Two Lessons Learned on the Road
1. Never let Bart near a computer before he’s had at least one cup of strong coffee (he accidentally sent out today’s post before it was anywhere near complete). Hit the “send” button instead of the “save draft” button. Ugh.
2. Road kill in the South is way different from other places we’ve been. Can you say “dead armadillos”? They’re everywhere!
Now for the Real Story
Saying “goodbye” to Phenix City, Alabama, we set our sights on Tupelo and New Albany, Mississippi, where we would be staying the night. Today’s journey is about 375 miles. But before crossing the state line from AL to MS, we naturally stopped at a Welcome Center. Most state “Welcome Centers” are of the plain vanilla variety, with rest rooms and a few brochures touting local attractions and hotels. Taking advantage of Alabama’s Welcome Center was a much different and much nicer experience. The brick building in which it was housed was stately and the lush plantings on its grounds made us feel like we were in a beautiful public garden. However, what stood out most to both of us was this brochure prominently featured on the wall near the entrance. Yes, that’s bacon. Uh oh…
Tupelo here we come…
We followed Highway 78 to Tupelo and were really impressed by the beauty of the rolling hills, forests and mountains we saw along the way. It reminded us a lot of our many previous meanderings along the back roads of New England.
In case you’re too young to remember, or are from another planet, Tupelo is the birthplace of those famous swiveling hips and sneering lips belonging to homeboy favorite – Elvis Aaron Presley! Although his legend is still larger than life everywhere throughout Tupelo, there’s so much more to this city than the birthplace of the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”.
Elvis at 13
This 2 room house was built by Elvis’ father, uncle and grandfather.
Here’s the church the Presley’s attended which was later moved to the the museum site.
After visiting the beautiful Elvis Presley Museum, and the Tupelo Hardware store from which Elvis got his first guitar (This is a shout-out to our friend Bill – a former and long time Ace executive), we set out to explore to town.
Tupelo is teeming with historic sites including the Tupelo National Battlefield where Union and Confederate forces fought in 1864, Pharr Mounds which is a burial earthworks dating from 1 to 200 AD, the largest automobile museum in North America, and the site of the last known place where the gangster Machine Gun Kelly robbed a bank in 1932. Below is a picture of the majestic and architecturally beautiful Lee County Court House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
After soaking up all the local culture and strolling through the historic downtown, it was time to feed the beast. And feed it we did…at a funky place called Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen. Their inventive “fresh from the farm” food, home-style cooking, and friendly staff made for a great lunch experience. Bart feasted on a massive BLT with thick slab bacon and heirloom tomatoes while Rorie chowed down on smokey brisket tacos and homemade spicy pickles. After spying someone else’s plate of hand-cut parmesan fries, we couldn’t resist ordering a diet-busting plate of our own. Worth every calorie!
As we headed towards our car, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create one more musical legend in Tupelo. Bart doing his famous rock star riff while strumming on the ole air guitar. Time to move on to our next destination…New Albany, MS.
New Albany (population 8,481) was a treat for the eyes (and the belly we discovered). Nestled in the rolling hills of North Mississippi and just an hour south of Memphis, the city is a charming little community with numerous antique stores, a “happenin'” downtown, interesting architecture and friendly local people.
On a hot sunny day it looks like cold, tasty, old-fashioned shaved ice (we call it a sno-cone) is a solution for all that ails you…or is it Coke?
New Albany sits on the banks of the Tallahatchie River, which has a bridge with the same name made famous by Bobbi Gentry’s song “Ode to Billy Joe”.
In keeping with that theme, we decided to have dinner at the very well reviewed Tallahatchie Gourmet restaurant in the center of town. It offers Southern favorites with a hint of New Orleans. Since we know eating balanced meals is important when you’re on the road, we ordered a new vegetable appetizer to start things off: fried pickles (pickles were once cucumbers, right?). They were outstanding…salty, crunchy, spicy and – well – just delicious.
Bart ordered one of the evening’s Blue Plate Specials: shrimp and cheese grits (with bacon). Rorie was well-behaved – she had a salad with grilled shrimp. After dinner we called it a day and headed back to the hotel for the evening.
Next stop Memphis, Tennessee, by way of Oxford and Taylor. Stay tuned!