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Published: January 9th 2017
**What is with the new entry date selection? It does not work! I give up...*
Well obviously it has been a while since I wrote and apparently going back to enter new blogs is not as easy as it used to be. Sigh... Enough complaining!
My mom has been wanting to visit her Mississippi relatives for a while now and she has never been to New Orleans, so I thought we should do a combo trip for Thanksgiving. Since I started a new job in July, I have limited vacation time - thanks for my two weeks America! :/ It just means I have to get creative with my travels. So, I flew into Memphis Wednesday night before Thanksgiving (surprisingly no trouble at all at the airports!) and flew out of New Orleans on the way home. My parents drove down with the camper, taking their time there and back. Peabody Hotel
First stop: Memphis. As many times as I've visited this city, I never got to see the Peabody ducks and I was determined not to miss an opportunity. I told my parents to pick me up around 10am so we could see the 11:00 march.
When I arrived at the airport, I got a taxi from a very nice Ethiopian driver. After the middle east, I enjoy talking to the drivers about where they are from and how long they've been doing this. I gave him a nice holiday trip, quickly checked in and ordered some room service. My room was small but tasteful - and, as usual, the first thing I checked was the bathroom which was perfect. I drank a decent glass of wine and fell asleep in my exceptionally comfortable bed. Woke up, took a shower, more room service (with a little extra because I knew my dad would pick at it). Food was pretty dang good, I have to say. When they arrived we just chilled for a little and I walked back to their car to walk the dog. By the time I got back, I figured it was time to move on. So I checked out and we got a very nice spot right near the elevators to see the ducks. While waiting, we observed the beautiful Christmas tree in the main lobby- the next day was the lighting ceremony. March of the Peabody Ducks
was just as excited as I was. Dad wandered. We claimed our spot by 10:30 and by 10:50 the place was crowded. The duck master started the ceremony, giving a little history and making sure all the kids had a nice spot sitting right along the path from elevator to fountain - everyone else had to stand behind the ropes. He had two young girls that came up to assist with the march while the rest of us waited. At 11:00 am, the girls led the ducks out of the elevator and they quickly, very quickly, made their way to the fountain. It was maybe 15 seconds for the whole thing. These particular ducks were brand new - only doing their second day of shows I think. They take five ducks to perform this march twice a day for three months, then the ducks retire onto a farm - no really! - and live the rest of their lives in peace, while another group takes their place. It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I saw it, but I guess I expected it to be a little different. Thanksgiving and Home Cooked Food
After this, we
made the two hour drive to my uncle's house, where we would have thanksgiving dinner. We got there around 3pm, but they had already eaten - I think throughout the day, there were about 20 people. I got to catch up with cousins I literally haven't seen in years, decades even. We lived here when I was a kid for five years and I went to college at Ole Miss, so the trip brought back lots of memories. My aunt and uncle are getting on in age, but honestly it was almost if they hadn't changed a bit. My uncle, who is almost 90, walked us around the property, which used to belong to his parents (my great-grandparents) and showed us some interesting items. The main one was an old grist mill which they used to grind corn for corn flour. It dates back to before the civil war and our family was using it up until the 1930's. He is probably going to donate to a museum in his father's memory. He showed us a lot of the crops they used to grow and where their old house was and told us some memories about growing up there. All
the while, two of my mom's cousins were out hunting and brought back two deer - I guess the buffet of food wasn't enough... :p My uncle had ridden with my parents the day before around town pointing out other items of interest - I missed out. As a genealogist, I was absorbing everything I could! Nerd alert!
After dinner, we hung around inside, drinking some wine I brought from New York and trying some of theirs. There was an Old South wine, made from muscadine which had a grape-y flavor and comparable to the one I had brought, Diamond - a grape-y flavored grape native to New York. Those two bottles went fast. We also tried some of his friend's homemade scuppadine wine, which had more of a tart flavor and came out in a gallon jug. It was awesome and these little things are the details I miss about the south. Soon, it was time to go home to my cousin's house, where we had parked the camper. Mom and I slept in the guest room after we had another couple bottles of wine and chatted. It was so nice to catch up with this side of
the family! The next day, my cousin took us driving through some of the area, showing us homes and the like, but then it was time to go. Ole Miss Football!
My parents never made it to a football game while I was at Ole Miss. They tried one time to make it down, bringing the camper and making a full trip of it. That was the weekend after 9/11. All games were cancelled but they were already on the way. We had made the most of it and they got a prime camping spot, got to try some awesome restaurants, and, most importantly, got to visit Graceland Too! (the owner died in the last few years, so that kitschy tourist site is gone forever). But they missed Eli Manning playing despite their best efforts, and now they were going to miss Chad Kelly, nephew of their hero Jim Kelly, playing as he was hurt a couple of games before. Still, they were excited for the experience.
Oxford, MS is a small town that swells to about 200,000 during football weekends. Even though Ole Miss was having a disastrous second half of the season and even though
it was Thanksgiving, people still flocked for the game. We met up with my college roomie and her husband, who now live in town, and after catching up, we went to the Square. We of course had to visit what used to be known as the Burgandy Room, which was an upper restaurant bar with balcony on the Square (now it's part of the restaurant itself I think). During the 2001 weekend, we brought my parents here and.... well let's just say, they had a very
good time then. Then we had dinner at Ajax, which specializes in Southern food. My parents were impressed, but I loved my chicken n dumplings.
We were staying at an RV park about 10 miles out of town. It was $75 for a barebones parking spot at a place that looked like sketchy people were living. And it was coooold. So, we stayed at the camper very little. To stay on or near campus you're talking hundreds of dollars to park in a parking lot. Not even exaggerating. And they're booked years in advance. I could have got a site for $300 per night, but NO.
Anyway, the next day we went
to my friends house and rode to our special nearby parking spot where we could walk to the Grove. I've been to a few football games in my time and there is a reason why Ole Miss is consistently ranked as a top party school, top beautiful campus, and top tailgating school. There really is nothing else like it. My roomie belongs to an association of people who get their spot catered, which entails a third party setting up a tent and chairs and putting some food on the table. Plus people tend to bring a little something else to contribute. And the Grove is always packed! When you have to use the bathroom, there are nice trailers called Hotty Toddy Potty. There are no cars allowed, there are "street" signs in the grove and well defined paths so you can find your way. Once we had a bite to eat at the tent, we made our way to watch the Walk of Champions, where the players come down before the game to the stadium. My mom was so into it - she high fived almost everyone one of them and even got to touch the Egg Bowl, the trophy
for today's game against our state rival, Mississippi State.
We went back to the tent, ate and drank and talked some more, and then headed down to the stadium. I got seats near my friends, but a little closer and we had a very nice view of the field. And man was it cold! Unfortunately Ole Miss was absolutely terrible, which made people miserable, not helped by alcohol and cold - the people behind us were just nasty. It was sad because this may be the only opportunity for my parents to see a game, but at least the rest of the festivities were awesome. We hung out with my friends some more afterwards and made our way back to our sad little RV park.
The next day, we got up early and started to pack up. We had neighbors across from us who finally the courage to come and ask us why New Yorkers were here. Very friendly, of course, but they are always so surprised. Then, we made our way south to New Orleans. New Orleans
I contacted another friend's parents who live in New Orleans, and were actually very close to our campground
(a much better spot, I may add). They took us to dinner (despite my protestations of me paying for it!!!) and we got po' boys, except mom who had a seafood stew. So yummy. Then they showed us around areas of New Orleans, describing some of the devastation of Katrina and how it affected everything then and now. More than a decade later and you can still see the way one storm changed an entire city. We admired the Christmas lights along their residential street once back at their home - a contest every year in the neighborhood for best street - awesome. My friend's dad also warned us that ten people were shot in the French Quarter the night before and warned us about which streets to avoid; of course, we forgot them all (trouble seems to follow me...). I then took my parents to a daiquiri bar - not a drive thru, just regular. My dad didn't understand what they were asking at first - he was like I want a daiquiri with alcohol. Finally he understood there were a couple of dozen flavors to choose from - he gets margarita, I got mango, and mom got coffee
or something. Soooo good.
The campground (KOA South I think) was very nice. The spots are very close, but it is quiet, clean, and safe. Plus they have a free shuttle to the French quarter every day. So my mom and I went while dad stayed to watch our dog. My friend's father had recommended that we take the Canal Street trolley to see a nice tour of beautiful homes. However, our free shuttle went along much of this route and as it was a 45 minute drive, our driver gave us a tour himself and he was good. So I gave him a nice tip and my mom and I made our way around the French Quarter. We had beignets of course, and had a lite lunch of crab cakes, crawfish etoufee, and shrimp creole with a nice drink. Then we shopped around and admired the incredible art in the area.
Soon, it was time for me to go. We got a cab back to the campground and I packed up. They dropped me at the airport and stayed an extra night, having a bit of trouble with the storms in Alabama the next day.
think my mom was really happy with this trip overall - she did so many things she has been wanting to do for a long time.
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