Saturday, September 6, 2008

West From Atlanta (and North, and South, and North...)

If you've been following the vacation stories thus far, you know that this was primarily a beer trip. But I'm traveling with my girlfriend, and while she is just about as enthusiastic about beer as I am, she has her own "needs". As in, she needs to shop for clothes. Being the good boyfriend that I am, I offered to stop in any of the Goodwill stores we saw along the way. She declined.

Her first stop was to be at H+M, a European chain that had a store in Atlanta. To get there we had to go to downtown Atlanta. On our way, we happened upon a Green's Liquors, which I wasn't even going to go in but at the last second decided to. Lucky for me- they had Hop Stoopid. This was the only place in the world (that we found) that had any left. We picked up some for us and a friend and continued on to H+M. No, let me rephrase that. We actually drove around the city for a hour, unable to find the damn place, until my girlfriend got so frustrated that she said, "Forget it. Let's get the fuck out of here." That was too bad, because I was really looking forward to going there, but I decided not to argue. Shopping is fun so far!

The premier shopping destination for this day was Scottsboro, AL, home of Unclaimed Baggage. We saw it in a show on "extreme superstores" and knew we had to visit. This store buys all the luggage that was lost by the airlines and resells it at drastically reduced prices. The fastest route there takes you up I-75 into Chattanooga, TN. Luckily for my girlfriend, there was another store on her list that happened have a location in Chattanooga: Steve and Barry's. This store is actually kind of cool in that all their clothes are $9.00, and the quality is very good.

As exciting as the chance to shop there sounded, sanity prevailed and I dropped her off at Steve and Barry's and sped away in search of beer. Instead all I found was a lame liquor store that didn't sell any beer. I always feel weird when I walk into a place like that because I have to either walk right out or feign interest in the alcohol selection. I never buy anything and I feel like the people working there think I am casing the joint out. I should have robbed the place for wasting my time, now that I think about it.

I did end up finding a huge thrift store where what looked like the official Chattanooga Freakshow was hanging out in the furniture section, watching a talk show on and old black and white TV. I would have gotten a picture but I was afraid they'd notice me and chase me zombie-style. I also found the biggest used bookstore I've ever seen, and I've been to a lot of them. McKay used bookstore is a mini-chain with locations in Chattanooga, Nashville, and Knoxville. The place had ten aisles that were about 50 feet long and stacked full of books. there was also a big VHS movie section (the only way to watch) and a CD and video game section. I bought Super Street Fighter for Sega Genesis for a dollar and left to collect the shopping queen.

The road to Unclaimed Baggage took us off the interstate and onto a US Route that sent us back to Georgia, then BACK into Tennessee, and finally into Alabama. There are some fireworks stores on the border of the two states that are so big that they must be keeping all of China in business.

So was all the extra driving worth it? Not so much for the shopping, but for the experience and the thrill of visiting a part of the country I've never seen. The store is expansive, and they have a great selection of women's clothes, Ipods, digital cameras and other electronics at good prices, so if you go there with a good amount of money you can pick up deals, but I buy stuff like dollar video games, not Chanel dresses. What was puzzling about the place was the fact that, for the merchandise supposedly being lost luggage, there were certainly a lot of repeat clothing items. And there were curious items like TV sets, at least 20 of them for sale. Who flies with a TV set? And not like good TV sets but the kind where you have to turn knobs to change the channel. So we didn't buy a TV, but we did leave with a book. We skipped the separate annex where housewares are located (gee, I hope there's room in my suitcase for this coffee maker...don't get those where we live!) because we wanted to get back on the road.

It was raining for much of the drive after Unclaimed Baggage, which was OK because US 72 wasn't showing us much scenery-wise. We did pass the space center in Huntsville that would have made a nice stop if we had more time. At this point, however, we had no idea where we were going to stay the night and the GPS' hotel finder told us there was nothing for a long time.

Torrential rains passed us and we entered mighty Mississippi, home of ONE brewpub in the entire state. The brewpub was too far away, but we did find this liquor store. The beer selection was worse than I had imagined. I used the "Sorry, thought this was a church" excuse to slink out after a five second gander.

Towns that held any signs of life besides a gas station were few and far, far between. Corinth, Mississippi did have some local color with their signs proclaiming "Mid-South's favorite homemade biscuit!" and this life sized Rosie O' Donnell.

I wish we had the time to drive roads like this the whole time while vacationing. The traffic is lighter, and though it may take longer, you get to see so much more Americana. At this point, though, all we wanted to see was a hotel. It didn't even have to be Americana owned.

We had to drive into Tennessee before we could find a hotel. Yes, for the third time that day, we were in Tennessee, this time about 30 miles east of Memphis, in Collierville. This was a nice suburban town where we found a clean motel, good local pizza, and a Schnucks grocery store. Schnucks is a chain from Missouri, and it was nice to see that they were giving floor space to a display of good beers. I told the cashier how much we liked the town and she said, "Yeah, this town is full of elite people. I live in the ghetto."


Next: Wrong turn, right place

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Again thanks a million for the Hop Stupid, it was ooooooooo so awesome to drink and not share with the other half. LOL!!! Oh and you and Jen should have gotten out and walked around down town to find the place. It is such a great city to walk about.