The South – Part 2
We a lot of time in the car in the long drive to Memphis, originally we weren’t going to stay in Memphis due to shootings however decided to stay for the evening to allow us to explore the home of the blues. Beale St was a little crazy for us so we took refuge in the Bass Pro Pyramid: – a fishing, camping and hunting store in the world’s 7th largest pyramid. Rhys was in paradise!
Up early and on the road again we diverted of the interstate to the ‘70’ passing through small towns on the ‘Bible Belt’ with each town having at least 3 churches. It was a Sunday and as we drove past Hundington, Church goers flocked onto the street dressed in their best with fascinators at all. We called into a diner called Joe’s and we are so glad we did. After the most delicious cheeseburger and a very friendly waitress who shared ideas for the next leg of our journey we were about to leave when the waitress asked if we wanted a tour of the BBQ! Rhys the keen BBQ-er was more than happy!
Arriving in Nashville later that evening we wandered down to Honky Tonk row, listening to country music and drinking beers along the way. The Hall of fame, Hatch print press and the Ryman were viewed the next day – and wow, another week could easily be spent in Nashville. We visited the Pharmacy for amazing burgers and a fresh mint soda and root beer, then had to hit to road.
We were a little sad leaving Nashville as really didn’t have enough time there – and well we also didn’t get our 3 for 1 boots!
Driving the interstate you pass all sorts:- including pick-ups, towing a mobile home – towing a pick-up with a golf buggy in the tray (yes this did happen!). After much driving we arrived in Mobile (and Heart of Dixie’s fans, it’s not like the show). We viewed the USS Alabama which was surprisingly interesting and I must say it one of the things I enjoyed most was walking in and out of the vessel.
It was a day for firsts, including a Walmart experience, it is like Bunnings, Big W, Supercheap, Coles and BCF all rolled into one! Then we had our first fresh salad (finally!) along with grilled shrimp as we were now in the ‘deep south’.
It is hard to explain New Orleans, it is a crazy place, filled with eccentric people, friendly yet a little scary. We arrived in the late afternoon, and drove to our accommodation in the arts district. We stepped out to a local restaurant and enjoyed Gumbo, deep fried shrimp and bread and butter pudding. We had worked out a system that we just share all our meals and often get the smaller size to share between the two of us – we were never short of food!
We took a boat ride the next morning with a local tour guide. He took us up the river, through the swamp and on the Bayou letting us know about local wildlife and flora. While very touristy, the boat ride was worth it, especially just to the hear the guide yell out ‘gators!
There are lots of cute pastel houses in the French Quarter, all bunched together with flowers and Venetian shutters. We made our way to the famous Bourbon St, and well after the sun went down it did get a little wild.
The last day of driving took the longest, a full day as we stopped at many places along the way trying to make the most of our time. Highlights included driving the Atchafalaya bridge (23 miles of 2 x 2 lane bridges across water and swamp land, meeting a volunteer at the information centre who was shocked that we ate so many vegetables in Aus and told me to ‘slap ma Mumma, baby girl’ as I hadn’t tried fried shrimp before.
One of our last stops was a Western Clothes store were we had both found a few country clothes items to purchase. The young lasses serving us were quite hilarious and gave us a great recommendation for dinner at the Texas Roadhouse and what a way to end our trip in Texas. We were served ‘Rattlesnakes’ which are Jalapeños and cheese crumbed and deep fried, slow cooked ribs with a side of buttered corn and a ‘loaded’ sweet potato, what is that you may ask – it is a cooked sweet potato loaded with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and marshmallows, and yes that is served as part of dinner!
With a total of 2272 miles driven over the 9 days, I can say that the ‘South’ surely did surprise me, mostly because of the kindness and hospitality people showed but also how big America really is!