Saturday, June 26, 2010

Long Road Home

Day Map, Thursday 24 June 2010 Part 2

We left New Orleans about 7 p.m.  We headed north on the dreaded interstates for speed and time.  We wanted to get home in time for me to rest up for my early morning at work on Saturday.  We really pushed it to get at least half way to home by morning, which ended up taking us to a truckstop at a small town in the Missouri boot heel.  Mississippi is a long boring drive normally, and even more so at night.  I've taken this route several times in my life.  The first time was in January 1978.  The BeeGee's were constantly driveling on every radio station and disco was in full swing.  I also remember Paul Simon being played a lot and there was a song -- 50 ways to leave your lover, that kept being played over and over again.  We stopped over at a cheap motel in Sardis Mississippi, and I remember it having the softest nicest bed I've ever slept in.  The next morning we all got up to an ice storm.  The weather got worse the farther north we went.  We had lunch in Sikeston Missouri.  Somewhere south of St. Louis, Mom and Debbie, my sister, who were following us in the 74 Ford Gran Torino spun out at a slick spot and got nearly stuck.  Dad, the dog Rebel, and I were in the 72 dodge pickup in the lead.  We bypassed St. Louis, which I've noticed is a path we took today.  We stopped at another truckstop somewhere midway between Kansas City and St. Louis for dinner.  I remember that truckstop food was good back then.  I also remember how hard it was snowing, which was novel for us who lived primarily in the south where it rarely snowed.  I stood under an awning at the truckstop and a big pile of snow fell off the eave and landed on my head to my amusement.  As we headed farther west, the Dodge truck's heater started failing.  I and the dog, Rebel had to curl up together for warmth and try to sleep.  We got into Kansas City early in the morning and the temperature was twelve below zero.  We checked in the Holiday Inn at Harlem, which was a run down neighborhood by the downtown airport just north of the river.  I remember it being unbearably cold and the city seemed depressing and grey.

    Thirty two years later, Suyen and I made the same trek, in another Dodge truck, with our dog, Tima.  We didn't check into that motel in Sardis, though I did glance over to see if it was there.  We stopped over in Steele Missouri after blowing through Memphis without stopping, and Arkansas -- definitely without stopping.  All the rest areas in Mississippi were closed, except one.  Arkansas didn't have any rest areas.  I didn't feel like stopping anywhere close to West Memphis anyway.  We slept in the truck in a truckstop in the Missouri boot heel.
Day Map Friday 25 June 2010
   We got up the next morning, took off, and I stopped at a Caseys for breakfast pizza.  We passed by Sikeston, and I looked for that truck stop.  I think it is long gone, replaced by chain motels.  We only stopped once after that, south of St. Louis for fuel at St. Genevieve.  We bypassed St. Louis all together on ring highways, which was alright by me.  St. Louis is not much to look at from the interstate and traffic there is a nightmare any time of day.  We blazed across I-70 back to familiar territory.  We stopped in KC at a gas station so Suyen could pee, and we got home late in the afternoon.  Not bad for being in New Orleans the evening before.

We had treked across the heartland of the former Confederacy and had seen many pine trees.  We didn't hit the major touristy spots in Florida, but we had a nice relaxing good time.  You know you've had a good vacation when you are happy to be back home.

Biloxi to New Orleans

Day Map Thursday 24 June 2010

We hit one last beach, and that was Biloxi beach.  Actually, when I lived here in the 70's, I don't remember us going to the beaches here, except to fish.  We even went fishing one night on a long dark cold pier after watching the movie "Jaws."  That was scary.  Oh, and I remember us going sand dune fishing at low tide in the darkness of night.  That too was scary.  The beaches here are severely under rated, which is just fine for me.  I like this better than the overcrowded Florida beaches where the resorts and condo's blot out the view of the beach.  Here it is laid back, with gorgeous southern homes and mansions on one side of HWY 90 (well what's left of them anyway after Katrina), and unobstructed beachfront on the other side.  Before Katrina, there was Camille.  I've often heard stories about how this area was called the Riviera of the coast.  Then Camille came and wrecked the shoreline and devastated the towns here.  Growing up here, and dealing with many threats from hurricanes often brought the stories about Camille and the documentary, that played on tv every time a hurricane came close.  Suyen and I went to the beach by the light house where I was the night before.  

A reporter from WLOX showed up to do a story on the oil slick, and its effect on the shrimping industry.

After the beach, we headed to a souvenir shop, then to a place called the Blow Fly Inn, which we had seen on food network.

We then headed over to check on the house I used to live in -- sturdy Base housing brick duplexes that were mid-century modern style ranch houses joined at the carports with their neighbors.  They were gone when we got there -- replaced by condo style duplexes.  We then headed up the coast on scenic highway 90.  Katrina really did a number on the coast here, and it still hasn't recovered after 5 years. 

We drive in to New Orleans from the east.  We were headed for Cafe du Monde for beignets.  We tried to find a place to park in the french quarter, and in the process drive down Bourbon Street, which was fun.

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