26 May 2010 @ 10:54 am
The Southern Journey, Part One  
Sunday, drove to Charlotte, lunch at a Sonic off the highway, dinner at Waffle House, which has really gone down hill: fake butter, fake syrup, limp waffles. Monday, woke up just outside of Charlotte. On the way South, we stopped at a town called Belmont, NC where we visited a fantastic hardware store and an excellent Botanical Garden. The garden was great time, really beautiful. A perfect antidote to all that driving. Hitting the road again, we stopped only for gas and Mexican food. We had plans to do Atlanta, but rush hour traffic and heavy rain made us keep driving and we made it almost to Montgomery by the time we finally felt tuckered out. K. relaxed while I went out and grabbed a couple Fosters at the Outback across the highway from our motel.

On Tuesday, we got some great barbeque at a place called the Shed and made it to New Orleans by the afternoon. Wandered around the French Quarter and found the guesthouse where my buddy Scott and I had stayed nearly twenty years earlier and booked a room there for a couple nights. Walked around with a beer listening to street performers, drank some wine with the owners of our inn, ate some fried gator and red beans & rice at a place on Bourbon Street.

Treated ourselves to beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde the next two mornings. Took in the galleries, stores, and the French Market. We had a nice dinner at Galatoire's (soft-shelled crab for K, crawfish etouffee for me). Oh, and apparently I drunkenly told off some bartender for making lousy Hurricanes and he was all "Well, we're the bar that invented the Hurricane." Perhaps, but I'm pretty sure they were mixing real fruit juices and three varieties of rum (light, dark, and spiced) back then, instead of just stirring up some powdered fruit punch mix with light gold rum in those days. But that's kind of Bourbon Street in a nutshell: an artificial facsimile of something that used to be great.

Did a great cemetery tour. In New Orleans, they don't bury the dead, the let them cook in a hot mausoleum for a year and a day (exactly) and then the move the remains into a shared mausoleum. Saw the reputed resting place of Marie Laveau, New Orleans' so-called voodoo queen, which is covered in ritualistic graffiti. The idea is that you write three X's on her grave and make a wish, then when the wish comes true, you circle your X's. Our guide said he never saw any circled X's in his life until the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Two days in the French Quarter was more than enough, so we moved out to a nice place in Faubourg Marigny, which had a sweet swimming pool in a blessedly cool garden enclosure. After moving our stuff, we took a streetcar ride through the garden district and grabbed dinner in the neighborhood, before catching a cab out to Vaughn's to see Kermit Ruffins play. He's a regular on HBO's Treme if you watch it and the guy who plays Antoine Baptiste was in the audience. Kermit does an incredible show, playing trumpet and singing. He did a lot jazz standards, several originals (mostly about smoking reefer), and put his own jazz twist on some pop songs. The best was when he did a mix-up Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" with Rob Base's "It Takes Two."

On Friday, we rode bikes up through Treme to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which was a lot of fun. That night, we did Frenchman Street, which is the perfect antidote to the non-stop frat party of Bourbon Street. Frenchman Street is two solid blocks of great restaurants and bars with really good bands playing for tips so you can just wander in, listen to a few song, drop them a couple bucks, and move on to another joint. If you're there in a Friday night, definitely check out Mykia Jovan at the Blue Nile. Her voice was just amazing. Then we had an awesome dinner at Adolpho's, a Creole-Italian joint, which was one of the best meals ever. Started with frog legs in a spicy remoulade, then K. had some sort of whitefish covered with spinach and crabmeat and I had grouper covered in crabmeat and crawfish. So good.

The next day, it started to rain and we headed west for Austin. To be continued….

 
 
Current Mood: 230 (BE)
Listening to: Mercury Rev - "People Are So Unpredictable"
 
 
( 13 scandals — What's your scandal? )
lilyvalleylilyvalley on May 26th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
What's the significance of a year and day, do you know? I know I heard that before, but never knew where it came from. (Or did they get that time from Betty Crocker? Is it so many days per pound, or what?)
everybody hates a tourist.dynamine on May 26th, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
it's a local ordinance...basically, it's so the body can decay enough to be put with everyone else.
lilyvalleylilyvalley on May 26th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
But...but...that still doesn't make sense! How would a partially decayed body cause damage to other, more decayed bodies?
lilyvalleylilyvalley on May 26th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
Wait...

Can people visit the newly dead body in that year and a half? In other words, is the ordinance to protect living people who are visiting the dead?
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: blue statueassmonkeydiary on May 26th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
It's to keep safe whoever is around the temporary tomb when it's opened up for the remains to be moved to the permanent tomb.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: ape in icelandassmonkeydiary on May 26th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
There was an epidemic of yellow fever at the time and they wanted to make sure the remains of the dead didn't infect the living. I'm not sure how they decided on such a poetic amount of time though.
Pallaspallasathene8 on May 26th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
Heh heh, I like the part where you chew out the bartender. Not so much all the fishy food, though. Why would you want to eat a crawdad? Bleeeech.

Also, I like today's ass, and it's background is puzzling to me. It looks like a keyboard with a CRT monitor above it, which is a little wayback, but the picture looks more wayback than that. My mind is set on computer, though, and can't picture the background as anything else.
lilyvalleylilyvalley on May 26th, 2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
I think that's an old radio in the background. Or maybe not.
Pallaspallasathene8 on May 26th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
That's more convincing than anything I could come up with, but it still looks more like an older computer to me. I guess it could be an old TV set, too, but...
Diary of an Ass Monkeyassmonkeydiary on May 26th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, now that you say that, I have a hard time not seeing at a computer too.
(Anonymous) on May 27th, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
Could be a small window with stuff in front of it. Have to manipulate the pix with Photoshop.
orcaarroworcaarrow on May 27th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
Sounds like a good trip, so far. My wife and I agree you are the MAN for braving rain and highway to get Fosters.
Diary of an Ass Monkey: amd: Ape vs. Jet Girlassmonkeydiary on May 27th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
Haha... thanks. It definitely felt like something that had to be done.
( 13 scandals — What's your scandal? )