We are back at home, safe and sound. This was a relatively trouble-free vacation, if you don't count the one spell of bad weather and the fact that I missed our exit to the airport this morning and we ended up taking the scenic route through Nashville's warehouse district.
I will have lots more pictures to share in the next few days, but I wanted to stop and reflect on a few things while I still remember them.
Courtesy is not dead. It is alive and well in the South. We met a lot of very nice people who opened your door for you, insisted on helping you with your bags, greeted you with cheer in the morning, gave us "you're very welcome" in response to our thank yous, and never seemed to get out of patience with the foreigners in their midst. For instance, we are so accustomed to driving 70 miles per hour in Texas that we almost suffered whiplash from the maximum 50-60 mph rates in rural Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. There was no way I was going to risk getting a speeding ticket, so we kept to the posted speed limits. We were the only ones who were doing so, however, but the locals never pressured us to move faster or honked their horns or made obscene gestures like you would have gotten in Texas. A time or two I did some really creative driving when we realized we were in the wrong lane and about to miss our turn, yet nobody shook their fist at us as they passed.
We are so used to the crowds and the fast pace of Central Texas that it seemed very odd how much slower things moved the last week. People were relaxed, not frazzled. People seemed to really like each other, not just tolerate each other. People asked questions and were interested in the answers. People still go to church to worship and not because it is good networking for your business interests.
There is a lot to be said for the quality of life that we observed in rural America. If you find yourself worried about what the world is coming to, you should take a driving tour through the South. It will restore your faith in your fellow American. Yes, there are rotten eggs all over and I'm sure you can find plenty of them in the areas we visited. But there are a lot of good people out there and you don't have to look hard to find them.
I'm proud to say there is Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky blood flowing in my veins.