Friday, December 31, 2010

The Road Home - KY to LA

Our speed racer road trip came to an end after Day Two of the long haul through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississipi back to Louisiana. If the first leg of the journey was a snooze fest, the second was the Bo Derek of Americana road trip boners.

We headed southwest along fields of horse farms in the morning and made first detour to the Four Roses Bourbon Distillery in Lawrenceburg. MM and I hadn't planned on stopping so early in the day, but you can't find two Catholics driving through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail before noon and expect otherwise! The choice between a tour of Four Roses and Wild Turkey was instantly settled as soon as I saw the latter's logo on the parkway. Flashback to late SF nights, Shrimp clutching her little prawny hands around the wattle of an empty plastic Wild Turkey jug, and I thought, we best make new memories with the more delicate brand! Four Roses was a fine place to visit, though I had hoped for a more "organic" experience. I was looking for a mom and pop operation. We were greeted with hand-etched tumblers and logo emblazoned polar fleeces. I guess mid-tier boozers with little brand cache have to make money however they can. We explored the campus for a while, opting out of the official tour ($$). A note for future visitors: the doors to the actually factory are unlocked so you don't need a guide to see the fun machines (always a highlight for RF).

Our next destination wove us through the scenic Bluegrass Parkway to Munfordville, home of Kentucky's Stonehenge. Before visiting the replica megalith, we paused for Poor-Key's BBQ rib special at Memory Lane Restaurant. The cafe enshrines several recently fallen soldiers from the area. We stuffed our faces to the recordings of a local fiddler then drove down the street to the town attraction. Marked by a handful of small roadside placards, the Stonehenge site appears to be a private endeavor in the adjacent lot of some one's backyard. We offered Lula to pachamama and then she promptly ran through the gates of the neighbor's yard. After some coaxing we were able to get her back to the car. Our threesome hightailed it out of Munfordville.

I-65 South lead us to Cross Plains, Tennessee, where we spent some time hunting down our next checkpoint. Lead astray, we took Barren Plains Road in the opposite direction but soon found ourselves in front of Thomas Drugs, an old-timey pharmacy and soda fountain (eeek, I wanted to know if it used to be segregated but I wasn't sure if that is something about which one might inquire politely?). My vintage heart was thoroughly charmed by the menu: phosphate sodas, egg creams, and the "hobo float" (a glass of water with a bobbing toothpick). The kids behind the counter were super cute. We even chuckled at the pimple faced teen's attempt at making fun of us. They were helpful in pointing us toward our raison d'etre in Cross Plains, although it seems that locals couldn't understand why we had traveled so far to see a decaying, pink fiberglass elephant. Back on track we reached the destination. OH BOY was Her Majesty worth it! The pachydermus roseus sits in the parking lot of the Red River Antiques Mall, holding a rusty martini glass in her trunk. Faithful pilgrims, MM and I payed homage to the beast with photographs and hugs. We then crossed the road for an unexpected bonus. Sad Sam's Fireworks Outlet features a multistory saluting (?) American Indian rendered in the classic muffler man style. Perhaps we should have taken the Indian as a harbinger of what was in store - a real taste of America! Amid a generous stock of fireworks were many shelves of Tennessee and regionally-theme souvenirs, mostly of the Confederate flag variety. I resisted the temptation to make several "can you believe this shit?!?!" purchases and left with only one crate of sparklers for New Years.

Overwhelmed anticipation to return to our New Orleans families, we forewent addition detours in Alabama. We gunned it down I-65 then across the I-10, an old friend, until we made it to the Crescent City just past midnight.

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