We’ve come to the end of our Great Southern Escapade. Over twelve days, Becca and I traveled across fifteen states, over almost four thousand miles, down interstates, state highways, and rural roads, and through unsuspecting residential areas.

On our way back to New York, Becca and I drove out of West Virginia into Maryland and stopped in Hagerstown for one last ride at Waffle House. We asked the server there if we could buy some mugs from them as souvenirs, and they let us have ours for free, thanking us for even asking. After our meal, we got back in the car and hoofed it back to Brooklyn, getting home two hours sooner than we expected. So we got ourselves some Chinese food from our favorite spot – shouts out to Red Hot II in Park Slope – and left unpacking for the next day, choosing to instead decompress in terra cognita after twelve days of wonderful travel throughout terra nova. (See? Latin. Didn’t need Google for that. I’m still kickin’, folks!)

We didn’t end up unpacking until after New Year’s Day, and I didn’t start writing about our escapade until well after that. So it’s been over a month since we returned to Brooklyn, and now after several posts detailing the hour-by-hour events of our escapade, and after a good amount of reflection, I feel I can wrap up the account of this trip.

The highs

Clarksdale was an early stop where we both had a wonderful time. Stan welcomed us into the Hambone like we were long-lost family. The po’ boys at the Stone Pony were some of the best we had on our trip. I feel like we were blessed with the Delta spirit.

Despite our first night encounter with the icy hand of the Devil, New Orleans gave us the most delicious food and the best music, and the ghost tour around the French quarter was one hundred percent worth it.

We should never have counted out Memphis. Our night there was far better than our night in Nashville. Beale Street over Broadway any day; while next time we will go to a local barbecue joint, we would also get ribs at B.B. King’s and dance to the All-Star Band again in a second.

Of course, Point Pleasant was the perfect last stop. Mothman made sure we made it home in one piece, and spending the night in the Lowe with Village Pizza was a great way to cap off twelve days of driving.

Finally, seeing family was wonderful, and I do hope we get to see Becca’s sister and niece again soon. It can’t be another five years. Maybe they’ll make a great escapade up north for the next visit.

The lows

Rainy roads on the first days of our trip made driving a little frightening in some spots. I could have done without whiteout conditions on I-85 in southern Virginia or navigating slick roads while cutting through Atlanta.

While our first night in New Orleans started out with wild abandon, that caught up to us real quick. Becca wishes she could have enjoyed it more instead of making friends with the toilet throughout the evening. Again, a tip: Never drink a hand grenade and a hurricane on an empty stomach if you go to New Orleans.

In Little Rock, some jackasses catcalled and fat-shamed Becca. Folks, don’t do that. Don’t catcall women. Don’t catcall my wife. Jesus F. Christ, don’t fat-shame my wife. I’m not a confrontational person. That doesn’t mean I don’t see red and black out in pangs of rage when the spirit moves me. Come on. Save yourselves.

Finally, Nashville. Oh God, good Lord, Nashville. We were rooting for you. We were all rooting for you. Thanks for the boots and Bolton’s fried chicken, though.

Quirky things I forgot to mention

Big ups to DEGUNS.NET, the largest online gun store, which advertises on billboards literally all throughout the Bible Belt. I do not condone the purchase or use of guns. An online gun repository does not fall on the list of things I consider beneficial to society. But I guess if you’re going to drop a stupid amount of money on a ridiculous piece of your inventory, you’ll probably do it at DEGUNS.NET.

In the Lowe in West Virginia, we took a trip up to the fourth floor of the hotel, where there is what I can only describe as a storage area. This floor hosts original works of art dedicated to the Mothman, which we did pray before as if in the presence of the Lord God. We also saw what looked like a dead bird, and whether it was a real deceased animal or a plastic decoy, we could not and would not confirm.

Again, I can’t tell you enough how excited I got when I saw that B.B. King’s served Mr. Pibb. I had only seen it in cans in old vending machines in Upstate New York as a child! It was like revisiting an old friend, and introducing Becca to its glory was a personal accomplishment of mine. Bless you, Mr. Pibb.

Shout-outs and acknowledgements

Thank you to our fantastic hosts: My aunt and uncle in Charlotte, John Magnusson (proprietor of the Chateau Debris) in Clarksdale, the Hotel St. Marie in New Orleans, Becca’s sister in Houston, Pixie and Richard Woodall in Memphis, the Graduate in Nashville, and the Finley family of the Lowe Hotel in West Virginia. Without your hospitality, we would have been exposed to the elements.

Thank you to the restaurants that fed us and the bars that imbibed us: Hawkers, the Stone Pony, the Hambone, the Cat’s Meow, the Market Cafe, Cafe du Monde, the Royal House, the Flying Fish, the Rum Boogie, B.B. King’s, Hopsmith, and Village Pizza. I am forgetting so many and I apologize. However, I cannot forget the many Waffle Houses we visited. God bless them all; they are sanctuaries.

Thank you to the gas station attendants, the convenience store cashiers, and the grocery store associates who kept us and our car rolling down the open road, sometimes for over ten hours in a day.

Thank you to both Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb, both individuals with varying degrees of education, but similar expertise in soft drinks.

Thank you to the many characters we met on our trip, including Shelley and Angie at the Charlotte Waffle House, Stan Street and his friends at the Hambone, Bill “Watermelon Slim” Homans III, the very drunk woman at the Cat’s Meow and her adult children, the Cat’s Meow’s karaoke emcees, Dusty Campbell, our tour guide Elaine, the entire B.B. King’s Blues Club All-Star Band, Holy Lightning, Rick Handley, Jeff Wamsley, and you, probably, if we ran into you while wandering around these weird and wild streets of America.

Thank you to our families for being chill while we gallivanted around the country for two weeks in the middle of a pandemic. We made it home in one piece and we didn’t get the illness once! God is watching us from a distance.

I know I have been speaking for both Becca and myself, but I want to thank Becca for putting up with me for two weeks in close quarters. Yeah, we’re married and our whole life is close quarters, but spending extended amounts of time in a car together is a different vibe from regular matrimony. Thank you, Becca, for dealing with stale post-Whataburger farts at five in the morning, for stomaching my driving down winding roads in Arkansas, for letting me soak in the awesome and weird nooks and crannies of every sight and sound even when it got me distracted for a little too long. I love you and can’t wait to do it all over again with you when the time, money, and dark powers allow.

And finally, thank you to Vanessa Carlton, our Hyundai Elantra which started with 17,775 miles and ended with just under 21,600. You deserved that nice oil change and wash when we got home, baby. You did a good job.

What’s next?

The last several posts on this blog have imbued you with details of our trip through the South, so we will switch it up a little bit. We’ll talk about music I’ve heard lately. We’ll explore the metaverse by way of Second Life and meet some artists, entertainers, and other wild characters. I’ve started to perform my own music as the Paris Buns, and I’d love to share those experiences with you all.

Who knows what else we’ll talk about? Baseball? Sure. RuPaul’s Drag Race, one of my favorite television shows in the world? Of course. Recipes for food? It’s the Internet, isn’t it? Now that I’ve regaled you all with the tale of our Great Southern Escapade, I’ve got nothing but time, babies.

But you bet that I’ll be dreaming of our next escapade all the while. I want to thank you all for reading, for coming along on this journey, and of course, for being yourselves.

Bless your hearts.

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