Roadsigns twisted into green and white pretzels withhold directional info while tattered remnants of billboards wave despondently in greeting as we travel I-10 through the panhandle of Florida. Sap glistens on the freshly sawn remnants of trees lining the shoulders of the road, their downed limbs barely clear of the pavement edge where they fold guardrails into breathless accordions of battered metal. Hurricane Michael sure did a number on this area 3 months ago. Hard to imagine that Michael still had enough strength as a tropical storm to take down 6 trees at my Mom’s house in Virginia after seeing all the destruction it wrought here.
Mississippi Welcome Center
On this trip west, I finally work out our timing so that we can spend a few hours at the Infinity Science Center just off the interstate at the Mississippi Welcome Center. Sadly the government shut down cancels the bus tour to adjacent NASA Stennis Space Center during our visit. Without the bus tour, the $30 admission is high for this small museum. For the best value if you want to stop here, try to catch Senior Wednesday when 55+ adults can get in for $9 each. There is plenty of parking for big rigs at the Science Center. If you are running late and need an overnight stop here, the rest area next door allows RVs to nestle into the picnic pull-offs and stay one night. Even though trucks are in and out all night, this is an amazingly quiet place to park for free.
An Austin Daytrip (plus one night)
Once we reach Austin, Monte once again assumes his role as tour guide and restaurant concierge. He meets us at VIA 313 restaurant. The “Ambassador Bridge” pizza served here hot, savory and covered with Chopped Garlic, Natural Casing Pepperoni, Sausage, and Ricotta converts us to Detroit Style pizza. The next day we build up appetites anew while visiting the lakes surrounding Austin. I thought the Lady Bird Lake was the only one here, but there are 2 more!
A stroll through the sculpture garden at Luguna Gloria leaves us ready (we think) for a Banchan dinner at Pitchfork Pretty. Here Storm and I are exposed as being decidedly “unchic.” While the food is fresh, spicy and a totally new experience in flavors for us, the presentation baffles us.
At first, the server puts a small plate with 3 tiny white mushroom looking things on the table. She then pours steaming water over the trio. We watch the tiny buttons rise slightly and assume this is part of the first course. Thank goodness we ask before we pop those suckers in our mouths. Turns out they are highly compressed towelettes with which we are to clean up before eating. The rest of the meal while tender and tasty is similarly complicated and we often are not sure how to partake of the colorful dishes set before us. We obviously need dining guidance. None is offered so we do the best that we can. Hope we do not accidentally eat any decoratively camouflaged utensils!
Highlights from our Austin Visit*
*traffic speed has been exaggerated to coincide with how fast it seems like we are going. Thanks to Monte for the VIA313 moving sign picture!