Homer's Travels: New Orleans Adventure: Getting There - A Literary Roadtrip

Monday, July 01, 2013

New Orleans Adventure: Getting There - A Literary Roadtrip

This year's summer vacation turned out to be both one of the shortest one we've had in a few years and also a very satisfying vacation full of rest, relaxation, and new discovery.

We planned our vacation as a rather open-ended two week roadtrip.  Our main destination was New Orleans, Louisiana but all our other plans were a bit nebulous.  The uncertainty made me pack a bag with a full two weeks of clothes.  This required me to unpack my Camino pack for clothes to take along.  Yes ... I pretty much had my Camino bag packed over six months before I am actually going.  And yes, I packed for a two week vacation the night before.  Thems are the differences between packing for a car trip and a trip that requires you to carry all your stuff.

We left on Friday the 14th of June which is an odd thing for us.  We usually start our vacations on Saturdays or Mondays, not Fridays.  We had one stop for the day: Hannibal, Missouri.  Hannibal is the childhood home of Mark Twain.  We arrived there in the early afternoon after driving through rain most of the morning. We toured the museum and saw the houses where childhood friends (inspirations for Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher) lived.

Hannibal turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.  It felt very commercial.  It reminded me of the over commercialized OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ.  Every store was named after Twain or one of his characters.  The one high point was the Wife blowing the museum's simulated riverboat whistle.  The Wife, who had attended a teaching workshop in Hartford, CT (Twain's home later in life) decided that she was "Twained out".

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn statue in Hannibal, MO.
At our last stop before leaving I bought some huckleberry gummy bears. They were good but I ate them way too fast and gave myself an upset stomach.  I can't handle sweets like I used to.

We got briefly lost on the way out of Hannibal due to road construction and detours but the Wife successfully navigated us back.  After hitting traffic in Saint Louis, where we'd gotten lost on our Route 66 trip, we ended the day in Cape Girardeau, MO.

I think the highlight of the first day was the beautiful green scenery along the drive in Missouri and the burgers at the Tastee Treats in Brookfield, MO.

A few pictures can be found in my 2013-06-14 Mark Twain Boyhood Home, Hannibal, MO Google Photos album.


Woke up after one of the most restful ten hours of sleep I've had in a long time.  The hotel had been noisy (sports teams) which kept the Wife up but I slept through it like the dead.

This day we drove to Memphis, TN and visited Graceland.  Yes ... that Graceland.  Not exactly a literary stop like Hannibal but it was more interesting and entertaining.

Graceland Mansion.
Graceland was not quite what I expected.  I thought it would be further outside of the city.  I thought it would be a bit more grandiose.  It turned out to be in the city ... or the city has grown out around the estate.  The house was large but I've seen fancier, more grandiose, mcmansions.  I guess the standards for opulence have changed a bit since the 70s.  Not sure it was a change for the better or not really.  The place was very touristy but here it fit in with my expectations.

First Floor Living Room in Graceland Mansion.
We toured the house and grounds (via a pre-recorded audio tour).  The house, as expected, was stuck in the 1970s.  The only place off limits is the second floor.  Apparently Elvis never took people up to the second floor, always entertaining on the first floor or basement, and the estate respects his wishes by keeping the second floor off limits for the tours.  As we followed the crowd through the different rooms and the attached museums showing off his gold records and other memorabilia I have to admit there were fewer weird people in the crowd than I expected.  Everyone seemed fairly ... normal.  It was also nice to see some foreign tourists in the crowd.

Basement Pool Room in Graceland Mansion.
Pictures of Graceland can be found in my 2013-06-15 Graceland Google Photos album.

After the tour we ate lunch at the Rock and Roll Cafe and bought a couple magnets (I was disappointed that they didn't have any Elvis magnets with swiveling hips) before heading to our second stop of the day.

The second stop was a more literary stop: Rowan Oak in Oxford, MS.  Rowan Oak is the home of William Faulkner.  It took us awhile, and two stops to ask for directions, to find the home tucked back on the wooded hill hidden in the college town of Oxford.  The home was nice but nothing out of the ordinary.  It's location, on a wooded acreage, was more interesting to me.

Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner.
A few pictures of Rowan Oak can be found in my 2013-06-15 Faulkner's House, Rowan Oak Google Photos album.

We ended the day a little farther down the road in Jackson, MS.


The third day started with an unpleasant surprise for the Wife.  She found a tick on her stomach.  We're still not sure where it came from but we suspect she picked it up at Faulkner's place.  The rest of the day we both had that itchy paranoid feeling.

The Rowan Oak docent, while talking to the Wife, had mentioned Eudora Welty's house.  Since the Wife sometimes mentions Eudora Welty in her class, we decided to add it to our itinerary.  Fortunately for us, her house was in Jackson.  Unfortunately for us, the house is closed on Sundays so we would not be able to tour it.  I have to admit this didn't bother me much.  I am finding that touring old houses, to me, is as interesting as touring museums, something I have never been that fond of.   I wouldn't skip going through homes or museums because I always learn something but I always feel myself rushing through them.  I'm sure people who linger through museums get more out of the places than I do but I just lack the patience for most museums.

After our drive by, and a few exterior pictures of the house (you can see a couple in my 2013-06-16 Eudora Welty House Google Photos album), we headed towards our main destination.  Next post will cover a couple places on the way into New Orleans and our first day in the city.


  1. Ew ticks!!

    I now want a giant stain glass peacock window in my room!!

    Even though you were both Twained out, it looks like a nice place, and Graceland and the Tick house look nice too!

    1. Miss McC: those windows are awesome, right?

      All the places were nce in their own way.

    2. Miss McC: Those windows are awesome, right?

      All the places were nice in their own way.