Bayou Wedding Tour - Day 1 by Mark

Well, it’s time for another travelogue. This time, it’s a trip to our niece’s wedding in Louisiana. We’re taking a fairly straight shot down from Ohio, and then a leisurely loop through Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri on the way back to Columbus.

We tried out Chaney’s Dairy Barn in Kentucky, which reportedly has great ice cream (it did). Sandwiches, not so much.


Our GPS took us on a long trip through the country on the way back to the interstate. We even ran into…well, you know.


There’s a “car vending machine” in Nashville—you can supposedly get one with a coin. Couldn’t find the slot, though.


We saw a rocket ship at a rest stop going into Alabama, so we had a take a look. It was an actual Saturn 1B launch vehicle.


We wound up in Decatur—the local barbecue place (Big Bob Gibson’s) has a great white sauce and won a lot of awards.

That’s a two meat platter on top(brisket and chopped pork), and a potato with chicken, cheese, bacon, and white sauce below.

That’s a two meat platter on top(brisket and chopped pork), and a potato with chicken, cheese, bacon, and white sauce below.


That’s plenty for one day. More tomorrow.

Southern Sweep - Day 9 and Wrap Up by Mark

Like most vacations, it's great to visit, but it's nicer to get home. Unfortunately, we left the longest drive for the last day--Memphis to Columbus.  So no pics for today--it would be a lot of freeways and construction.

We stopped at a very pretty Starbucks in Jackson, TN that might be the least organized location in their chain. You would think if you were paying by phone and knew exactly what you wanted, it would be easy. However, we got a barrista who I assume was a trainee and didn't know how a register worked, that "rewards" could be redeemed, or how to complete an order.  I think we could have made the breakfast sandwiches and coffee at the side of the road more quickly. We knew there was a problem when two of the same order appeared.  They were nice--just untrained.

I drove, Mindy drove, the other dozed in the car, drive, drive, drive--repeat.

The temperature dropped as we went, forcing us to hit a rest stop and change from shorts to pants.

We stopped at a Skyline Chili in the Cincinnati area (if you haven't had their 3-way, stop reading and drive to Cincinnati), and we ordred, were served, ate, paid, and left in less time than the Starbucks order took.

As nightime arrived, we made it to the Schmidbauer homestead.

Overall, the trip was a lot of fun, we got to see our nieces, ate some great food, and saw giant animals. What's not to like?  We're discussing a Western Sweep next--but first some sleep in our own bed.

Southern Sweep - Day 8 by Mark

Niece #3 - Betsy, who lives on the Texas side of Texarkana with her husband Kai and two kids.  We got a picture to document the event just outside the IHOP.

Back on the road--and a chance to stand astride two states. The county courthouse was built on the border to save money--go to the left for Texas cases, and to the right for Arkansas cases.

On the way to Memphis, we stopped at the biggest scam since the casino--the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Site of an ancient volcano, they offer the chance to dig through a field for real diamonds--at only $8 plus the cost of shovels, buckets, etc.  It drew a decent crowd, including us.

We made it to Memphis in time for BBQ at the legendary Germantown Commissary.

The pile of meat in a bowl? That's a salad.

Logy and tired, we made it to the hotel. 

Tomorrow--driving, driving, driving, and wrapping it up.

Southern Sweep - Day 2 by Mark

We drove into Nashville and the GPS sent us straight into Titans tailgating--wasn't sure if we would get out, since we kept being directed back into the fray.

We finally made it over to Broadway (the touristy area).

They make boots big in Tennessee

An Elvis sighting

Various signage



We then took a quick jaunt to Greece--no,no.  There's an exact copy of the Parthenon in Nashville.


Of course, no trip would be complete without a giant chicken with a chef hat (Elkton, TN)


Onto Tuscaloosa!
One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas.
How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.
Then we tried to remove the tusks. The tusks. That's not so easy to say. Tusks.
You try it some time. As I say, we tried to remove the tusks.
But they were embedded so firmly we couldn't budge them.
Of course, in Alabama the Tuscaloosa,
but that is entirely ir-elephant to what I was talking about.

Groucho in Animal Crackers (Movie)

Abby gave us a tour of the University of Alabama--Roll Tide! 
We also went down to the boat dock (Abby's on the rowing team)
Finally, we took Abby out to a BBQ place—decent food plus cheesy muffins! We’re still in “vinegary” sauce territory though.


Tomorrow - Southern food, lack of pies, and more 'Bama.


Southern Sweep - Day 1 by Mark

We've been talking forever about taking a drive through the deep south. We have three nieces who are attending schools and/or living in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas respectively. We decided to get off our duff and do it before they graduate.  

We left around 8:30 from Columbus, which got us to Louisville in time for lunch. We stopped at the "Frankfort Ave Beer Depot and Smokehouse", a hole in the wall place with decent online reviews.  Mindy wanted to try the "Hillbilly Wontons" appetizer, but they were out. We ended up with our third choice, the fried green beans. The brsket sandwich was unremarkable, if small.  The baked beans had a lot of smoke and bourbon flavor, and the sauce was vinegary as expected.  Probably wouldn't return--more atmosphere than taste.

We later stopped at Mammoth Cave, but didn't go in (tours were booked, plus there's a bat fungus issue we would rather avoid).

But we couldn't miss...

We later stopped to borrow some WiFi and book a room--Mindy's sister Amy had just come in to see her daughter Abby's game (she's on the rowing team), so we spent some time simultaneously searching websites and texting. Turned out almost everything was booked, but we found a place with two rooms fairly close--ended up being across the street.

Met up with Amy and her husband Don, hit up a Mexican place--again across the street--and hit the hay.

Tomorrow--Nashville, Goo-Goo, a monument on the wrong continent, a giant chicken, and 'Bama.