KC Wedding – Natchez Trace, Part Five

April 27 – May 9

We left Tuscumbia with a moderate seven-hour day ahead of us that would get us more than halfway to Galveston and our date with orthopedic destiny.  Our stop that night would be at the SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western in Hammond, Louisiana, the chain’s budget level offering in their lineup of lodging options.  We’ve stayed with them before and generally found them clean and a decent lower priced option. 

Tuscumbia to Hammond

Overall the drive went smoothly and just about the time we were going to switch drivers, we arrived in Tuscaloosa, home to that SEC football power house, the University of Alabama Crimson tide, our donut senses were tingling and so we stopped in at Babe’s, a hangout near the campus populated almost exclusively by students.  Even though we’d had donuts not long ago, we judge the success of any of our trips based on the average number of donuts a day we eat.  Anything less than .5 per day suggests we weren’t trying hard enough. 

After landing in Hammond, we settled in for an hour or so before thinking of dinner.  Our prior experience with food in Louisiana as been uniformly positive, if not outstanding, so we scanned Trip Advisor for some recommendations and settled on Tope la, located in yet another small downtown nearby.  It’s a large place and there was plenty of seating, after which we ordered a Perfect Cosmo for Joanna and a Makers’ Mark Old Fashion for me, to go along with the side Cesar I started with.  It being Louisiana, the drinks were incredibly affordable, at just $9 for mine, considering I’d asked for a bourbon other than the house brand, a real bargain.

For entrees Joanna went for the Broiled Redfish (Topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and lemon Beurre Blanc sauce) served with sautéed spinach and pecan rice while I, for the first time in like forever, ordered a 6-oz bacon wrapped Filet Mignon with a large baked potato at the unheard-of price of $29.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a steak as much as everyone but can’t quite see the need to spend large sums of money at the fancy places, in fact one of the worst steaks I can recall came to me at a Ruth’s Chris. 

This one tonight was pure joy, cooked perfectly and accompanied by that gigantic baked potato, I almost needed to be wheeled out of the restaurant when done.  And once again, we found ourselves enjoying an outstanding meal at a great price in Louisiana.  Our drive the next day back to Galveston would essentially be a repeat of the one we took almost ten days ago, an easy five hours finishing up with another nice ferry ride across the bay.

Landing again at the Best Western Plus Seawall Inn & Suites, having made a reservation this time for the right day snagged us an upgrade to a suite that likely doubled as their penthouse, two large rooms with plenty of space to stretch out.  Anyone who has followed our journey so far can be certain that our only option for dinner was to finally get that Currywurst at Around the Corner and having been stung more than once in the past, we confirmed they had them stock before driving over. 

What we didn’t anticipate was that the Devil and the Deep Brewery would be closed that day, with no signage to indicate why.  And so, we settled in at a picnic table outside the food trailer and did damage to a wurst and a schnitzel, washed down by a couple of Diet Cokes.  The wurst was good, but different, with a spicy sauce unlike what would encounter in Germany, where it usually something called Curry Ketchup, that is a catsup like substance with curry sprinkled on top. 

We returned to the Best Western and I’ll admit we were a bit anxious about the appointment the next morning for Joanna’s arm.  But, after arriving, we walked through the x-ray process, and then waited for the doctor to update us with either good news or bad news.  Dr. Chen soon came in (he was standing in for Dr. Weiss) and without a pause informed us that the arm looked good and there would be no need for surgery.  They would remove the full cast and replace it with a partial cast, and he advised that she should absolutely have it removed before we embarked for our month in Europe on June 2nd (yes, you heard it here first, more Europe on the horizon), less than a month away. 

It took us another hour or so to leave Galveston as we needed to get a CD of the hospital records, including all the various scans and x-rays that had been performed.  The very helpful staff at the hospital assisted with this and once accomplished we were on the road for Dallas.  As we’d been hoping for this good news, we’d already made a reservation there at the Best Western Plus Addison/Dallas Hotel, located in a suburb about thirteen miles from downtown Dallas.  We’d spend two nights there and then head to Bentonville for two more before moving on to Kansas City and the wedding to come.  After an easy five-hour drive, we arrived late in the afternoon and some downtime in the room, discussed dinner plans. 

Galveston to Addison

Not too excited about heading out again after what had been a long but good day, I noted a menu card on the desk for a room service type delivery option and so we took a chance on it and ordered a Sausage and Mushroom Pizza that came within the promised time.  We found it surprisingly good, enabling us to just stay in, drink our own beers and make plans for the next day or so. 

Our first stop the next day was downtown Dallas the one spot that looms large in the life of any boomer, Dealey Plaza, site of JFK’s assassination.  Sometimes called the “birthplace of Dallas”, it is now part of the Dealey Plaza Historic District and was named a National Historic Landmark on the 30th anniversary of the assassination.

Dealey Plaza

We parked at metered parking a couple of blocks away and as we walked to the plaza, marveled at the Old Dallas County Courthouse Building.  Built in 1892 of red sandstone with rusticated marble accents, it was replaced by a newer courthouse building in 1966 and in 2007 became the Old Red Museum (dedicated to local history),and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  It is slated to become a courthouse once again soon.   

The Dallas County Courthouse

We’d decided in advance not to do any tours at the plaza or pay for the museum in the School Book Depository Building as we didn’t think we’d learn anything new there, so instead walked over to the top of the grassy knoll and watched many of the other visitors as they mingled about the area.  Of interest was a gentleman with a folding table underneath the portico, no doubt expounding on one of the infinite numbers of conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination. 

We left the plaza and walked a block up Elm Street to check out the John Neely Bryan Cabin, a replica of the one he first lived in during his early years in the area.  A Presbyterian farmer, lawyer, and tradesman, he is recognized as the founder of the city of Dallas.  We’ll leave the cabin at this point and chronicle the rest of our stay in Dallas in the next post. 


SureStay Plus Hotel by BW Hammond: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotel-rooms.54172.html?iata=90000026&ssob=BLSSH0004G&cid=BLSSH0004G:google:gmb:54172

Babe’s: https://www.babesdoughnut.com/

Tope la: http://topela.com/

Best Western Plus Addison/Dallas Hotel: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotel-rooms.44669.html?iata=00171880&ssob=BLBWI0004G&cid=BLBWI0004G:google:gmb:44669

Dealey Plaza: https://www.jfk.org/history-of-dealey-plaza/

Old Dallas County Courthouse Building: https://www.oldred.org/

John Neely Bryan Cabin: https://directory.dmagazine.com/attractions/john-neely-bryan-cabin/

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