Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 7 - June 21 2010
Odometer reads: same

Woke up late and grabbed a power bar for breakfast on our way out the door. Figured we saw a lot of the French Quarter the previous day so we decided to go to one of the cemeteries in town. On a map of there are half a dozen cemeteries to go to, we chose the biggest ones, the Metairie and Greenwood cemeteries. The two were divided by a highway and it was a bit difficult to find the entrances but we figured it out, improvisation is sort of the theme of this trip as we are slowly realizing. These cemeteries were really cool, we drove through them for about an hour, passing enormous intricate tombs that held entire family lines. There were thousands of stone crosses and statues and huge, old oak trees throughout the cemeteries, which each stretched probably a half-mile in each direction.

We left the cemeteries and explored a different part of town and came across Mr. J's Po-Boy restaurant, with the BEST philly cheesesteaks in America, for real. We'll have to see if Mo can find one in Philly that beats it. As nasty as it sounds, hot mayonaise made the sandwich.

It started pouring again while we were ordering and eating the po-boys (New Orleans' name for hoagies, apparently), and soon we attempted to find our way home on our own without Tonya, Kat's GPS... it eventually happened.

We hung out, took showers and got ready to go out with Smalls' bunk-mate, Camilla Griffith of London. Went to dinner at La Bayou on Bourbon Street where Smalls tried their fried alligator po-boy: for everyone's information, it tastes like fishy chicken. Not bad. We explored the nightlife of Bourbon Street, had a few drinks and bought some souvenirs, and even stopped in at Fat Tuesday's for a beer. Took the streetcar home around 12 and all headed to bed for the night.

and continued...

Day 6 - June 20 2010
Odometer reads: 2145 miles

Got up and out of the motel by 11:30, and headed straight into New Orleans!! Arrived at The India House, a hostel for students and travellers. Weren't sure how safe it would be for us or the car, but we figured we'd give it a chance. New Orleans is still very dilapidated from the floods and it's surprising how quickly the neighborhoods change from lovely to shady; even the Ritz-Carlton and the Astor Hotel downtown look like broken down concrete office buildings from the outside.

The India House is a big, OLD yellow house on South Lopez Street with two stories and an attic, used as a bedroom. We're staying in an 8-bed female dorm; the whole house is covered in cool hand-painted murals and posters from everywhere/everything. Every wall is a different color and the other people staying here come from all over, but so far a lot of them are Brits. There's a pool out back with a stage/deck and a bar with a grill, where you can usually find at least 4 people drinking at any hour of the day. Two big lounge rooms with couches and two bathrooms, and a communal kitchen with just a few tiny bugs, due to the ever-open doors and windows. The first person we met was Jean from England, on her last shift before leaving for Costa Rica, who checked us in and gave us our bedding and keys.

After settling in a little bit we headed downtown to see Decatur Street, Bourbon Street and the rest of NO's French Quarter. We've never seen so many bars, strip clubs, and cute restaurants in one place. Not to mention the number of drunk people at 2 in the afternoon on a Sunday. We stopped in a couple bars, including the Big Easy for slurpee-style Hurricanes and Daiquiris, and Krazy Korner to see a local Jazz band. We also stumbled upon what turned out to be Kat's favorite stop of the day, Kupcake Factory, for an extremely fluffy and sweet Birthday Cake cupcake!

We walked around for a few hours and finally headed back to the hostel to hang out and cook a much-needed healthy dinner of (tons of) broccoli and rice. Showers, bed on our top bunks. Z's immediately.


Day 5 - June 19 2010
Odometer reads: 1626 miles

Departed Nashville for New Orleans :) we woke up at 8 o'clock to overcast skies and rumbles of thunder over our mesh, open tent. Immediately started packing and shuttling the bedding and clothes as it started to POUR. Everything was loaded/jammed into the back of the car, soaking wet. Awesome start to the day. Left the campsite for Decatur, Alabama for Big Bob Gibson's BBQ!

Got there in about 2.5 hours and had the. best. chicken and ribs in the world. Seriously. They make their own white BBQ sauce... interesting. And they had huge pies, which Kat didn't see so we didn't get any. Spent about a couple of hours in Decatur messing around in sporting goods stores and Publix, putting off our 8 hour trip to N'awlins.

Drove... drove... drove through rain all day, and finally the sun came out and there was an AWESOME sunset in Mississippi. We were pretty beat so we decided to take advantage of small-town motel prices and stopped for the night in Picayune, Mississippi, about 40 miles outside of New Orleans. $45, a few trips up the stairs, and a shower later, we passed out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

we made a blog!

Day 1 - Tuesday, June 15th 2010
Odometer reads: 718.5 miles

Depart from Virginia Beach and head to Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina. We stopped at Stamey's BBQ in Greensboro, NC - the first stop of many restaurants from the book "Roadfood"... definitely a sandwich to remember. They had a massive BBQ pit as an entirely seperate building behind the restaurant, with 3 huge piles of firewood ready to die. After checking in, we stopped at the Stone Mountain Country Store just outside our campsite for Coke in bottles and amazing ice cream cones, not to mention a 2 lb. bag of peanuts that Kat is just now getting to the bottom of... the best investment of the trip so far. Our first night in the humidity of America... camping is fun.

Day 2 - Wednesday, June 16th 2010
Odometer reads: 1071.1 miles
Packed up the car and took off from NC early towards Anderson Road Campground in Nashville, TN, the only primitive campground available in Nashville... unless you have an RV, you're unwelcome anywhere else. No reservation, but we got an awesome site on J. Percy Priest Lake anyway :) thanks to the friendly ranger who also doubles as Kenny Chesney's tourbus driver on his days off. Took a couple of showers and felt INCREDIBLE for 2 minutes... until we stepped out and started sweating again. Headed downtown for some grub to Rotier's, another "Roadfood" pick, for some of the best burgers (on french bread) we've ever had. We even ordered a 3rd one to split... which wouldn't surprise any who know us. Walked down the street and found Aladdin's Hookah Bar and stopped for a drink, served up by Tanisha from Boston. Talked to her for a bit and then headed home to fall asleep to the sound of rowdy teenage boys in the nearby campsites.

Day 3 - June 17 2010
Odometer reads: about the same

Woke up at 5 a.m. to this beautiful sunrise reflecting off the lake right outside our tent. Slept on and off again until 7 and finally got up because of the unbearable heat radiating into our tent... which should have gone in the shade. Smalls made a makeshift shade that resembled a flying squirrel, but we soon had to tear it down to shield the tent from the torrential downpour that rolled in while we were at the beach a half-mile away. Lots of rain, lots of loud thunder, lots of wind. After riding that storm out in the tent, moving the tent away from the water, and discovering that our fishing pole didn't cast, we made a trip to Walmart for a new pole and other supplies. Success. Relaxed for awhile then headed back downtown to revisit Tanisha and Aladdin's for happy hour beers and hookah. Fun :)


Meaning later we headed to Broadway and 2nd Avenue, the hotspot of downtown Nashville. Tootsie's, Rippy's, and plenty of other country bars on a wide one-way street dotted with horse buggies and white cowboy hats. Stopped at Rippy's for a quick bite: burgers, beer, and corncakes (much like pancakes, except a little sweeter). While there, we found this and couldn't pass up the photo opportunity:

Walked a few more blocks but the heat got the best of us and sent us home sleepy and stoked for our tent-bed by 12.

Day 4 - June 18 2010

Odometer reads: Same as above

We were supposed to leave this morning, but decided that since the weather so rudely interrupted our attempts at a botanical gardens trip the previous day, we had no choice but to stay another day and make the trip. After relocating our tent to an inland site, we went back to the beach for a couple of hours to swim and found a perfect tree to lay under and fish next to. The weather was awesome all day, hot and sunny and NO rain at all :)

Smalls made me put up that second picture. There were much cuter ones... but this one's funny and it had pretty colors... and I love her, so there it is. We went from the beach with a couple of sandwiches to the botanical gardens for Chihuly at Cheekwood, the coolest art show we could imagine. Dale Chihuly, one of the best glassblowers in America, made over 1000 pieces of hand-blown glass for the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art summer show. We probably took 150 pictures, but here are a few of the coolest ones...

The figure in the bottom left corner was a piece called "The Sun," it was 16' x 14' x 14'. We hung around the gardens in our shabby attire (I say shabby because we were the only ones not wearing sun dresses, it is Nashville after all) for a total of 3 hours because we had to do another walk through at night. When we left we got a couple of Big Mac's and agreed it was worth staying an extra night in Tennessee.

Overall we said Nashville was clean (even the downtown), lush with many trees and mountains, which likely contributed to the freshness of the air. There were few cookie cutter neighborhoods, and the houses had real lawns, very Christian and family-oriented.