The Peach Pilgrimage - Day 1, Part 1
This post is part of an ongoing tale of my trip back home to Mississippi to visit my family. To start the story at the beginning, begin reading from October 30, 2007.
Today we take a break from Mississippi and travel west to Memphis. And for those of you keeping count, this is Day 10 of my trip to the US.
Three years ago when I was last home for a family visit, friends of mine from all over the country came to see me in Mississippi and it was dubbed by my friend, Lisa, to be the Peach Pilgrimage. When I said I was coming back to Mississippi this year it was clear that we'd have to have a second incarnation of the Peach Pilgrimage.
The players this time around were slightly different. Some of those who came the last time weren't able to make it this year but Michele and Lisa had attended the original Peach Pilgrimage and were back again. And this time Robin, who had been saying for years that she would be damned before she missed this Pilgrimage, was in attendance as well as two more new Pilgrimage attendees. They don't blog so for the sake of anonymity we'll refer to them as A and S.
Now that we have the players clear, let's get on with our tale.
Michele was driving up from Baton Rouge and so she swung through Mississippi to pick me up before heading on to Memphis. Robin and Lisa live in the same area near St. Louis so they drove down together. And A and S were flying in from Carolina but wouldn't be there until early evening. Our destination? The Peabody in Memphis. I adore the Peabody and would live there were it possible and A knew this. And so what did A do? Through some connections she has she arranged for us to have accommodations there for Friday night.
Before heading west on Highway 72 Michele stopped for some lunch in town, gassed up her car, made a call to Lisa and Robin to find out where they were and then we were off. It was a good day for a 90 minute drive - sunny and clear and warm and there wasn't much traffic. Michele and I talked and laughed and in general had a great time. We reached Memphis about the time Friday rush hour was getting cranked up so the cars on I-240 were building up quickly. And that was the time that Michele's brother decided to call her, repeatedly I might add, to get directions around Baton Rouge. Michele was holding her cell phone in her left hand and while giving him directions she would gesture with her right. Seeing a problem here? It's Friday rush hour, we're on an interstate highway in a city were good driving seems to be optional and she's steering the car by telepathy evidently because she sure as hell didn't have a hand on the wheel. I said nothing but inside I was screaming with terror.
I should stop and explain something. Michele is a Cajun. Born on the bayou and all that. Talking with her hands is genetic. If she tried to speak without gesturing her tongue would probably unsnap from its roller and fall to the floor.
We reached the Peabody, both the car and our bodies unscathed, parked it and went do the lobby in search of Lisa and Robin who had arrived shortly before us. And it wasn't too hard to find them. Hugging, squealing, giggling and shrieking ensued and then we settled in at our table to enjoy the first drink of the Peach Pilgrimage - appropriately a peach martini.
That's me on the left, Michele in the middle and Lisa on the right. Photo by Robin, who within five minutes was wearing the remainder of Lisa's martini.
Since A and S wouldn't be arriving for another couple hours we decided we'd walk over a couple blocks and see what was happening on Beale Street. We went into Tater Red's, walked past a couple more bars and then settled on Silky O'Sullivan's. Lisa wanted a bucket of beer but they didn't sell beer by the bucket. Instead we ended up with a Diver.
A Diver is a specialty of Silky O'Sullivan's that, according to our waitress, contains beer, white wine, red wine, rum and grenadine. There may be more in it but they like to keep such things a secret. Officially all they'll say is that it's a full gallon of booze. Think of it as Hawaiian Punch that actually will punch you. It's tasty and a bit fizzy and you drink it from straws that are nearly as long as your arm. And you look like this doing it:
We had a table outside on the street so every tourist who was even remotely intrigued by four women drinking out of a yellow bucket with long straws would stop and ask just what in the world were we drinking and we'd reply it was a gallon bucket of hooch. I was slightly surprised at the amount of people who acted as though we were drinking a bucket of rat poison. Lightweights.
But being that Lisa and Robin and Michele and I are wise, experienced hooch guzzlers we knew we'd better eat something to suck up all the alcohol we were downing before our livers and stomachs staged a revolt. And the perfect remedy for that is a sausage and cheese platter - a Memphis specialty - and seasoned fries. You'd be surprised at how fast you can sober up if you eat some smoked sausage, cheese, hot peppers, crackers and french fries. At least enough to stagger back to your hotel without tripping or needing to be carted back by one of the horse drawn carriages that lines the streets in that area.
Lisa was determined to bring the now 2/3 empty bucket o' hooch back to the Peabody. A and S would be arriving shortly and they needed to see what they'd missed while on their flight. We went to our respective cars to unload our luggage and when we arrived to the front of the hotel the lovely bellmen were happy to put our luggage on a cart to await our check in. And it wasn't just suitcases but grocery bags of Cheetos and beer and cheesecake and goodness only knows what else. Oh yes. We are a classy bunch. But the Diver? It stayed with Lisa.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't want to make it seem as though Lisa is a lush because she certainly isn't but she did love that bucket and we had great fun making her pose with it. Eventually that bucket did get emptied. And the waitress said she didn't think we could do it. She just doesn't know the power of the Peach Pilgrimage.
Tomorrow, Part 2: A and S arrive, we find the greatest bellman in the world and we have a pig delivered.