Destination: Awesome
Shek rose early and found that, for the first time in five years, he would have to scrape ice off his car windows. The frigid East Coast and its biting frozen cold, which people in southern California say kills everybody to death, was coming up fast on...

Day 6 – Ruston

Look, I ran out of film, ok?

Conversations with the innkeeper usually hinge on either "You're a long way from home!" or "You sure have a long way to go!" This morning, smack in the middle of northern Louisiana, you get that, plus your own playlet based loosely on The Office. Front desk, behind which: clerk (black woman) and manager (white man). Enter you, room key in hand. "You're up early! Making a break for it, huh?" (Manager throws a wry 'I'm only kidding' glance at the clerk, as if to say, I don't REALLY think this person is on the run. Silence.) "Heading to New York? Back to three feet of snow, ha ha!" Silence. "We're sure envious of this guy, aren't we?" Silence. "Boy, we'd really like to be three feet deep in that snow, wouldn't we?" Silence. Isn't it great how well we get along, my black employee and I? We're always with the kidding around!

Road Signs!

Old format name, "Songs to drown by," not as popular

Est. 1872; also the number of chicken-related fatalities.

Poultry-themed billboards unbelievably popular

If you've ever been across this great big land of ours in an automobile, you know one of the untold pleasures of the road trip...totally wacky signs like these! I mean, a Citgo gas station advertising an assault rifle with a sniper scope for sale? Only in the USA! The Hilltop Motel...but it's clearly at the bottom of that hill! Oh, you crazy sign. What about the Dodge's Chicken billboard mascot? It's a cartoon chicken, wearing a grey granny's wig, and an apron, serving a piece of chicken with a fork and knife! Hoobity heebity, that's insane! Feeling guilty about compulsively hurling your family's livelihood into the riverboat casino? Don't worry, it has a Bible Factory gift shop in there. Says so on the sign!



'Hilly' terrain; look out for the 'curves,' ho ho.

Well, what can we say? She sang like crap, acted like crap, killed Clark Gable, broke DiMaggio's heart, gave John Kennedy a happy birthday, wrecked Arthur Miller's mojo...what a dame! Now just cross over the something-or other River (one word: bi-ig) and get your ass into...


Mississippi - Leland

There aren't actually that many songs about rainbows. I mean, come on. Name five.

Puppet man Jim Henson (Sam and Friends, Time Piece, Tale of the Bunny Picnic) grew up in this tiny town just a few miles inland from Greenville. Appropriately, the Chamber of Commerce building contains a lovingly dedicated tourist trap honoring the many pieces of retail merchandise associated with Jim Henson. The front door is locked, but a kindly old lady will let you into the one room exhibit. As you view photographs of Jim Henson's elementary school and fifth grade report card, she will offer helpful tidbits like "Here's some information about Jim Henson," "Jim Henson was a great, great man," and (gesturing to a shelf of Cookie Monster lunchboxes) "here's some other things he made, uh..." Waving helplessly at the VCR which plays the short informational video, she will finally admit "I'm not usually here. The regular girl called in sick." Did you know... Henson fashioned the first Kermit the Frog puppet by poaching his mother's priceless antique couch for the fabric. Stricken ill with a broken heart, it is said she died whispering "So disappointed" over and over.



Authentically suffering delta blues musician, and some black guy.

This small delta community would be unknown but for the fame of its native son, Eric Clapton. Born in one of the area's signature 'shotgun shacks,' the celebrated bluesman grew up dirt poor, the son and grandson of sharecroppers. Young Eric toiled long days in the cotton fields, and learned guitar from his blind uncle while sitting through hot nights on the rickety front porch. Clapton was inspired to write his plaintive song Crossroads after being stranded in Clarksdale and forced to hitchhike back home following a gig at a whorehouse in which he was cheated out of his due by a no-good swindling pimp.


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