Monday, November 24, 2014

Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my Ma and Pa...

After our Florida vacation, we headed to Mobile, Alabama. Our host was this wonderful enthusiastic man named Kenneth, who had been renovating his house and working on becoming sustainable with rain harvesting, composting, chickens and gardening. Kenneth took us downtown, where we had drinks with some of his friends and even met an alumni of Tressa's alma mater (UCSC), who had started a non-profit bike workshop that gave people the opportunity to fix up bikes and buy them by working hours at the shop helping others to do bike repairs. The next day we visited the workshop, where the others' rescue dogs trotted about amongst the industrious people and up-turned bikes. We strolled around downtown Mobile, observed a park full of incredibly fat nearly tame squirrels, and chatted with Kenneth about home over homemade pizza. Our last day in Alabama, we dropped Finn off at the vet to get fixed and then headed to Blakely State Park, which came highly recommended to us by Kenneth's friends, and while poor Finn was under the knife, so to speak, we enjoyed a leisurely hike. We're happy to report he is a much mellower kitten because of it.

From Mobile, we through the bottom of Mississippi to get to New Orleans. On Wednesday we surfed with a wonderful working traveler named Jessica, who inspired us with her successful and nomadic ways and treated us to tacos. Thursday, she was headed to Mexico, to meet her boyfriend who was on a long term bicycle trip, and she was even kind enough to give us access to her house until her Air BnB guest arrived on Friday. On Friday afternoon, we couldn't help but go explore the haunting site of a Six Flags theme park that was abandoned before Katrina and never reopened. On Friday night, we were treated to an uncharacteristically classy experience by our sponsor, Camlow Cellars; you can read more about that night here.

Our last night in New Orleans, we visited Frenchman's Street, which we were told was somewhat less of a shitshow than Bourbon Street. We perused a cute but crowded little artisan alleyway full of handmade jewelry, clothing, art, and even voodoo talisman, complete with preserved chicken feet. A fun little band played on a street corner and we rummaged through old books and chatted with artists.

From NOLA we headed to Jackson, Mississippi, where our hosts informed us matter-of-factly that was simply nothing to do. Luckily, they had some pretty great dogs, so we were happy snuggling puppies and working on some crafting projects in their living room. In Jackson, we endured our coldest night yet, reaching a low of 21 degrees. We slept in lots and lots of layers and burrowed deep into our bed lasagne, where Finn joined us. We managed to sleep surprisingly comfortably, although getting out of bed was another story. Our last night in Mississippi was spent at a Mexican restaurant where our hosts' friends were gathered in a party for their neighbor, who was scheduled to begin six months of house arrest the subsequent day — complete with a "Happy House Arrest" cake. Needless to say, things got a little weird.

Although we'd already been to Tennessee, we felt impelled to spend a little time in Memphis, so that was our next stop. We spent our first night with a sweet woman named Rachel, who collaborated with us on a vegetarian version of Memphis BBQ, as well as some green beans, and a seven layer salad, which is apparently a Southern tradition. The next day we met up with Kat and Dustin, a wonderful pair of transplants with a majestically fluffy cat named Koz, that was supposedly the antisocial type but eventually warmed up to Finn. We joined them for some trivia at a nearby Irish pub that night and after running some errands the next day, we decided to check out the infamous Beale Street.

We didn't get far before a rather zesty man approached us about a charity program for homeless people, and although we don't have much money, we did rustle up some fruit snacks we'd been hauling around since Burning Man as well as a few other food items we could spare to part with. We checked out the general store, the Elvis statue, and then went to the Peabody Hotel to watch their famous ducks march on a red carpet from the water fountain into the elevator, which was quite the scene. That evening, Kelsey joined Kat and Dustin for a group run that culminated in free beer and pizza.

Arkansas was next; first we visited the Pinnacle Mountain State park for a short but vigorous uphill hike to a gorgeous vista, where we encountered an absurd amount of ladybugs, one of which made it's way into Tressa's mouth. After our hike, we drove to Fayetteville. Our host, Zach, was a philosophy student and professor, who lived with a philosopher, and took us out for drinks with more philosophers. Fayetteville is quite the bustling, football-happy college town, we found. We had a leisurely Sunday morning, tried unsuccessfully to introduce Finn to the resident cat, Sophia, and then drove to Crystal Bridges — a free museum recommended to us by a lovely woman we met in the parking lot at Pinnacle Mountain. The museum was quite worthwhile and we spent several hours exploring, while outside it began to rain, and the windows were illuminated with sporadic lightning.

We have just entered our 45th state, Oklahoma. Only 10 short days until we will be back in California, and we can hardly believe our journey is coming to a close...

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