Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trip from Texas Day ?

I'm not sure if this is day one of the trip home or day eight overall. Either way it's been a good one. It was an immense pleasure to visit with Martha, Graham, Toby and Mom. We has a truly fantastic time. It is inspiring to hold Toby in my arms and also to see what a splendid job his parents are doing of nurturing the little guy! All the same, we are excited to be back on the road back to our home, our friends, family and especially our Boudin!
Talking of Boudin, we are in the land of Creole, Cajun and Bayous. We have decided that since we are in the general area, it is worth stopping in on the Big Easy. Totally worth it! We drove in via LA state route 1, which gave us a good feel for the coastal area, a mix of heavy industry and rural swamp land. Once we arrive in New Orleans, it was a whole new world. Following out GPS we suddenly found ourselves on a side street crowded with pedestrians and a brass band quartet. We would soon discover this was our first experience of Bourbon Street. All the hype you've ever heard about Bourbon St? It's true! In fact, the whole area is just awesome. A few block from party town and you are standing on the bank of the Mississippi River watching the fog roll into the city.
Crawfish cakes. Catfish Po'Boy. Jambalaya. Tres Bein.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

T3 D3

Tonight we enjoy the five star accommodations at Hotel White! Home cooked meals, entertainment provided by Toby Sebastian and a luxurious air mattress! We have finally arrived.
The into Hot Springs last night was a little scary along twisty, hilly roads through the forest in the rainy dark. Driving out this morning the same twisty, hilly roads were a pleasant change in scenery to the monotonous interstate. Soon we were back doing major damage on the few miles remaining between us and our destination.
We stopped for lunch at a Jack in the Box, chosen mostly by virtue of it being the only thing open on Christmas morning. I had a Sourdough Steak Melt that made me wish we had Jack back East. Shortly after lunch break we were into the Dallas area and the monotony of the last 1400 miles was soon forgotten as we navigated giant tangled spaghetti junctions with crazy drivers careening across six lane highways. The Magellan came into its own and we were glad to have an updated map in the memory to guide us through labyrinth. Once past Dallas, driving conditions dramatically improved and in no time we were pulling up outside a cute house and being warmly greeted by family.
Merry Christmas everyone!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

T3 Day 2

Today felt like more of a serious driving day as we set out to conquer Tennessee and make a big dent in Arkansas. We dropped out of the mountains and things got flatter as we headed into the Memphis area. We stopped in Music City with high hopes of doing some really sightseeing but the place was pretty much shut down. What did we expect on Christmas Eve? We had hoped to take in the great Mississippi by visiting Mud Island Park which includes a concrete relief of the whole river basin, but it was closed for the season. We rode on a street car along a back street of old industrial buildings some of which had been transformed into office space for software firms, others still lay in disrepair. Alighting in Beale Street, it was possible to imagine hoards of revelers staggering beer in hand down the road in the evening Memphis sun before enjoying some live blues. But the place was deserted, the blues bars closed. We headed round the corner to a Flying Saucer for a local brew from Ghost River. On the way out of town we stopped by Sun Studios but it wasn't much to look at.

After crossing the mighty Mississippi the drive got even flatter. We've made it to Hot Springs. There's not much between us and our destination except about 300 miles of tarmac, so we'll try to make short work of it in the morning. Signing off...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Trip to Texas Day One

I hope you're all following along at home! Day One: Richmond, VA to Harriman, TN (just West of Knoxville) via Abingdon and Gatlinburg. We had a fun first day on the road. After a sad farewell to all the animals we got going. The first leg of the journey took us to the Valero on Semmes Ave for gas, coffee and donuts. Then we were on the highway and immediately stuck in traffic. It was starting to look like a long way to Texas! The delay was short and we were soon ticking away the miles. By the time we were done with the first Sedaris tale we almost at Roanoke and steaming our way out of Virginia. First though, a late lunch in Abingdon, a quaint railway town in the Southwest of our home state.

There were a few flakes of snow in the air as we stepped out of the car and ran into the Ellis Soda Shoppe for a bite to eat. We walked a few blocks down the high street after lunch but it was bitterly cold so we got back in the car and soon crossed in to Tennessee. Although we had been driving through the mountains, you don't really get to see them from the Interstate, so I had been wanting to take a detour to make sure that we experienced the Smokies. Gatlinburg is not far off our route and sits on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains Park. It has this awesome space needle that I was dying to visit. As we drove in from the highway we got a great view of snowcapped mountains. You could clearly see the snowline, where the steep slopes fade from white to dark. Little did we know that would be the best thing about our detour!

Gatlinburg was described by my travelling companion as 'Virginia Beach in the Mountains'. In other words, it is a resort town full of hotels, and places for the people who stay in the hotels to eat and spend money on inane amusements, such as the space needle, a dilapidated structure that barely scrapes the low clouds (let alone space) and is accessed by a lift who's doors only close if the occupants stand in the right place (backs pressed against the wall). The only other thing we found to do in town was take a free taste of Moonshine, although I could have had the same experience for almost the same price by taking a sip of antifreeze. We exited Gatlinburg by a different route and passed through the town of Pigeon Forge, which was like Myrtle Beach in the mountains. The Christmas lights were insane. In the median of the main drag they had erected the twelve days of Christmas. Every few blocks there was another group from the song. From the direction we were coming from we started at 12 and counted down. The creators had done a good job representing each verse, although four (traditionally Colly Birds) had been difficult so they went with the variant 'calling birds' and presented us with four parrots sitting atop telephones. Needless to say we were on the edge of our carseats as we approach the imfamous partridge, only to find the smallest, least ambitious light-structure in history! Oh well.

To round off the day we had Mexican for dinner and found a Crayola in our salsa. Seriously...