By the time Saturday rolled around, three delightful days had carried on in New Orleans, leaving utterly satisfied but equally exhausted. The idea had been raised to stay around town, but in the interest of keeping our schedule (and our personal health), we got out of town and on the road.
On the road into town, we stopped unsuccessfully at a bodega-type grocery store, buying nothing and laughing to each on the way out. Before long, we came to a reliable-looking meat market near the highway and screeched into the parking lot.
Bingo. One of the beautiful things about small-town America is the price of homegrown food. We picked up just the basics - a loaf of bread, some sliced turkey, cheese, and at my insistence, a link of this mouthwatering smoked sausage pictured here. All together, lunch for three came to under $10 - always good news for folks on a budget.
We looked for a park and found one with no benches, and ate our lunch in somewhat uncomfortable fashion in a makeshift picnic. And few miles later, we parked again and got out to walk off the damage in nearby Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center
. Admission was minimal, which it had to be for us to endure the blistering heat rather than scurry off to more air-conditioned environs.
The nature center was fairly bare bones, consisting of a wooden walkway set overtop of a small swamp. The trail was short - under two miles in total - and as I mentioned before, the weather was unbearable, so we were just about the only idiots outside suffering through it.
Highlight: definitely the giant spiders. These things were absolutely terrifying, and they've established a firm foothold throughout this swamp. They didn't try to attack or anything, which was great, because I don't think we would have stood a chance.
Practically dripping with sweat, we panned over our website and tried to find something worth our time and what little energy we happened to possess. We had no strength for a museum and no interest in standing outside in any kind of natural attraction.
We did find our way to LSU
for a shot outside the university's Tiger Stadium. Those Hemchers are such big sports fans, I knew they'd appreciate it. However, with school on recess and practically nobody around, we found little reason to stay put.
Next on our plate was Memphis, which was not exactly a hop and a skip away. Baton Rouge to Memphis is a nearly six hour drive, and I'd insisted upon making the trip via the less direct Highway 61 - the Blues Highway - where scores of blues musicians began and nurtured their careers long ago.
No time to waste, we decided to start the drive early and drive north out of Louisiana and up through Mississippi. Along the way, we stopped for food at a Shoney's, a BBQ chain that I'd object to, if it weren't a regional thing. I'm a fervent opponent of chain restaurants that serve you the same food in Mississippi as you would get in Pennsylvania. But when you're down south, and someone in the car says "BBQ buffet," it's hard to say no.
An easy-going place, Shoney's bought into the philosophy that with enough selection, everyone will be happy. Indeed I was, as you can see by these two practically colorless plates (I hope my mom doesn't see this). I swear I ate a salad for dessert.
We got through half the drive to Memphis, and had to hit the hay. Priceline led us to the Jameson Inn, which, untrue to its name, served no whiskey. More importantly, they only had one room open and it had only one bed. Hence the setup you see here.
If we have any boring days, this was one of them. But for us, it was still just another in a blissful string of vacation days. Ahh, life.
Coming soon, Memphis, Elvis and much more.