Yesterday I sat in terminal C of ATL, with the plane on my right departing for Mobile and the one on my left departing for Birmingham. I wanted to get on both but figured I should take the one on the left since that was what my boarding pass said. A few minutes later I awoke from a power nap as the pilot said "We are now making our final approach to Birmingham." It was in English and it sounded very familiar, and yet very foreign to me. I immediately looked out the window of our CRJ 200 (this thing seemed like a go cart compared to the A330 and 767 I had traveled on earlier in this incredibly long day...and those two planes seemed like minivans compared to the triple 7 I took to Joburg in June, but like a go cart, the CRJ was more fun and gave a better view of the landscape below) and I saw a giant racetrack. I was puzzled and thought to myself "I don't remember Birmingham planning to build a giant racetrack this summer." A split second later I thought to myself "You IDIOT, that is Talladega!" And then I got excited and found Hwy 77 and spotted the little gas stations outside of Lincoln that I used to hit up on my many drives between Crossville and Auburn. I stared out the window from that point until we landed. I saw I-20 and Trinity Hospital (that would be Montclair to you old timers) and looked at Red Mountain which after being in Moshi seemed like an incredibly small hill. I was very impressed with Alabama's beauty from up high. I read Hemingway's The Green Hills of Africa this summer, it was in the backpack in front of my feet at this point along with the only other book out of the 7 I carried that I brought back - for those who are curious the other book was Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster - READ IT. Anyway, the green hills of Africa is great travel literature and describes Tanzania well, but I suddenly thought that it should be titled "The Green Hills of Africa have nothing on the Green Hills of Alabama" because they really don't. Alabama is much greener than any other place I have seen in the past two months (so that would make it greener than South Africa, East Africa, and Belgium - I was asleep for the approach to Atlanta) and it may have more trees than any place I have ever seen period. I am constantly amazed at how many trees we have. It will take me a long time to name them all. The tires touched down on the tarmac and I resisted the temptation to look for warthogs and gazelle in the grass surrounding the runway. I went to baggage claim and picked up my trusty grey hiking pack. Hugged baba, mama, kaka, and dada (that would be Nelson, Shirley, Blake, and Audra - dada means sister in Swahili and it doesn't necessarily imply blood relation). I cranked my car (this felt great) while constantly telling myself to stay right or I would die and went to Cracker Barrel with the family. I had fried catfish, hashbrown casserole, and fried okra.