Thursday, November 11, 2011: Day 2
Today was long and packed with stops, which is one reason that I am right sitting, at four-thirty a.m., in our Savannah hotel, in a near-comatose state. Of course, the other reason I am still up is that, for some reason, I chose not to write during the nine-plus hours we spent in the car today. Nevertheless, our day began at 6:00 am on a Thursday in New Orleans and will like end at 5:30 am Friday morning in Savannah, Georgia.
7:00 am: For breakfast we went to Café Du Monde (“Coffee of the World”), to have some of those famous Beignets. Now that I have had Beignets, I can safely say that food is dangerous; sure you will enjoy these Fried pieces of dough (a cross between a sopapilla and a doughnut), with ginormous (an actual measurement) amounts of powdered sugar dumped on them. However, when those Beignets are pleasuring your senses, they are secretly distracting you from making sure you do not leave a wake of mass destruction on your clothes in regards to the powdered sugar. That being the case, I have decided to provide a public service announcement for anyone who may be ever so unfortunate to stumble across these delectable treats:
WARNING: Powdered sugar Beignets from the Café Du Monde are no friend to people in dark clothing. Experienced Beignet eaters have suggested shaking off the mountain of powder sugar before consuming as to help reduce a catastrophic mess.
11:00 am: When Hurricane Katrina struck land, the big news story was New Orleans, but Biloxi, Mississippi received the full brunt of Katrina (a few miles off the hurricane’s eye). You can still see damage today to the City’s structures. I find it interesting that what I expected to see from New Orleans in so far as visible damage, never really materialized, but what I saw of Biloxi did.
In fact, that’s one reason the Biloxi Visitor’s Center is brand new (and very nice). The structure originally on the site was slated to be the home of the Mardi Gras museum, but was a victim of Katrina. In its place, they built the Visitor’s Center, situated strategically across from the Biloxi Lighthouse, a structural icon and one of the most photographed structures in the southern United States.
We walked through the light house, which was nothing sort of awesome, while also being amused by members of our group who were, again, struggling with acrophobia.
The lighthouse’s proximity to the beach allowed us a leisurely stroll and much pretty scenery.
In other respects, however, the setting would have made for a good Alfred Hitchcock film…
We were also able to visit the nearby Katrina Memorial. Interestingly, the memorial was created by the crew from the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE). The Season 3, Episode 21 show completed the memorial within a five days, and ultimately produced a place where visitors can see the names of the Mississippi’s Katrina’s victims, engraved on a black granite wall. The family members of lost ones gave EMHE, different artifacts that represented their lost one. These artifacts were then artfully collaged together in a 3D monument standing adjacent to the names of the lost. Biloxi overall has a new look to it (since everything is practically being rebuilt), but you can still see poignant reminders of Katrina’s devastation from years ago.
1:00 pm: Stopping off in Mobile, Alabama to get a bite to eat at Constantine’s Mediterranean restaurant was interesting, interesting in that I have never tried Gyro. I liked it, but I couldn’t help but think of the irony: I’m in the middle of Alabama, where the Confederate flag is still flown proudly in places, and I am trying Persian food.
4:30 pm: We arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, just in time to get into the Alabama State Capitol. It was a nice capitol, even though it is now more for show than for legislation. Overall I have to say that I was impressed by Montgomery’s architecture, from the Government buildings all in white surrounding the Capital, to the broader structures in the City. There were few architecturally dull structures, and the vast majority of the structures complemented the cityscape rather than detracted from it.
One interesting aspect of the City is that Alabamans, or at least Montgomerians, find it acceptable to park on (literally on) the center line in the road. It is obviously not illegal to do this, because I saw enough cars doing it to realize that this must be an acceptable practice; however, it was still odd. We arrived in Montgomery toward the end of normal operating hours, but we were still able to visit many popular sites: The Confederate White House, Hank Williams’ Statue, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Old Alabama Town, River Front Market, the Civil Rights Memorial and Museum, the Rosa Parks Museum, and the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald home.
Now, the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald home bears special mentioning. We pulled into the driveway of the Fitzgerald Home and Museum, got out and walked around. We knew it was after hours, but we still wanted to take a look at the grounds, exploring where the author of The Great Gatsby did his writing. There were lights on inside, allowing us views inside the home. One of our group even tried the front door, which was open! Knowing it was after hours, we didn’t go in, but we could have…
Shortly thereafter, we discovered that the back of the home housed two cars, a bar-b-que grill, and other signs of life. The museum, it seems, is also a home to real people. In retrospect, our decision not to enter through the home’s unlocked door seems not only prudent, but potentially life saving…
Signing off, at 6:00 am, and looking forward to another adventurous day.