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Joanie's Deep South Vacation

May 2011
For past vacations - Click Here

    Okay somehow this trip to the south, even tho it may have been the dullest vacation I've ever taken, had a zillion photos to put together and just took forever to organize. The write up will be pretty quick tho I think. Maybe it was a sign of things to come when I had to use the barf bag on the way to Mobile. We got on a tiny plane from DFW-MOB, which has never affected me before, no turbulence or anything, but got a bad headache and things deteriorated from there and you can't run back to the bathroom once the descent starts. Yuck. Sign two was getting hives from the sunscreen I bought down there, who would have thought Neutrogena would affect me that way but maybe the spray isn't for me.

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More Mobile

    On to the trip. Stayed at the great Candlewood Suites in downtown Mobile which is a pretty city that has a New Orleans look in places, but there ain't nothin' going on. Dauphin St. is the main drag but it's pretty quiet during the day, weekends half the stuff doesn't open, and it's not til late at nite that anyone is around. Stopped by the old school Wintzell's for an oyster po boy (which tasted okay even after throwing up) then back to regroup. I was so tired and didn't feel great but rallied until the proper time to go to the Alabama Music Box for what I knew might be my only live music on the trip (which indeed was the case) but it wasn't worth the wait. Someone told me music started at 10, I get to the club at 10:15 and they say 11, waste time and come back to hear the band sound checking but they say they'll be back in 20 min. They weren't very good and I literally fell asleep waiting for the next band who also weren't worth the wait (I think the bands were Too Far from Amsterdam and Mandown) but some guy plopped himself down and woke me up, he was fun as were some other people there. Sat. I zipped to the farmer's market in pretty Cathedral Sq, breakfast at Tiny Diny, saw some interesting stuff at the Museum of Mobile then it was the gay pride parade.This was so sad, it took about 6 minutes, no one lined the streets to watch it (mostly other tourists were watching it), they threw me so many beads probably cuz no one else was around. They had a small party in the park with entertainment. I then headed to Fairhope, a very cute town but the shops were closed by the time I got there. Had excellent crab bisque at a place called Ed's Shed known for its view of the sunset.

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Stops in between

    Headed out early for a flea market on Sun., some okay stuff. Then the 3+ hr drive to Montgomery, thought I'd take the scenic route but as some locals at the flea market told me, "ain't nothin between here and Montgomery". They were right. Ain't nothin in Montgomery either. Again, some nice buildings but thankfully my lovely Hampton Inn downtown was nice and in a 3 block area with some life. Had a decent bbq lunch at Dreamland (horrible service when I really needed food/drink cuz the heat had gotten to me), chatted with folks at the bar of the swanky hotel across the street where a hairdresser convention was going on which made things busy. But even the next day when everyone's working in the state's capitol, it's a quiet city. Skipped the Hank Williams museum but saw the Civil Rights and Rosa Parks museums, interesting stuff. Next was the long drive to Tupelo via Tuscaloosa which had the one record store I could find in my research. But which also of course had the devastating tornado two days before I arrived. They weren't allowing people to take a left turn to the area I needed to go to for the store and rather than try to find another way downtown, I just kept driving to closeby Northport for lunch (for a meat + 2 as opposed to the traditional meat and 3 sides) and on to Tupelo. This is where I'd start getting fooled while looking for radio stations, you'd hear something vaguely rocking only to hear lyrics about praise and glory, time to switch to classic rock or throw on one of the thin case CDs I brought.

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Tupelo and Oxford

    Tupelo just sounded like a good place to go even tho I have no big Elvis love. Downtown is cute but not overly busy. Stopped by the hardware store where Elvis bought his first guitar and the guy working there loved telling the stories. The Clarion Hotel on the strip mall road had a weird hotel happy hour and an amusing crowd of good ole boys taking advantage of their two free drinks. I passed up a chance for a dinner at the Outback w/ one of the guys. Ended up w/ a good burger at Johnny's where Elvis used to eat and a better nite time cocktail and appetizer at the Fairpark talking to a nice man from the mother country, Sweden. Props to the Clarion for their surprisingly good biscuits and sausage gravy. Off to the Elvis Museum and house where his 2nd cousin tells you the history of the house. Next was a short drive to Oxford, a very cool little town and home to the Univ. of Mississippi. Lots of places to eat and drink there, cute old square, oldest department store in the south, cool book store, glad I added it to the itinerary. Took advantage of a 2 for 1 appetizer happy hour at this nice place Waltz talking to the bartender, some girl who went to Suffolk and her gay friend. Stayed at a pretty B&B but expected a lot more from their breakfast. Next was off to Vicksburg with a stop in Greenwood. Whew, depressing. So much potential but tons of stuff shut down, not much there except the Crystal Grill which I wasn't hungry for (damn that lame breakfast) but I did have a great piece of banana merengue pie.

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Vicksburg Culture
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Around Vicksburg

    My oil light had been going on constantly so I finally found a place in Yazoo City for an oil change and the guys working there were a riot. Turns out the light still kept going on and stupid Hertz wouldn't reimburse me saying I should have called them first, ugh. Got to Vicksburg and stayed at the impressive Bazsinsky B&B just 2 blocks from the main drag. Again, the downtown had potential but so many places were closed and even the piped in blues and jazz couldn't liven it up too much. Went to another fancy B&B for a mint julep and talked to people who loved Boston and thought we were so friendly. That seemed to be the general consensus, I think we Bostonians get a worse rap in the friendliness department than we deserve. Some tasty fried green tomatoes with crab sauce for dinner and that was the big nite.
   Just as well as I was up early to see the Civil War Park, a 16 mile loop of monuments and sites that was pretty interesting. I loved when I'd tell people I'm from Boston and they'd say "Oh my cousins are from Maryland". Not that close kids. Had a proper "meat and 3" at Walnut Hills, went to the museum, stopped by a bar where he promised the coldest beers in town and talked to people from CO and the UK.

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    Off to the last city with a stop in Hattiesburg for bbq that didn't live up to its reputation. Got into Biloxi which I don't think has recovered enough from the hurricane and oil spill, but I also don't think there's much besides the casinos. "Downtown" was non existent, Main St. had two things on it. Thank god for the Fillin' Station. Decided to get a fancy drink at the Ruth's Chris in the Hard Rock Casino but opted for a ridiculously huge banana white chocolate cream pie w/ caramelized bananas, yum. Had so much left over I asked the guys next to me if they wanted it. They insisted I get a pear martini (which was what I headed in for) and had a great time with my new friends Lex and Dan who are here in July. Next day was a zip over to Ocean Springs which was way cooler than Biloxi, helped by the fact a May fair was going on. This guy from Arkansas made cool bags out of albums and their covers which if I were a purse person, I would have bought.
   Time for the short drive back to Mobile with a stop in Pascagoula MS for lunch, nice all you can eat $10 buffet at Monica's. Stayed at a hotel by the airport so I could get there easily super early in the morning. Did stop by the free crawfish boil at the Alabama Music Box, but was wishing I'd flown back the day before. Oh well, I'd been very curious about the south and now I know. I'll see you soon Arctic Circle.

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