I had resolved to go from New Orleans over to Gulfport, MS. Partially, just to see what one of the biggest ports in the US looked like. After that, I figured I'd run straight up to Starkville to catch Thacker Mountain -- a radio show that's held with a live audience. Thacker was by no means a guarantee -- Jim's dad wasn't in good health and had been headed downhill.
I tried to get a bit more of New Orleans on the way out:
The Superdome. Site of so much misreporting.
I figured I'd give the cemetaries another try when it wasn't pouring rain.
See? Right there in the bacground of St. Louis Cemetary #3 is I-10. If New Orleans ever has a zombie attack, the dead will be justifiably pissed off.
And then out of New Orleans on I-10 -- which is a particularly long bridge to the Northeast.
And just a bit of the way on, my car informed me it was on its last gallon. Oh hell. Well -- there wasn't much to be done for it, so I held the throttle down to about 3k revs and kept my foot as steady as possible.
I made it across. To this:
There were thousands of those weird bugs around. A couple of girls pulled up to the gas station after I got there and they played Rock, Scissors, Paper to decide who got out of the car.
I don't know what the bugs are, but I stared at them for a while. It seemed like they had three separate points where they had a peculiar juncture of three legs. Fascinating.
And voila -- Gulfport
There was almost nothing to see in Gulfport.
This view of the bay was the best part of Gulfport -- easy
You'd think that in one of the largest ports in the US, there would be SOMETHING interesting around. There really wasn't. It was so bad that the only place to have breakfast was a McDonald's and I drove around a bunch to be sure that I'd have to settle down for food I could get back at home.
It's a positive thing when you see a maintenance van outside of where you're going to eat, right?
I hit traffic on the way out -- there was construction up the 49. There were two guys in a pickup truck ahead of me, trying to knock cones over.
And now they're forever immortalized on my LJ. At least there were some cool cars on the road.
That's a Mk.3 MR2
As it happens I passed through Hattiesburg. I wished I'd had more time, but I had too many miles to burn. Caught rain as I got over to the MS-7 and finally got to Starkville late. As I stopped to get gas, I noticed Jim filling up. Got out and chatted with him. His dad had passed on, so I went through all that driving for nothing as Thacker was cancelled. It was what it was.
Fell asleep that evening. I'd asked Rebecca to take me to Memphis and she told me early the next morning that she couldn't actually do it. Great...
I found a taxi service that took me and an impossibly young looking -- I would have guessed she was 16 -- MS State student (Courtney) up to Memphis -- and that was something else. I called at the last second and she came back a little way for me so that the cost of going up to Memphis would be split between the two of us.
Anyway, the woman started the taxi service to try and cut down on drunk driving in Starkville. She called herself "Angel Taxi" and claimed that she made taking a taxi "posh". I was kinda quiet for most of the trip while the two ladies talked about shopping.
One interesting bit: we hit a bit of traffic. Someone in a pickup truck had strayed too far over to the right and hit the curb which threw his car sideways and took out his front tire. The driver said something about hoping everything was OK when Courtney said "Wow -- if we hadn't gone back, that could've been us!" and the two of them praised God for their good fortune.
I almost pointed out that it wasn't a collision between two cars, but one driver being particularly careless. Anyway, I kept my mouth shut and rolled my eyes.
We dropped Courtney off at the airport and the driver drove me around Memphis a bit and gave me some tips on things to do that evening. She dropped me off at a hotel. Shortly after check in, I went over to the Peabody Hotel:
...to see "the ducks".
And ducks there were! The story goes that the owner of the hotel and one of his pals trapped a bunch of ducks, brought them back to the hotel, and let them swim around the fountain downstairs. To this day, they keep the ducks on the roof. They corral them in the morning and bring them down in the elevator. They march down a red carpet to the fountain. At some point in the afternoon, they go upstairs again. I utterly adored it.
It was important that I had the opportunity to pay homage to the Mississippi. I have a -- well, perhaps ex-friend. She hasn't spoken to me in a while -- who mentioned that her enduring memory of Chicago was the smell of the river. At this stage, I've been to Chicago three separate times for various periods and it really hasn't fit in my memories of it. All the same, I went. They have a spit in the middle that they call Mud Island and a suspended tram which goes back and forth. Not much worth noting. Except, perhaps this:
This was to my right. I took a moment to call people I knew and catch up with my parents. I had the opportunity to walk around a small park which was ever-so-Southern:
Spoke with the owner of a beautiful car in front of an unfortunate location:
And took tons of pictures that I'm sparing you all from. Pretty buildings. Fountains. Etc.
This was notable:
That street sign says "General Washburne's Escape Alley". I'd been on the lookout for it and it happened to be right next to my hotel. This alleyway was famous during the Civil War. The hotel I stayed in was the site at which a couple of Union generals were working on strategy. One of them was General Washburne -- a man who wasn't particularly good at commanding men on the field, but proved to be very good with logistics. The Confederacy sent a small group of soldiers up into Memphis which was held by the Union with the purpose of capturing those generals. One of them was not at his quarters. Washburne somehow had advance notice and escaped down the alley to a nearby fort in his nightshirt. His uniform was taken hostage and returned later under a flag of truce.
Down this alleyway is a place called "Rendezvous" -- a rib joint with supposedly the best dry-rub ribs in Memphis. I went in and sat at the bar. Strangely, they only had Michelob on tap. I'd never had Michelob, so I had one. I figured it must be there for a reason. The kid working the bar was a tall lanky sort who had -- I kid you not -- a voice that had the same timbre as Goofy's. I kept him running all night with questions about things around the bar. Through him, I found that the reason for Michelob turned out to be some sort of odd loyalty by the owner of the place and not a matter of taste. There was a sign in the bar with the date "May 18, 1933" and he ran down that date for me -- it commemorates the founding of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
In addition, I was sitting with a gent and struck up conversation with him. At some point, he mentioned that one of the perks of his job is the ability to go places and find out who has the best dry-rub ribs, the best Philly cheese steak, and so on. He turned out to be an airline pilot and we talked a great deal about trips we'd like to take.
One of them was a barbeque trip. Some day, I'll take that yet.
After all was said and done, I wandered around Beale Street. I nearly bought a $10 for the last couple of innings of a minor league baseball game -- not for any real affection for baseball, but just to take in the experience.
Two amusing bits. A group of obvious tourists wandered by me. While they were waiting to cross the street with me, I overheard them talking about how hungry they were, an alleyway, and a rib restaurant. I asked if they were looking for Rendezvous and gave them directions.
Another -- a man stopped me in the street and insisted that I was a famous musician who had been on TV. Try though I might, the guy would not let go of it. Eventually, the humor of the situation started to fade and I made an excuse to go. Still, that was the first time that someone had thought me to be a musician. This trend has continued of late for reasons I'm not entirely sure of.
Anyway, I'd been told to go to Silky O'Sullivan's.to take in a piano duel. That and other assorted wanderings -- none of which would carry particularly well over text in my opinion -- eventually led to one tired, drunk, and happy testing4l. I went back to the hotel, arranged transport to the airport, and headed out the next morning.
I had arranged a layover in Houston for a bit to visit my friend ebugle, an honest to god buffalo. I even snapped a picture of him:
We watched a Marx Brothers film that I'd brought along with Netflix in the airport. At length, back on the plane, and back to SFO where the next part of my journey begins.