Friday, September 25, 2009

North to Kentucky

Today, once Add Imageagain, we were slow on the uptake. We found a place in Oxford called Big Bad Breakfast and decided it was a must try. It was. What a good breakfast. Eggs were the best, hash browns (really home fries/chunks) were very good, wheat toast was homemade--all in all, it was a very good choice. When we got around to leaving there it was almost 11:00. We headed to the attraction that never closes, Graceland Too. Guess what---closed! Not really closed but we couldn't get the guy to answer the door so after about 15 minutes, we left. It is in Holly Springs and we hear it is a must see--I guess I will have to get Kerry to take me. Time to head Memphis. As we were pulling into Memphis, we went past Holiday Ham and it was lunch time so I called Jim to see if, by chance, he was there. He was just leaving so we stopped and said hi to him before heading on to my house. We regrouped a little and headed to Paducah. We decided to go to Dyersburg then go over to the Great River Road and take the back roads on in. So, what is usually a 3 hour trip turned into a 5 hour trip. We didn't make many stops but saw the western KY countryside. We did stop at Columbus Belmont State Park and took a few pictures but that's about it. We got to the hotel about 7:15, checked in and headed to Doe's for dinner and the BBQ festival. It was kind of drizzly but there were still plenty of people at the festival. Tomorrow, we reconnect w/ old friends!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Murals and Other Art

Well, do I even have to say it? We got off to a slow start today. I know you are shocked, shocked, shocked! We decided to stick around Vicksburg for lunch--you know, all our days and plans revolve around our next meal! We left the hotel and headed for the Coke Museum. Vicksburg was the first place Coca-Cola was bottled. The museum is small but very interesting and informative. When we finished there, it was not quite lunch time so we walked down the hill to the flood wall to look at the murals. They were very well done and each one had a plaque telling the history of the area. We learned a lot and decided it was a good way to learn a little history. We walked back up the hill and headed to Rusty's (thanks, Kristi!) for lunch. As usual, we attracted the crowd. No one was there when we got there but it filled up quickly. Obviously, a hot spot for lunch. We decided to head north on 61 and then switch over to the Great River Road. We read about Margaret's Castle--a little place w/ some religious writings. We came upon it--we couldn't miss it. We parked, took some pictures and went to the door. The home health nurse was there, but she told us to come on in. We met the owner and creator of the outside (and inside) artwork. I don't believe we found out his name but he may be Rev. H.D. Dennis and he is 92, 94 or 95. He was in WWII, his mother died when he was born, he was raised by white people, and he believes in God. He has read the Bible and let us in on some little known Biblical "facts"; most of which we were in the dark about. We spent a more time there than we would have liked to then got hurriedly got back in the car. It is so hard to contain laughter when we're together. The key is not to look at each other but even that doesn't always work--case in point, the earthen lodge. We headed on to Greeenville via the Great River Road--not much going on in the MS Delta today. We made a pit stop in Greenville, drove by Doe's and headed to the 61 Blues Museum in Leland. Not much going on in Leland today either. The Blues Museum was small but full of information. I thought we might have to do CPR on the elderly worker though. She was in kind of a bad way today. When we finished there we drove around looking for the Jim Henson Museum--like I said before, we have the hardest time finding attractions in the smallest of towns. After we got back on the highway, we found it but it was closed so we drove on to Greenwood, the site of our next meal. We went to the Crystal Grill (thanks, Alex) for dinner. Dinner was great and so was the pie. Yes, Jim, there is still at least a slice of pie left in the South. We got an entree, 2 sides, drink and dessert for $13! We found the Alluvian and went inside for a look-see. Very nice. Time to move on. As always, we toured the not so nice part of town before leaving (not by choice but the Garmin doesn't want us to miss anything-except what we are looking for). We headed up Hwy 7 to Oxford and tomorrow we have a real treat--Graceland Too! Kerry, this one's for you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

St Francisville & Prison

And More Observations

Rolly bags (not to be confused w/ rolley marbles) do not work well on gravel.

Prison would be a horrible place to spend your life.

I love wrought iron fences and gates but I don't really like it above the waist.

When you drive the back roads in the rural South everyone you meet still waves at you when you pass, even the police

Single-ply toilet paper shouldn't be an option.

From Plantations to Prisons

I just realized that I failed to mention Big Mike's Mystery House in Kentucky in my blog and that was one of the highlights of the trip! It was only a dollar and someone built it in the 70's. David, our guide, took us through the crazy space w/ uneven floors, wild mirrors, water flowing up--it was neat. I must say though, that when we paid our $1 I thought it was going to be a self guided tour and when David was summonsed and I got a look at him I almost asked for my money back. I know Jan had mentioned Deliverance in her blog and this was along that line! I regress! Yesterday, we woke up in Lafayette, LA. We had breakfast at Dwyer's--what a great choice!!! One of the best breakfasts I've had this trip--even though grits came with it. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really a Southerner!!! The sweet potato pancakes were great! We struck up conversation w/ a couple who was sitting outside with us-they were locals and very nice. They told us what boudin is and where to get good cracklins. They travel a lot too so we had a lot to talk about. After eating, we headed to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve to learn something about the history of the area. There was a good museum and 2 movies. The first one was good--about the bayou. The second one--not so much. Jan caught a little nap and left me to wonder why we were there in the first place! I did not know much about Cajuns but now I do. The movie was really depressing and made me appreciate my cushy life. I would not have made it long if I had to live the life of the Acadians!! After that, we headed to Breau Bridge to look for the "best place for cracklins" according to the locals. We didn't find it--it was actually in another town south of where we were and we decided cracklins weren't worth it. I know I can always go to Wild Bill's if I want pork rinds!!! It's amazing how much time we can spend riding around the smallest of towns looking for things. We had picked out a place for lunch, which was closed so we searched for another place. Most places there were closed on Monday--go figure. We did find a bakery so we bought some cookies and we found a place for lunch--not that we really needed to eat again after our big breakfast--it's just the principle I guess! We ate and called Merrill and headed to Baton Rouge. Thankfully, we came into town close to the capitol and managed to find it and Merrill without much trouble. Merrill-thanks for meeting us and showing us a bit of Baton Rouge! The old capitol was very different from most of the capitol buildings we have seen. Brilliantly colored stained glass windows, spiral staircase. Really a neat space. Merrill explained that it has a museum and now is used mostly for receptions and private parties. From there we walked to the new capitol. Have I mentioned it is warm in Louisiana? It is. The Louisiana capitol is the tallest capitol building in the country-34 stories. It was very impressive and we saw where Huey was gunned down. Creepy! After our self guided tour we moved on, past the Episcopal church that looked somewhat like the one in Paducah and found a place to get a glass of iced tea. We then headed back to our cars and parted ways. We had thought about spending the night in Baton Rouge but decided to just drive and see where we ended up. After the Garmin sent us all over the Louisiana countryside we ended up on a ferry across the Mississippi to St Francisville. We decided to call it a day. We found a B&B, got directions to the one restaurant that was still open--again a matter of principle that we eat, and walked to dinner. When we got back from dinner, we found out that the Internet was not working so we watched the Colts beat the Dolphins.

We set the alarm for an early start today (Tuesday). Like that works. We had breakfast at the B&B and then did a walking tour of St Francisville. We were wondering why we took showers. It's warmish in Louisiana. We saw lots of old neat buildings but the neatest thing was the cemetery--lots of wrought iron, live oaks and Spanish moss. Also on our walk was a very well done museum run by local volunteers. A tall glass of tea was in order so we went to George's and refreshed. We decided we would stop at Rosedown Plantation on the way out of town. It was 11:15 and the next tour didn't start until 12. I don't think so. On to Myrtles---the haunted plantation! It was cool. Interesting history and is also a B&B. Then we decided to go to the Louisiana Penitentiary Museum at Angola. What an interesting day! We had a little trouble getting there. We knew it was at the end of Hwy 66 but our electronic devices wanted to take us different ways so we listened to them and ended up on a gravel road in who knows where. I figured we would end up behind the prison fences without even knowing we were there. After several miles, we decided to turn around, a feat in and of itself, and head back to the main road. Once we found our way, we got the most interesting and entertaining tour of the museum from one of the inmates. He was so nice, informative and soft spoken--and he had been in prison for 25 years. I can't even imagine. He was not even 50 yet. He was incarcerated when he was 24 and was sentenced to 60 years. Can you imagine?!? When we left there, we headed to Natchez to! We stopped at the Malt Shop for a malt and then we split a shrimp po-boy. I just want to point out---this would only be our second meal and it was about 4 pm. It's a wonder we didn't waste away today. We could have perished on the prison grounds from lack of food! We went to the Basilica so we could go inside since we didn't get to do that when we where there before. What beautiful stained glass windows! When we left there, it started raining so we decided to stop in Vicksburg for the night. We went up the Natchez Trace for about 20 miles so we could see what we missed in the dark on the way down. Hmmm, couldn't see it much better in the rain! After we got on 61 it absolutely poured! Glad we only had a few miles to go (25 or so). So, here we are, dry for now and ready for new adventures tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Beignets to Burgers

Lobby-9:00-Cafe Du Monde for beignets. Line was short and we all crowded around a little table and enjoyed our breakfast and filled in the blanks for each other about what happened yesterday. Some of us were fuzzier than others--can you say frozen voodoo?!!! After breakfast, we walked down to Aunt Sallie's and then found the artist that Alex & I had talked to yesterday. Alex & I both bought a small painting and then we went back to the hotel to drop our purchases off so we didn't have to carry them around. Then we regrouped and walked over to St Charles to get the street car to go to the Camellia Grill. Have I mentioned that it is very warm in New Orleans but, it didn't rain so I shouldn't complain. We enjoyed the street car ride through the neighborhoods and were dropped off right at our destination. Unfortunately, lots of people had the same idea so we waited a long time for our next meal. I really don't think that was a bad thing except it was warmish--oh, did I mention that already? The meal was well worth the wait, especially the chocolate freeze! By now, we were pushing it to get back to the hotel so Jan & Rex could check out by 2. We hopped back on the street car and made it back without having to pay for another day at the Royal Sonesta. Jan & I got our stuff, loaded up the car, said our farewells and set off to Houma to see Jan's friends from her Katrina relief efforts. We were able to find our way (effortlessly) out of New Orleans and on to Houma. In Houma, we went to Beulah and Rod's first and then Beulah took us to the volunteer village so Jan could see how it looks now. We stayed there for a while and then went back to Beulah & Rod's, visited briefly and got back on the road again. We decided Lafayette would be as far as we could go today so that is where we are now. Tomorrow, Baton Rouge.

New Orleans

Natchez Photos

Eat, drink, repeat

First activity of the day---lunch at Galatoire's, 11:30. Four hours later, lunch was over. What a dining experience!!! We started w/ a mimosa or bloody Mary and ate and drank all afternoon. It was not crowded at all when we got there but it filled up and stayed that way all day. Several people were celebrating birthdays and anniversaries including Laurie who used to be on Trading Spaces. Our waiter was excellent and the experience was divine! After lunch, we walked back to the hotel with the intention of sitting by the pool for a while to regroup. Well, that didn't happen. The pool crowd was a little young for us so we decided to walk around. You know, it's warmish in New Orleans in September so we needed a nice frozen voodoo to cool us off. We watched a little football, walked around, drank, went to Jackson Square then needed another frozen voodoo. Then we needed some more food. Off to Mona Lisa's for some pizza. Time for another walk. We headed back to the hotel---Jan and Rex came in and Jim, Alex and I walked down to the Ritz Carlton to look around and then came on back. So basically, all that happened today was we ate, drank and walked. My kind of day!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Takin' it easy to the Big Easy

Mom always said, "good intentions pave the road to H-e-l-l. Hope she was wrong. Once again, we intended to get an early start. I don't know what happens but we never seem to do that. We got up early enough but then....who knows!! Alex called and said they were headed to the airport to meet us in New Orleans. We had just gotten our breakfast in Natchez when I got a text saying they had landed in New Orleans. We haven't even gone 10 blocks in the city and they've gone from Memphis to New Orleans. We asked the nice lady at the bakery/coffee place what we should see in Natchez and she said we should go the the Basilica and Longwood. So, we did. There was some kind of service going on at the church so we weren't there long then we went on to Longwood. It is the largest octagonal house in the country. It was started before the Civil War (or, the War of Northern Aggression--nothing "civil" about it!). The war started before it was finished, the builders-the Nutt family, lost everything in the war and the house was never completed. It stayed in the family for generations and now belongs to a garden club in Natchez. It can never be completed. The only part that is finished besides the outside is the basement which is 10,000 sq feet. The whole house is 30,000 sq ft. It's pretty amazing. The workers made all the bricks on site--all 750,000 of them! Our guide was very knowledgeable and told some funny stories. I would recommend this tour if you are ever in the Natchez area. We walked around the grounds a bit and then headed for Mammy's Cupboard--a politically incorrect establishment with some awesome sandwiches and desserts. We had lunch about 2 hours after breakfast but we just couldn't pass this one up! After we ate, we finally headed for New Orleans--about 2:30.

We arrived in New Orleans right at rush hour---lovely! It wasn't too bad, thankfully. Rex got here about 10 minutes after we did. We checked into the hotel and met Jim and Alex at a bar down the street. From there we went to St. Joe's bar and then to Clancy's (Uptown) for dinner. Dinner was good, but long and loud. The kitchen was quite slow but everything was tasty and we were in good company so it was fine. We got a cab back to the Quarter and walked around a bit and ended up at Pat O's before calling it a night.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Natchez, here we come!

Sorry for no post yesterday---I was having computer issues. Hopefully, they have passed. We got a really late start Wednesday--like 2 pm! What were we thinking?!? When we got up, it was rainy and dreary so we decided we would wait a while and see if it would clear up. When check out time was upon us, we decided it was time to EAT!! We thought about going back to Loveless but Laura had told us about another place, Barbara's Home Cooking, so we decided to check it out. It rained all the way there and the whole time we were eating. We had a great experience there--- great service and great food (and they think we are travel writers!) My friend, Debbie, called while we were there to see if we were still in the area. Since we were, she came and joined us for lunch and bought ours. Many thanks, Debbie!!! Great to see you, too!!! After lunch, we hit the Trace, Natchez Trace that is. It's a beautiful road---much better than I expected and the speed limit is 50 mph. (I thought it would be slower) and there is very little traffic so you can really take in the scenery. We didn't stop at every place we could have but we did stop a lot. We saw lots of turkeys, the Gordon House, the Duck River, tobacco and tobacco barn (we had seen our fill of those in KY), a waterfall (sort of) and lots of trees! We took a couple of short hikes and we were fortunate that we didn't get much rain. When we first started out, it took us about 3 hours to go 40 or 50 miles. At that rate, we were not going to make it to NOLA by Friday so we stepped it up a bit and made it to Tupelo before calling it a night. We checked in our hotel and found a nice local restaurant, Harvey's. Service once again, was stellar and food was good, including that piece of coconut chess pie!

Today, Thursday, we set out a bit earlier. We found a questionable looking place for breakfast but it was fine and the food was actually really good. Then we went to Elvis' boyhood home. There were 2 tour buses there so we did not do the tour (2 rooms should not take that long!) but we walked around the grounds and went in the chapel. We found our way back to the Natchez Trace and continued on our way. We pulled off a couple of places and then we came to French Camp. Very interesting. The Drane House was there as well as French Camp Academy. Jaunita, the volunteer de jour, was there and was a wealth of information. She had been in the Class of 47 (she showed us her graduation picture). The school has been in existence forever (I can't remember all the details and am too lazy to look them up). There were several original buildings on the property and 2 museums. We took it all in, then headed on to the welcome center in Kosciusko (birthplace of Oprah) to have our picnic lunch. We ate our $2 pimiento cheese, our KY tomatoes, almonds and our Hampton chocolate chip cookies. Yum. Back on the road, we kept running in and out of rain. The strange thing was, it was sunny most of the day--even when raining. We took a trail that there were supposed to be beavers on but we didn't see any. We also walked through a cypress swamp and saw the Pearl River then took a short hike to a waterfall. Even less of a waterfall than the one yesterday! By this time, dusk and fog were settling in so we came on into Natchez playing dodge 'em deer. We only saw 2 deer in the daylight and about 20 at dusk/dark. We pulled into Natchez around 8 after completing the entire Natchez Trace. We found food (and drink), did the laundry and caught up on the blog. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Observations III

The educational system in this country is not working. Probably needs to be overhauled more than the healthcare system.

People can usually tell "we're not from around here" when we walk in places on our road trips. I think that's a good thing!

There are a lot of jobs I would not want and a lot of places I am glad I didn't get stuck in.

I like to have comments so I know someone is reading this. Feel free to comment!

So far, everyone we have personally encountered in MS has been more than accommodating--the Sonic lady filled our cooler up w/ SONIC ICE!!! For FREE!!!. The people at the welcome center on the Natchez Trace let us charge the computer while we had our picnic lunch today and the lady at the Hampton directed us to Knock You Naked Margaritas!!! (not to worry, we didn't get naked)

Every road trip we go on, Elvis and Oprah are always there. They're everywhere!

Note: Oprah and Elvis were both from MS but made it big when they moved to TN. Hmmm

Kangaroos and Rolley Hole Pictures

Cave and Wigwams Pictures