“A Dead Straight Line”

I write this sitting on a porch in Andalusia, Alabama, but I’m two days behind with my record-keeping so you’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out how we got here!

Thursday was a downtime day because of weather. We stayed another night in Waco. But this meant that my Air Force friend and longtime Code Name Verity fan Jen was able to drive up from San Antonio to see us, meet One Bravo Juliet, be our chauffeur for the day, visit the Waco Mammoth National Monument, eat ice cream, and drink mojitos with us.

We covered a lot of ground on Friday to make up for our day of rest (such as it was!). The first leg took us direct to Natchitoches (pronounced NACK-ih-tish), Louisiana. We finally made it out of Texas! East of Waco the Texan landscape was so much more forgiving and green than in the west, but there were still plenty of oil fields here and there.

Natchitoches turns out to be the oldest city in Louisiana, with a gorgeous main street overlooking the Red River. We were given the keys to another airfield courtesy car, this one of dubious age and condition (I’d guess early 1990s), and the airfield staff also recommended an amazing lunch place – Mayeux’s Steak and Seafood, where I reluctantly eschewed both the catfish and the soft-shelled crab (two of my favorites) for the local delicacy of fried crawfish tails. We also had blackened alligator. I reckon we have to try local stuff. I have no regrets.

Natchitoches was setting up for their annual jazz festival, which opened with a street party that evening. They were setting up for it as we walked along the riverfront, and we were mighty tempted to stay the night. But the hotels were all completely full and we decided to put some distance behind us and go on to Hammond.

(Cue The Roches and Whim’n’Rhythm, “If you go down to Hammond,” stuck in my head for the next 24 hours.)

And here we felt that virtue is its own reward. The folk at Northshore Airport in Hammond quite literally rolled out a red carpet for us to step out of our plane onto. The airport manager recommended that we try a place call Mariner’s for dinner, where we sat outside and I had broiled catfish and AMAZING chocolate pie (in fact it was “Milky Way” pie OMG), and there was a very laid-back live jazz band. So I got my catfish and jazz and an extra hundred miles in to boot.