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Should Have Bought the TAB:
Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About My Back
and Love Sleeping on the Floor

A New Orleans Trip Memoir
by Wayner

With Special Thanks to:
Reviewers: Benny and Alec
Pictures + Quotes: SexyPheon


Editors Note:  If you would like all 202 digital pics from New Orleans as high quality half meg pictures, please contact SexyPheon for a CD.


Saturday, December 9, 2001

    As determined at the Third Annual dNet XXXmas Partee the night before, those of us still in Stevens Point (Alec was already in Madison to see Garrison Keillor) would rendezvous at Davy’s house at 4 PM. The plan was to meet Alec at Dan’s Madison apartment and then drive to Chicago that night. Dan and Wayner, messiahs of punctuality, were on time as usual. Waiting for Benny to arrive, they take out Davy’s guitar and start making up crude songs about the whereabouts of Benny. Within his range of being on time (± 1 hour and 20 minutes) Benny shows up an hour late. To make matters worse he starts asking questions like “Does anyone know how to get to the hotel tonight?” We gather around the computer to find the confirmation number for the hotel reservation Wayner made the night before, only to find that the reservation has been made for the wrong hotel. Scrambling, Benny cancels the erroneous reservation and tries to make a reservation at the hotel we stayed at last year when we went to New York. Unfortunately, that hotel is no longer a Park and Fly. They have a shuttle that would take us to Midway Airport but they wouldn’t let us leave our car there while we were gone! We start to weigh the value of Davy’s car and the $90 it would cost to park there. Dan bets that they wouldn’t tow it! In a pinch, we try to make reservations at the Midway Hotel Center, a large group of hotels just 2 blocks away from the airport. They have rooms available but would charge us an additional $85 to leave our car there. Upon further consideration, we opt to drive to Madison and spend the night at Dan’s apartment. Then we would get up early the next morning to drive to Midway and leave our car in the economy parking lots at the airport for only $9/day! Davy, Benny, Dan, and Wayner load up in Tush’s 1985 Bonneville and head into town. We stop at the Westside Store gas station to get some Cokes and say hi to Tush at Subway before we leave. Little do we know that Tush has set us up! The Bonneville should have been thoroughly heated by the time we reach Plainfield, but we soon discover that the car has no heat! I guess Tush just wasn’t being nice to her brother when she gave him that extra large single scoop of TCDYBY Yogurt.

That engine doesn't look to "hottt"!
Sexy Tusherz says "So do you want two scoops or one REALLY BIG scoop!?"

In anticipation of the temp lights turning on and the car stalling, we pull off in Coloma for gas. It’s so cold that Benny has to buy some toe warmers so he can feel his feet! The rest of the drive is uneventful, but we do open the windows occasionally to let the hot air in. We’re freezing and starving when we finally get to Madison.With impeccable timing, Alec calls Dan’s apartment as soon as we walk in the door. Dan pops a couple of pizzas into the oven and we turn on “Platoon” to help us fall asleep. It is a well known fact that starting a three hour epic drama after midnight will lull a person to sleep, but we were all still wide awake after the movie was finished. Everyone was too excited about the day to come! We figure we’ll have to be up 5 AM to make an 11 AM flight out of Chicago. Alec and Wayner decide to break in Ivy’s bed that night and then they don’t even make it when they leave the next morning!

Sunday, December 30, 2001

    We rise between 4:30 and 5 AM to Dan’s computer blasting No Doubt’s Sunday Morning MP3 because nobody has an alarm clock! Everyone is excited to be leaving and we pile into the Bonneville by 5:30 AM. We stop at McDonald’s for some breakfast (and a chance to warm up) just north of Chicago at about 9. Early on a Sunday morning, we cruise through Chicago without any traffic problems and arrive at Midway on time. We park the heatless Bonneville in an economy parking lot and catch a shuttle to the terminal. We all feel a sense of pride as we navigate to the AirTran ticket counter. Benny was even sporting his AirTran polo. Security was obviously tightened at the airport but we were able to navigate through it quickly and painlessly. We had some time to kill at our gate so we played cribbage and president in between watching planes taxi in and out. Only Davy, whose Adidas visor must have tripped some sensors, was subject to a random search as we boarded the plane. AirTran employees looked through his backpack and he was asked to take off his shoes. We arrived at the Atlanta airport around 12:30 PM or so. AirTran is based out of Atlanta so it was nice to see all of those new 717s taxiing up and down the runways. My airline has definitely arrived! We grab a bite to eat at Wendy’s while conversing with Davy’s new “friend” from the plane and later douse Benny (and his mouth) with sprays that “smell like girl” at Bath and Body Works. On the way back to the AirTran Concourse (that’s right, AirTran has their own concourse but unfortunately no AirTran Store) we decide to take the subway train. Alec, seeing the red lights flashing to make everyone aware that the doors are closing, makes a dash for it and beats everyone else back to the concourse. Most of the tripmates take a nap except for Wayner, who reads the Atlanta newspaper, until they begin boarding at 6:30 PM. Another quick hour and a half flight and we arrive in New Orleans at about 8 PM. To Wayner’s delight, all of our luggage is recovered intact.

At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows!
Pride of the fleet! But where is the air interchanger?!

Ben’s search for the cheapest lodging in New Orleans placed us in a Motel 6 on the far east side of town. However, the New Orleans airport was on the far WEST side of town and in Jefferson parish (Louisiana has parishes instead of counties). After a chat with the information desk lady we discovered that we could pick up a bus that would take us to the parish line. An hour and two more bus transfers later, we arrive at the intersection of Bullard and I-10 thanks to the help of some friendly riders. Without a Motel 6 in sight we walk across the street to Pizza Hut to ask for directions. The employees don’t seem to recognize any Motel 6’s in the area but they offer to call the hotel for us. Apparently our hotel is still a half a mile away! Following their instructions, we walk underneath the interstate and spot our hotel on the horizon. Expecting a run down place, we checked into a surprisingly clean and new looking Motel 6. As it was approaching 10 PM and we still hadn’t had any supper, we headed over to Shoney’s for a big buffet. However, Shoney’s was only open for 10 more minutes so we were out of luck. Ben, Wayner, and Davy went to the Sav-A-Center to get some Cokes and Dan and Alec went back to the hotel to order some pizzas from Domino’s. We enjoyed our pizzas and cokes as we watched a cheesy Charlie Sheen movie on HBO, where he plays an advice column writer for a small time newspaper, and went to bed.

Monday, December 31, 2001 - New Year’s Eve

    After two hours of shower and prep time, we finally leave the hotel at noon. Since we were shut out of Shoney’s the night before, we give it a try it for lunch. Surprisingly, no one chooses the buffet. We all order sandwiches from the menu. Still unfamiliar with the area and just exactly how the bus system works, we pick up a bus going in the wrong direction. After a scenic tour of the “ghetto” we circle back past the same place we got on the bus a half hour before!

Mike says they're the "baddest boats" he's been on!
Once downtown, we exit the bus near Canal Street and start working our way towards the waterfront and visitor center. On the way there we happen upon an independent visitor shop. Letting them know our desire to take a swamp tour, the staff recommends Tommy’s, the best airboat tour in Louisiana as featured on MTV’s “The Real World.” Hoping to maximize our experience, we stress that we want to go out in a SMALL boat. After some finagling, which included Alec calling the business to see how fast the boats could go (35…40…45…50 mph), we talk the guy into a $13 discount per person (which still put us at $52 per person!!!) for a small airboat ride and make reservations for Friday afternoon.

Continuing on to the visitor center, we wind through Jackson Square (which is already blocked off for New Year’s) and see the St. Louis Cathedral. We stop in the visitor center for a bit but see little of interest. We wander in front of the cathedral and it just happened to be time for mass. Ben and Davy go to church and Wayner, Dan, and Alec go exploring on Bourbon Street and the surrounding area. We meet up again in an hour and decide to find someplace to eat.

Upon the recommendation of Ben’s step dad, we visit Tony Moran’s on Bourbon Street. It was here where Robert E. Lee…or was that Andrew Jackson… planned the defense of New Orleans in 1814! The food was pretty good but the lack of quantity and Coke refills left us sour. The $115 bill didn’t help either. At least Solomon the doorman was nice. He let us use the bathroom at the restaurant all night long. This didn’t seem like a huge perk at the time, but later proved quite handy.
"If you need anything, anything at all, you just ask ol Solomon!"

As darkness descended upon New Orleans, we took to the streets in search of noonies. Alec gladly assumes the roll as point man. We navigate up and down Bourbon Street following Alec as he darted from flashing girl to flashing girl. It was amazing how he was always so close to the action! We get a bunch of pictures, quite a few beads (by pledging our allegiance to LSU), and are never checked for ID the whole night! Even Davy, who hardly looks 18, was buying alcohol! Apparently you only have to be able to reach the counter to drink in New Orleans. Each of us besides Benny has a Hand Grenade. Proclaimed as “New Orleans Most Powerful Drink” they were really sweet and went down easily. At $7.50 per grenade they should be dubbed “New Orleans Most Expensive Drink” instead!

Happy new year!
"The most expensive drink in New Orleans!"

While circulating the streets we question a police officer about how late the buses run and he can only tell us not to drink up all of our money and save $5 apiece for a taxi! Midnight comes and goes without much fanfare on the streets. It wasn’t like NYC where every one was counting as the ball dropped. Wayner sets his sights on a Hurricane, but holds off for later. We hike down to Jackson Square to see an excellent firework show and then back to Bourbon Street. By this time, Bourbon Street is packed shoulder to shoulder with people and when you tried to move you went wherever the crowd did. Davy levitating across the street marked time to start walking away. Wayner still wanted his Hurricane, but we were unwilling to surf through the crowd again with a whining Alec on our hands. We leave the festivities around 1:30 AM and get back to the hotel near 2 AM.

Tuesday, January 1, 2002

    Sleeping in a bit, we take until noon again to get every one showered and ready.  The cold and rain mark a horrible day. No one is in the mood to do much of anything.  We try Subway for brunch but they’re closed so we make a run for the border and eat at Taco Hell. After some fine Mexican cooking, we head over to Circuit City because it’s still raining. We play around with the computers and video games for a while and then head over to Toys ‘R Us for some more fun. Meanwhile, the rain is still coming down. Davy breaks open his now unstitched finger while playing football and has to go to the service desk for a towel. As it’s still raining, we go to Home Depot to get some first aid supplies for Davy’s hand (read: electrical tape). After trying on some gas powered leaf blower jetpacks and juggling some chainsaws, we return to the hotel to watch TV, call home, and play cards.

I am....Batman!
This place is horrible!!  Why did we take a picture??

Working on a suggestion to eat at Shoney’s once a day, we go there for supper. We all get the buffet and settle in for an eating contest. Dan eats half a chicken and is declared the winner! After that meal we all remember why we don’t go to Shoney’s in Stevens Point and vow never to return to Shoney’s again! With our tummies full of gut-wrenching Shoney’s grub, we storm the Sav-A-Center grocery store. Benny, Davy, and Alec try on hospital scrubs and Wayner and Dan peruse the liquor aisle and get asked if we have any weed for sale (That’s right, no liquor department! All the alcohol is out in an aisle just like cereal and cake mix in the South). We draw the attention of the supermarket security guard but he’s cool. He was just making sure we weren’t trying on the scrubs and then leaving without paying for them. Benny makes sure to purchase some doilies and Flan as well. We head back to the hotel with some chips and soda and watch Cocktail and Lethal Weapon on the TV. Davy uses the privy and we collectively verify that Shoney’s smells better on the way in (not by much). Davy’s fowl smell, in conjunction with leaving the door open, coins the phrase “gutting a possum.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

    Showering begins promptly at 8:30 so we can eat and get downtown to the D-Day Museum as soon as possible. Alec is the last one to wake and is antagonized verbally so that he will get going. This is how the “pentagon shower lubs j00” got started. We bus ourselves into town and enjoy a fine breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts. On the way to Dunkin’ Donuts, we spot a Gibbs Construction hard hat on top of the traffic light control box on the sidewalk. As we dirty our faces with powdered sugar, we contemplate how good that hard hat would look in Davy’s backpack. Benny and Davy execute a covert op (I’ll keep the little covert op on the down low… Low down… No doubt!) and gather the target without blowing their cover or looking too suspicious. We proceed to the D-Day Museum and spend the rest of the day there. The museum was very cool. Great exhibits on Normandy and the Pacific theater as well. Just down the street from the museum we scale the statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle and watch the streetcars for a while. In search of food, we head for the riverfront and downtown.

At the half-shell, just watch out for those falling bottles of Tabasco!
"Not so much here, or here, but right.... here!"

We try to eat at the Bally’s Casino downtown but one has to be 21 to enter so that was a bust (Wayner’s so punny). Coming up empty, we take the Algiers Ferry across the Mississippi River. Little did we know that Algiers is pretty residential and didn’t have shit in the way of restaurants. We do get asked if we want to buy some weed though! We end up catching the next ferry back to the other side. Waiting for the ferry to return, Benny finds a good-looking restaurant in the phone book while the rest of the group hangs with the locals (read: pimps and dealers). Unfortunately, once we get to the restaurant it’s closed. I guess 7 PM is too late for a restaurant to stay open! Desperately seeking food, we find the Half Shell restaurant. Here we got to sample some real Cajun style cooking. The waiter was quite nice and helpful in deciding what we should order. We get some “bullets” (Cajun for red beans), jambalaya, and gumbo. We catch the bus back to the Motel 6 to watch a corny movie, Shock Video 2002, and have ice cube fights (read: Wayner gets ice thrown at him, so he whips it back against the wall, shattering it to thousands of tiny pieces).

Thursday, January 3, 2002

    As usual we are up and going a little on the late side today. It takes three hours to get everyone through the morning routine. The author of this fine memoir did get to watch Bedazzled on the TV this morning though. Wow! Elizabeth Hurley is hottttt! (And 37 years old) We ate brunch at Subway and picked up the bus for downtown once again. First thing we did in town was visit the New Orleans Public Library. Surprisingly, the library only has two internet computers and both had long lines at them. It did have DVDs for rental though, which was very neat. With a bit of luck, Alec happens upon a nice guy who lets us use the rest of his time because he thought Alec was gay too! We were able to check our grades quick but no email. Some of us were surprised (Benny), some of us disappointed (Wayner and Alec), and others confident (Dan). I don’t think you can check MSTC grades online but I’m sure Davy did fine. We had originally planned to go to San Francisco for winter break, but we lucked out because New Orleans has their own streetcar line! Taking full advantage of our unlimited daily transit passes; we board the streetcar and ride it through the Garden District on our way to the Audubon Zoo. Alec wanted to see some penguins. What Alec wants, Alec gets because our purpose in life is to make Alec happy. This will figure prominently into the next few days’ activities! By the time we get to the zoo it’s already 3 PM and the zoo is only open until 5 PM plus only one of the animals was actually viewable due to the extreme cold (low 40s!). We opt to head back into town and go to the Aquarium of the Americas instead since it is open until 6. We tour the aquarium and Alec gets to see his penguins. We catch an average IMAX film about the secret world of caves in addition to the aquarium tour. It featured music by the Moody Blues, but the songs were all re-recorded elevator music background junk.

Yes, I am inside the tank!
I..... smell......dead.......people....

Some of us, namely the author, were disappointed. Starved and looking for a meal that was easy on the pocketbook, we head to the restaurant that had been closed the night before only to find that it was closed again! Our options are now limited to fast food. Burger King fits the bill perfectly. Benny wants to have an eating contest and tells Wayner to order six 99 cent chicken tender things because he’s still hungry after downing a large sized double Whopper value meal. While Benny is in the bathroom “gutting a ‘possum”, Wayner goes ahead and orders the 30 pieces of chicken for the sole purpose of making Benny eat them. Benny can only finish 20 of them before he calls in Davy and Wayner for reinforcements. Thoroughly impressed by our first streetcar ride, we board the streetcar again and ride it all the way to the end of the line. It was neat to the see the driver hop out of the car and switch the seats around so we could go in the opposite direction back to town. In order to ride back we had to show the driver our transit passes. Everyone had his pass readily available except for Benny. He sat there and took out the ENTIRE contents of his inner pocket of his coat (read: junk drawer) before finally finding it. The driver didn’t look too enthused after that episode. He still drove us back downtown though. Ben, Davy, and Alec spent most of the ride back trying to figure out how the driver actually drives the streetcar. We finish off our last night in New Orleans with a speedy warm bus ride where Alec tries to pretend he’s not bored by attempting to sleep.

Friday, January 4, 2002

    Rise and shine at 9! (Hey, that rhymed) Wayner and Davy leave the hotel to find some breakfast and stamps for postcards. They visit the Sav-A-Center to buy some donuts, milk, and juice. They also hike over to McDonald’s but miss the breakfast cutoff time by 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Benny taunts Alec by telling him how much easier Tany wakes up than he does. Everyone freshens up as we enjoy our donuts and beverages and prepares to leave the Motel 6. Dan checks us out of the hotel and we radiate in the sun for 45 minutes waiting for the Enterprise shuttle van (They’ll pick you up!). Luckily, the Enterprise driver brings a minivan because we’ve got five big boys and backpacks too. To our disappointment it wasn’t wrapped in brown paper like the commercials. Once at the rental shop, Alec and Davy immediately start playing with the toys in front of the desk attendant and then for “some reason” Enterprise starts to feed Dan lines that they won’t rent to him because he is too young (All other rental car companies require a renter to be at least 24 years old, Enterprise was the only company that, according to their website, would rent to 21 year olds). Dan bats his eyelashes at the rental girl and she ends up renting him the car, only after triple verifying his license and insurance. The fact that we had a confirmation number might have helped too. We load up our backpacks into a sporty red 2001 Ford Taurus and drive to McDonald’s for a bite to eat. Benny wants to go to Walmart to get some gloves and a hat so he doesn’t freeze on the airboat but with reservations at 3 PM we thought we should get going. Tommy’s Airboat Rides are located about a half hour south of downtown New Orleans in Lafitte. Due to its location on the bayou, only one road exists into and out of Lafitte.

Chevy 354 Big Block!
"We have the best politicians money can buy!"

We drive for 20 miles down a straight road with nothing to see but swampy forest on either side. Then out of nowhere we drive over a high bridge crossing a channel. Once across the bridge the road ends suddenly and funnels down to a lesser county road. Tommy’s is located just under the bridge in a fairly non-descript trailer for the heralded “Best Airboat Ride in Louisiana.” We meet our tour guide and pay the rest of the bill. He reminds us to bundle up because it’s going to be cold. Contrary to our reservation, we end up taking an 18 passenger boat on the tour, not the small 6 person boat we that we had requested. Together with a mother (a strip bar waitress from El Paso) and her two sons, we launch for our swamp tour. We strap ourselves into our stainless steel seats and put on our ear protection, as our guide fires up the Chevy 354 Big Block engine. The tour guide does an excellent job explaining the history and wildlife of the area. We see many birds and nutrias (think of a beaver with a tail like a rat), but no alligators (they are hibernating in December). On one of our tour stops, the guide recommends some good places to eat in the area. When we mention that we are from Wisconsin, he tells us to visit “Favre’s on the Bayou” in Kiln, Mississippi. This restaurant, run by Brett Favre’s brother Jeff, is in Favre’s hometown. Another suggestion of his was Jan’s Restaurant just down the road from the airboat trailer. We decide to try it out once we get back to the dock. The help was good looking and the food wasn’t bad either! Unfortunately, the younger waitresses stayed in the back but our waitress did call everyone “baby”. That is everyone except for Ben. I guess babies can’t have neck beards. While eating we were able to watch TV too. Our choices were pretty limited but we caught some of Jeopardy and then Clifford The Big Red Dog. Here we witnessed Alec’s southerly slip of tongue when he asked us if the level of volume was, “alright for all y’all.” You should have seen his face! After supper we load back into the Taurus and head up to Vicksburg. The drive via the interstate was rather dull and sightless. We arrive at the Best Western (with indoor swimming pool) around 11:30 PM and check in. Dan and Alec order a pizza from Pizza Hut and we watch Mission to Mars. Davy tries to take a shower but can’t figure out how to make the water come out of the head. After 15 minutes of hearing the water turn on and off, we applaud at the familiar sound of the shower.

Saturday, January 5, 2002

    All of us except Ben grudgingly rise around 9:30 so we can take advantage of the free continental breakfast. After showering, we head to Vicksburg Military Park. We watch a movie on the Civil War battleground in the visitor center and then take the sixteen-mile driving tour of the park. It rains the whole time we are there but we still get out of the car to experience the memorials and fortifications. We eat lunch at McAlister’s Deli, a sandwich shop that also had baked potatoes with toppings and really good lemonade. The guy behind the counter bore an uncanny resemblance to Ben’s brother Sam. The topic of discussion turns to paintball guns over lunch. We debate whether a longer barrel would make a paintball fire more accurately. Davy assures us that a longer barrel would result in a higher muzzle velocity and therefore increased accuracy. The rest of us are weary but Davy had “studied ballistics” in high school physics so he stood by his answer. After eating, we drive downtown to try to find a museum of Coke memorabilia. We can’t find it and eventually wind up at the Vicksburg Library. Once again we have trouble using the internet. They have plenty of computers available, but we can’t use them because we need to have a library card. Since we weren’t residents, we couldn’t get a card, so no email for us. Davy took advantage of this opportunity to ask the librarian about our barrel length controversy. She searches the web and finds a page that states that a longer barrel would result in higher muzzle velocity in regular rifles. Presenting this information to Dan, he claims that the internet is not a credible source! On the way back we spot a bowling alley in close proximity to the Best Western. We all agree that bowling in Mississippi would be fun and plan to return there in the evening. Dan and Ben take the car to do some laundry and explore rural Vicksburg, while Alec, Davy, and Wayner stay back at the hotel. Alec and Davy try out the pool but return quickly since the heater was broken. Alec did swim long enough to smack his knee on the bottom of the pool though. The three of us at the hotel watch Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey until Ben and Dan return. Later that night we go back to Red Carpet Lanes for some prime tyne Saturday night bowling. The place is busy but it appears billiards is more popular than bowling in Mississippi.

Those are some big guns, u hu, i reckon
A "stealthily" taken photo of a "blurry" checkers10

Both Alec and Davy have some interesting experiences here with the opposite sex. A girl hits on Davy but in an un-Davy-like fashion he fumbles his words and crashes and burns! He says something like “I… am… Wisconsin” and turned around and bowled. She went away eventually. On the other hand, Alec takes the initiative on a girl (Checkers10) in the lane next to us. He never actually talks to her but he did get to meet her boyfriend! He said, “You better watch where you point that thing!” Maybe holding a camera in her general direction and taking a picture of her wasn’t a good idea! Nevertheless, that was the last we saw of her and her camouflage-wearing boyfriend since we made them leave after only one game. Even though some of us were distracted by the Mississippi lady folk, our bowling scores did little to reflect this fact. Dan lets us in on the Coke frame, one of his bowling league traditions. This frame typically occurs in the 7th frame but it could occur in any frame. The bowler with the lowest score in the lane for the Coke frame has to buy Cokes for all the other bowlers. It’s remarkable how well people will bowl when a round of Cokes is on the line! We stealthily sneak back to the car hoping to not to be spotted by any of Alec’s new “friends” from Mississippi. Starved since we haven’t had supper yet, we find a Domino’s Pizza in a gas station. Reviewing some maps we find that Kiln, Mississippi, home of Brett Favre, is just off the interstate on the way to Biloxi, our next destination. Later on while still waiting for our order, Wayner is awakened from his daydreaming by two girls who mouth “Fuck You” to him through the glass. Striking out all over the place with women, we return to the hotel and watch Disclosure on HBO while enjoying our pizzas.

Sunday, January 6, 2002

    We have to be up and going a little earlier today because check out time is 11 AM. We catch a good portion of both the Wayne’s World movies (No Stairway to IOWA??? Denied!) before we leave the hotel room. Got to love TBS! The desk attendant of the hotel, who seems to have been there for our entire stay, recommends that we eat at Walnut Hill before we leave town. The Walnut Hill restaurant is located in a historic house in downtown Vicksburg and the food there is served family style on a round table. A round table is more than just a circular table. It also has a Lazy Susan so that everyone on the table can easily access any of the dishes by spinning it in their direction. The food was cooked in a traditional Southern manner and was delicious with the exception of the tomato aspic. Tomato aspic is kind of like jellied V-8. We try to visit the Coke memorabilia museum again but it is closed and doesn’t look that neat anyway. On our way out of town we stop at a visitor center to get a Mississippi map and head for Biloxi via Kiln. The drive to Biloxi looks an awful lot like Wisconsin. It’s flat and has pine trees all over, but no snow! The number of roadway reflectors on the interstate impresses Benny. We stop for a bathroom break at a rest stop, but there isn’t a bathroom so we have to go in the woods. The well-worn trails show we weren’t the first to do this! We continue on and exit the interstate for Kiln. There isn’t much to Kiln besides two gas stations at a crossroad, although neighboring Stennis did have an international airport! While Benny asks for directions to the restaurant at the gas station, the rest of us peruse the used videos for sale at the video store next door. They have some decent movies (American Psycho!) but nobody buys anything. We load up and cruise down the street to Favre’s on the Bayou. No one was particularly hungry, but we thought we better stop to say that we did it.

What a perty view!
Are you Brett Farve's brother?

Here we meet the southern belle waitress, Doni Kay.

"You're so hottt, sign my shirt!"

We stay and chat for 3 hours. Alec is so smitten with her that he buys a restaurant tee shirt and she draws a picture and autographs it for him. We take some pictures and leave an extra large tip for all her attention. Knowing the affinity of smokers towards Alec, we spot Doni with an inflamed white tube as we leave. The boys all agree that smoking is quite unattractive but she becomes exempt. We have a nice sing-a-long with the radio on the way to back to Gulfport. In Gulfport we pick up the highway that runs right next to the beachfront. We stop and explore the beach at low tide for a while in the darkness. A little farther down the same highway in Biloxi we check into another Motel 6. Rates are quite affordable when you visit Biloxi in the off-season! Wayner collapses on the floor in agony with a stomachache while the rest of the group goes for a beach run. Likely stomachache culprits were narrowed down to the undercooked roast beef or the unlimited iced tea at the Walnut Hill restaurant. Wayner’s pain subsides but Alec agonizes in his own pain thinking about what do about the new icon in his life. We fall asleep to Contact on the TV

Monday, January 7, 2002

    We all sleep in today and don’t leave the hotel until noon. We load into the Taurus to take a beach drive and find some donuts but end up visiting the Gulf Islands National Seashore Center. Here we learn about the history and wildlife of the coastal region and islands, but to actually get there we need to catch a ferry. Since it’s now lunchtime we go to Subway. Dan heads for the one on the right!

A very pretty sunset on the 26 mile whitesand beach.

We find it odd that Subway is serving Coke products and sure enough we fill up with “Coke” only to find Pepsi in our cups! They were a little wacky at that Subway anyway. The cashier was really Chiffon chatty and told us our change as 746 cents as opposed to $7.46. After lunch we stop at one of the numerous gift shops along the beachfront. Benny gets a shirt for Morey and Alec gets a visor so he’ll always remember Mississippi. Although it must have looked quite weird to the locals, we comb the beach for shells and write messages in the sand in our winter jackets. We hike out to the end of a pier and rescue a drowning cart. (Insert blurry picture of the fish we found in the cart here!) We visit Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’ retirement home, but we don’t take the tour because it was too late in the day. The curator is nice though and lets us peruse the gift shop. Alec buys a Confederate flag mouse pad for his father. While attempting to take a group photo around the Jefferson Davis sign, we meet a security guard who gives us a hand. He does a good job of filling us in about the locals of Kiln. We learn all about the kilnbilly stills in the backyard, year-round hunting, and the two seasons of Kiln: salt and pepper! We return to the hotel to debate our options for supper. Last night Doni said she was working again this night and that we should come back and bother her. Of course, Alec was all gung ho about returning. Dan was a bit more reluctant. He expressed concern about going to the same restaurant two nights in a row because of the “scene” we made there the night before. The fact that he was the only driver also played into his position. Alec was not content to let anyone prevent him from returning to Kiln. The whining began and within seconds Dan’s opinion changed and we decided to return to Favre’s on the Bayou.

"Thanks so much SexyPheon for driving me an hour into the heart of Mississippi so I could see my soulmate again!"
We should start a construction, demolition, and salvage company!

As expected, Doni was working again when we got there. We stay until closing time and have a great time again. Alec leaves the restaurant with Doni’s cell number and AOL screen name. He vows to get her to switch over to ICQ within days of us returning to Point. We return to the Biloxi Motel 6 to watch Proof of Life. As we are settling down, Benny develops a plan to remove the memoir author from the floor, where he had slept the entire trip so far. He offers to trade his position on the bed with the author but the author refuses. Benny is relentless in his pursuit to keep the author from being the floor martyr. While Benny gutted a possum and everyone else watched the movie, the author made his bed on the floor and fell asleep. The author is then rudely awakened as he is being picked up off the floor by the four other tripmates. When the author began to violently kick and thrash he was thrown on the bed. In a desperate attempt to regain any spot on the floor, the author jumps into the crevasse between the bed and the wall only to once again be hoisted onto the bed. Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, the author grabs the closest person (who happened to be Davy) and begins wrestling. The phone toppled and the author’s hand hit the wall. After this violent spat on the bed, Davy clears off the sheet-stripped bed and leaves it entirely to the author. Ben and Davy take the floor, Dan and Alec claim the other bed, and the author sleeps on the bed alone as planned. While the author falls asleep, he remains motionless and listens in on the conversation of the other four tripmates. Apparently Davy’s studies have extended well beyond ballistics. He is convinced that the author was asleep through the entire episode! Muhahahaha!

Tuesday, January 8, 2002

    The group rises early on their last day in the South. Showering begins at 7. In respect of the author, they let him sleep in, since he was always the first in the shower. We load up the rental car and check out of the Motel 6 by 9. On the way back to New Orleans, where we are to board the train at 2, we stop at a Super Walmart to get some soda and chips for the train ride back to Chicago. Completely by chance the author comes across a copy of “A League of Their Own” on video. Benny is awestruck and buys this long sought out classic (Avoid the clap! Jimmy Dugan). While looking for the soda we are surprised to see that keg beer can be purchased at the Walmart service desk. It must be a southern thing! Instead of coming straight into New Orleans via the interstate, we take a detour so we can drive over the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. This bridge spanning 24 miles crosses directly over the middle of the lake. It was just like driving straight into the ocean. You couldn’t see the city on the other side nor anything along the sides of the lake. Coming into town by Benny’s creative map reading skills, we finally get to the downtown Enterprise dealer after some driving gymnastics. Besides just picking you up, Enterprise will also give you a ride to the Amtrak Depot, which was only a few blocks away! We pick up our tickets, check our luggage, and walk to the business district to find some lunch. We work up a sweat on the way to the restaurant as the sun comes out for the first time all trip. It’s too bad the entire trip didn’t have weather like this but even though it was unseasonably cool during our visit it was still better than Minnesota and Wisconsin. We order two big pizzas from the Italian Pie and enjoy lunch with a crowd of New Orleans businesspeople. Not known for their temporal reliability, Amtrak departs New Orleans on schedule!

It's the City of New Orleans!  Hello America how are you!
"He's shooting the moon! You son of a bitch..."

We meet our train attendant and fall asleep soon after we get rolling. Later on we retire to the lounge car to play some cards and watch “Rat Race” with our newfound Amish friends. In Memphis we get a chance to get out of the train and stretch our legs for 15 minutes. We enjoy a relatively good meal in the dining car and return to the lounge car to play some more cards. The author proves himself a better President player than Hearts player. Attempting to shoot the moon every game regardless of your hand is not a good strategy! The nearly empty weekday train allows us to stretch out in our seats and achieve some level of comfort. However, nobody ever really sleeps well on the train.

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

    Our attendant wakes us up in Chicago around 8 AM. We pick up our checked bags and are already on our way out of Union Station by 9. The nearest “L” stop is only 5 blocks away from the station and will take us all the way to Midway for only $1.50 per person. Track construction and other delays slow us down some but we make good time to Midway. Although the computerized voice on the train indicating the stop did make Alec contemplate suicide twice! Once at Midway we catch the parking lot shuttle and find the Bonneville. Davy fishes something out of the radiator and the super-efficient Bonny fires right up! After another $99 charge to Dan’s check card for 11 days of $9 per day parking, we hit the road. Dan buys us all lunch at McDonald’s and we roll on home. We didn’t play “that” game because everyone was asleep on Wayner’s shoulders. We arrive at Davy’s around 4 to a big Welcome Home party in his garage. Both Davy’s dad AND Kevin were there to greet us! We split up to our respective vehicles and said so long to each other.

The Moral of the Story

  • Alec whines. Therefore always keep the prime directive in mind.
  • When in doubt, go with the name brand soda. Not Faygo!
  • At buffet style restaurants it is customary to tip 5 to 10 percent. However, at rural Mississippi establishments it is proper to tip upwards of 50 percent!
  • Respect your younger sister! She might just lend you her car!
  • You would be amazed what drunken girls will do for a 30 cent strand of beads!
  • A check card is not the same as a credit card.
  • Know the doorman! He can be a lifesaver if you need to piss.
  • Shoney’s sucks!
  • Even the Gulf of Mexico is cold in December!
  • Flashing red lights mean make a run for it!
  • Body wash doesn’t cure bad breath.
  • Asking questions will only make you later.
  • Even the bad side of town can have good hotels.
  • You’ve been visiting the South too long when you start using “y’all”.
  • Everyone takes advantage of tourists.
  • Bad jokes aren’t worth a dollar per person.
  • The cheapest kegs are at Walmart.
  • Sometimes the only thing you can do in a crowd is not fall down.
  • Keep your stitches in.
  • Cops don’t care if you drink as long as you have enough money left to get home.
  • Powdered sugar does wonders for the complexion.
  • Keep your bus pass handy. The driver might ask for it.
  • After gutting a possum, turn on the fan and shut the god damn door.
  • When determining the geometric shape of a shower, round sides do not count.
  • Longer barrel = higher muzzle velocity, yah right.
  • People bowl surprisingly well when a round of Cokes is on the line.
  • Remember what Andrew Jackson said.
  • You’re asking for trouble if you take a picture of a guy’s girlfriend and he’s wearing camo.
  • If your brakes fail and you can’t slow down, aim for a fire hydrant.
  • Unlimited iced tea can cause serious stomach pains.
  • Avoid tomato aspic like the plague.
  • Visit the beach in the off-season.
  • If memoir authors want to sleep on the floor, then you better let them.
  • Don’t set your watch to it, but Amtrak CAN be on time.
  • Nobody sleeps well on the train.
  • Shooting the moon every hand is an unbeatable hearts strategy.
And finally……
  • Chicks dig neck beards.

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