the room with cups of coffee for all of us and when she opened the door she said,
Y’all! I have seen our boat!