Europe, North America ·
502 Days ·
38 Moments ·
30 October 2017
Oconee Lake is huge but you keep touching on it.
Breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Gammon, bacon, hash brown, eggs, Apple in syrup, cinnamon bun with icing.......all on the same plate!
29 October 2017
You have not heard from me as I have spent three days under canvas at the Anderson Bluegrass Festival. The $25 tent just about did the job although very cold the first night and some leaks the last night in very bad rain and wind. The festival was excellent with top ranked acts and yours truly appearing on stage for the Gospel Session. By mistake!
The drive to Anderson from Tennessee, North Carolina and into South Carolina was spectacular and I am really disappointed not to have photos. The colours of the trees, gold, green, red and brown were a true reflection on the Kruger Brothers song, Carolina in the Fall. The roads though were narrow and twisty with few parking places so you just had to enjoy on the go.
25 October 2017
Arrived yesterday in Madison GA having given my tent etc to a guy collecting for a boys club. Quite cold here and I was knackered after little sleep in the wind and rain under canvas. Quite cold here about 40f so preparing myself for my return to the UK tomorrow evening. Spending today around the Ocohee National Park and may go into Athens which is supposed to be beautiful.
Almost 3000 miles in 21 days crossing three international date lines. Would I do it again, yes but with Ruth with me. Would I change the way I did it? No, the longest drive from New Iberia to Nashville with an overnight near Birmingham took a day and a half on interstate roads. All the other driving has been on back roads, mostly paved! This has enabled me to see America and chat to ordinary people that if flying I would have missed.
Highlights: The two music festivals/ schools, New Iberia and Louisiana n general and of course Nashville.
24 October 2017
Elvis's gold Caddy.
Bill Monroe's mandolin and entry in the hall of fame.
More fantastic cityscapes.
Fisk University was set up to educate former slaves. They formed a choir and the choir visited England. They sang for Queen Victoria who said you must come from Music City. And that's the origin if Nashville's name. Apparently.......?
Visited two museums dedicated to country music. When you see it like this you can see how it influenced pop, blues, and the dance band era. The arcade was interesting with a shoe shine shop at one end, they would not do my trainers!
22 October 2017
Wherever you go there is something to see. Huge skyscrapers and tacky beer joints. The music is everywhere.
The Ryman Theatre. Built as a venue for Gospel Meetings, within years became the home of country music and home of the Grand Ole Opry which on Saturday nights broadcast all over the eastern USA and Canada. Everyone who was anyone played here from Bill Monroe to Bob Hope and Louis Armstrong.
Special Consensus at the Station Inn. I missed them in the UK but saw them in the States!
Great venue in the Gulch area of Nashville.
21 October 2017
This small patch of Nashville is bright and gaudy. Trashville probably describes it best. Each bar has at least one stage with a band playing, some have two stages on each floor. In all the music is great country rock.
19 October 2017
Vermillion Bay and Avery Island home of Tobasco Sauce. Toured the plant and visited the Gardens. Drove to Cypremort Point, Vermillion Bay in the Gulf of Mexico and had the beach to myself. Saw some more real swamp and wonderful live oaks. Beautiful.
Dave' Dock and Bait tableau at Victors On Main St. New Iberia where Dave Robichaux used to have breakfast. I had breakfast there as well!
18 October 2017
Ok so these are Alligators not Crocodiles. Part of the Cajun Swamp experience. There were loads of them and turtles, heron and snake birds. A great trip.
Later went to a Cajun Jam in Lafayette. Lots of French being spoken and the Blue Moon Saloon was largely a timber structure. Gumbo was free....beer was good.
Avery Island this morning and Jefferson Island this afternoon. Long journey tomorrow to Bessemer just short of Birmingham AL on way to Nashville.
Lake Martin Cajun Swamp Cruise
Arrived in New Iberia last night and spent a pleasant evening in an Airbnb with my host Tragen. She is the owner of an oil supplies company and gave me lots of advice on where to go and what to see.
I spent the morning wandering around Main Street in New Iberia where I spotted many of the buildings James Lee Burke wrote about in his Dave Robishaux books? I then went to Brenda's for an early lunch and got chatting to four cops who were stocking up on food.
This afternoon I am going on a Cajun Swamp Tour on Lake Martin out in the middle of nowhere before driving into Lafayette to go to a Cajun Jam session. Whether I get the mandolin out depends on the stength of the opposition!
Now going for a nap before I hunt crocodiles!
New Iberia and the home of the fictional Dave Robichaux. The sign shows Dave's Office in reality the law offices of Burke and another. Have just been to Victors for breakfast, a favoured place or Dave and the one with New Iberia's finest is Brenda's Diner where I had lunch yesterday.
17 October 2017
Had breakfast in this diner in Mississippi on way to New Iberia. As you can see - just like the movies.
The Mississippi leaving Vicksburg.
16 October 2017
These first pics show the view down to the Mississippi from the Old Courthouse which today is a museum but during the siege was filled with Union POWs to stop it being shelled. The boat is the USS Cairo an ironclad riverboat which was raised from the bottom of a tributary to the Mississippi after being torpedoed (mined) by the Confederates. Vicksburg Old Town was very sophisticated and almost Colonial
Had my first good meal tonight, even the camp food was a bit rough and ready. Went to a bar and had shrimp on Angel hair pasta followed by ice cream. It was packed for a Monday night.
On down to New Iberia tomorrow.
After a quick trip to Walmart to send Ruth a message I set off for Vicksburg where battles and a siege took place over control of the Mississippi in the Civil War. While it is a driving tour of the battlefield there are plenty of opportunities to climb the ramparts and see the obstacles each side faced. It was only 60 degrees and felt quite cold even though the sun was out. All very quiet and atmospheric.
15 October 2017
It might look primitive but our cabin at the camp was atmospheric and cosy. All built with local timber. A really authentic experience. Learned some great tunes from the Canote Brothers and met some great people. Was given instructions as to what to see in various locations as well as offers of accommodation if I needed it. Have had a really great experience. I even bid for and won a tee shirt. Was very sad to leave on Sunday morning but as the temperature reached the low 80s I set of and within two miles was on dirt roads again....bloody satnav.
Had a great four hour drive into Mississippi through cotton fields along roads which were sometimes long and straight and sometimes twisty and undulating. Arriving at Koskiusco I was told that the town had an Internet blackout and so went in search of Walmart who have a sat link in most stores. These stores have a bit of a reputation but I have found them welcoming and helpful. I left with socks, pants and a tent! $50 the lot!
13 October 2017
Alabama Folk School - Camp McDowell
The camp is in the middle of nowhere and wifi very local to some buildings. Not mine!
People are great and had my first class last night. The Conote's are very funny.
Spent until 11 last night chatting and joking with guys and ladies in my house, once I found it in the dark!
Nobody had turned the water on so shave and shower in chilly water. Fixed now.
In a wooden cabin with veranda and porch. Sharing a room with four guys who all snore.
I will be a great weekend
12 October 2017
Flooding near my hotel as a result of Hurricane Nate.
Lakeside, Double Springs
Decided on a steak after all the rubbish I've eaten. Spent the morning in an antique shop playing Mandolin for the owner who had met Bill Monroe. Chatted to a guy sat outside the courthouse who told me that Alabama was America's poorest State. Killing time really until Registration for the Folk School at 4pm. The sun is out after a grey start this morning.
Yes this is Donald Trump Country!
Went into an Antique store in Double Srings AL. Got chatting and the guy asked me to play for him.....so I did!
Well here I am in Jasper Alabama. I have not written yesterday as I think I was still shocked by the awful immigration process. Three hours shuffling In a snake queue of hundreds while three officials process us. Mind numbing. The delay caused a restricted choice of suv vehicles and I ended up with a VW Tiguan.....
The drive across from Atlanta, over the North of Birmingham and through the Bankshead Park took in every type of road from freeway to unpaved. The lack of photos is due to a lack of stopping places.
At 4 this afternoon I will join in the Alabama Folk School for the weekend leaving on Sunday for Mississippi.
It must be nearly 15 years since we toured California etc. I can reliably report that if anything the food is worse. Maybe I will see a salad at the Folk school. Some other things I have seen:
posh and poverty next door to one another
Fields of Cotton
A Church every 2 miles.
Loads of very polite, welcoming people
All good so far!
Second breakfast, same as the first. A little bit ???, and a little bit worse!
10 October 2017
Having Breakfast with my friend Mandy! (The mandolin)
After 10 months of anticipation I am now waiting to be called for my flight to Atlanta. Everything has been pretty well planned down to the last detail with reservations made and reviewed again and again over the last months. On Wednesday evening the enormity of the next 21 days finally hit home just as the hurricane hit the Mississippi area and all of the 'what if', questions rattled around in my head in the small hours of the morning as I searched for things that I might have forgotten.
Up at five this morning and friends will not be surprised that I was at Haggerston Overground a full half hour before the first Tube service only to find the first tube cancelled. Had this been the first and only glitch I would have been a bit more relaxed but when trying to check in for the flight yesterday I had been told that the Delta flight operated by Virgin had a glitch in the software and systems would not talk to each other and I would have to check the old fashioned way. Ah the excitement!