Thursday, 17 April 2008
The Deep South Tour – 2008
In general, the Americans were quite dismayed when they heard that Jules and Shelley would only be seeing Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and a teensy edge of Florida on their first visit to the States.
It reminded me of my first six months in New Orleans, when people would ask, "So where else in the US have you lived?" and I'd say, "Louisiana is the only place I've lived since I left Australia."
"Oh," they'd say gravely, "I'm sorry. The rest of America is Really Not Like This." (Trust me, I could hear the capitals.)
If I had limitless funds and a nanny for the two-year-old and someone else to haul Kickbaby around under their shirt, I would've loved to take Jules and Shelley to other cities I love, like Portland and Seattle and Santa Fe and Atlanta and New York, and to places I'd love to see – like Savannah and Charleston and Chicago and Washington D.C.
But with Berry and Kickbaby in tow, we improvised our own itinerary – one that will never quite be replicated by anyone else, ever.
We made Jules sick with the American Breakfast at Waffle House; we made Shelley sick with rich soul food at the Praline Connection (Australian stomachs just aren't built for Southern fare); we stalked the wedding cake house on St Charles Avenue in the Garden District so Shelley could get the perfect picture (the upside-down one just didn't cut it); and we compiled a veritable photo essay on the hazards of New Orleans' crazy footpaths.
We sat out a pouring should've-been-sunny Saturday in Perdido Beach, we built sandcastles with Berry, we went all over New Orleans' famous French Quarter by day, and by night Nathan (a French Quarter bar expert if ever there was one) took Jules and Shelley to some of his favourite haunts. There was jambalaya at Napoleon House and a streetcar ride down St Charles and frisbee in Audubon Park and the best Southern-diner food ever at Camellia Grill. And last but not least, I enthralled Shelley with the appalling-ness of Wal-mart. She berated herself for leaving the camera at home at least 18 times in that one trip, especially when she spied the jumbo jar of pickled pigs' ears. You think I'm joking; I'm not.
It was an unconventionally action-packed two weeks – certainly not the way Fodor's or Rick Steves or Lonely Planet would've done it.
And all I can say about that is: thank goodness.