I wonder sometimes if southerners are as captivated by the west as we 'cowboys' are about southern belles and plantations. We don't have hot, slow summers like in Gone With the Wind or the Notebook (Ever seen 310 to Yuma? There's nothing romantic in the dusty desert). More importantly, there are more songs about the south than about any other region (see later post). Unfortunately, seeing as the south isn't so on the way to anywhere but Florida, it doesn't make too much sense to just stop by. So, I was beyond elated at the chance to hit a few hot spots earlier this month.
After years of talking about it and an arduous qualification process, little miss Kendall joined the Air Force. She spent 3 long months in Montgomery, AL in Officer Training (left, in her army moon suit surrounded by uniformed ... hunks?) and then had a weekend to pack up and drive to San Antonio. I missed her graduation/ceremony where she was given her new rank, whatever that's called. But, to make up for it, I flew down to make the drive with her. Flights to Montgomery were outrageously priced, but I got a steal to Jackson, MS, which by the way, is an adorable little airport. I jammed to Mississippi Queen in my head as we then drove down to New Orleans, and spent the night there.
My mom lived in N'awlins for 5 years in elementary school way back in the days of segregation and pickled pigs feet (I s'pose those are prolly still being eaten). We took the Causeway across from the mainland to the city- it was like driving across the ocean. I've never seen a longer stretch of bridge in my life. The I-90 floating has got nothing on this.
I found the French Quarter charming, highlights being easter pink and yellow colored houses with fabulously intricate cast-iron balconies. Jackson Square was nothing like Mason Jennings described, but rather filled with overpriced psychics and caricature artists. A long walk down Bourbon Street reminded me just how flip-flopped my life is from the rest of the world. Apparently no other city in the world allows you to carry open glasses of alcohol through the streets. I can't imagine why not. Bourbon Street lived up to its name as the Vegas of New Orleans. More importantly, live jazz music blaring throughout the city lived up to its reputation. French cafes were also a pleasant treat for breakfast.
The drive west from New Orleans was incredibly beautiful. The freeway winds through the marshes of southern Louisiana so there is water and trees Everywhere. The second we crosses the Texas border, however, both trees and water disappeared and were replaced by flat expanses of either ranch-land or, closer to Houston, buildings. We were going to stop at the Single's Ward in Houston, but got a late start. We also spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to get her truck weighed at the semi-truck weigh station.
By Sunday night we were in San Antonio. We got Kendall settled at the Air Force Base and her and Jered's apartment set up and enjoyed a night on the River Walk and at the Alamo (which is apparently not a region of Texas but an actual building where some hoo-ha battle went down in the War against Mexico). San Antonio has zero street parking (frustrating but it made for clean streets) but the river walk was more charming than even the Miss America Pageant made it look (besides the creepy red tunnel a la Seattle Library 2nd floor). And before I left on Tuesday, I even got to see Matt Terry!