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Monday, March 26, 2012

North American Road Trip: Finding the South

We had Southern Hemi Road trips, and on arriving back in the US our goal was to have a good ole USA RT. So here it is, Finding the South.

After landing back in Chicago and finding an apartment we jumped into Freddie (our delightful Subaru that was in storage for months) and hit the road south. The original plan was Grand Rapids to Ashville NC to Atlanta to Kansas City (BBQ layover) to Denver to Albuquerque to Austin to Memphis. This plan changed Day 1 with an unexpected stop in Knoxville TN.

As smoke rose from under our hood in the foothills of the Appalachian outside of Knoxville on our way to hippy haven locavore Asheville NC, we knew we had a problem. Long story short we had a fluid leak from a hose, a guy at a gas station tried to fix this issue to no avail, and after some negotiation with a tow truck driver describing to me how our car was going to be safe at his lot overnight due to the number of guns he owned and his willingness to use them, we ended up at an out of town Best Western, paradise.

After a day at a Starbucks waiting for our car we decided to rent a car while our parts were being shipped and head over the mountain pass to Asheville. Upon our arrival we were greeted with local beer, amazing food, and all kinds of handmade goods. After an evening out, and the next day sampling some homemade potato chips, we drove back to Knoxville to pick up our fixed car and head to Atlanta.

Homemade Chips
In Atlanta we spent a few days with family helping out a school benefit for our nieces. While in Atalnta-the-hip-hop-capital-of-the-wooooooooooorrrrrld!!!! we decided Denver was out of scope time and budget wise. So making a call to cut the trip down we deiced to head straight for Austin via way of New Orleans.

I will interject here to include empirical evidence that using the name your own price feature on priceline.com the day of arrival into a city to book a hotel (on non major event dates or holidays) works like a charm and WILL likely put you into an upgraded swanky suite type deal.

Doing this on my iphone on our way through 'Bama I was able to land us a 4 star deal in the warehouse district of New Orleans. Arriving in the evening we checked in and had valet take our car away. Another note here about the style of travel we were executing, we did not use suitcases or bags of any type, well not entirely true we had a hemp grocery bag, but for ease of use and access to many different clothes for many different climates we simply had two laundry hampers in the back of our car full of clothing. As valet at a 4 star hotel in New Orleans was waiting for us to shove clothing from laundry hampers scattered in our car into a hemp grocery bag, I felt mildly embarrassed. Nicolette responded to the embarrassment by prodding my personal humiliation by wearing my boxers on her head while she packed.

Clothing sorted out we made our way to find food, and of all places we ended up kitchen side at Emeril Lagasse's restaurant, not really our style but nothing else was really open. The meal was fine, and I do admit I have a little celebrity admiration for Emeril. New Orleans was great, the Garden District was beautiful, lush, warm. Breakfast at Surrey's was wonderful with fresh biscuits, green juice, boudin, and Crystal Hot Sauce, and dinners of head cheese, rabbit livers, oysters, and Sazerac drinks rounded out the rest of the weekend.

Biscuits and Boudin
Crystal Hot Sauce
Drinks at The Columns
Sazeracs and Mint Juleps 
The Garden District
Green Juice from Surrey's
The Garden District
The Warehouse District
The Garden District
On our way out of town we drove along the Gulf Coast to find some sea air and check out the oil spill damage. I swear I saw dead dolphins on the shore line as we drove by, and the sand still had a thin shimmery crust of oil. I am an environment advocate, and seeing this in person really pissed me off. Not only this, but the western part of the Louisiana coast horizon is dotted with the superstructures of oil apparatus giving a Matrix like machine eating the natural world feel that sort of ruined the coastal view for us. I understand, we need oil, hell we were on a road trip, but I wish there was a more responsible way for handling this.

Louisiana Coast
Oil Platforms in the Distance
Jumping on the Mosquito Coast
I digress, this is not a post for advocacy now. After masses of mosquitos and fears of gators drove us back into our car we drove out to rockabilly Austin. Our arrival was warmly welcome by Ryan, Sanem, and Roan. We enjoyed warm days in Austin of breakfast taco morning starters, hiking the canyons, and dining on Japanese food.

Finally we made our way back north through Texas and on to Memphis. On the way we had Tex style BBQ in a restaurant that doubled as a Rick Perry fan club meeting place. Memphis was brief and at this point we were ready to be back and get into our apartment, but our time there was well spent walking by music bars, listening to blues, and having a glimpse to the Gibson flagship store.

This guy playing blues in Memphis
Blues in Memphis
Total Trip Milage

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