April 27 – 28
We closed out our stay at the Best Western in Galveston and drove the short distance to the ferry landing for our ride across the channel to the eastern mainland for the seven-hour drive to Natchez. It was nice to be back behind the wheel after our lengthy stay, and although constantly moving has its disadvantages, the bottom line is we were eager to see some new places.
The drive at six hours wouldn’t be particularly taxing, but we were anxious to see if Joanna could manage a stretch of driving and if so, for how long. As you leave the ferry landing, you go for a distance along the shoreline, it lined with houses on stilts, some requiring a nearly two-story climb to get to the ‘ground’ floor. Not a good long-term living situation for the short of breath or physically impaired.
A couple of hours into the drive as we were making the transition off a local highway to the interstate, we spotted a Whataburger, that well known Texas based chain that for many has the cachet of our west coast In-N-Out. We’d discussed the relative merits of each with Stephanie, who had her own strong opinion on which was the better of the two, so we viewed this as an opportunity to do some research, if only to keep readers of this blog fully informed.
We each ordered a standard burger (5-inch patty, Tomato, Lettuce, Pickles, Diced Onions, and Mustard) and split an order of fries. The food came quickly, and we donned our impartial scientific inquiry hats to see if we could discern a winner between the two chains. Let me say that first, this is a good burger, and my only complaint is that it came with mustard as the sauce, never my first choice in a burger. I would later come to find out that you can get mayo, ketchup, honey BBQ, and creamy pepper and any one of those would have made a big difference to me.
Whataburger also allows one to customize the entire burger with multiple bun choices, smaller or larger patty, sauce, condiments, etc. This is not unique among chains but a good option, allowing one to take a standard assembly line product and make it your own. As far as burgers are concerned for these two chains, it comes down to a personal preference about the eventual product and for me, In-N-Outs secret sauce is the winning difference. That being said, Whataburger offers other products besides burgers (salads, chicken sandwiches, breakfast, etc.) whereas In-N-Out is burgers only. In the end, I think you can have it both ways.
We continued to Natchez and soon found ourselves pulling into the driveway of the Natchez Pearl, the B&B we’d been fortunate to book just the day before. Our home for the next two nights would be the Carriage House Suite, part of a complex of buildings that used to be, you guessed it, the carriage house for the manor in front of it.
For a last-minute booking, we couldn’t have been happier with the place, starting with the screened in porch you walk through to enter the door into a large nicely furnished front room, which leads into a large bedroom with king sized bed and a nicely set up bathroom. With a micro-wave, mini fridge, and Keurig coffee maker we felt like we’d hit the jackpot.
We unpacked and soon hit the streets, walking a few blocks towards the river to land at Natchez Brewing Company with its large outdoor covered dining area and moderately sized indoor facility. We grabbed a table on the porch just outside the tap room and started on our first two beers, a Helles Lager and a Munich Dunkel, both a refreshing way to start our visit. Later, we’d close out our beer choices by splitting a dangerously good 10.3% Sticky Slicker Imperial / Double Milk Stout.
For food, we continued our quest to consume any and all Currywursts we could find and the one we got here was good, wrapped a in pretzel bun with a somewhat odd curry concoction that while not true to something you’d get in Germany, still managed to hit the spot. As we took our time eating, drinking, and watching the folks around us, we concluded that when traveling, if you want to run into locals, a craft beer bar or brewery is the place to be.
We observed so many people here that greeted each other warmly and in a way that showed they had known each other for quite some time. Finishing up, we walked a short distance down to the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, admiring as always, its breadth, its quiet power, a sight that never ceases to amaze.
And so, we escaped Galveston, Joanna got a couple hours of driving in, not easy with a large cast on the dominant arm and stuck pretty much in one driving position during her turn at the wheel. But it meant we could share duties which makes the longer drives more manageable. And we’d hit the jackpot with our accommodations, a great last-minute catch. And to close out the day with good beer at a local spot was a story book finish to the start of our new, edited itinerary.
The Natchez Pearl: http://thenatchezpearl.com/
Natchez Brewing: http://www.natchezbrew.com/home.html