Miles traveled: 4000+
States visited: Seven
Colleges toured/visited: Four
Scorpions sighted: Zero
Days on the road: 11
Days it rained: Seven
DAY ONE: June 27-DC-Bristol, TN
DAY TWO: June 28-Bristol, TN-Nashville, TN (visited UT) dinner Bosco’s with Jeff and Miramichee girls Kellye & Betsy.
DAY THREE: June 29, Breakfast at Noshville with old friend, Emily, Nashville-Memphis, TN, dinner at Cafe Ole with many delightful Miramichee girls and assorted others of all ages and sexes.
DAY FOUR: Memphis, reading at National Civil Rights Museum, lunch at the Rendezvous, H.S. reunion in evening with fabulous-looking former classmates.
DAY FIVE: Memphis to New Orleans, tour of French Quarter
DAY SIX: Tour of Tulane and the Garden District, drive to my brother’s ranchette near Wimberley, Texas.
DAY SEVEN: Tour of San Marcos and the Aquarena, a strange nature center that used to be a water amusement park featuring mermaids and Ralph the Swimming Pig. I remember this from childhood. We took the glass-bottomed boat to see the springs and then the boardwalk over a swamp and saw herons and scissortail flycatchers.
DAY EIGHT: Toured San Antonio, childhood home, and River Walk. Watched fireworks from my brother’s deck
DAY NINE: Toured Austin, University of Texas. Headed out after tour returned and made it to Texarkana by 11 p.m.
DAY TEN: Texarkana to Nashville.
DAY ELEVEN: Nashville to D.C.
We went to New Orleans on the 2007 Tour of the Southland. The first time I had been back since Katrina. I had been there for a week in June 2001 staying at the Ritz Carlton for a convention where I was on the staff.
Physically where we were this year (the French Quarter and the Garden District) we saw little obvious damage. The Super Dome is rebuilt of course. We saw lots of construction and a couple of burned houses in the Garden District, near Carrollton Ave. Otherwise it was as beautiful and exotic as it has ever been, hinting of so much. But but but … the energy has been sucked out. The streets are not as crowded.
A sign at Cafe du Monde on Jackson Square says, “Please seat yourself.” The last two times I was in New Orleans the lines were blocks long to get a seat. Bourbon Street had people, we saw a crew of tap-dancing kids leaving, there were eccentrics and freaks, but not so many, not so flamboyant. The old black man with a white beard singing “Sitting on a Dock of the Bay” on Jackson Square was really good, but he didn’t have much money in his guitar case.
I was born in Texas, in San Antonio. We moved to Memphis when I was six. This trip we went back to San Antonio, saw the house where we lived and went downtown to the Alamo and the River Walk. I thought I would remember it, have that emotional kick of memory. Nothing. We saw Joske’s, the department store whose jingle I remember perfectly. Nothing. It was like I had never seen it before. Same with the Alamo. I only remembered it as if I’d seen it in pictures.
We went through the Villetta, the old city where my brother tells me I always begged to go to the old glassblowers shop. ??? Really? The glassblowers shop just closed last year. It had opened a few years after I was born. Strange, strange. The River Walk was lovely though.
And in Austin, I couldn’t get a sense of the city at all either. The coolness doesn’t hang in the air. I think I missed trees. I’ve lived so long in the East that the absence of big trees is oppressive.
But the part of the University of Texas we saw was wonderful. We went to see the dormitory our mother lived in when she was at Texas for one year in the 1930s. Littlefield Hall. Totally enchanting