The South

Trip Start Mar 17, 1996
Trip End May 23, 1996

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Flag of United States  , Georgia
Monday, April 22, 1996

April 9 we left Josh's cousin in Galveston and drove to New Orleans. Got to drive through some bayou country on the way there. We stayed at a youth hostel in New Orleans...I think it was the first one for this trip. We could catch the streetcar from their to the touristy part of town. We wandered around the French Quarter but Josh was too cheap for a night out on the town.
Wandered the Garden District and went to Lafeyette Cemetary. I wanted to see a plantation so we drove out to Oak Alley Plantation and did a tour. Parts of "Interview with the Vampire" were filmed there. Had ourselves a picnic lunch there. Back to town for pictures and souvenir shopping. I convinced Josh to go out that night. The evening started wandering along Bourbon Street when Josh spotted a bar with a familiar video playing on tv. It was a song popular in Brazil while he'd recently been there so he was intrigued and went in to check it out (turns out the song was the macarena...hadn't quite caught on in the u.s. yet). I took one look inside and went back on the street. Josh came out a few minutes later wondering why I didn't go in. I informed him that it was a gay bar. That explained why the bartender wanted to buy him a drink. ;) We proceeded to get drinks at various places along Bourbon Street. Kinda crazy here even in the middle of the week when there's nothing special going on. I was mixing this, that and everything. Needless to say, I was feeling like crap later that night and the next morning.
Really bad hangover. Josh drove us to a bayou area in Mississippi where we camped. I just laid out in the sun waiting to feel better. I was ok by dinner and had a bit of the seafood dinner. We watched tv at the campground rec center.

Continued east to Jacksonville, Florida, to stay with more distant relatives of Josh's. They were about grandparent age. The guy was a snake expert and was convinced he was going to be famous once his small bit in a National Geographic special got televised. He was one of the original Navy Seals and helped write the manual for them. He did have lots of stories so was entertaining. The wife seemed nice. Their sons Wally and Phillip stopped by...definately white trash. One of them had just gotten out of prison, though I don't remember which. We went to visit their daughter, Naomi, and later their son, Bud. Bud liked to hunt turkeys and lived in a trailer. I soon realized the whole family is f***ed up.

I was glad to be out of there the next day. We drove down to Fort Lauderdale and got a hostel room near the beach. We wandered the beach and mall. That evening we went to a bar we had a free drink coupon for. Then to another bar for some darts. Went back to the hostel to try to sleep but the guys in the room were smoking. It was nasty. My sleeping bag smelled horrible now and I felt like I couldn't breathe. Went out to the car to try to sleep but didn't sleep much.

Drove south through Miami along Hwy 1 to the Florida Keys. That was a very pretty drive but kind of slow going. We found a hostel in Key West and immediately went to the beach. Had to watch the sunset then back to the hostel to chill.
Went to the beach and laid in the sun a bit. I pretty much begged Josh to spend the $18 for a snorkeling trip 'til he gave in and agreed. A boat took us quite a ways out to a coral reef. Swam around staring at the fish and coral. We were a ways from the boat when Josh started heading back. I told him I was going to look around just a little more. I would just lay there doing a dead man float and letting the tide push me along while watching the fish. I looked up and saw a big freakin' shark! That scared the bejebus out of me! I stuck my head out and freaked a bit then put my head back in and looked around. No shark in sight....which is kind of more scary. Where is it!?! I swam back to the boat periodically sticking my head out and yelling "shark!". The people running the boat were reluctant to believe me but I think my frantic state and persistence eventually convinced them. They said the sharks in the area were small - usually 3 or 4 feet max. The one I saw was definately at least as long as me...I'd say 6 or 7 feet. They said the sharks don't bother you unless you bother them so that made me feel safer. At the next diving spot, I was the first one back in the water. Here I saw the small sharks they were talking about. I swam after them but they're much too quick. The day out on the water got me sunburnt bad. On the boat ride back there were a couple cute girls who turned out to be staying at the same hostel as us. We talked to them there and they're from New Zealand. After dinner, we went out for some key lime pie with the girls and to Sloppy Joe's for drinking games. Josh was losing and drinking a lot. He's funny when he's drunk. I knew for certain he was drunk when he got up to dance with us (he never dances). We left there around 2am and past a small beach on the way to the hostel. The girls convinced us to go skinny-dipping with them, though it really didn't take much convincing. They were swimming quite a ways out but I was reluctant knowing that I was kinda drunk. A guy came by and found us there and said we should probably get out 'cuz the police patrol the beaches. So we got ourselves clothed and back to the hostel to hang out with the girls a bit more before bed.

April 16 we just drove to Orlando. The toll roads were a freakin' rip-off. There was a Thousand Trails campground outside town that we stayed at. You could hear the alligators while sleeping. Nice.
Went to Epcot Center. We checked out Future World, The Living Sea, The Land and the various country pavillions. The inside of the Mexico pavillion was cool. I liked the "Food Rocks" show. Stayed for the end light show and left around 10pm. Epcot didn't seem to have much of a "Disney" feel to it.
Disneyworld! Not quite as many rides as Disneyland but it had some unique stuff that I wanted to see. AlienEncounter was different, but one of those things you only go to once. It was fun to put Josh on the rollercoasters and see him panic. :)

Back up to Jacksonville. We stayed around the house lazy-like, watched "Babe". Later Bud took us out on a boat ride (around dusk). That was kind of fun.
Lazy morning around the house then went to St Augustine with the mom, her daughter and her daughter's son. They showed their racist side then. Oy, I've never been around such blatantly racist people. St Augustine was a cute town though.

Drove to Savannah, Georgia. It's a cute town with lots of square parks. The part of "Forrest Gump" where he's sitting on the bench was filmed here. The River St area was quite cool. Looked like it would be a good place to go to at night, but again Josh wasn't up for it. Instead we played some foosball and air hockey back at the hostel.

On to Atlanta to check out the city hosting the upcoming Olympics. Got a bit lost trying to find the hostel. Went downtown to the World of Coca-Cola. Josh managed to try a sample of every type of drink they had (there were probably about 30 sodas). We also went to the underground mall, CNN Tower and saw "Seven" at a discount theater.

The south is...interesting. It's hard for me to relate to the people there. Going out in New Orleans was good fun. I really enjoyed Key West and its laid-back lifestyle. Disneyworld was a fun break too.
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