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  1. #1

    Default Nothin' but blues and Elvis

    Greetings fellow travelers,

    Today's post comes in the midst of a RoadTrip from Raleigh, NC to Houston, TX and back, by completely different routes, as is my preference, and as is dictated by our plans. I'll dispense with the blow-by-blow on the trip down, as I don't individually subscribe to some of the traditional (and excellent) advice offered by the Forums as to daily travel limits, etc. Suffice it to say I did my normal first day wake up at shortly after 0300 hrs EDST and headed southwest.

    We had a ball in New Orleans and stayed at my wife's Jazz Fest homeport, the Hotel Provincial. What a grand group of folks working there. We ended up in the "500 building" which is at the back of the property facing Decatur St. Our room was on the 2nd floor with a balcony overlooking Decatur. All we had to do was open the huge sash window to walk outside in the 101 degree F heat and sit in the late afternoon shade to have a beer and a smoke. The AC inside worked flawlessly, and everything was A-OK with the stay.

    On to Houston later and Lord Almighty what a sorry mess I-10 between New Orleans and Lake Charles, LA is. The LA highway patrol was wearing out the very slow posted speed zones and we must have seen two dozen folks pulled over. West of Lake Charles the speed limit seems to go to 95 mph since the highway surface became excellent and we ran a solid 80-85 with impunity enroute to the Hotel Zaza in Houston's Museum District, headquarters for the "oilman's daughter's wedding" which represents the destination for this RoadTrip.

    With an "off day" today we ran down I-45 to Galveston and spent the middle of the day at the beach and in particular up at the "East End", where the inlet, called a "pass" here in Texas, receives shipping into the Houston Ship Channel. Nice place, oddly muddy surf (I'm accustomed to non-muddy coastal waters in the mid-Atlantic), and Gawd Only Knows how crowded it gets on an August weekend with + 2 million Houstonians headed down there for a day at the beach. Good thing we decided to go today, as it will likely be impossible to get down there and back at a decent hour tomorrow.

    Hermann Park exercise walking and the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences (aces for a geology junkie like me) plus the wedding occupy tomorrow and tomorrow night.

    Sunday am will see the Chevy Equinox filled with premium gasoline and headed north. First to Coushatta, LA, where an operating lignite coal mine is on the site of lignite exploration drilling work I participated in 33 years ago. A drive-by the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Site" near Gibsland, LA, between Coushatta and I-20, will occur mid-afternoon, and by evening we'll have a beer at Red's, in downtown Clarksdale, MS, just two miles north of "the Crossroads" (junction of US 49 and US 61, yes, Dylan's "Highway 61) and the birthplace of the Delta Blues. Red's is on the "Garden and Gun Magazine" (no, I am NOT making up the name of that august periodical) list of 50 greatest bars in the South, so my darling bride of 34 years simply MUST go there. The listing says "stay on Sunflower until you see a guy grilling chicken on the sidewalk, and you're there". How can you skip that?

    From intel gathered herein, we'll overnight at the Shack-Up Inn, only one mile south of The Crossroads. We've booked the Robert Clay Shack. Cain't hardly wait (no, that is not a mis-spelling. Cain't, when pronounced properly, has an "i", and I'm quite certain of that).

    Monday will include a drive by Sledge, MS, the hometown of country music's Charley Pride, and the location of another lignite coal prospect I drilled back in the day, then to Graceland, Elvis' Memphis mansion. Later in the day Monday, we'll visit Nashville for an overnight and hopefully a dinner with guitar virtuoso Audley Freed and his talented and lovely bride Jen.

    We'll take a nice day's drive across the Cumberland Plateau to and beyond Knoxville on Tuesday, head up the Great Valley past the shadow of Mount Rogers, VA on I-81, then way downhill off of the Blue Ridge Front on I-77 to reach the Piedmont of NC, our homeplace.

    Since our departure we've greatly enjoyed our satellite radio Outlaw Country (#60) and BB King's Bluesville (#70), and of course we'll be tuned in to the Elvis channel by Monday morning for the drive up the Delta to Memphis.

    It's all good, and all I can say in closing, for now, is: Is this a great country, or what?

    Last edited by Foy; 08-03-2012 at 03:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Just slow down, once in awhile!

    Sure sounds like a great trip (even if you do drive too far and too fast!)

    Wish I could stow-away with you on this gambit.


  3. #3

    Default All good!

    Well Fellow Travelers, we're home.

    Sunday included a big breakfast and a ride up US 59, the "EastTex Highway" through the pine forests of East Texas. Lots of small logging and ranch towns and not much else. We visited the lignite mine where I'd explored and, as anticipated, saw one big ole' hole in the ground. Guess you've got to be a geologist to appreciate that.

    WAY out in the country, south of Gibsland, was the monument located at the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Site". An interesting stop, no doubt. We then headed east, got on the delta at Monroe, LA, and headed north to the crossing of the Mississippi at Greenville, MS. We connected with US 82 just west of Lake Village, AR, and spent a good 30 minutes at the State of Arkansas visitor center there. They've build a trio of very nice, covered observation decks overlooking Lake Chicot, said to be the largest oxbow lake in the country. It's a big-un, alright, being a good 5-6 miles long and a half-mile or more wide.

    A new bridge crosses the Mississippi between Lake Village and Greenville, then US 82 carries you 10 miles or so to Leland, where we picked up US 61. Within an hour we were having beers and sammitches at the Shack Up Inn. The Shack Up is definitely on our list for an extended stay--one night there and in Clarksdale is not enough.

    On Monday we dined at Dyers on Beale Street in Memphis. Dyers is famous (infamous?) for deep-frying their burgers in a huge iron skillet in grease which they proclaim has never been changed (filtered each night). It was great and it's clear that Beale Street will see us again. Graceland followed, and it's a prime example of what we often say in the South "You can't hide money". And Lawdy did Elvis have some money. The artifacts at Graceland in the "Trophy Room" and the "Raquetball building" are places a fan could spend all day.

    A quick 200 miles up to Nashville, beers and a fried bologna sammitch at Robert's Western World, with two FINE Texas Swing bands playing through the evening, and a slow stroll back up the hill to our hotel finished up the day. With some eggs, grits, bacon, and raisin toast at Waffle House under our belts, we had a long drive back to Raleigh, arriving exhilarated but spent, shortly after 8pm.

    Clarksdale and the Shack Up Inn will be the focal point of a future RoadTrip. We could easily spend 3-4 or more nights there.

    Until next time,


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default ...a fried bologna sammitch

    That sounds like an epicurean experience not to be missed.

    Loved reading your field report.


  5. #5

    Default Fried bologna = Redneck staple


    This particular sammitch is a staple at local racetracks, fairgrounds, rodeos, bars, and bowling alleys all over the South. When you see one on the menu, you know you're where you intended to be.

    Fried bologna sammitch, with lettuce, tomato, and mustard, on toasted white bread, a bag of Lance original tater chips, and a cold bottle of Bud. My cardiologist would say otherwise, but it doesn't get much better than that.


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