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week 2: the deep south - tennessee, georgia, alabama, mississippi, louisiana

first, video from last week:

now for the blog:

day 9: chattanooga, tennessee

chattanooga is one of the premier bouldering destinations in north america, they also have some good trad climbing so we set aside a few days to come here. we went bouldering at stone fort, outdoor bouldering is hard. amy cried. sandstone is cool, similar to the rock at RRG. hard to find a place to camp, stayed in a climbing wall parking lot an hour down a sketchy road to nowhere, didn't sleep very well. i think i picked up a cold from the boys or the 20,000 drunk people i was with in nashville.

Turns out I don't love outdoor bouldering! We rented two crash pads from Stone Fort, which is actually a golf course that allows climbers to boulder for a small fee. There were endless boulders, and we only scratched the surface with the few we climbed. Tuckered out, we tried camping at the local Prentice Cooper State Park, but they closed their campground so we stayed at a trailhead instead.

amy bouldering

chattanooga is lovey this time of year

day 10: chattanooga -> birmingham, alabama

rainy day today and the next few days so rock climbing was off the menu, went for a couple of hikes. one to t-wall, a famous trad climbing area, the other to sunset rock on lookout mountain. the climbing at both of those areas seemed very tough, overhung, and runout, probably would have had a hard time trad climbing them anyways. got on our way to alabama via georgia, made it just outside of birmingham.

Took a slow morning, made breaky, read our books and drank tea in bed. Needing to move our bodies, we did a lil 5k hike on Craven's trail to Sunset Rock, which had a stunning view of the Chattanooga valley. With rain in the forecast, we decided to keep moving.

happy to leave behind the appalachians and their super steep sketchy mountain roads, though the van has been performing admirably on them so far. we are however having some issues starting it warm, probably a carburetor issue? hasn't not started yet but it doesn't love it if you turn it off for only 15 minutes, cold is fine and a quick gas stop is fine. may look into a mechanic before we go down to mexico where it is always warm.

day 11: alabama -> mississippi

driving through alabama in the winter looks a lot like ontario in the spring, except a thick fog sets in at night and it is very humid. air has a sweet dewey floral smell. pushed through to mississippi, treated ourselves to a campsite instead of a cracker barrel parking lot, worth it. had a campfire, took a shower, enjoyed the outdoors. we have finally hit warm weather, about 20c at night.

It's nice to finally feel warmth! We ran errands and drove for most of the day, pulling into camp at Paul B. Johnson State Park. We woke up to the birds chirping and a lovely view of the lake. We both had hot showers, cleaned the van, then headed two hours south to NEW ORLEANS!

did some mulling on the carburetor issue - current hypotheses include engine heat causing vapour lock or fuel leak into the engine. starts okay when the throttle is fully open, could be flooded? choke could also be opening too soon. vacuum leak is possible but i think that would affect cold start too. any thoughts would be appreciated.

day 12: mississippi -> new orleans

drove into new orleans today, beautiful day here, sunny, 22c. grass is green, trees and blooming. immediately stopped for fried chicken at willie mae's, the most unreal southern food i have had in my life - mac and cheese, chicken, cornbread, red beans and rice, all the best versions of these dishes i have ever had. amy started feeling hot, turns out that cold from earlier this week is covid.

HELLO NOLA! Our first stop was in Tremé for southern cooking. The cornbread was to die for. We popped over to the Garden District for a free walking tour. It's a gorgeous neighbourhood with colourful century-old plaster mansions adorned with intricate lace-like wrought-iron, wrap-around balconies and Grecian pillars. Every street is lined with ancient southern oak trees - their branches extend in all directions, and their roots overturn sidewalk stones. Despite the havoc they wreak on the pavement, we learned that these trees are protected because their root systems bind the muddy earth, preventing further sinking/erosion. As an aside, I'm very bummed we tested positive for covid, as our friends Craig and Katie are coming to the city this weekend.

ethereal fried chicken

garden district

day 13: new orleans

feeling pretty good, basically no more symptoms on my end, amy also doing very well, just a runny nose (6 vaccines will do that i guess). strapped on our masks and went out to explore the french quarter (outdoors).

The French Quarter is a small piece of Europe in America. Since we were feeling great, we strolled around (masked and keeping our distance) and saw Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde, Bourbon, Royale and Frenchman Streets, and took our time exploring all the little side alleys and parks. You can hear the lively trill of jazz music on every street corner! Met up with Craig and Katie in Louis Armstrong park for a short visit - we were happy to see them, but sad we can't do more activities together. C'est la vie!

more cool oaks + ferns

got a shrimp po' boy on a recommendation off the beaten path from essentially a head shop/convenience store (the orange store), small window in the back where you order food.

extremely good

day 14, 15: new orleans

i love new orleans. there is patina on every square inch of this city, inside and out. every fence, railing, signpost, door hinge has character. every neighbourhood bar has been worn in from centuries of jazz and drunks, if you picked any one of these up and dropped them in a different city, it would be that city's best bar. it's filthy. there is graffiti everywhere, garbage everywhere, ferns growing on everything. it's sketchy and welcoming, gritty and vibrant. the dark history of the southern slave state wealth hangs over its beauty like the fog that blankets its streets at night. it is so much more than what i was sold as just a fun place to get drunk.

Today we ventured a little further afield and explored City Park. We hiked some trails and admired the giant oaks and blossoming trees. We also had a delicious takeout lunch - I feel like we're finding more local hidden gems since we can't eat in restaurants. A perk of covid I guess? We toured St. Louis cemetery in the afternoon and had an extremely quirky guide who described New Orleans as the island of misfit toys - many oddballs, yet everyone has a place in this city. Ended the day by walking around, listening to jazz and drinking...too much. The beverages are unreasonably strong here! Beware!!

gumbo, yakka-mein and beignets

we toured around city park in the morning, cool to see the more natural bayou vegetation since we cancelled our airboat tour. ate some gumbo and yakke-mein for lunch. we wandered down to marigny at night to watch some jazz bands from the street, then met up to have some outside drinks with friends. amy forgot that each slushy daiquiri has 7 shots in it, got white girl wasted. slow day the next day. went to the sazerac distillery, hung out in the van, did a cemetery tour, and had an outside beer with craig and katie before they left.

this week's video:

4 comentarios

31 ene 2023

Just seeing your pics ands stories worth approving your leave madame Thatcher! ;-)

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Chris Power
Chris Power
29 ene 2023

Very entertaining content! Thx for sharing. That vid from Chattanooga, omfg.

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27 ene 2023

Awesome photos, videos and writing guys! How many weeks will you stay in Norlens? 😉

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Andrea Rauser
Andrea Rauser
25 ene 2023

Thank you guys so much for taking us along, a different perspective of places I’ve been for sure xo

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