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Chattanooga Shoe Shoo

If you’ve been following you’ll know I’ve been visiting the house of my uncle who has terminal cancer.  It’s been a very difficult trip in many ways.  But I am grateful for this time with my family.  This is the first time in several years that my immediate family has gone on a road trip together, and we took a slightly longer route to visit some other relatives along the way.  It’s been great to have that time together.

We’ve had some fun adventures as well–there is nothing like a road trip for seeing America.  We crossed seven states to get here, and my mom and I might hit a few more on the way back down–we’ll be driving together while my dad flies down because of a business stop he needs to make.  The last time my mom and I drove that far was when I moved down to Florida after graduating from Sarah Lawrence five years ago.  There is always something unique to see on the road.

This trip started out with the exploded watermelons.  We’d started our journey at around 6:30 in the morning to beat the traffic around Tampa, Florida.  We passed this truck towing a trailer full of watermelons a couple of times.  As we approached the Georgia border we decided to stop for breakfast.  We got back on the road about 20 minutes later, and perhaps 10 minutes or so after that we saw a slide of watermelon carnage on the side of the road.  Broken watermelon rinds everywhere, swimming in sticky watermelon juice.  The watermelon spill went on for perhaps half a mile, with one forlorn whole watermelon looking out over the broken bodies of its fellows.  Later we said we should have salvaged that one, though it was probably cooked inside from the sun.

We stopped for the night in Chattanooga, Tennessee at a little hotel with an indoor swimming pool.  The pool wasn’t air conditioned, and though we could smell the chlorine the water was cloudy and specked with debris.  I told my dad this was the grossest pool I’d ever swum in, including the one where we found the dead mole floating in it (a story for another time).  We’d all worn sandals down to the pool.  The next day Mom got a message from the hotel as we worked our way towards Kentucky–she’d left her sandals in the room.  They told her to come back and get them if she wanted them.  We decided not to turn around.

Shortly after that we were wending our way past Nashville.  Being summer, there’d been a lot of road works going on the whole way up.  We now saw signs telling us to get ready to merge over to the left lanes of a three-lane highway.  Suddenly and confusingly we saw people begin merging over to the right.  Then we saw the boxes in the road.  Some of them were still covered in brown paper wrappers but as they got knocked around by cars and flattened we began to see what they were.  “FIREWORKS.”  Most of them seemed to have been crushed but one particular box was…ON FIRE.  Mom, driving at the time, successfully navigated us around them and we watched as cars and trucks pulled over on the side of the road to see the excitement.  Then we saw one man running back up the highway from a truck pulling a trailer that had parked on the shoulder about half a mile away.  The trailer was full of those brown paper boxes.  We didn’t stick around to see what happened to the ones in the road.

Credit to my dad for the title.

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