I'm in Vidalia (Natchez)

No, not that Vidalia, the onion place, that's in Georgia.  I'm in Vidalia, Louisiana across the river from Natchez, Missippy (that's how they pronounce it).  There isn't a whole lot going on for this Vidalia except a couple of pawn shops, gas stations and fast food outlets. The hottest thing going on for Vidalia is the bridge taking you over the Mississippi River to Natchez where you can find a river boat casino and tons of beautiful antebellum homes, some of which date back the 1830s.

As for food, it's a gosh awful mix of overly fried foods, poor presentation and so-so country style cooking.  One exception I enjoy is Fat Mama's Tamales.  I don't know why, I just do.  I've been going there since it was in the old log house on Canal Street they moved from a couple of years ago.  Fat Mama's is the kind of joint that's not what I would consider a traditional Mexican or even a TexMex place.  Maybe it's MissTex or MissLaTex.  Whatever it is, you'll find the signature dish is tamales, served up in styrofoam plates and eaten on plastic tablecloths. Everything centers around the tamale whether it's a taco salad, gringo pie or chili, it's all the same meat. The only thing else on the menu that isn't linked to the tamale meat is the poboys and boudin but since I've never tried those entrees, they very well could be made from the same stuff.  Any way you look at it, it's popular with locals and travelers alike

The architecture is well preserved which makes this city just gush with quaintness.  Each year there are a couple of pilgrimages that bring people in from all parts of the country where they pay to tour the old historic homes and ride through the streets in horse drawn carriages.

It is a mix of old, new and whimsical, often bordering on political incorrectness for which I definitely approve.

Over the years, I've been through here several times but rarely had the time to just drive around and soak it all in.  Aside from the horrid food fare, it really is a special place reeking of history.

Just a couple hours north of Baton Rouge, it's a great drive up a 4 lane highway.  Years ago, before the widening and 4 lanes, it was a treacherous trip that we all dreaded but when we saw Mammy's Cupboard, we knew most of the ordeal was over.  That's one part of the "good old days" I'm glad is over.

A push barge travels upstream under the bridge

Night shot of the bridge from the Vidalia side

An odd display at the end of Canal Street, Natchez

The Petrie House

Abandoned Natchez Shotgun Rowhouses

Inside Fat Mama's Tamales


Home again

Doing a fast exit from Waverly, Tennessee, I am home without and temporarily out of an assignment for which grateful.

This gives me a little time to catch up on a few things, so with the help from Gary, my brother-in-law, we put the boat port/garage in good order, hung a couple of shelves and sorted things out so we could at least walk through it without stumbling over a box or crate of motorcycle parts left over from the move back in August.

The best part was installing a pair of external oil coolers on Boudreaux.  Hopefully, this will keep it from completely melting down in the event of a really warm ride this summer.

Those things accomplished, I had a little time to do some much needed chrome polishing. 

It probably won't be long before I'll be exchanging the Harley for a Boeing so I'll probably be on it as much as possible for the next few days.


The Honda Guy

Since I've been in Waverly, Tennessee, most days have been rather disagreeable. My feet feel like they haven't thawed since I was home a couple weeks ago.  It's either been raining and cold or snowing and cold, except for the 2 or 3 days this past weekend that was in the 60s and rained in biblical proportions.

Today, as I broke for lunch at McDonalds, they had spread salt on the sidewalk to prevent slipping.  In the parking spot next to the door was a Honda motorcycle which I had seen in that same spot countless number of times.  Thinking to myself, this guy is tough if he's riding in 20 degree weather with ice, snow and rain.  You have to admire him.

Going inside, I made my order at the counter to the young lady and put up with the usual questions.

"Welcome to McDonalds, Sir! How can I help you?"

"I'd like a Grilled Chicken Caesar salad and a medium iced tea."

"And what kind of dressing would you like on that, sir?"


Paying her the $7.01 for the salad and drink, I looked around.  There he was.  The lone Honda rider sitting at a table hammering away on his laptop with his helmet on one chair and a thick jacket draped over another.

Retrieving my salad and drink from the counter, I maneuvered myself to another table in sight of Mr. Honda Man.

I noticed 3 or 4 other patrons who had walked in, some wearing Harley-Davidson caps and shirts, none of which were on motorcycles but proudly displayed their affection for  Harley-Davidsons while unapologetically riding in their warm pick-up trucks with Harley stickers on the back glass.

Now, we have the one lone Honda guy, riding to Mickey D's in the cold and wet with Harley guys riding in trucks and cars.  What do you think that tells you about Harley riders?

It tells me they are not dumb enough to be riding in 28° weather on slick roads and smart enough to stay warm when possible. That's what it tells me.


Wasting away in Middle Tennessee

Having a break from the 20 and 30° temperatures and now in the mid sixties, brought lots of rain along the I-40 corridor in middle Tennessee.  Being literally 40 miles from a town of any proportions that would have any restaurant of acclaim, I stopped in at the Hot Spot Barbeque for dinner.

If you get past the idea that you're stuck out in the middle of nothing, you begin to look around at the curiosities and odd little things that the locals do.  Here at the Hot Spot, you're confronted with a collection of corny gun and Harley Davidson signs (although there is no evidence this is a biker place), handwritten menus on the walls, plastic table cloths and..........9 pound turnips.

At first I thought it was fake but the owner soon confirmed it was the real deal  The 11 pound sweet potato behind was an added benefit.  I was amused and almost brought to tears at times as the locals bantered with the owner and kidded the two 70ish something waitresses about wearing sexier clothing.  Can you imagine Granny Clampett wearing skinny jeans?  Me neither.

Saturday, I had to get out of the hotel so I took a ride through Bucksnort, heading south through small back roads that sometimes became dirt roads where deer, turkey and rabbits abound.   I think I saw 6 deer in various places, 5 of which did not have a tire track across their bodies.

Looking down at my instrument gauge, I saw that I had a very low tire so I began to seek out a service station with an air pump.  Stopping at a small convenience store near Ethridge, I was amazed to see an Amish looking buggy pulling up.  Sure enough, two young men dressed in traditional Amish attire got out and went into the store.  Later, after checking the internet,  I found out there is a small enclave of Amish in middle Tennessee.  As one website says, it's in no danger of out populating Lancaster, Pennsylvania or Holmes County, Ohio but there is a presence as well as a few in Alabama and maybe even in Oklahoma.

Amish with a southern accent.  Who knew?