Should Have Bought the TAB:
Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About My Back
and Love Sleeping on the Floor
A New Orleans Trip Memoir
With Special Thanks to:
Reviewers: Benny and Alec
Pictures + Quotes: SexyPheon
Editors Note: If you would like
all 202 digital pics from New Orleans as high quality half meg pictures,
please contact SexyPheon for a CD.
Saturday, December 9, 2001
As determined at the Third Annual dNet XXXmas Partee the night before, those
of us still in Stevens Point (Alec was already in Madison to see Garrison
Keillor) would rendezvous at Davy’s house at 4 PM. The plan was to meet Alec at
Dan’s Madison apartment and then drive to Chicago that night. Dan and Wayner,
messiahs of punctuality, were on time as usual. Waiting for Benny to arrive,
they take out Davy’s guitar and start making up crude songs about the
whereabouts of Benny. Within his range of being on time (± 1 hour and 20
minutes) Benny shows up an hour late. To make matters worse he starts asking
questions like “Does anyone know how to get to the hotel tonight?” We gather
around the computer to find the confirmation number for the hotel reservation
Wayner made the night before, only to find that the reservation has been made
for the wrong hotel. Scrambling, Benny cancels the erroneous reservation and
tries to make a reservation at the hotel we stayed at last year when we went to
New York. Unfortunately, that hotel is no longer a Park and Fly. They have a
shuttle that would take us to Midway Airport but they wouldn’t let us leave our
car there while we were gone! We start to weigh the value of Davy’s car and the
$90 it would cost to park there. Dan bets that they wouldn’t tow it! In a pinch,
we try to make reservations at the Midway Hotel Center, a large group of hotels
just 2 blocks away from the airport. They have rooms available but would charge
us an additional $85 to leave our car there. Upon further consideration, we opt
to drive to Madison and spend the night at Dan’s apartment. Then we would get up
early the next morning to drive to Midway and leave our car in the economy
parking lots at the airport for only $9/day! Davy, Benny, Dan, and Wayner load
up in Tush’s 1985 Bonneville and head into town. We stop at the Westside Store
gas station to get some Cokes and say hi to Tush at Subway before we leave.
Little do we know that Tush has set us up! The Bonneville should have been
thoroughly heated by the time we reach Plainfield, but we soon discover that the
car has no heat! I guess Tush just wasn’t being nice to her brother when she
gave him that extra large single scoop of TCDYBY Yogurt.
|That engine doesn't look to "hottt"!
|Sexy Tusherz says "So do you want two scoops or one
REALLY BIG scoop!?"
In anticipation of the temp lights turning on and the car
stalling, we pull off in Coloma for gas. It’s so cold that Benny has to buy
some toe warmers so he can feel his feet! The rest of the drive is
uneventful, but we do open the windows occasionally to let the hot air in.
We’re freezing and starving when we finally get to Madison.With
impeccable timing, Alec calls Dan’s apartment as soon as we walk in the door.
Dan pops a couple of pizzas into the oven and we turn on “Platoon” to help us
fall asleep. It is a well known fact that starting a three hour epic drama after
midnight will lull a person to sleep, but we were all still wide awake after the
movie was finished. Everyone was too excited about the day to come! We figure
we’ll have to be up 5 AM to make an 11 AM flight out of Chicago. Alec and Wayner
decide to break in Ivy’s bed that night and then they don’t even make it when
they leave the next morning!
Sunday, December 30, 2001
We rise between 4:30 and 5 AM to Dan’s computer blasting No Doubt’s Sunday
Morning MP3 because nobody has an alarm clock! Everyone is excited to be leaving
and we pile into the Bonneville by 5:30 AM. We stop at McDonald’s for some
breakfast (and a chance to warm up) just north of Chicago at about 9. Early on a
Sunday morning, we cruise through Chicago without any traffic problems and
arrive at Midway on time. We park the heatless Bonneville in an economy parking
lot and catch a shuttle to the terminal. We all feel a sense of pride as we
navigate to the AirTran ticket counter. Benny was even sporting his AirTran
polo. Security was obviously tightened at the airport but we were able to
navigate through it quickly and painlessly. We had some time to kill at our gate
so we played cribbage and president in between watching planes taxi in and out.
Only Davy, whose Adidas visor must have tripped some sensors, was subject to a
random search as we boarded the plane. AirTran employees looked through his
backpack and he was asked to take off his shoes. We arrived at the Atlanta
airport around 12:30 PM or so. AirTran is based out of Atlanta so it was nice to
see all of those new 717s taxiing up and down the runways. My airline has
definitely arrived! We grab a bite to eat at Wendy’s while conversing with
Davy’s new “friend” from the plane and later douse Benny (and his mouth) with
sprays that “smell like girl” at Bath and Body Works. On the way back to the
AirTran Concourse (that’s right, AirTran has their own concourse but
unfortunately no AirTran Store) we decide to take the subway train. Alec, seeing
the red lights flashing to make everyone aware that the doors are closing, makes
a dash for it and beats everyone else back to the concourse. Most of the
tripmates take a nap except for Wayner, who reads the Atlanta newspaper, until
they begin boarding at 6:30 PM. Another quick hour and a half flight and we
arrive in New Orleans at about 8 PM. To Wayner’s delight, all of our luggage is
|At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass
|Pride of the fleet! But where is the air
Ben’s search for the cheapest lodging in New Orleans placed us
in a Motel 6 on the far east side of town. However, the New Orleans airport was
on the far WEST side of town and in Jefferson parish (Louisiana has parishes
instead of counties). After a chat with the information desk lady we discovered
that we could pick up a bus that would take us to the parish line. An hour and
two more bus transfers later, we arrive at the intersection of Bullard and I-10
thanks to the help of some friendly riders. Without a Motel 6 in sight we walk
across the street to Pizza Hut to ask for directions. The employees don’t seem
to recognize any Motel 6’s in the area but they offer to call the hotel for us.
Apparently our hotel is still a half a mile away! Following their instructions,
we walk underneath the interstate and spot our hotel on the horizon. Expecting a
run down place, we checked into a surprisingly clean and new looking Motel 6. As
it was approaching 10 PM and we still hadn’t had any supper, we headed over to
Shoney’s for a big buffet. However, Shoney’s was only open for 10 more minutes
so we were out of luck. Ben, Wayner, and Davy went to the Sav-A-Center to get
some Cokes and Dan and Alec went back to the hotel to order some pizzas from
Domino’s. We enjoyed our pizzas and cokes as we watched a cheesy Charlie Sheen
movie on HBO, where he plays an advice column writer for a small time newspaper,
and went to bed.
Monday, December 31, 2001 - New Year’s Eve
After two hours of shower and prep time, we finally leave the hotel at noon.
Since we were shut out of Shoney’s the night before, we give it a try it for
lunch. Surprisingly, no one chooses the buffet. We all order sandwiches from the
menu. Still unfamiliar with the area and just exactly how the bus system works,
we pick up a bus going in the wrong direction. After a scenic tour of the
“ghetto” we circle back past the same place we got on the bus a half hour
|Mike says they're the "baddest boats"
he's been on!
|| Once downtown, we exit the bus near Canal Street and start working our
way towards the waterfront and visitor center. On the way there we happen
upon an independent visitor shop. Letting them know our desire to take a
swamp tour, the staff recommends Tommy’s, the best airboat tour in Louisiana
as featured on MTV’s “The Real World.” Hoping to maximize our experience, we
stress that we want to go out in a SMALL boat. After some finagling, which
included Alec calling the business to see how fast the boats could go
(35…40…45…50 mph), we talk the guy into a $13 discount per person (which
still put us at $52 per person!!!) for a small airboat ride and make
reservations for Friday afternoon.
Continuing on to the visitor center, we wind through Jackson Square (which is
already blocked off for New Year’s) and see the St. Louis Cathedral. We stop in
the visitor center for a bit but see little of interest. We wander in front of
the cathedral and it just happened to be time for mass. Ben and Davy go to
church and Wayner, Dan, and Alec go exploring on Bourbon Street and the
surrounding area. We meet up again in an hour and decide to find someplace to
|Upon the recommendation of Ben’s step dad, we visit Tony Moran’s on
Bourbon Street. It was here where Robert E. Lee…or was that Andrew Jackson…
planned the defense of New Orleans in 1814! The food was pretty good but the
lack of quantity and Coke refills left us sour. The $115 bill didn’t help
either. At least Solomon the doorman was nice. He let us use the bathroom at
the restaurant all night long. This didn’t seem like a huge perk at the
time, but later proved quite handy.
|"If you need anything, anything at all,
you just ask ol Solomon!"
As darkness descended upon New Orleans, we took to the streets in
search of noonies. Alec gladly assumes the roll as point man. We navigate up and
down Bourbon Street following Alec as he darted from flashing girl to flashing
girl. It was amazing how he was always so close to the action! We get a bunch of
pictures, quite a few beads (by pledging our allegiance to LSU), and are never
checked for ID the whole night! Even Davy, who hardly looks 18, was buying
alcohol! Apparently you only have to be able to reach the counter to drink in
New Orleans. Each of us besides Benny has a Hand Grenade. Proclaimed as “New
Orleans Most Powerful Drink” they were really sweet and went down easily. At
$7.50 per grenade they should be dubbed “New Orleans Most Expensive Drink”
|Happy new year!
|"The most expensive drink in New
While circulating the streets we question a police officer about how
late the buses run and he can only tell us not to drink up all of our money and
save $5 apiece for a taxi! Midnight comes and goes without much fanfare on the
streets. It wasn’t like NYC where every one was counting as the ball dropped. Wayner sets his sights on a Hurricane, but holds off for later. We hike down to
Jackson Square to see an excellent firework show and then back to Bourbon
Street. By this time, Bourbon Street is packed shoulder to shoulder with people
and when you tried to move you went wherever the crowd did. Davy levitating
across the street marked time to start walking away. Wayner still wanted his
Hurricane, but we were unwilling to surf through the crowd again with a whining
Alec on our hands. We leave the festivities around 1:30 AM and get back to the
hotel near 2 AM.
Tuesday, January 1, 2002
Sleeping in a bit, we take until noon again to get every one showered and
ready. The cold and rain mark a horrible day. No one is in the mood to do
much of anything. We try Subway for brunch but they’re closed so we make a
run for the border and eat at Taco Hell. After some fine Mexican cooking, we
head over to Circuit City because it’s still raining. We play around with the
computers and video games for a while and then head over to Toys ‘R Us for some
more fun. Meanwhile, the rain is still coming down. Davy breaks open his now
unstitched finger while playing football and has to go to the service desk for a
towel. As it’s still raining, we go to Home Depot to get some first aid supplies
for Davy’s hand (read: electrical tape). After trying on some gas powered leaf
blower jetpacks and juggling some chainsaws, we return to the hotel to watch TV,
call home, and play cards.
|This place is horrible!! Why did
we take a picture??
Working on a suggestion to eat at Shoney’s once a
day, we go there for supper. We all get the buffet and settle in for an eating
contest. Dan eats half a chicken and is declared the winner! After that meal we
all remember why we don’t go to Shoney’s in Stevens Point and vow never to
return to Shoney’s again! With our tummies full of gut-wrenching Shoney’s grub,
we storm the Sav-A-Center grocery store. Benny, Davy, and Alec try on hospital
scrubs and Wayner and Dan peruse the liquor aisle and get asked if we have any
weed for sale (That’s right, no liquor department! All the alcohol is out in an
aisle just like cereal and cake mix in the South). We draw the attention of the
supermarket security guard but he’s cool. He was just making sure we weren’t
trying on the scrubs and then leaving without paying for them. Benny makes sure
to purchase some doilies and Flan as well. We head back to the hotel with some
chips and soda and watch Cocktail and Lethal Weapon on the TV. Davy uses the
privy and we collectively verify that Shoney’s smells better on the way in (not
by much). Davy’s fowl smell, in conjunction with leaving the door open, coins
the phrase “gutting a possum.”
Wednesday, January 2, 2002
Showering begins promptly at 8:30 so we can eat and get downtown to the D-Day
Museum as soon as possible. Alec is the last one to wake and is antagonized
verbally so that he will get going. This is how the “pentagon shower lubs j00”
got started. We bus ourselves into town and enjoy a fine breakfast at Dunkin’
Donuts. On the way to Dunkin’ Donuts, we spot a Gibbs Construction hard hat on
top of the traffic light control box on the sidewalk. As we dirty our faces with
powdered sugar, we contemplate how good that hard hat would look in Davy’s
backpack. Benny and Davy execute a covert op (I’ll keep the little covert op on
the down low… Low down… No doubt!) and gather the target without blowing their
cover or looking too suspicious. We proceed to the D-Day Museum and spend the
rest of the day there. The museum was very cool. Great exhibits on Normandy and
the Pacific theater as well. Just down the street from the museum we scale the
statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle and watch the streetcars for a while. In
search of food, we head for the riverfront and downtown.
|At the half-shell, just watch out for
those falling bottles of Tabasco!
|"Not so much here, or here, but
We try to eat at the
Bally’s Casino downtown but one has to be 21 to enter so that was a bust (Wayner’s
so punny). Coming up empty, we take the Algiers Ferry across the Mississippi
River. Little did we know that Algiers is pretty residential and didn’t have
shit in the way of restaurants. We do get asked if we want to buy some weed
though! We end up catching the next ferry back to the other side. Waiting for
the ferry to return, Benny finds a good-looking restaurant in the phone book
while the rest of the group hangs with the locals (read: pimps and dealers).
Unfortunately, once we get to the restaurant it’s closed. I guess 7 PM is too
late for a restaurant to stay open! Desperately seeking food, we find the Half
Shell restaurant. Here we got to sample some real Cajun style cooking. The
waiter was quite nice and helpful in deciding what we should order. We get some
“bullets” (Cajun for red beans), jambalaya, and gumbo. We catch the bus back to
the Motel 6 to watch a corny movie, Shock Video 2002, and have ice cube fights
(read: Wayner gets ice thrown at him, so he whips it back against the wall,
shattering it to thousands of tiny pieces).
Thursday, January 3, 2002
As usual we are up and going a little on the late side today. It takes three
hours to get everyone through the morning routine. The author of this fine
memoir did get to watch Bedazzled on the TV this morning though. Wow! Elizabeth
Hurley is hottttt! (And 37 years old) We ate brunch at Subway and picked up the
bus for downtown once again. First thing we did in town was visit the New
Orleans Public Library. Surprisingly, the library only has two internet
computers and both had long lines at them. It did have DVDs for rental though,
which was very neat. With a bit of luck, Alec happens upon a nice guy who lets
us use the rest of his time because he thought Alec was gay too! We were able to
check our grades quick but no email. Some of us were surprised (Benny), some of
us disappointed (Wayner and Alec), and others confident (Dan). I don’t think you
can check MSTC grades online but I’m sure Davy did fine. We had originally
planned to go to San Francisco for winter break, but we lucked out because New
Orleans has their own streetcar line! Taking full advantage of our unlimited
daily transit passes; we board the streetcar and ride it through the Garden
District on our way to the Audubon Zoo. Alec wanted to see some penguins. What
Alec wants, Alec gets because our purpose in life is to make Alec happy. This
will figure prominently into the next few days’ activities! By the time we get
to the zoo it’s already 3 PM and the zoo is only open until 5 PM plus only one
of the animals was actually viewable due to the extreme cold (low 40s!). We opt
to head back into town and go to the Aquarium of the Americas instead since it
is open until 6. We tour the aquarium and Alec gets to see his penguins. We
catch an average IMAX film about the secret world of caves in addition to the
aquarium tour. It featured music by the Moody Blues, but the songs were all
re-recorded elevator music background junk.
|Yes, I am inside the tank!
Some of us, namely the author, were
disappointed. Starved and looking for a meal that was easy on the pocketbook, we
head to the restaurant that had been closed the night before only to find that
it was closed again! Our options are now limited to fast food. Burger King fits
the bill perfectly. Benny wants to have an eating contest and tells Wayner to
order six 99 cent chicken tender things because he’s still hungry after downing
a large sized double Whopper value meal. While Benny is in the bathroom “gutting
a ‘possum”, Wayner goes ahead and orders the 30 pieces of chicken for the sole
purpose of making Benny eat them. Benny can only finish 20 of them before he
calls in Davy and Wayner for reinforcements. Thoroughly impressed by our first
streetcar ride, we board the streetcar again and ride it all the way to the end
of the line. It was neat to the see the driver hop out of the car and switch the
seats around so we could go in the opposite direction back to town. In order to
ride back we had to show the driver our transit passes. Everyone had his pass
readily available except for Benny. He sat there and took out the ENTIRE
contents of his inner pocket of his coat (read: junk drawer) before finally
finding it. The driver didn’t look too enthused after that episode. He still
drove us back downtown though. Ben, Davy, and Alec spent most of the ride back
trying to figure out how the driver actually drives the streetcar. We finish off
our last night in New Orleans with a speedy warm bus ride where Alec tries to
pretend he’s not bored by attempting to sleep.
Friday, January 4, 2002
Rise and shine at 9! (Hey, that rhymed) Wayner and Davy leave the hotel to
find some breakfast and stamps for postcards. They visit the Sav-A-Center to buy
some donuts, milk, and juice. They also hike over to McDonald’s but miss the
breakfast cutoff time by 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Benny taunts Alec by telling him
how much easier Tany wakes up than he does. Everyone freshens up as we enjoy our
donuts and beverages and prepares to leave the Motel 6. Dan checks us out of the
hotel and we radiate in the sun for 45 minutes waiting for the Enterprise
shuttle van (They’ll pick you up!). Luckily, the Enterprise driver brings a
minivan because we’ve got five big boys and backpacks too. To our disappointment
it wasn’t wrapped in brown paper like the commercials. Once at the rental shop,
Alec and Davy immediately start playing with the toys in front of the desk
attendant and then for “some reason” Enterprise starts to feed Dan lines that
they won’t rent to him because he is too young (All other rental car companies
require a renter to be at least 24 years old, Enterprise was the only company
that, according to their website, would rent to 21 year olds). Dan bats his
eyelashes at the rental girl and she ends up renting him the car, only after
triple verifying his license and insurance. The fact that we had a confirmation
number might have helped too. We load up our backpacks into a sporty red 2001
Ford Taurus and drive to McDonald’s for a bite to eat. Benny wants to go to
Walmart to get some gloves and a hat so he doesn’t freeze on the airboat but
with reservations at 3 PM we thought we should get going. Tommy’s Airboat Rides
are located about a half hour south of downtown New Orleans in Lafitte. Due to
its location on the bayou, only one road exists into and out of Lafitte.
|Chevy 354 Big Block!
|"We have the best politicians money can
drive for 20 miles down a straight road with nothing to see but swampy forest on
either side. Then out of nowhere we drive over a high bridge crossing a channel.
Once across the bridge the road ends suddenly and funnels down to a lesser
county road. Tommy’s is located just under the bridge in a fairly non-descript
trailer for the heralded “Best Airboat Ride in Louisiana.” We meet our tour
guide and pay the rest of the bill. He reminds us to bundle up because it’s
going to be cold. Contrary to our reservation, we end up taking an 18 passenger
boat on the tour, not the small 6 person boat we that we had requested. Together
with a mother (a strip bar waitress from El Paso) and her two sons, we launch
for our swamp tour. We strap ourselves into our stainless steel seats and put on
our ear protection, as our guide fires up the Chevy 354 Big Block engine. The
tour guide does an excellent job explaining the history and wildlife of the
area. We see many birds and nutrias (think of a beaver with a tail like a rat),
but no alligators (they are hibernating in December). On one of our tour stops,
the guide recommends some good places to eat in the area. When we mention that
we are from Wisconsin, he tells us to visit “Favre’s on the Bayou” in Kiln,
Mississippi. This restaurant, run by Brett Favre’s brother Jeff, is in Favre’s
hometown. Another suggestion of his was Jan’s Restaurant just down the road from
the airboat trailer. We decide to try it out once we get back to the dock. The
help was good looking and the food wasn’t bad either! Unfortunately, the younger
waitresses stayed in the back but our waitress did call everyone “baby”. That is
everyone except for Ben. I guess babies can’t have neck beards. While eating we
were able to watch TV too. Our choices were pretty limited but we caught some of
Jeopardy and then Clifford The Big Red Dog. Here we witnessed Alec’s southerly
slip of tongue when he asked us if the level of volume was, “alright for all
y’all.” You should have seen his face! After supper we load back into the Taurus
and head up to Vicksburg. The drive via the interstate was rather dull and
sightless. We arrive at the Best Western (with indoor swimming pool) around
11:30 PM and check in. Dan and Alec order a pizza from Pizza Hut and we watch
Mission to Mars. Davy tries to take a shower but can’t figure out how to make
the water come out of the head. After 15 minutes of hearing the water turn on
and off, we applaud at the familiar sound of the shower.
Saturday, January 5, 2002
All of us except Ben grudgingly rise around 9:30 so we can take advantage of
the free continental breakfast. After showering, we head to Vicksburg Military
Park. We watch a movie on the Civil War battleground in the visitor center and
then take the sixteen-mile driving tour of the park. It rains the whole time we
are there but we still get out of the car to experience the memorials and
fortifications. We eat lunch at McAlister’s Deli, a sandwich shop that also had
baked potatoes with toppings and really good lemonade. The guy behind the
counter bore an uncanny resemblance to Ben’s brother Sam. The topic of
discussion turns to paintball guns over lunch. We debate whether a longer barrel
would make a paintball fire more accurately. Davy assures us that a longer
barrel would result in a higher muzzle velocity and therefore increased
accuracy. The rest of us are weary but Davy had “studied ballistics” in high
school physics so he stood by his answer. After eating, we drive downtown to try
to find a museum of Coke memorabilia. We can’t find it and eventually wind up at
the Vicksburg Library. Once again we have trouble using the internet. They have
plenty of computers available, but we can’t use them because we need to have a
library card. Since we weren’t residents, we couldn’t get a card, so no email
for us. Davy took advantage of this opportunity to ask the librarian about our
barrel length controversy. She searches the web and finds a page that states
that a longer barrel would result in higher muzzle velocity in regular rifles.
Presenting this information to Dan, he claims that the internet is not a
credible source! On the way back we spot a bowling alley in close proximity to
the Best Western. We all agree that bowling in Mississippi would be fun and plan
to return there in the evening. Dan and Ben take the car to do some laundry and
explore rural Vicksburg, while Alec, Davy, and Wayner stay back at the hotel.
Alec and Davy try out the pool but return quickly since the heater was broken.
Alec did swim long enough to smack his knee on the bottom of the pool though.
The three of us at the hotel watch Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey until Ben and
Dan return. Later that night we go back to Red Carpet Lanes for some prime tyne
Saturday night bowling. The place is busy but it appears billiards is more
popular than bowling in Mississippi.
|Those are some big guns, u hu, i reckon
|A "stealthily" taken photo of a "blurry"
Both Alec and Davy have some interesting
experiences here with the opposite sex. A girl hits on Davy but in an
un-Davy-like fashion he fumbles his words and crashes and burns! He says
something like “I… am… Wisconsin” and turned around and bowled. She went away
eventually. On the other hand, Alec takes the initiative on a girl (Checkers10)
in the lane next to us. He never actually talks to her but he did get to meet
her boyfriend! He said, “You better watch where you point that thing!” Maybe
holding a camera in her general direction and taking a picture of her wasn’t a
good idea! Nevertheless, that was the last we saw of her and her
camouflage-wearing boyfriend since we made them leave after only one game. Even
though some of us were distracted by the Mississippi lady folk, our bowling
scores did little to reflect this fact. Dan lets us in on the Coke frame, one of
his bowling league traditions. This frame typically occurs in the 7th frame but
it could occur in any frame. The bowler with the lowest score in the lane for
the Coke frame has to buy Cokes for all the other bowlers. It’s remarkable how
well people will bowl when a round of Cokes is on the line! We stealthily sneak
back to the car hoping to not to be spotted by any of Alec’s new “friends” from
Mississippi. Starved since we haven’t had supper yet, we find a Domino’s Pizza
in a gas station. Reviewing some maps we find that Kiln, Mississippi, home of
Brett Favre, is just off the interstate on the way to Biloxi, our next
destination. Later on while still waiting for our order, Wayner is awakened from
his daydreaming by two girls who mouth “Fuck You” to him through the glass.
Striking out all over the place with women, we return to the hotel and watch
Disclosure on HBO while enjoying our pizzas.
Sunday, January 6, 2002
We have to be up and going a little earlier today because check out time is
11 AM. We catch a good portion of both the Wayne’s World movies (No Stairway to
IOWA??? Denied!) before we leave the hotel room. Got to love TBS! The desk
attendant of the hotel, who seems to have been there for our entire stay,
recommends that we eat at Walnut Hill before we leave town. The Walnut Hill
restaurant is located in a historic house in downtown Vicksburg and the food
there is served family style on a round table. A round table is more than just a
circular table. It also has a Lazy Susan so that everyone on the table can
easily access any of the dishes by spinning it in their direction. The food was
cooked in a traditional Southern manner and was delicious with the exception of
the tomato aspic. Tomato aspic is kind of like jellied V-8. We try to visit the
Coke memorabilia museum again but it is closed and doesn’t look that neat
anyway. On our way out of town we stop at a visitor center to get a Mississippi
map and head for Biloxi via Kiln. The drive to Biloxi looks an awful lot like
Wisconsin. It’s flat and has pine trees all over, but no snow! The number of
roadway reflectors on the interstate impresses Benny. We stop for a bathroom
break at a rest stop, but there isn’t a bathroom so we have to go in the woods.
The well-worn trails show we weren’t the first to do this! We continue on and
exit the interstate for Kiln. There isn’t much to Kiln besides two gas stations
at a crossroad, although neighboring Stennis did have an international airport!
While Benny asks for directions to the restaurant at the gas station, the rest
of us peruse the used videos for sale at the video store next door. They have
some decent movies (American Psycho!) but nobody buys anything. We load up and
cruise down the street to Favre’s on the Bayou. No one was particularly hungry,
but we thought we better stop to say that we did it.
|What a perty view!
|Are you Brett Farve's brother?
Here we meet the southern
|"You're so hottt, sign my shirt!"
We stay and chat for 3 hours. Alec is so smitten with
her that he buys a restaurant tee shirt and she draws a picture and autographs
it for him. We take some pictures and leave an extra large tip for all her
attention. Knowing the affinity of smokers towards Alec, we spot Doni with an
inflamed white tube as we leave. The boys all agree that smoking is quite
unattractive but she becomes exempt. We have a nice sing-a-long with the radio
on the way to back to Gulfport. In Gulfport we pick up the highway that runs
right next to the beachfront. We stop and explore the beach at low tide for a
while in the darkness. A little farther down the same highway in Biloxi we check
into another Motel 6. Rates are quite affordable when you visit Biloxi in the
off-season! Wayner collapses on the floor in agony with a stomachache while the
rest of the group goes for a beach run. Likely stomachache culprits were
narrowed down to the undercooked roast beef or the unlimited iced tea at the
Walnut Hill restaurant. Wayner’s pain subsides but Alec agonizes in his own pain
thinking about what do about the new icon in his life. We fall asleep to Contact
on the TV
Monday, January 7, 2002
We all sleep in today and don’t leave the hotel until noon. We load into the
Taurus to take a beach drive and find some donuts but end up visiting the Gulf
Islands National Seashore Center. Here we learn about the history and wildlife
of the coastal region and islands, but to actually get there we need to catch a
ferry. Since it’s now lunchtime we go to Subway. Dan heads for the one on the
|A very pretty sunset on the 26 mile
We find it odd that Subway is serving Coke products and sure enough we
fill up with “Coke” only to find Pepsi in our cups! They were a little wacky at
that Subway anyway. The cashier was really Chiffon chatty and told us our change
as 746 cents as opposed to $7.46. After lunch we stop at one of the numerous
gift shops along the beachfront. Benny gets a shirt for Morey and Alec gets a
visor so he’ll always remember Mississippi. Although it must have looked quite
weird to the locals, we comb the beach for shells and write messages in the sand
in our winter jackets. We hike out to the end of a pier and rescue a drowning
cart. (Insert blurry picture of the fish we found in the cart here!) We visit Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’ retirement home, but we don’t take the tour because
it was too late in the day. The curator is nice though and lets us peruse the
gift shop. Alec buys a Confederate flag mouse pad for his father. While
attempting to take a group photo around the Jefferson Davis sign, we meet a
security guard who gives us a hand. He does a good job of filling us in about
the locals of Kiln. We learn all about the kilnbilly stills in the backyard,
year-round hunting, and the two seasons of Kiln: salt and pepper! We return to
the hotel to debate our options for supper. Last night Doni said she was working
again this night and that we should come back and bother her. Of course, Alec
was all gung ho about returning. Dan was a bit more reluctant. He expressed
concern about going to the same restaurant two nights in a row because of the
“scene” we made there the night before. The fact that he was the only driver
also played into his position. Alec was not content to let anyone prevent him
from returning to Kiln. The whining began and within seconds Dan’s opinion
changed and we decided to return to Favre’s on the Bayou.
|"Thanks so much SexyPheon for driving me
an hour into the heart of Mississippi so I could see my soulmate again!"
|We should start a construction,
demolition, and salvage company!
As expected, Doni was
working again when we got there. We stay until closing time and have a great
time again. Alec leaves the restaurant with Doni’s cell number and AOL screen
name. He vows to get her to switch over to ICQ within days of us returning to
Point. We return to the Biloxi Motel 6 to watch Proof of Life. As we are
settling down, Benny develops a plan to remove the memoir author from the floor,
where he had slept the entire trip so far. He offers to trade his position on
the bed with the author but the author refuses. Benny is relentless in his
pursuit to keep the author from being the floor martyr. While Benny gutted a
possum and everyone else watched the movie, the author made his bed on the floor
and fell asleep. The author is then rudely awakened as he is being picked up off
the floor by the four other tripmates. When the author began to violently kick
and thrash he was thrown on the bed. In a desperate attempt to regain any spot
on the floor, the author jumps into the crevasse between the bed and the wall
only to once again be hoisted onto the bed. Mad as hell and not going to take it
anymore, the author grabs the closest person (who happened to be Davy) and
begins wrestling. The phone toppled and the author’s hand hit the wall. After
this violent spat on the bed, Davy clears off the sheet-stripped bed and leaves
it entirely to the author. Ben and Davy take the floor, Dan and Alec claim the
other bed, and the author sleeps on the bed alone as planned. While the author
falls asleep, he remains motionless and listens in on the conversation of the
other four tripmates. Apparently Davy’s studies have extended well beyond
ballistics. He is convinced that the author was asleep through the entire
Tuesday, January 8, 2002
The group rises early on their last day in the South. Showering begins at 7.
In respect of the author, they let him sleep in, since he was always the first
in the shower. We load up the rental car and check out of the Motel 6 by 9. On
the way back to New Orleans, where we are to board the train at 2, we stop at a
Super Walmart to get some soda and chips for the train ride back to Chicago.
Completely by chance the author comes across a copy of “A League of Their Own”
on video. Benny is awestruck and buys this long sought out classic (Avoid the
clap! Jimmy Dugan). While looking for the soda we are surprised to see that keg
beer can be purchased at the Walmart service desk. It must be a southern thing!
Instead of coming straight into New Orleans via the interstate, we take a detour
so we can drive over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. This bridge spanning 24
miles crosses directly over the middle of the lake. It was just like driving
straight into the ocean. You couldn’t see the city on the other side nor
anything along the sides of the lake. Coming into town by Benny’s creative map
reading skills, we finally get to the downtown Enterprise dealer after some
driving gymnastics. Besides just picking you up, Enterprise will also give you a
ride to the Amtrak Depot, which was only a few blocks away! We pick up our
tickets, check our luggage, and walk to the business district to find some
lunch. We work up a sweat on the way to the restaurant as the sun comes out for
the first time all trip. It’s too bad the entire trip didn’t have weather like
this but even though it was unseasonably cool during our visit it was still
better than Minnesota and Wisconsin. We order two big pizzas from the Italian
Pie and enjoy lunch with a crowd of New Orleans businesspeople. Not known for
their temporal reliability, Amtrak departs New Orleans on schedule!
|It's the City of New Orleans!
Hello America how are you!
|"He's shooting the moon! You son of a
We meet our train attendant and fall asleep soon after we get rolling. Later
on we retire to the lounge car to play some cards and watch “Rat Race” with our
newfound Amish friends. In Memphis we get a chance to get out of the train and
stretch our legs for 15 minutes. We enjoy a relatively good meal in the dining
car and return to the lounge car to play some more cards. The author proves
himself a better President player than Hearts player. Attempting to shoot the
moon every game regardless of your hand is not a good strategy! The nearly empty
weekday train allows us to stretch out in our seats and achieve some level of
comfort. However, nobody ever really sleeps well on the train.
Wednesday, January 9, 2002
Our attendant wakes us up in Chicago around 8 AM. We pick up our checked bags
and are already on our way out of Union Station by 9. The nearest “L” stop is
only 5 blocks away from the station and will take us all the way to Midway for
only $1.50 per person. Track construction and other delays slow us down some but
we make good time to Midway. Although the computerized voice on the train
indicating the stop did make Alec contemplate suicide twice! Once at Midway we
catch the parking lot shuttle and find the Bonneville. Davy fishes something out
of the radiator and the super-efficient Bonny fires right up! After another $99
charge to Dan’s check card for 11 days of $9 per day parking, we hit the road.
Dan buys us all lunch at McDonald’s and we roll on home. We didn’t play “that”
game because everyone was asleep on Wayner’s shoulders. We arrive at Davy’s
around 4 to a big Welcome Home party in his garage. Both Davy’s dad AND Kevin
were there to greet us! We split up to our respective vehicles and said so long
to each other.
The Moral of the Story
- Alec whines. Therefore always keep the prime directive in mind.
- When in doubt, go with the name brand soda. Not Faygo!
- At buffet style restaurants it is customary to tip 5 to 10 percent. However,
at rural Mississippi establishments it is proper to tip upwards of 50 percent!
- Respect your younger sister! She might just lend you her car!
- You would be amazed what drunken girls will do for a 30 cent strand of
- A check card is not the same as a credit card.
- Know the doorman! He can be a lifesaver if you need to piss.
- Shoney’s sucks!
- Even the Gulf of Mexico is cold in December!
- Flashing red lights mean make a run for it!
- Body wash doesn’t cure bad breath.
- Asking questions will only make you later.
- Even the bad side of town can have good hotels.
- You’ve been visiting the South too long when you start using “y’all”.
- Everyone takes advantage of tourists.
- Bad jokes aren’t worth a dollar per person.
- The cheapest kegs are at Walmart.
- Sometimes the only thing you can do in a crowd is not fall down.
- Keep your stitches in.
- Cops don’t care if you drink as long as you have enough money left to get
- Powdered sugar does wonders for the complexion.
- Keep your bus pass handy. The driver might ask for it.
- After gutting a possum, turn on the fan and shut the god damn door.
- When determining the geometric shape of a shower, round sides do not count.
- Longer barrel = higher muzzle velocity, yah right.
- People bowl surprisingly well when a round of Cokes is on the line.
- Remember what Andrew Jackson said.
- You’re asking for trouble if you take a picture of a guy’s girlfriend and
he’s wearing camo.
- If your brakes fail and you can’t slow down, aim for a fire hydrant.
- Unlimited iced tea can cause serious stomach pains.
- Avoid tomato aspic like the plague.
- Visit the beach in the off-season.
- If memoir authors want to sleep on the floor, then you better let them.
- Don’t set your watch to it, but Amtrak CAN be on time.
- Nobody sleeps well on the train.
- Shooting the moon every hand is an unbeatable hearts strategy.