Fri. Aug. 30, 2019:
Dallas, Texas to Natchez, Mississippi:
I woke up with a headache that had started in the middle of the night. I thought surely it would have gone away by now. For breakfast we had the second half of the triple chocolate Twix and the smooth almond butter Snickers. Really, I just wanted to take an Advil, the stupid decongestant didn’t have pain reliever in it (unlike the one I usually get back home). It was a slow and sluggish start to the day. When I woke up, I saw that my phone said 9:30, I did a quick little time zone calculation and assumed it was 10:30am. Boy was I wrong, it was actually 8:30am. Oops. In my defence I had not had my coffee yet.
We drove to Daly Plaza to see the spot where JFK had been assassinated. We were too early for the museum which didn’t open until 10am. I kind of wanted to see the inside of the book depository and the window but at the same time I did not want to wait around for over an hour. I was already waiting until 9am when the gift shop/café opened, I needed coffee. While we waited, we walked through the memorial and looked at the sites and the plaques. There were two X’s in the road indicating the exacts spots where the cars had been. Whenever there was a break in traffic tourists would run out for photos ops. It was bizarre to say the least. It was also sad to see how close the motorcade had been to the safety of the highway overpass. I was also surprised to see how close the book depository was to the site. The gift shop was awkward, they had commoditized a tragedy. Even the coffee had a sleeve that said “coffee with Kennedy” except I had no idea what that meant. Brent had to explain it to me.
The route to Natchez, Mississippi took us down that road and under that overpass. We pulled off the highway to get gas (our car had a tiny tank apparently). As we were driving to Buc-Ees I noticed a gas station with a liquor store that was closer and easier to pull into. I thought it would be a better option. It was not, far and away it was not. There were no ciders and the bathroom was ugly. I regretted choosing this place over Buc-Ees. We stopped at Whataburger in Lindale, TX for an early lunch. It was not just off the highway, it was a bit away in a small town. we got there just after 11am, an acceptable time to be eating a burger and not risking a breakfast menu. Brent had the double Whataburger with cheese. I had the single with cheese and jalapenos. Turns out that when it comes to Whataburger, double is the way to go. My poor burger got dwarfed in the buns. Speaking of which: they were enormous, easily the size of dessert plates and the largest fast food buns I’ve ever had. But damn did they do a good job of holding the greasy burger together. It was a good burger but I still rank it below Five Guys and above Fat Burger.
After a heavy lunch like that it’s no wonder I started drifting off to sleep. In my half-asleep state I thought there were billboards for an all-girls school we had to get to??? Brent woke me up with cheering because we had crossed the border. We were back in Louisiana. What better place than here to keep an eye out for Popeyes and the much-talked-about new chicken sandwich they had launched in the US. We were off the Interstate and on a small highway going through towns. I spotted an easy to get to drive-thru daiquiri store. And there was only one car in line! It was perfect. Either way our drinks would have to wait in the car (we would have been going the next day on our drive back to New Orleans). They had a giant menu by the window with at least 50 drinks (maybe even more). Brent had a mardi gras mambo and I had a blueberry margarita. I didn’t see any actual daiquiris on the menu. The guy tried to get us to sign up for a frequent buyer program. I cannot believe such a thing exists. It was really cheap so maybe its not that far-fetched? We paid $13 for both, totalling close to 24oz by my guestimate? Our drinks were different sizes. At the time we figured it was because they were different types. It was only later on that I clued in: Brent had said small at the beginning of the order, intending it for both, but the guy had assumed first drink was small and second (mine) was regular.
We stopped at Popeye’s but before we went in, we saw a sign on the door saying the sandwich was sold out. I was kicking myself, there had been a Popeye’s down the street from the daiquiri drive-thru, I should’ve pointed it out! Maybe they had had it! I was starting to get some serious fomo, thinking of all the Popeye’s we had passed so far on our trip! Later Googling revealed the sandwich was sold-out nationwide. At least we had the experience.
We drove over the bridge crossing the Mississippi River… and we were in Mississippi! YAY!! State 36!!! We were staying the Monmouth Estate in Natchez. We got upgraded to the cottage but that meant we weren’t staying in the main house (aka the reason for choosing that hotel). The cottage was more like a series of rooms but now we had a porch looking out onto a pond. We grabbed our daquiris and set off exploring the grounds and the hotel. The mardi gras drink was coconutty and cinnamon-y, it reminded me of a latte. The blueberry margarita was so good and because it was a bigger size it was still mostly frozen. It was when we were walking around that we figured out why there was the size discrepancy between our drinks. There was a turtle in the pond who was completely covered in algae. On the way back to our room we saw an orange cat, he was so friendly and cute and he was purring.
We only went back to our room to use the bathroom and drop our drinks in the trash. We headed right back out. Except I got distracted by another cat, a tabby this time. He was a bit apprehensive at first but then almost immediately flopped onto his side for more pets. We drove to the Natchez Trace National Park. We were driving on the Natchez Trace Parkway, it was kind neat the whole historic trail had been paved and now you could drive all the way north through forest and parks. We only found out about the extent of the route once we were in the park and saw a map. There was a point of interest just up the road. The Emerald Mound at first just seemed like a bunch of grass and a trail. We hopped a short fence and went up the trail. We finally got to see the mound itself, it was cool looking but also peaceful and serene. On the way back down, we saw that there had been a gate we could have just opened. Oops.
We drove to the McDonald’s in town because our only other food options for dinner were Burger King or KFC. The thinking was that at McDonald’s we could try some new wacky items, plus earlier I had seen the stroopwafel McFlurry advertised as part of their “tastes of the world” menu. Except that promotion had now passed. The only wacky items we got were the buttermilk chicken sandwich and the quarter pounder deluxe. Both of which I’m sure we’ve had before. Plus, I took the tomato out of my half of the quarter pounder so really it was a quarter pounder half deluxe. We tried to drive to a liquor store (the gas station earlier had terrible selection) except that store had since closed down. There was a grocery store at the next intersection. Across the street from it I saw a store called “Craft City” except we had no way of knowing what kind of store it was. I did see on the drive back that they offered delivery which made it weirder. I still had 3 ciders so I just got a single of Seagrams watermelon cooler. My only other options were 6-packs and that was too much.
We left the car at the hotel and swapped out maps. Brent dumped out the rest of the berry Sprite from the McDonald’s cup (it was terrible) and filled the cup with beer. I filled a water bottle with cider and so we set out for the historic part of town by the river. The first half of the walk there were no sidewalks so we walked along the forest-like median. It was so hot and humid out, I was so sweaty. It was a nice evening. We saw many beautiful antebellum mansions, the sun was setting by the time we got to the river. There were information placards all over the place, telling us about the historical significance of the buildings and the stories behind them. There was a road leading down to the rivers edge but apparently all that was down there was a casino. It was kind of nice to be looking down at the river and see that we were actually atop a short cliff. We were too full and still had too many drinks back in the room to stop in at the old tavern for a drink. In total I saw more cats in that small town than any other place we have ever been (including the whole two weeks in England).
Walking back in the dark we saw a mother deer and her fawn run across the road. We saw fireflies, except at first, I had trouble spotting them because I dismissed it as reflections in my glasses. The bugs were SO LOUD. It was a chorus of katydids and crickets, it really was unbelievable. We walked back via the forested medium (days later I would notice that my feet and ankles were just covered in bites). We sat on the patio, drinking, writing and taking it all in. We could see the stars and hear the bugs. There were two lizards above our door and one had caught a bug and it was just sticking out of his mouth. A cicada buzzed around our heads, thwomping into our door, the wall and the fan before finally landing on the porch (while I panicked). I was sure it was dead, but it wasn’t. It just sat there, behind me, unnerving me. Brent thought he saw a katydid on the porch railing but when we got closer it was a praying mantis!! It was so cool. Honestly, this was one of my favourite towns to visit, it was so peaceful and calm.