Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Driving to the city of New Orleans (Trip Report part 1)

“I’ll be gone 500 miles when the day is done”

With apologies to Arlo Guthrie, but I don’t know where he was driving from. Starting from Jackson, Mississippi, where I flew into Friday night, I’ve already driven 960 miles and I haven’t even hit New Orleans yet! Of course, Arlo probably wasn’t trying to hit every poker room in Louisiana, Biloxi and Vicksburg. Sucks to be him.

My trip started on a frustrating note when I pushed out of the gate from JFK perfectly on time and then sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes. Oh, did I mention that the BIGGEST guy on the plane was sitting next to me taking up a seat and a half? I was leaning into the aisle to get away from his beefy arms and it was a loooong 3 hours later that we landed in D.C. for our connection. I was hoping to god he was going to get off, but his southern accent gave away Mississippi as his final destination. At least enough people deplaned that there were some empty seats and I was able to get a seat to myself for the remainder of the trip. 6 hours after we pushed from the gate, I landed in Mississippi.

Like all airports out of New York that I’ve been to, getting my car was a pleasure. 5 minutes after I got off the plane, I was in my car and on my way. It was still another hour to Vicksburg and it was already 11PM. The drive was fine and my GPS unit (‘Hermes’) did it’s job admirably. But I haven’t downloaded any new maps for Hermes in quite a while and it shows. While the streets were all good on the unit, the business listings were a bit off. My first casino, which I needed to hit that night before going to sleep, wasn’t listed. Luckily, I always come prepared and I had written down the full addresses of all the casinos I needed in advance. After entering the address, Hermes got me there without fail. On the way, I passed by a riverboat casino (they’re all riverboats or on the water in Mississippi and Louisiana unless they’re Indian) called Horizon. I remember reading about it but wasn’t sure if the poker room was still open. I stopped in just in case and discovered that the room had just recently been closed. So recently that the tables were still on the third floor but empty.

A few minutes down the same road was Ameristar. Riverboat casinos, which are permanently docked to the shore, are usually pretty crappy, and this had been my experience everywhere. Something about the size of the boat limits what you can do with it. When I got to Ameristar, I was tired as hell but committed to at least visiting this room. It was actually slightly better than I imagined it would be, with 11 or 12 tables and a few games going on. Even an Omaha/8 game, which I joined for a little while. 45 minutes and a few dollars of profit later, I had to go to sleep. I drove to my Super 8 motel, passing by the Vicksburg civil war battle field as I drove. One of the slightly upsetting things about this poker quest I’m on is that I don’t always get to stay and experience the cities I stay in. Vicksburg is a greatly historical city in American history, site of some pivotal civil war battles, but I just didn’t have time to tour the sites. I needed to drive a few hundred miles the next morning. I checked into my hotel at about 2AM and was asleep soon afterward.


Clay Eals said...

Good to see your post mentioning Arlo Guthrie's version of Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans." Goodman often doesn't get his due. You might be interested in my 800-page biography, "Steve Goodman: Facing the Music." The book delves deeply into the genesis of "City of New Orleans," and Arlo Guthrie is a key source among my 1,050 interviewees and even contributed the foreword.

You can find out more at my Internet site (below). Amazingly, the book's first printing sold out in just eight months, all 5,000 copies, and a second printing of 5,000 is available now. The second printing includes hundreds of little updates and additions, including 30 more photos for a total of 575. It won a 2008 IPPY (Independent Publishers Association) silver medal for biography: http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1231. To order a second-printing copy, see the "online store" page of my site. Just trying to spread word about the book. Feel free to do the same!

Clay Eals
1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
Seattle, WA 98116-1958

(206) 935-7515
(206) 484-8008

Jamie said...

I might have accidentally misrepresented the origin of the song, but you're still a major tool for using my blog as your own personal advertisement.