Day Two on Interstate 20 took me through the rest of Alabama, across Mississippi and midway through Louisiana. LaTuga is running great and I’m getting to know her better. The manual says the Honda Element is a high-profile vehicle, not to drive her fast or make sudden moves. So, I didn’t. Slow and steady wins the race, I keep telling myself.
My intention was to spend the night in Vicksburg, MS, on the Mother America Mississippi River, wide, magnificent. Mark Twain’s river, paddle boats then steam boats. One of the greatest and prolonged Civil War battles happened at Vicksburg. It was worth a stop. And, when I did, the restaurants were closed and there was this dead-end, shut down, trying to make a comeback as a cute tourist chatchkah kinda’ town that didn’t quite make it. The views were magnificent. I honored the dead on both sides, imagined the force of battle, the strategic location on the bluff protected by still evident forts, and how the war turned against the Confederacy once it lost Vicksburg. Controlling the mightiest river in America meant controlling food, munitions, life itself.
Once I crossed the Mississippi, I was immediately plunged into Louisiana’s flatlands and bayous. The rain came. It was getting dark at three-thirty in the afternoon, and by four-thirty I was ready to get off the road. Where? In West Monroe, LA, where the Quality Inn welcomed me. This is not a high-end road trip, Judith Reitman!
Oh, boy, I though. Louisiana bayou country. Fish. Cajun. Jambalaya. Etouffee. Dinner. I asked the woman behind the front desk, Where is a good local place to eat? Why, jess dawn dah rode, she answered.
Repeat from Day One: at Willie’s Duck Diner where fatigue green and all-terrain vehicles populate the TV screen along with some scrufty looking millionaires, and diners whose bodies are testimony to overindulgence of hush puppies, corn bread, and jambalaya, there was no beer or wine. Sorry ma’am, said the waitress, we don’t serve alcohol here, and no hot tea. OK. Hot water and lemon please.
Can’t wait to get to Austin. I know from Eva Olson and Norm Chafetz that I can get a good glass of Malbec or Pinot Noir!