DRIVING SOUTH, USA
Anyone who has driven across Interstate 10 in Texas knows the long, boring, drive lasts for days. We find a great way to break-up the monotony by camping in Hueco Tanks State Park, about 30 miles outside of El Paso. The rock formations surround pools of collected rain water, and hold Native American petroglyphs in this sacred ground.
You cannot hike without a park guide, and must watch a video before paying $27 to camp. Mare, Jack the dog, and I enjoy sleeping on a pad in the back of our new truck for the first time, before cooking bacon and eggs in the morning. No need for the available electricity, but running water is a luxury.
After a night in a dirty motel (cheap at least) in San Antonio, we take a morning stroll along the Riverwalk, which offers a cool place to chill from a long day of driving. One of the best chefs in the state runs “The Luxury” restaurant, right on the river, where we enjoy a fish sandwich with an array of fresh herbs. They serve water to Jack in the outdoor grounds of this dog friendly restaurant.
Bourbon Street, here we come, Baby! Glad to see good crowds of tourists here after the storm. Gourmet food, and fresh oysters somehow mix well with the drunks, sex clubs, and faint smell of vomit. The streets surrounding Bourbon Street thrive with shops, music, friendly people, and are more relaxing for us “elderly.” However, we still manage to have a blast for two solid days before heading to Mississippi.
After gumbo and oysters on the coast in Biloxi, we truck-camp again in Gulf Islands National Sea Shore. We munch on boiled crawfish, crackers in Cajun seafood dip, and fried Andouille sausage for our dinner in the woods. After trying to sleep in the hot, humid night, I wonder about connecting the red dots from bug bites covering Mare’s legs and ankles.
Got another cheap, nasty motel halfway up Mississippi en route to Memphis. Brought out the two burner again and cooked crawfish, potatoes, peppers and onions on the motel sidewalk outside of our room.
Our first visit to Beale Street reveals B. B. King’s House of Blues, and the entire street is shut-down to vehicles, filled instead with barbeque and Blues musicians.
The second day we visit the National Civil Rights Museum, which fills us with emotion for the peaceful, passionate energy that fuels the fight for equal rights. We look through the boarding house bathroom window where escaped convict, James Earl Ray, shot Dr. King to death. Then we stand in the very spot where Dr. King was shot outside the doorway of his room at the Lorraine Motel.
We both choke back tears, thinking about how people were treated as sub-humans not that very long ago. James Earl Ray may have killed the man, but not the movement.
The Rock and Soul Museum displays good music and history, and brings home how blues and rock musicians care nothing about skin color. Blues music was black, and country was white, and when the musicians intermingled, they found a white person with soul who could bring this music into the homes of all Americans…none other than Elvis Pressley.
On the road to Mingo Junction, Ohio, we stop in Carrollton, Kentucky and camp one final evening in the wooded hills, near a lake at General Butler State Park. The squirrels look like mini-grizzly bears. Massive storm warnings are in effect, and the air is nice and cool. We eat “Hometown Pizza” in camp, and cook the last of our Andouille sausage with eggs in the morning.
After a week-long visit in my hometown of Mingo, next stop…Iceland, Baby! Ron Mitchell