Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nashville, Tunica, Biloxi, and back

Once we got a place to live and a car to drive, we took off on another journey in the US. This was a circular trip, going to Nashville, Tennessee; Tunica, Mississippi; Biloxi, Mississippi; and returning to Silver Springs, Florida. It was an awesome trip, and the scenery was much prettier than I remember it.

We stopped for breakfast at Krystal in Georgia. I had to get a shot of the model missile while we were waiting.

Bruce doesn't drive through Atlanta, so there aren't many shots through Georgia. The Atlanta skyline was lovely, but he was sleeping, so we'll have to get those shots some other time. He had awoken by the time we hit Chattanooga, TN, though, and he got some nice shots of the Tennessee River as it winds through Chattanooga.

As we were heading down the road, the Geezermobile let us know that traffic patterns had changed, and she suggested we take a secondary road. We thought that was an excellent idea, especially after we checked out some of the views.

We were back on the interstate (with Bruce driving) for Monteagle Mountain. Somehow it just didn't seem so big, and that grade didn't seem quite so steep anymore! Wonder why …

We finally made it to Nashville, where we met up with a friend for a couple of days.

East Nashville is being gentrified. The old houses that had such character are either being renovated or torn down and replaced. The renovated homes are looking good. The new homes that are being built just aren't my cup of tea, though. My jaw spent way too much time on the ground for me to be able to get pix. This is removing a lot of affordable housing from the Nashville area, as East Nashville was always an affordable area. Housing costs have skyrocketed in the area now, though, and there are tons of little hipster shops. Shelby Park is still around though, and I had an excellent time getting photos of the train tracks. I wonder if the kids are still crazy enough to try to walk those tracks, hoping a train doesn't come along. I sure hope today's kids are smarter than yesterday's.

We made a short trip up into Franklin, Kentucky. How do you know you're in Kentucky for sure? I haven't had one of these for a long time. It was very refreshing!

When we left Nashville, we headed for Tunica, Mississippi. We decided to take some back roads. It's all about the journey now, though the destination still matters. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw them working on the lines in the cherry picker was, “Ecuadoreans just need a ladder, a pickup truck, and some tree branches to do that!” This is a whole lot safer, though.

The countryside was lovely, but it appeared to be mostly used for hay. There were very few animals grazing, which surprised me quite a bit. There were a few fields of what appeared to be soybeans and others of corn, but mostly it was hay. There were a couple of impressive fields of kudzu, too.

Then, we came across the big city of Pocahontas, Tennessee. The Post office was built on the site of the Battle of Davis Bridge, one of many Civil War battles that were fought in the area.

The town appears to be turning into a ghost town. There were some houses in good repair, but most looked similar to these.

There is a place in Mississippi where they still play donkey basketball! I know my friends from high school remember donkey ball!  Bruce has never seen it, though!

Then, we made it to Tunica. Bruce has always been fond of Hollywood Casino in Tunica, so we came up here to check it out and see if he could still get as lucky as he used to. At one time, it was “good to be Mr. Adams” there. While there, I decided to meet up with a long-time internet friend, too. We had a very good visit. Too bad, Bruce's time at Hollywood wasn't as good. Apparently, Tunica has had difficulty bouncing back after the recession. They had removed a large number of slots and not replaced them. On a weekend, there weren't enough patrons to run all of the table games, and I heard something I had never heard in a casino before: An invitation for any player to join a game in the poker room. Usually, there are so many people wanting to get into the poker room that there is a waiting list soon after they open. I've never been in a casino when that waiting list has been exhausted, opening the next seat for any available player. I heard it this time, though. I visited a different casino when meeting my friend, and it didn't seem to be much different than Hollywood.

As far as the hotel, it still had the same décor as before, but it was definitely much more worn. It was clean, though. They had bolted the sliding doors closed so that I couldn't access the balcony. I was a bit disappointed in that since I like to spend more time on the balcony working than in the casino, not being much of a gambler myself. In the middle of our stay, the ceiling of our room sprang a leak, so we had to pack everything back up and move to another room. The hotel management felt that inconvenience was only worth a $10 credit. I thought that was a slap in the face. Really, the only thing positive I can say is that the seafood buffet was good, though it used to be much better. Also, one of the wait staff at breakfast was from Senegal, and he let me know that it should be safe to visit Madagascar so long as we fly onto the island and don't take a boat to or from the mainland. So, Madagascar is on our list of places, and Tunica is off.

This little guy wanted to go, too!

The Mississippi cotton field were ready for harvesting.

We decided to see how things were going in Biloxi before heading home. I wanted some Darwell's, and there are awesome pictures to get there! So, off we went. On the way down, we saw a sign for the Little Red Schoolhouse. We decided that since we were Travelin' Geezers, we really didn't have anything better to do than to get off the highway and see the Little Red Schoolhouse. It's really a lovely building. It was closed on Sunday, so we didn't get to go inside. Admission is generally free, and you get a guided tour with that admission fee. We'll just have to go back!

After just a few hours, we make it to Biloxi and the Treasure Bay Casino.

Before Hurricane Katrina hit, Treasure Bay was on a pirate ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina wasn't a fan, though, and the pirate ship was destroyed. It is now across the street, and I believe, it is 100% on land now. I can't be certain, but I think the laws were changed to allow gambling on land in this area after Hurricane Katrina hit. Anyway, even on a Sunday night/Monday morning, Treasure Bay was hopping. All of the tables were open with plenty of players. I was able to play some of my favorite old penny slots before retiring to the room to sit on the balcony working while enjoying the view from the cheaper rooms (parking lot view).

For dinner, we drove to one of my favorite restaurants. Darwell's is in Long Beach, hidden away several blocks from the main drag and behind the railroad tracks. It's got some of the best cajun food I've had and some really unique décor. Bruce had the seafood gumbo and I had a blackened Snapper on a bed of bismati rice, covered with Darwell's famous crawdad etoufee and topped with blackened gulf shrimp. Nom, nom, nom. They twisted my arm just enough to convince me to take a pineapple brownie home for dessert. Deeeeelectible! The kid behind the counter is from Poland, and we talked about various places to visit when we go there to visit.

I got a few nice shots of the Mobile skyline. The thing about the Mobile skyline that always stick with me is that you can only see it from one side. Coming from Florida to Mobile, I have never seen the city skyline unless I turn around and look when we come out of the tunnel. If you didn't know what was going on, you would never know you had just driven under part of a major city.

We decided to stop and check out the Florida Welcome Center, which was a good call. They had free shots of orange juice that we sampled. We also picked up a lot of tourist information. The best part, though, was a little photo kiosk. We had a blast playing in that. I love the pix they sent me in my mailbox. I think I want to go back and take some more!

We made it home to our little crash pad in the pouring rain, just in time to notice that the neighbors have a gibbon swinging from their tree! I DO still have monkeys close!

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