The title of this blog post comes from an old sign we saw in New Orleans and yes, we have been road tripping again.
This road trip was a 1,375 mile round trip (2,212.8 kilometres) with the irresistible charms of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in our sights. This was a well planned trip (I’m nothing if not organised) so we were able to take in the towns of New Orleans, Biloxi, Jackson, Lafayette & New Iberia to name just a small few.
First Stop: Alabama (The Heart of Dixie) and the ‘buckle’ of the bible belt – the home of Hank Williams, Rosa Parks, Nat King Cole, Condoleezza Rice and Jim Nabors and also known for B.B./freedom marches, civil rights action and gator infested swamps. This state also has one of the strangest laws – wrestling matches between humans and bears is prohibited (probably for good reason) although the law – it is illegal to wear a fake moustache in church that will cause laughter ran a very close second. Alabama is also the birthplace of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird.
From Alabama it was onto….
Mississippi – this is the place of where Elvis was born (Tupelo) and the state of juke joints, Antebellum mansions, champion Root Beer, very impressive southern food (vegies pretty much get the short shift here), pork (be it pulled or otherwise), catfish, hot tamales and blues music. We had some great food in Mississippi. True ‘soul food’ at a place recommended by a fascinating elderly Cajun gentleman I happened upon in a seedy Laundromat in Warner Robins (long story!) and no better recommendation have we ever had. Bully’s has been providing food to Jackson residents for over 35 years. It may be located in one of poorest sections of Jackson but the locals (true locals) of that area love the restaurant and Bully himself.
Don’t be put off by the façade, Bully’s is one of the best soul food restaurants in Mississippi. It offers up not only great southern hospitality but also black-eyed peas, rutabagas, fried okra, catfish, oxtails, ribs and chitterlings.
Never judge a book (or area) by its cover.
Next stop Louisiana – this is the place of gumbo, jambalaya, Mardi Gras, boudin, voodoo, ghosts, steamboats, riverboats, pirates, bayous, magnolias, gators, blackened catfish, frogs legs and beignets. Its New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Avery Island. Its zydeco – a lively type of Cajun music played by a small band made up of accordion, banjo and washboard. Its smoky jazz clubs and bars and blues and roots. Its an amazing place to be.
Boudin…..among other delicacies we tried at Johnsons Boucaniere in Lafayette.
Frogs legs at Boudreau & Thibodeau’s in Houma Louisiana .
In Louisiana I was also lucky enough to spend a little time in the town of New Iberia – the place where James Lee Burke (my favourite author) sets his wonderful crime fiction novels featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux.
Then it was onto……
New Orleans – to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect in New Orleans. This is the place that was decimated by Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina hit (king hit) New Orleans in 2005 and it was one of the most destructive and deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. Around 1,833 people died, 705 people are still reported as missing and over 81 million dollars in damage was done. Due to the chaos, destruction and devastation the town experienced during those dark days I expected New Orleans to be a little sombre and for there to be some form of sadness at its’ losses however the city was a complete contrast to that. New Orleans is wonderful, bright, alive and breathing. And it is fantastic!! Its is slightly crazy, somewhat seedy, full of music, full of colour, full of life and you will meet some of the most wonderfully vibrant people around. And yes, I may just be slightly in love with New Orleans plus they serve up the best soft shell crab po’ boys around.
A couple of important things to pack when travelling to this part of the country are your dancing shoes and loose clothing. Especially loose pants as you will be guaranteed to put on at least 5 kilos over a weekend and if you don’t then you just weren’t trying hard enough to enjoy yourself! Bourbon Street is all the hype and more. Its a little insane, a little crazy, a little sordid (in a good New Orleans way) and a little gaudy but definitely fun. We walked most of New Orleans. The river district, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Frenchman Street and Jackson Square. We arrived in New Orleans the week before Mardi Gras but the party was in full swing and we loved every minute of it. The people of New Orleans decorate their town, their houses, their shops, their streets, themselves and pretty much anything standing still in beads and faux jewels, feathers and finery. It all looks (for the most part) stunning.
Maybe he stood still a little too long.
A Riverboat on the Mississippi River – the Mississippi is as brown as chocolate milk and as muddy as the Bremer River in Ipswich and as mighty as its reputation.
St Louis Cathedral – Jackson Square.
The famous beignets and coffee at Café Du Monde – they are French donuts covered in icing sugar.
Because New Orleans and other towns in the deep south are below sea level all of the graves are ‘above ground’. Early settlers struggled with burying their dead as when digging a few feet down, the grave sites would fill with water making the caskets ‘float’. Weighing them down with stones and drilling holes in the caskets didn’t help as they still rose so it was decided to make the grave sites above ground.
One of the many jazz bands we saw.
Great entertainment on almost every corner.
Mr Mardi Gras himself.
Our handiwork for someone else to enjoy.
I think I must have literally taken a gazillion photographs during this trip…….I won’t post them all however it is difficult to pick them so I will post more in the next blog post.
Oh, and the best time to go to see any of these places…….well my tip would be ANYTIME xx