Trip To Mississippi, Part 3

On our way to Alabama for Thanksgiving with the family, we begin to get hungry again. I stop for gas and come out with a surprise – a staple of Southern cuisine, which Christina has never even heard of –

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She flips it over and reads the ingredients…

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…then tosses it back to me, unopened, and says, “Very funny.”

A few hours later we’re in Cullman, Alabama, with my Aunt Ann and Uncle Paul and 3 of their 5 kids with respective spouse and kids and kid’s kids. It was my first holiday with this part of my family in, oh, nearly 30 years. It was a really nice reconnection and the food spread (not to overemphasize something so materialistic as food in light of such a poignant reunion, but plummeting blood sugar sometimes dictates such literary choices) was slammin’. Christina was able to eat, and for the first time I felt like she might actually survive the trip.

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Afterwards (below), stuffed with traditional American Thanksgiving fare, I fell asleep mid-sentence, with my mouth still open. You can see the relief in the tired eyes of the person next to me, the one I was boring with the captivating details of my life (see rest of blog) …

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That night we retreated to a hotel room, a cozy little place (hello, Days Inn…this blog is accepting kickbacks) with some interesting signs:

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And an even more interesting free breakfast:

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Not the grits in the upper left hand corner? Mmmm, mmmm! I loves ’em. Christina tried to put sugar on hers and I instinctively slapped her hand away, saying, maybe a little too loud for the early hour, “You wanna get us all killed!?” I have pictures of her eating unsweetened (non-Yankee) grits, but it was very early and the lighting was bad and she’d kill me if I posted them. I’m sure this is a big disappointment to everyone reading this paragraph. I did take this picture at breakfast, though…it’ll have to do for now…

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After breakfast we went back to Aunt Ann’s house. She had, on my request, dragged out all of the family pictures for me to look through. She’s my mother’s sister, and had lots of pics of my mother as a child that I had never seen. Soon everyone was taking a little nostalgic stroll with me – they even set up a card table in the living room so we could all paw through the past.

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I found some amazing stuff. Really, a memorabilia lover’s jackpot. Like this newspaper clipping (from the early 60s, I’m guessing) of my mother as a teenager (far right). Totally cool:

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After scanning and grabbing pictures, we were on our way back to Mississippi, this time to visit the Delta, a very different region of the South. We passed the “Welcome To Mississippi” sign well after nightfall, and I had to pull over on this not-particularly-safe bit of highway roadside…

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 And force my wife to run up and pose for this picture with me.

 

 

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Clearly this is the last thing that she (or anyone, really) would want to be doing at this moment, yet she handled the whole ordeal with superb grace. Next stop, the Mississippi Delta…

To be continued…

 

 

Trip To Mississippi, Part 2

Our first night we drove to Holly Springs, MS, and stayed in some fancy hotel (Day’s Inn.) We went out in search of food and found this place:

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Perfect! For me, at least. I ordered the catfish plate and a side of fried okra. Christina begrudgingly ordered a fish sandwich. You place your order and then go back and wait in your car until it’s done. I suppose you could phone ahead, but who knew? We drove around most of Holly Springs, came back, and still had to wait an additional 15 minutes. Who needs fast food? Proper deep frying takes time, I tried to explain to Christina. Here’s what we got:

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Nothing but brown food! I was in heaven. Christina was in shock. I ate hers, too. She had a French fry and went to sleep. I was feeling bad for talking her out of bringing Cliff Bars with her.

 

The next day we checked out Holly Springs in the daylight. It was Thanksgiving Day, so no hope of finding anyone who would sell us some food. That’s OK, we’d be at Aunt Ann’s house later that day, over in Alabama, where we’d get a traditional spread. Don’t worry, I didn’t take a picture of it…

 

So, Holly Springs – when you see a car this cool looking…

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You have to have this kind of picture taken with it…

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Especially if it’s next to a grocery store that looks like this:

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Christina wanted to see fancy antebellum homes, so we drove around and found some. Like this one…

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This, to her, is the South. And in some cases it is, but I tried to explain to her that we weren’t quite in the Mississippi Delta yet, this was still the hill country, and that we got to the Delta we’d be seeing a very different type of dwelling. I tried my best to describe it to her, but words only go so far…shotgun_shack.jpg

We still had a few things to do before we got there, so no hurry. We were getting hungry, and Christina was about to have a true Southern experience – her first Piggly Wiggly:

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We bought some bananas and hit the road, Alabama bound –

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To be continued…

 

 

Trip To Mississippi, Part 1

OK, so this trip has already happened, but I didn’t have time to write about it as it happened, so here’s the multi-part-after-the-fact blow-by-blow of my trip – now with EXTRA HYPHENS! – to the Deep, Deep South for Thanksgiving.

A big part of this trip was taking my wife, Christina, to my former homeland of the Mississippi Delta. I was born in Greenville, MS, and spent the first 14 years of my life living there, Shelby, MS, and West Helena, Arkansas. The deep, deep south, as I said. Christina has lived in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Aspen. So for some reason it seemed important to me that she eat some “authentic” southern cuisine. You know, so she could literally get the flavor of the place. And because I like making people do things.

So…

We drove from Aspen to Denver to crash overnight so we could easily make our 10 a.m. flight. We are currently doing the Artist’s Way program, so we made time to do our daily “Morning Pages” at a coffee shop in the Denver airport.

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I asked the person sitting next to us (who was obviously curious as to why two people were busy scribbling, by hand, no less, at such an hour) to take our picture. He did. I said to his daughter, “Nothing weird about that, right? Just taking a picture of people writing.” She didn’t seem convinced.

We landed in Memphis, rented a car, and quickly made our way to Cozy Corner, the place which supposedly has some mighty fine BBQ.

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And it did. Here it is – the 6-piece rib dinner, on a paper plate, served with slices of white bread, beans, slaw and  tea so sweet it would give a hummingbird a heart attack.

 

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Christina is tentative, thinking that maybe just eating the baked beans would be safe. It wasn’t. Not for her, anyway. They were spicy. Lord have mercy.

I, on the other hand, proceeded to eat like a condemned man. Yes, I have sauce all over my lips. And, no, I didn’t do that for some sort of comedy effect. I’m a lapsed vegetarian, so I’m trying to make up for a lot of wasted years.

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Here’s a totally unnecessary picture of the resulting carnage.

 

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 This was early in the trip, when I had planned to take a picture of every single meal we ate. This strict program fizzled out after about a day and a half, so don’t worry…there won’t be any more shots like that last one. Though I do have a riveting shot of a bowl of grits that I’ll be posting soon! How’s that for a cliffhanger?

(To Be Continued…)