For Thanksgiving, four friends of J and I joined us in Nashville. We were and continue to be married, childless, and cat owners who met in China. And we all had appetites for for food and adventure. The later in road trip form.
In our limited time, we went on a walk, ate hot chicken twice, prepared a holiday meal at home, and visited a honky tonk.
Jumping for ambivalence.
Sunset winter woods.
On Friday, we piled into the rented burgundy mini-van and hit the road.
By late afternoon, we had checked into our crusty Memphis AirBNB and headed to downtown in search of live music.
A seemingly touristy bar full of old people had an amazing house band, so we ended up staying a couple hours.
The next morning, we arrived a Graceland early and began our self guided tour. The house itself was interesting, but smaller and less opulent than I imagined. The new visitors center looked a lot like an outdoor mall, even though not all of the buildings were souvenir stores. It was a lazily designed, and cheap-feeling space. Unlike Elvis, who had impeccable, restrained taste.
That evening, we watched the march of the ducks at the Peabody Hotel.
Printing and karate: together at last.
Fields of cotton.
Shoulders of cotton.
The backyard of our crusty bungalow.
Elvis has left the living room.
Inside a repurposed warehouse.
The march of the ducks.
On Sunday, we took the backroads past big-donged miniature horses and discarded armadillo skins to Oxford, Mississippi.
This small town is home to “Fat Miss”, one the the fattest universities in the south. We enjoyed some good food and walking the charming historic neighborhoods. We stopped at Rowan Oak, the house of William Faulkner.
“Hello, madame,” we greeted the lady at the door. “We’ve come great distances to visit Mr. Faulkner. We were told that he lives here?”
The host looked at us like she had seen a ghost. The words dribbled from her mouth:
“I’m sorry, but Mr. Faulkner has been dead for almost 60 years.”
A light breeze rustled through the trees. The last leaf of the rowan oak danced to the ground. Winter was truly upon us, and Faulkner was dead.
Little horse, big dong.
A perfect fit for litter.
Faulkner wall notes.
D and C.
D and A.
J and I.
On Monday, we continued on the backgrounds and the Natchez Trace Parkway to Natchez, Mississippi.
Despite the name, the town is not covered in melted cheese.
Instead, this town had historical significance for its location along the Mississippi River. It was also a wealthy place, with many antebellum plantation mansions built before the civil war.
It was night, we we pulled onto the gravel driveway leading to our AirBNB. A large tree draped with Spanish moss was an oversized monster.
Our host, an older woman with a heavy but civilized Mississippi accent, emerged from the shadows of the Elgin Plantation house.
She gave us a tour our place for the next two nights, an equally impressive adjacent house that used to be the servants quarters.
After a lot of local history, we departed for some weird tamales and a night on the town.
Under-the-Hill Saloon was the kind of place you’d both hope for and expect in a town like this, but also surprising that when it’s real.
It was full of locals, a few visitors, and lots of warm, pleasant vibes. Two blues singer/guitarists took turns performing. One was an old dog, dressed all in black. And the other, a younger big bearded man with a golden voice.
A few woman danced. Others struck up conversation. We felt welcome.
A five foot tall man with a cane, white beard, and oversized hat took great joy in our Asian companions. His name card claimed many names, including Mr. Miyagi.
That evening was a highlight of the trip.
Bales of cotton.
Old motel sign in Jackson.
Quite the National Geographic collection.
Super old and super out of tune.
A distance relative of the host.
The parlor of the main mansion.
Group portrait with our host.
Tuesday evening, we pulled up to New Orleans around seven or eight. We said to the driver, “Yo A, see ya later.”
We looked at our kingdom. We were finally there. A imperfect boutique hotel, with salmon-smelling air.
New Orleans is such a weird, unique place that I would only inadequately describe it. But much like Santa Fe, I feel like I’m in another country there. It’s old and oozing with history.
I’m just old and oozing.
Trust me, synagogue.
Punch beads everywhere.
Row of charming bungalows.
Magenta, white, and blue.
Coolest. Name. Ever.
Penny, the death bear.
More urban bananas.
The cob house.
Meyer the Hatter, where I bought my hat from a Meyer.
Hats on hats.
A’s new hat.
S curve, literally.
Little lady tooter.
Pink and purple.
Just your average cape drying on a balcony during a super humid day.
Who digs the ditch diggers?
Ferns and balconies.
Now this is a sandwich!
On a rainy morning, we drove out to Slidell, Louisiana for a swamp tour. Along the way, we passed many weird, vulnerable looking houses on stilts, a man’s castle, and a decapitated wild boar with flies swarming the stump.
Every man’s home ins’t always a literal castle.
The last few days in New Orleans were filled with more food, music, and socializing. One of the highlights was the brass band that performed on the sidewalk of Frenchman Street.
Dr. Bob’s bottle cap monster.
Bridge over troubled tracks.
A brass band delights the street. Photo by Andrew Wilcox
Swamp path in Barataria Preserve.
Man-made airboat canal covered in plants.
A vast damp meadow.
On Saturday, we parted ways at the airport.
After over a week of laughter, good food, music, minivans and adventure, we had to go back to our horrible, boring lives back home.