Gadsden, AL to New Orleans, LA (AL la la la LA!)

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am going to try to blog this now or i know i will never get anything done. then need to get out into the Latin Quarter and New Orleans proper and explore a bit today before tonight’s events.

another long freaking day in the car yesterday (Wednesday, day 3) but totally worth it.

got a bit of a later start than anticipated but hit the road from Gadsden, Alabama, headed down towards New Orleans on the final leg of this part of the trip.

great recommendation from Corey F. to take a jaunt off the gorgeous tree-lined sameness of I-59 and get on over to Tuscaloosa. had an early quick bite of lunch at this joint. heck yeah!

Dreamland BBQ, Tuscaloosa, AL

the smell as i turned the corner to get there was insane. couldn’t actually see the smoke pits / set-up but damn skippy i could smell the mouth-watering scents.

so here’s more pig that i et.

Ribs, Dreamland BBQ

and this was a half order of the sausage. half order. ha ha ha ha….. my favorite food yesterday. each little morsel of the sliced up, juicy savoriness was divine. please note i do not use that word lightly.

Half sausage order, Dreamland BBQ

navigation

so i have been so happily using the iPhone 5’s native map turn-by-turn voice thing. it has been a godsend, especially when i have gotten lost at night in windy roads and stuff. love love love it. all you haters and detractors can suck it!

this day i chose one of the paths without investigating the details closely. thought i was just going to go back on I-20 to I-59 and resume down that highway on my way, no problem. well, i ended going a different way, which at first i was cursing but now looking back on it i wouldn’t have chosen any other way.

I-43 as it cuts through Tennessee and Alabama
i picked it up where it crosses the cyan line heading into the middle of Mississippi….

i knew things were different when i was driving through small towns and two-lane Alabama roads. at one point an older black couple was sitting on their porch and saw me and actually waved. i loved that, wish i could post a picture of the woman. it was the most welcoming thing….

so long story short i took I-59 highway from Gadsden, AL to I-20 to Tuscaloosa for awesome fud, then took a bunch of small town streets to Highway 43 down to Mobile. i think it added some time to the trip but it was actually a straighter shot. and i wasn’t going that slow except for the few towns i drove through.

does anyone know how to say Eutaw? i was sort of obsessed over the names of the towns i drove through…. Demopolis, Sweet Water, Vineland, Wagarville…

wish i had taken a picture of the following as well but i knew there’d be loads online. none of this bit are my photos.

Jim Bird’s farm in Forkland, Alabama

Bird’s Farm at Forkland, AL

Jim Bird’s Hay Bale Art has caught the attention of many motorist traveling Highway 43 between Demopolis, AL and Eutaw, AL. In a large field beside Highway 43, are many creations that Bird made with large round bales of hay – a large boat floating on several bales of hay, a giant bunny rabbit, a helicopter, three monkeys (hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil), a “monster” car and an octopus devouring a seaman. There are other creations including a 32-foot Tin Man (from The Wizard of Oz) and Snoopy crashing the Red Baron’s airplane into a tree.

Newspapers around the state and nation have published articles about Jim Bird’s hay bale creations and a Japanese film did a mini-documentary on what Bird has accomplished. The National Geographic magazine also did a spread on it for children.

Jim Bird uses large round bales of hay and whatever else he can find to produce these creations. The other materials include such things as discarded tires, bathtubs, hubcaps, pieces of wood, buckets, 55-gallon drums and anything else that is needed to create the desired image. Bird vowed not to spend more than $5 on any of his hay bale creations and has pretty much stuck to it, except for the 32-foot-tall “Tin Man” which required $40 of aluminum paint. The Tin Man was not made from hay, so Bird can still say he hasn’t exceeded his “budget.”

Jim Bird’s Hay Bale Art Farm is located approximately 8 miles north of Demopolis, AL on the west side of Highway 43 (GPS coordinates N32.629167,W87.847194).

Hay Bale Art in a field of hay near Forkland, Alabama

Hay Bale Monster Truck! — near Forkland, Alabama

there’s more plus an iconic tin man.

gorgeous geography

i’m a little obsessed with this guy named Robert D. Kaplan. i stumbled upon a presentation he gave at Credit Suisse’s 2012 (i think) Asian Investment Conference in our intranet news bulletins and everything he said was so smart, clicked with me instantly. it’s 100% nerd but here’s a link to the talk. really worth checking out — i think i’ve watched it three times.

Keynote Address: Pacific politics – Asia’s quest for energy security

Video Replay: Watch
Related Article: China’s “Malacca Dilemma” inspiring quest for energy security, says Kaplan

China’s regional foreign policy will be dominated by its need to secure energy supply routes, according to renowned author Robert Kaplan, who also believes America’s “Pacific Pivot” is genuine but challenging.

maybe because it tied into my ongoing love of maps and geography — and Kaplan is all about geography — but i brought his newest book, saw him on Charlie Rose recently. and have been thinking about geography and how it shapes us as humans. i am simplifying / not doing his work justice, of course.

so all of these thoughts were going through my head as i was driving through rural Alabama. so thankful to get to know this state on a more intimate basis than racing down main highways. wondering about the people who live in the houses along the roads, what they do for a living, how they support themselves, how the places they live shape them.

i am struck by the wildness and density of the trees and foliage. the rolling hills and huge skies and plains. i only got a glimpse but it was really worth the time of slowing down and absorbing.

Mississippi – at last!

welcome to Mississippi
Mississippi Welcome Center

this was at the Mississippi Welcome Center. great help by knowledgeable folks there. plus a free jolt of coffee! can’t beat knowledge plus a zoink of caffeine!

90/110 along the Gulf Coast….

i took the scenic route as suggested by Sean. saw the miles of empty lots where there used to be mansions. crazy the breadth of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. signs upon signs of people trying to sell their lots. the devastation continues, and it hit other places besides New Orleans. i only saw a little bit of it here (and apologies the picture doesn’t show it or anything). it’s heartbreaking.

major find: Patterson Hood’s new solo record

music of this day: Patterson Hood’s new one, then Charles Bradley

can’t rave enough about Patterson Hood’s new solo record. i know Will Johnson from Centro-matic had a lot to do with this gorgeous poetic deep-ass, touching now desert island disk. i listened to this all through Alabama and it made the aural experience that much more rich, hearing Patterson Hood, native son, tell stories about Alabama through song. sublime.

lodgings

got to the hotel, Prince Conti. kind of a big deal here but valet parking is worth the price / convenience. hotel is insanely reasonably priced, especially if you plan in advance and have firm plans. clean and not too fancy which is perfect for me.

plus there’s a skylight in my room!!!

skylight in the room at Prince Conti Hotel in New Orleans

fud

great group dinner at ACME Oyster House. going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

motley crew at dinner

baked oyster

baked oysters

ACME Oyster House - New Orleans

the oysters came out like this, so bubbly hot and delicious — an aroma of garlic that was unreal. wow!

raw oysters

Red Beans & Rice Poopa
French Bread Bowl filled with Red Beans & Rice and Grilled Smoked Sausage

wrap up

tonight i am meeting up with friend from grad school who just moved down here and GOT A JOB (hi Marian)! seeing as that is me now i want to pick her brain, plus catch up. she’s one of the smartest people i know, full of information and knowledge so i can’t wait. plus it will get me out of the tourist zone of New Orleans i think is inevitable when you are here the first time.

if i don’t run out of time it will be drinks with postcarders then dinner. tomorrow we head out to the big W! can’t wait to see everyone there!

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About Erika Herzog

big music fan. used to work in the movie business a little bit. love weaving and knitting. own a banjo. haven't picked up the corn cob pipe. yet.

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