H and I made a springtime trip down to my hometown. On the way down, we snooped around Ste. Genevieve. It still has evidence of its origins as a French colonial town, and I am glad I finally saw it. I would like to spend more time. By lunch time, we had made it to Sikeston. We stopped at Lambert’s Cafe. The food was good, but their aim was off. In H’s attempt to get a throwed roll, the man sitting behind her got hit in the face twice. We also stopped at the New Madrid Historical Museum in New Madrid, Missouri. It was a little harder to reach this time because some streets in town were closed to make way for big hoses to pump water back out of the town. There were two spots along I-55 in the Bootheel where tractors had their engines connected to pumps to keep the river from completely overtaking the highway.

On the first day home, we ate at the Dinner Bell. It is well known regionally for its big lazy susans. As a native of the town, I have eaten there only two times, this time and when I was about 5 and my grandmother visited. I had excellent fried chicken. We looked around town and visited the blogged McComb Railroad Museum. The visiting exhibit is gone, but there still are some neat displays in the permanent collection.

H and I spent several hours on the nature trail at Percy Quin State Park. She really wanted to see an alligator, but we did not find any. Last time I had gone was soon after Katrina, and the trail was still in disrepair. It is passable now, but I do not think it will be completely rebuit any time soon. Having it a little wild adds to the appeal in some respects.

We had a leisurely drive down to New Orleans. I like how Hammond’s downtown has survived so well, so we drove through. I also wanted to show H how common drive through daiquiri stands are in Louisiana. Driving along the railroad tracks downtown, we spotted the Keith Davis’ Violin Shop. It is a largely one man artisan operation. We played an old fiddle or two.

We reached New Orleans in time for lunch at the Camellia Grill. I had a taste for an afternoon snowcone. We wandered for a while before finding Plum Street Snoball because the next block of Plum was closed for street construction. Being late May, a sequence of classes of small children were visiting on fun end of the year field trips. By that time, we encountered many a New Orleans visitors’ bane, the paucity of public restrooms. We ducked into PJ’s Coffee. Then we walked around the French Quarter and French Market. We stayed at the Hotel St. Marie. It was a good place recommended to me by my sister, and it was right in the heart of the Quarter. It is within a block of Bourbon Street, which is even nastier than I had recalled. Having drinks in the courtyard at Pat O’Briens was fun although the sun was blistering. We also walked down to Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral.

The abundance of bicycles impressed me. It is a change from previous visits, but a fitting one. New Orleans is flat, and the pace is slow. Unlike some well known cycling cities filled with slick road bikes and hip single-speed models, nearly everybody seemed to be on junky bicycles, but they do just fine. The apparent aversion to fancier equipment probably speaks both to the casual and criminal threads of the city’s fabric.

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art has great events as Ogden After Hours. We saw that a Cajun band, the Vermilionaires, would play and decided to go. The band combines members of the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Les Freres Michot. They were great. Although old-time fiddling and Cajun fiddling are quite different, several tunes included melodies I play. In one interesting turn, a French Canadian asked them in French about the connections between Acadia and Acadiana. It reminded me about hearing  Nadine Landry talk about her time in Acadiana. The museum also had a Birney Imes photography exhibition. I have known about him since high school. My friend Brad Rhines reviewed it for the NOLA Defender.

We tried Mulates for supper. I was disappointed that time. It was fun, though, to see a class of junior high students dancing to the Cajun band. Inspired by having finished the first season of Treme, we headed to Frenchmen Street for more music. We caught a great set of traditional jazz from the New Orleans Moonshiners at the Spotted Cat. We capped the night with beignets in the wee hours, the tastiest time for them, at Cafe du Monde.

The next day, we pursued more fun. We took the Algiers ferry and spent a little while walking the levee. I never realized that it was free. We walked through Jax Brewery. It had thriving shops when I last went a couple of decades ago. It is growing desolate now. We managed to take streetcars along the Riverfront, on Canal and on St. Charles, making the Jazzy Pass worth it. We decided for lunch at Slice. Unfortunately, the location closer to us was closed. We walked a little more and had a fine lunch at the other one. A friend living in New Orleans got in touch, and we ended the day visiting with him and his wife, another old friend, at Molly’s.

On the trip back, H finally got to see an alligator somewhere around the Bonnet Carré Spillway. We stopped in Hammond for supper. I have been to Murphy’s quite a few times. I decided we should try Don’s Seafood. It was great. It allowed us to see another alligator, a taxidermy monster.

The next day, we rode over to Tylertown for Bluegrass on the Creek at the Southwest Events Center. The Southwest Events Center is mostly a rodeo arena, but it served the purpose. We were hoping to find some jammers. A few fellows practicing under a shade tree turned out to be Magnolia Drive rehearsing before their show. We started our own little jam and attracted only one fellow. By chance, he had bought his fiddle from Keith Davis. We heard that the night time would bring out more jammers, but we headed home for supper. We went just over the border into Louisiana to Skinney’s, once a haven for drinking and gambling in Mississippi’s stricter days.

Too soon, it was time to head back. I did get to catch up with an old friend at Broad Street Bakery for brunch on the trip. It was a long trip back, but we made it.

Overall, it was a great trip. I caught up with family and friends, some I had not seen in quite a while. I visited many old favorite spots and shared them with H for the first time. The vacation did not come a moment too soon, but its end did.


Michael M. on June 18th 2011 in General, Live, Music

2 Responses to “MCB and NOLA”

  1. Lib M. responded on 18 Jun 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    I want to watch Treme, but it is DVD only on Netflix. Maybe we will switch to a DVD plan again and I will watch it soon. I recently read a book about Katrina and the aftermath. A few of the characters were from the Treme neighborhood.

    I’m glad Hotel St. Marie worked for y’all. Darren and I enjoyed our stay there. It is a great location, and surprisingly, the noise from Bourbon St. doesn’t really reach it.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen an unintended person get hit in the face with a roll at Lambert’s. I am wearing my shirt today, so I was already thinking about throwed rolls.

    I have eaten at the Dinner Bell twice, one time being the mentioned trip with Granny. I have also had the takeout lunch plate a few times. We got them occasionally some summers when I worked at Daddy’s office.

    On another note, I have learned to make delicious barbecue sauce. Maybe next time you come visit me, I can make us some pork sandwiches with my homemade sauce.

  2. Michael M. responded on 19 Jun 2011 at 6:58 am #

    We got the DVDs through H’s Netflix subscription. The shows are worth watching. I saw one episode of the second season, and I wish I had a good way to see more.

    I would like to try your barbecue. I do not know when I will have another chance to visit, though. I now have 3 places I like in this area, Pappy’s, Flavors and 17th Street Bar and Grill in Illinois. There also is a Pappy’s satellite in Soulard called Bogart’s.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.