Saturday, January 21, 2012

Turning South

Ma'ikwe and I are entering the final week of our January trip. The highlight of what remains is a visit to my brother and sister-in-law (Guy & Elaine), who retired to Fairhope AL (on the east side of Mobile Bay) after 35 years in the suburbs of Chicago—no more shoveling snow. They've been down here for two years ago and I have yet to visit.

Alabama is generally not identified as a hotbed of cooperative living (it's more a hotbed of competitive football), and in all my travels crisscrossing the country, my itinerary rarely gets takes me through LA (which my friend Dan Questenberry, who grew up in Bay Minette, playfully uses in reference to Lower Alabama).

Back in the fall, it occurred to me that my regular winter trip to Dunmire Hollow (to see Harvey and conduct some FIC business) would get me about as close to Guy & Elaine as I would get, and a number of factors coalesced for me to book the upcoming visit:

o Harvey lives just one county north of the Alabama border.
o January is not a busy time at home.

o January does not fall in hurricane season.

o Ma'ikwe cordially detests cold weather (enhancing the attraction of lingering in the Deep South).

o While the Gulf weather may not be balmy this time of year—though it may—neither will it be 100 degrees with 100% humidity, which I find about as appealing as wilted iceberg lettuce.

o January has an R in it (think oysters).

Late this morning we'll be driving over to Memphis (the real one in Tennessee, with 2/3rds of a million people and an NBA franchise; not the one near and dear to us in northeast Missouri that's our county seat with merely 2000 souls) so that we'll be in position to catch the southbound City of New Orleans at dawn tomorrow. After arriving in the Crescent City in the afternoon, we'll board a bus to Mobile, from where my brother will collect us. Next Friday we'll do it all over again in reverse, as we head for home and the return of winter.

While the layover in New Orleans isn't long (probably not enough time for a mad dash to the Acme Oyster House), I'm hoping to snag a muffaletta.
Later today, I'm looking forward to a half day in Memphis. We'll be staying with friends of Harvey whom he met years ago on the annual BRAT (Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee). While we may not get to Beale St or Graceland, it appears likely that dry-rubbed barbecue is on the agenda. Yum.

I'm posting this blog courtesy of the wi-fi signal at the Village Coffee House in Selmer TN (it's how people in Boston would pronounce the Alabaman town made famous for its 1965 We Shall Overcome march in supporting of black voting rights)
. We stopped here for lunch en route to Memphis, wisely selecting this over Pat's Cafe on the corner—home of the slugburger (don't ask). Poignantly, the Village Coffee House is closing its doors tomorrow. I got here just in time for the crab/lobster bisque and a double latte.

One of the not-so-secret joys of my traveling life is sampling the specialties of local and regional cuisine en route. Thus, while I've never visited Mobile Bay before, and my brother chose it more for the prospects of year-round golf (what can I say, he lives on Niblick Loop), I'm anticipating gustatory encounters with shellfish. (While Ma'ikwe considers that "selfish"—she doesn't care for fruits de mer—she's admirably open-minded about what passes my lips as long as I brush afterwards.)

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