It was time to head home, but we still hadn't explored one of those iconic New Orleans cemeteries. Luckily there was one open not too far from our hotel, and we were able to swing by on our way out of town.
A sign just inside the cemetery entrance read:
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
The oldest extant cemetery in New Orleans. Established by royal Spanish land grant August 14, 1789, originally outside city limits and double its present size this sacred ground reflects the culture and history of the Crescent City. A small area in the rear was once part of a larger section for Protestant burials. The Varney tomb to the right was once center of cemetery.
New Orleans Archdiocesan Cemeteries 1972
A couple of the tombs were marked up hardcore. Lots of little trinkets were left as offerings as well. Unfortunately we hadn't joined a tour or anything so we didn't understand the significance. There were a couple of tours in progress just in the short time we were there. One of my favorite things to do is sort of linger behind tour groups to try to overhear what the guide is saying. I'm bad to the bone.
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Well Jackson, Mississippi was smack on the way back north, and we had already established a new rule back in Baton Rouge where we have to go to every capitol building that presents itself so we stopped to take a peek. But first thing's first. We had to eat.
I had to make what could have been our last meal in the South count, so I chose Bully's Restaurant in Jackson. Bully's is very soul food, or what my limited understanding pictures it to be anyway. There were four very large portraits on the walls: Martin Luther King Jr, Jessie Jackson, Malcolm X, and Barack Obama. The people were super nice. Even the other customers were asking us where we were from and so forth. I mentioned it to Lydia and she hypothesized that maybe they were so interested in us because they don't get many white folk in there. Who knows.
Our waitress was super interested in my copy of 1000 places to see before you die in the USA and Canada. I had it out because it was what had directed us to the restaurant in the first place, and I like to check the places off as I go to them. Even after we explained what it was, she probably mentioned it every time she came to our table. At one point she finally flat out indicated that she would like to have the book. I've been writing notes and checking things off in this book for years now, so the chances of me giving it to any random person who asks for it are near zero. I thought that maybe she was interested in it because it mentioned Bully's, but when I offered to mail a copy to the restaurant for her she insisted that I mail it to her HOUSE so that it didn't get "lost". She even wrote her address down and made me promise not to forget. Lydia and I both agreed that things were getting weird, so I just gave her an overly generous tip and figured she could get the darn thing for herself if she was so interested.
I don't want the strange book-loving waitress to take away from the food though. It was really good. The sides are really the good part of soul food in my opinion, so I skipped the meat and just got four sides. Clockwise from the top left is mustard greens, fried squash, fried green tomatoes, and fried okra. Very very good. Lydia had some fried fish over there and some sweet potatoes. The cafeteria tray is much more common at these types of establishments, and I don't know why.
We had a similar strange but really nice experience at the state capitol. The lady manning the metal detectors at the entrance again asked us where we were from and so forth. I don't think there were many tourists around so we probably stuck out again. We were given little gold Mississippi pins from the information desk and another different set from a guy who just walked up to us and welcomed us; One was shaped like the state house and another like the state.
When we got up to the upper floors we found where one can enter the galleries to the two houses of the state's congress. We walked toward one and there was a guard station with another metal detector and a sign stating all of the rules. No pictures, no yadda yadda. There was no guard though. We looked around the nearby offices, and finding no one to help us and not being brave enough to just walk in, we turned to the other house of government on the opposite side of the building. When we arrived over there, there was mercifully someone manning the post. Upon approaching though, he just looked at us and didn't say a word. Finally I asked if we could enter and he said sure just walk on in. When I asked if we should empty our pockets for the metal detector he shook his head. "No, I just turned it off. It makes a lot of noise".
I thought the interior looked nice and pretty normal for a state house. Lydia, though, pointed out all of the large light bulbs lining everything. She said it reminded her of a casino or if Donald Trump was governor of a state. When I was done shuddering at that thought, I agreed. I wonder if they have some significance or they are just bling.
We snooped around Oxford, MS, home of the University of Mississippi, but we didn't find too much. After spending a bit of time driving around looking for a place to eat we gave up and continued on the dusty trail.
We tried the chicken version of pork rinds procured from a gas station. Not good.
By the time we made it to Memphis we were hungry and thinking, "Why the heck not eat at Beale Street?" I also thought it was kinda cool to have walked around on Bourbon Street and Beale Street on the same day. I feel like the latter is a tamer but more polished version of the former. It must have been decently late because I recall jogging all the way from the car to get into our restaurant of choice before it closed down.
Fried Chicken and Waffles at Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe. BAM!
We at some point finally returned to St. Louis. I kissed my dogeared travel guide goodnight and put it back under my pillow where it belongs: safe from would-be kidnappers southern or otherwise.