Fort Worth - Fort Davis - Alpine
We arrived in Fort Worth around 930 on Monday night. We stayed at a Country Inn and Suites outside the city that had free shuttle service in. We went out to the stockyards part of town, which is like miniature cowboy vegas without the gambling – neon boots on every door.
I drank a margarita the size of my head at Booger Red’s Buffalo Butt bar.
Trotsky was home sleeping, so he couldn’t ride the horse.
The next morning we drove through West Texas
to Fort Davis. Fort Davis is one of the small towns (all with pops between 820 and 5200 considered the gateways to Big Bend National Park, along with Terlingua, Alpine and Marfa. They are all awesome.
We played catch on the courthouse lawn with some local youths.
We then drove up to the MacDonald Observatory, run by UT Austin, it has some of the most powerful telescopes in the world.
An astronomer gave us a constellation tour with a laser pointer that traveled as far as the eye could see, and then we looked through the telescopes. The view of Jupiter was so clear that you could see the colors (reddish orange) on the stripes, and very faintly make out the brown spot. Looking at Orion’s Belt you coud see the outline of the trillions of miles of gasses that are currently creating stars. Awesome.
We then drove down to Alpine, and stayed at the Holland Hotel. Rooms are 110 dollars, but I called and asked if I could have a reduced rate cause it’s off-season. They gave us a room for 67 total, upgraded us to a suite, included two free drinks at the bar and breakfast. Also it was beautiful, we had a SouthWestern dinner at Reata and a beer at the Saddle Club.
All hail west texas
Bardstown - Clarksdale
We woke up in Bardstown and, after breakfast, drove through Kentucky toward Tennessee.
We stopped at Abraham Lincoln’s home, and Matt and Trotky stood in awe of how small and shitty it was.
We played catch over Knob Creek, which unfortunately flows only with water.
We had lunch at the Loveless Café in Nashville, and talked to an old man about the biggest canyons other than that one really big one.
We drove late into the night until we got to my favorite place in the world. The Shack up Inn in Clarksdale Mississippi. These photos are of the bar that was INSIDE of our cabin!! Oh god I love it there. The TV only plays blues music and we drank pecan beers
Annapolis to Bardstown
On the way to Bardstown Kentucky, Matt and I learned about the sin of gluttony. Poor timing.
Bardstown is like Napa Valley but for bourbon. We stayed at the Old Talbott Tavern, in the George S Patton General’s Quarters.
The O.T.T. was established in 1779, and is the oldest hotel in Kentucky. Daniel Boone used to stay there.
At dinner Matt ordered a “hot brown”. I was horrified, until it became clear that it was a local culinary delicacy. It’s turkey and ham on a croissant, covered with “famous eleven cheese sauce”, CHEDDER CHEESE (not one of the 11 cheeses heretofore referenced), and fried tomatoes and pancetta. So don’t worry, it isn’t anything disgusting…
We ordered a 5 bourbon sampler for 27.95. It was the only bar in town, and everyone from a 30 mile radius seemed to be there. They were very upset that Matt refused to take his bourbon as a shot, choosing to savor them, rather then drink 8 ounces of whiskey in rapid succession.
60 year old local: Stop sippin’ that, it’s a shot
Matt: oh…no that’s ok
Local: c’mon, pound it back
Local’s wife: it’s a shot!
30 year old local: you gotta pound that
Matt: no, I’m not going to do that
Local: you don’t sip bourbon
Matt: I understand the technique, I just don’t care about it, I’m going to go ahead and do whatever I want to with these drinks I just spent 28 dollars on.
Anyway, Bardstown is cool, we didn’t get to go to the Maker’s Mark distillery and dip our own bottle, cause it’s winter.
Day 10 and 11 - Clarksdale and Nashville
Day 10 : Clarksdale (in which you don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout the blues)
We were woken by our hosts bringing Nick a HAPPY BIRTHDAY cheesecake with a candle. They made us eggs, we drove by mansions and we headed to Mississippi.
“here’s to the land, you’ve torn out the heart of
Oh Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of “
Sorry Phil Ochs, but the good people of Clarksdale Mississippi are the greatest in the whole world.
We are staying at the shack up inn. Look it up, go stay there. It’s a re-furbished plantation of sharecropper cabins, which somehow isn’t nearly as cringe-inducing as it should be. For 87 dollars we have 4 rooms and a screened in porch. It’s about 3 miles from the crossroads, where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil (spoiler alert: not true).
We sat in rocking chairs on the porch, and listened to Delta Blues with a bottle of bourbon. Just like Skip James and Son House did, in between prison stints and knife fights in the parking lots of bars.
Everything other than one pizza place closes on Sundays in the Delta, so we ordered two pizzas to go. Two patrons at Stone Pony Pizza told us where to get moonshine on our way through Tennessee.
After coffee on the porch, we drove to Taylor Grocery outside of Oxford Mississippi.
For lunch: fried catfish with hushpuppies okra and green beens.
In Oxford MS, we saw an alarming sign
And comrade FPT admired the oldest courthouse in Mississippi.
Next, through Holly Springs (the birthplace of Syl Johnson) into Tennessee – on the road to Nashville.
Tennesee is the home of Big Star
Adam took us to a meat and 3 where we ate more catfish
And Trotsky played in the grease pit (my new nickname for the south, and…potentially for myself)
Then to a club where every Monday night, the best session musicians in Nashville play country music, which was pretty incredible. Vince Gill came on stage and sang a Merle Haggard song.
Nashville offers a number of things I have never seen before
Day 9 con’t New Orleans
We went to the park to have a catch, and then after being descended upon by a thick layer of mosquitos (I think I have dengue fever now), we were forced to leave. We drove past the St. Louis cemetery
And through the Treme passing Louis Armstrong park
We had a drink at a columned hotel, the sort of place where fat men in white suits swatted at gadflys and discussed the rise and fall of the…person-market.
After being nauseated by our brief reminder of the late unpleasantness: the War of Northern Aggression, we walked to Cochon. — the best Southern Chef by James Beard. We ate Oysters and fish, and other awesome stuff, but it was dark and we couldn’t get great pictures.
We walked from dinner to the Marigny by way of the French Quarter. The French Quarter is actually an insane place, where horrible people from all over the world and all walks of life get together to drink these:
The hurricane is 14 inches, and thick as a man’s thigh. It’s essential components seem to be marschino cherry juice and poison. We walked through Bourbon street while sipping our hurricanes and saw these things
Nick – not aware he was being photographed, looking genuinely aghast
Religious types, eager to save the souls of the Quarter’s drunken bachelorette partiers and suited-men smoking cigars INSIDE OF BARS.
After coming out (mostly) intact on the other side of the Quarter, we went to the Marginy, Nick danced to soul music, and Eric and Max and I watched one bad brass band, and then one good one.
Late at night, overcome by the pangs of late night hunger, we followed some strangers into a diner. Eric and I had turkey sandwiches, the effete waiter essentially bullied Max into trying “the best thing on the menu”, which ended up being a burger w/ jalapenos, w/ chedder, w/ bacon, w/onion, / w an egg.
Cab home, asleep at 4:00
Day 8 and part of Day 9 - Lafayette to New Orleans
The drive from Lafayette through Cajun country goes through several small towns, we stopped in Franklin at the Lejeaune bakery for gingerbread (and to use a bathroom in a bank).
We wanted to look at a bayou and see if we could find a gator (we could not), a cop followed us for a few miles, but eventually left us a lone and we looked for dangerous animals in Baratabia State Preserve.
We’re staying with friends of friends in New Orleans in the garden district. All the houses look very specifically New Orleans-y, with white columns and front-gardens behind iron fences. Also the Fire hydrants are ridiculous
We ate gumbo and Eric and I split a roast beef Po’ [sic] Boy, and we went to a few cheap bars.
This morning we had an idea to go to Café Du Monde for beignets and coffee, but they had a line going literally two blocks, so we walked by it instead, and had coffee across the street. Walked through the French quarter and tried alligator jerky in the Farmer’s Market, and then walked along the water.
The Insectarium, is like an aquarium but for BUGS. Ew!
A foot long millipede
A ten inch centipede
Go there at once.
For lunch we had shrimp Po Boys at Demolise’s, Trotsky included.
Until next time, meet me at the corner of Nuns and Religious
Days 6-7 Austin- Lafayette
We got into Austin around 2:00 AM, and went promptly to bed.
In the morning we got coffee and lined up at 10:00 for Franklin’s BBQ. BBQ in Texas
is served from 11:00-2:00 or so (because the best way to start your day is with a paralyzing quantity of meat. In fact, I fear Eric is currently suffering from meat poisoning, he’s been sleeping in the back seat of the car quite a bit, and smells vaguely of brisket).
Franklin’s has the best brisket and ribs in the world.
Comrade FPT was thrilled at the meat selection “a marvel of the creative potential of capitalism, at the core of which grows the foundation for its own destruction” (he does go on).
Like man, the puppet’s eyes are often bigger than his stomach.
We had a catch in front of Rick Perry’s house
Austin’s confectionaries are a dream come true for the sweet toothed Lev Davidovich.
Also – Eric and I saw Robert Plant today. Just walking around like he was some sort of normal person (spoiler alert: he is not, he is better than normal people).
We went to a swimming hole.
Miniature L.T. was cross that he was not permitted in for adult swim.
He did however, look over some likenesses of himself in my Max Eastman book, in a stolen moment of quiet contemplation
In Austin, people do not eat three meals like you and yours, the eat 1 million small meals each day (which is why Texans are so skinny). Also, while you and I eat in restaurants, or at home, Texans eat food from Trucks, trucks that DON’T EVEN DRIVE ANYWHERE.
Also, they don’t use bathrooms, they use portable potties (word hate).
We stayed out until all hours of the night, then slept in a garage.
In the morning, we drove south into Lockhart for BBQ at Smitty’s. They give you white bread and a block of chedder cheese, in case you aren’t getting enough cholesterol from the .75 pound sausages (another spoiler alert: you are).
We drove past Houston and past Oil Derricks and Whattaburgers, arriving in Lafayette LA around 7:00 PM today.
We are staying here, at the Blue Moon Guest Hostel. Which is awesome. Lafayette is an odd place, sort of a college town where all the bars are bar-clubs, with blaring techno and no customers, and the streets are lined with a thick layer of police officers.
We had dinner at Café Des Amis in Breaux Bridge. I wanted to eat Crawfish, and nothing could stop me. We also split a lobster crawfish cheesecake.
After dinner we returned to the Blue Moon Hostel, used our drink tickets, and found a discarded 6 pack of Miller Lights in the fridge. Nick flirted with the two girls who are staying here, they told us wear to eat on the way to New Orleans. I won a guinness world record for tiredest human.
Day 5 - Las Cruces to Austin by way of being pulled over
Thanks Chris and Stephanie!
We spent most of the day today getting to know local law enforcement.
First we went to white sands national monument, where we played in the blinding white sand
and Comrade Finger Puppet Trotsky made a snow angel.
I was pulled over speeding in New Mexico. Fine, fair is fair.
After eating lunch in El Paso
We drove through a border patrol check point. The guard asked us a number of inane questions,
“how do you guys know eachother?”
“Are you on vacation?”
He then told us that the drug sniffing dog had flagged our car, and that their were two possibilities
1. we had drugs (he went on to tell us that the dog could smell drugs REGARDLESS of whether you have a prescription)
2. we were CONCEALING A PERSON (he made clear that the dog can smell a person who is concealed, not explaining top us how the dog distinguishes between concealed and non-concealed persons)
Guard: you guys smoke? Weed?
Nick: yes, but I don’t have any
Guard: it’s cool if you smoke, but you better not have any today
Us: we don’t
Guard: if you’re telling the truth, you’ll be on your way, but if you are lying, you’ll be here for a while
Me: we don’t have any drugs
While he did this, a 2nd guard took the drug dog into my car, the dog accidentally turned my windshield wipers on and wagged his tail in the front seat but didn’t seem to find too much
2nd guard (angrily): YOU GUYS SMOKE….WEED?
Nick: yes, but I don’t have any
2nd guard: you better tell me the truth, are you guys playing dumb? Do you think the dog is STUPID?
Me: we don’t have any drugs
2nd guard: This is your LAST CHANCE TO TELL ME
Me: we don’t have any drugs
2nd guard: (squinting hard) get your things and go
We had dinner in Ozona Texas. They had the following sign above the bar
“if you don’t stand behind our troops, do us a favor and STAND IN FRONT OF THEM”
Got into Austin around 1:30. But not before Nick got pulled over for going 8 over the limit.
Day 4 - Tucson to Las Cruces
We left Tucson around 8:00, I’m pretty sure that I contracted valley fever, but I shouldn’t be symptomatic for another couple days, so I’ll enjoy myself. We saw Saguaro cacti. Also we saw a Roadrunner cross the street. It’s much smaller than the roadrunners you know from television, Nick tried to chase after it and an ACME anvil fell on his head.
Comrade Trotsky encountered a prickly situation.
From Saguaro we drove to Tombstone, “The Town that’s too tough to die” It was a Disney version of the old west, They stage shoot outs every few hours.
The OK Corral coffee shop had a free pamphlet with the following joke:
AN old man and a young man are shopping in a grocery store when they bump their carts into one another.
The old man says to the young man “oh I’m sorry, I’m looking for my wife”/
The young man says “I’m looking for my wife too”
The old man says “what does your wife look like?”
YM: She’s 5’10”, full breasts, red hair, green eyes, 26 years old, and wearing shorts, what does your wife look like?”
OM: It doesn’t matter, let’s look for yours
After Tombstone, we drove through Bisbee, a former copper mining town, now sort of an artists colony. It’s built into the mountain and feels like a town in Italy.
Next we went to Douglas, a border town where we ate Sonoran food and drove alongside the Mexican border. No guns and ammo permitted (welcome to Obama’s America).
Then 4 hours to Las Cruces, where Comrade FPT gave a lesson in dialectal reasoning to an eager pupil.
And I hugged a dog.
And we ate food…IN A RESTAURANT
Then the party