Published on October 27, 2020

On the road with Forbes
From Alabama to Angleton, The Van was home away from home

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

In a previous column, I told you about breaking in The Van by taking it on a long road trip that included Interstate 10. If this touring vehicle, equipped with many conveniences of home, can tackle that mess, it can tackle anything.

It did just fine. My overnight stay at a rest area was not five-star luxury, but it was free. I had to turn up my own bed and make my own sandwich, but all that’s part of the fun of traveling in The Van.

It was time to return to Texas. I enjoyed my Alabama visit and will plan a return in the near future. I had decided to give The Van a break on the way back from Decatur, Alabama, avoiding I-20 and I-10. I opened Google Maps for the route to my friends in Meridian, Mississippi, and picked an alternate route using highways and county roads.

It was a four-hour trip through some pretty country with hills to climb and descend. It was a pleasurable journey and heaven-like compared to the I-10 madness.

My friends and I met at Olive Garden and visited for around two hours, and still didn’t talk about all we wanted to. They had just become proud great-grandparents for the first time and were over the moon about that baby. I think that child will be doted on.

They had to terminate our visit to go to a pharmacy and pick up medication for their dog. The dog is a long-time pet, suffering from congestive heart failure. I remember now why I have no pet. I want to be able to come and go without worrying about its welfare. I also have six grandchildren to claim my attention.

It was nearly 6 p.m., and I decided to make my bed before I hit the road. If I was tired, I didn’t want to have to mess with it, just have it ready and climb in. I didn’t want to drive after darkness had fallen, but I was having a good day and stayed on the road until I passed Hattiesburg.

I spent the night in a parking area in that part of Mississippi. It was laid out like a rest stop with none of the amenities. I don’t remember seeing any of these in Texas, but they don’t want anyone spending the night in their rest areas.

They are very picky in Mississippi about sleeping in rest stops or camping in rest stops. The posted signs not only say no sleeping or camping, but they define camping so there will be no mistake. There were over 10 big rigs parked there when I arrived. I found a spot and backed The Van into it, closed all the curtains, ate a PB and J sandwich and hit the bed. It was very quiet and peaceful.

I woke up the next morning rested and cold. The temperature had dropped to a chilly 48 degrees during the night. Thank goodness I had a heater (these tiny-house van builders think of everything.) I had a healthy breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and departed to find COFFEE. I have to have some on board during my next excursion.

Next up, I planned out my day’s routes. My GPS refused to keep me on any alternate route to Angleton. Having a mind of its own, it rerouted me back to I-20 and I-10 every time I changed it. I gave up and stayed on the dreaded I-20 and I-10 (sorry, Van).

This time I drove in the right lane at 70 mph, and if drivers were in a hurry, they had to pass me; I wasn’t speeding up. I also changed my music selection to ‘70s and ‘80s blues and ballads. This helped modulate my speed.

I was getting pretty good at long-range road trips.

I was now no longer traveling at warp speed and saw hurricane Laura’s damage to Louisiana, or that which was visible from the interstate in Lake Charles and onward to Lafayette. Blue tarps adorned roof tops in abundance, and debris was heaped up in impressive amounts.

This trip was before Delta made its appearance in the same areas. I defied the GPS and took 146 over the ship channel, through Kemah by the boardwalk and experienced the 146 version of highway construction. The drivers were much calmer than the ones on the interstates, so it was an easy transition.
I arrived in Angleton around 4:30 p.m. and made my first stop at my son’s home to announce my arrival. Grandchildren Bubba, Sissyboo and Lottie seemed to be glad to see me before reverting back to Walt (as in Walt Disney).

I then went to home, sweet home, and unloaded The Van refrigerator and my clothes. All else would wait until the next day as I sat and checked my mail and phone messages.

I realized that I hadn’t really taken any pictures on this journey. It is really difficult to photograph the panoramic views at 70 mph. I will definitely add it - safely - to the next journey’s to-do list.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)