On The Road Again

June 4, 2008

Yes, on the move again. We haven't been in our house for more than a week at a time since early March...so what's a little more travel, right? I think Camille summed it up for all of us when she started telling people "I've lost my house".

We left the rice fields for the big city (New Orleans) where we had a couple of whirlwind days which started with a memorial event for my dad at the Ogden ...Michael and David Doucet brought me to tears again with their beautiful playing. We all had a good time staying with the Spitzer family (thank you very much) and then spent our second day in the city by visiting my Dad's show at the Arthur Roger Gallery...pride, sadness, and comfort all mixed into one strange concoction of emotions. We got on the highway and were about an hour outside of New Orleans when I realized that I had left my purse (with both of our wallets) at the gallery.We headed back since driving for three days without any id or money would have been a bad idea. Back on the road again, we started our drive to Chapel Hill, NC.

Part of this post is related to this idea I've had brewing in my head (thanks to all of our recent road trips)...wouldn't it be helpful to have a website/blog where families could post suggestions for roadtrips? It could be organized along major roads/interstates with recommendations for good rest areas (those with clean bathrooms, good spaces for running or interesting sites), good eats that aren't the typical fast food, good stops along the way (parks, museums, kitschy road art...big peach, dinosaurs, etc) and good back road recommendations to by-pass the interstate monotony. I haven't had the energy or time to see if there isn't already a site like this so for now I will just do this for myself (and anyone else who is getting ready to travel similar paths).

So here is a first post along those lines in a very rough form.

I-10 East from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama:
1) Art and Play in New Orleans:
t Julia Street which is lined with art galleries. A good place to park is in the pay lot behind the Arthur Roger Gallery. Stop in to see the current exhibits and then head over to the Louisiana Children's Museum (right next door). And if you are still up for learning more about Southern art and culture, head down a few blocks to the Ogden.

2) Stop in Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Visit the Walter Anderson Museum, Miner's Doll and Toy Store, Train Depot with the visitors center and the Realizations gift shop (owned by the Anderson family). We stopped at each of these wonderful spots just as they closed so we didn't make it inside but we were lucky enough to watch a train as it went past the depot. After driving around the cute downtown area we got back on I-10, which is when both children decided they weredesperately hungry for dinner so we pulled off at the next exit and had a surprisingly good dinner at The Shed BBQ and Blues...sat outside eating eating yummy, messy BBQ while listening to live music and watching the kids dance and run around. Quite an interesting mix of people from families to a large group of bikers to guys in suits...all enjoying a Friday evening outside.

I-65 Mobile to Montgomery
3) Spent our first night on the road at
Gunter Air Force Base. If you are a military family, this is a pretty good lodging option. $46 for two bedrooms separated by a bathroom and fairly close to major interstates. We stopped at the commissary the next morning to stock up on gas and snacks for the road.

I-85 Montgomery to Charlotte
4) Stopped for lunch in Valley, Alabama (Exit 79). A small town with the usual line up of fast food places, but luckily we drove past those and discovered the JK House Korean restaurant. A surprisingly large and new place with a menu written in Korean and English. Turns out Kia is opening a factory in the small town and demographics of the small southern town are changing as the Korean car company prepares to take root. It was great. Brought back delicious memories of meals in Korea and Japan. Would highly recommend the Bimbimbop (served in steam hot stone bowl) and bulgogi (which was grilled in front of us).

5) South Carolina Welcome Center. As with our earlier luck we got there after the center had closed, but did enjoy the view and the kids had fun running around the fenced yard perched up on a hill overlooking a big lake....very pretty rest stop area and fairly clean restrooms.

We had hoped to make a short detour and spend the night in Asheville, NC but with two cranky kids and running behind schedule we kept driving and finally made it to Chapel Hill after three days of driving. Three days because of late starts, cranky kids, and a few interesting stops. The drive was also made easier by listening to a couple of episodes from American Routes and some rousing car games (spot thatBeetlebop, count the red cars, and guess that vehicle).

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