To the best of my knowledge, I will not be spending time in an RV this July

I’m taking a break from blogging this month and sharing some words from friends, some posts from the past and other assorted bric-a-brac. This was originally published on July 29, 2011, as “Now I know where to find great T-shirts in central Alabama” during that time when I was traveling the Deep South with Jenna on her All Thrifty States tour.

We spent Monday night at the home of Jenna’s friend Cecelia and her husband, Ryan. Before we all crashed, we ordered pizza and watched the “Breaking Bad” pilot. I’ve only been on the road with Jenna for a few days, and it was so nice to return to “normal” life. Jenna has been on the road for 30-plus days; I can’t imagine how welcome these little in-home oases are for her!

I woke up Tuesday to the rain gently falling against the window, with a soft light streaming through the trees. I pulled myself out of bed and got ready to face the day, only to snuggle back into our hosts’ couch to finish my book. I’ll take that every morning, please. After finishing “The Selected Works of Whimsical cat is whimsical.T.S. Spivet” — which was weird but compelling, although I didn’t really find the end all that satisfying — I ate a few pieces of leftover cheese bread from Papa John’s and begged Jenna for some ibuprofen. Despite the day’s delightful beginnings, I’d woken up with a hoopendoodle of a headache.

The ibuprofen started to work its magic, and we headed out to visit the Goodwill store in Montgomery, Alabama. Goodwill is sponsoring Jenna’s trip, so she’s trying to visit as many of the shops as she can along her route. Like the Buckhead Goodwill, the Montgomery store was spacious, clean and well-organized. Many years ago I overheard a kid at a thrift store complaining to his mom that the shop smelled “like broccoli and old ladies.” Maybe Jenna just has a knack for choosing the best stores, but I’m thinking maybe thrift stores in general have cleaned up their act a bit. That is to say: I’ve been impressed at how tidy the stores we’ve visited have been.

The Montgomery Goodwill gets my vote for both Best T-Shirts and Most Wonderful Book Section so far this trip. They had a vast array of N’Sync t-shirts, as well as a host of goofy slogans such as “I (heart) hot moms” and I (cheeseburger) cows.” Their book section was actually its own room, which could have functioned as a small used book store. The lack of organization in there made me a little twitchy — the “Dune” books should all be together, for one, and I spied four copies of Robert James Waller’s “Puerto Vallarta Squeeze” and a variety of Paul Reiser tomes scatter wily-nily across the bookshelves — but they had an impressive selection. I bought a copy of Tom Wolfe’s “A Man in Full,” a circa-1964 cookbook from Brennan’s restaurant and a set of flip-through explorer cards for the kids.

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We started the drive to Mobile, Alabama, after Jenna finished a few interviews with the local media, and we made it about halfway there before HaRVey politely requested an oil change. His little dashboard notification system said, “Pardon me, miss, but I could use a spot of oil. Pip-pip, cheerio!” OK, well maybe it wasn’t that, verbatim, but it was along those lines. So we made a brief pitstop, then carried on our way.

The sky was ominously dark in the distance for the rest of the drive, but we forged ahead anyway, with a song in our hearts and Nutella-graham snacks in our hands. The skies were clear when we arrived at our campsite, and Jenna made us some Butternut Squash Ravioli for dinner. It was delicious, but it made me miss my Poppy something ferocious. The clear skies seemed to be giving way to more rain as I typed this, and there was enough thunder to make me a little nervous. Let’s hope it isn’t a night like the one Jenna experienced in Iowa!

Lessons learned on Day Four

  • Toasted almonds and garlic are a genius addition to butternut squash ravioli.
  • Getting the oil changed in an RV is expensive.