Dani took this picture of Mark with a wax figure of the Allman Brothers Band
Dani took this picture of me with a wax figure of Jaimoe from the Allman Brothers Band.

Bloggers Mark McPhillips, ‘20 and Daniella Maney, ‘20 embarked on a road trip this summer with their friend Samuel Piller, ‘20 before coming back to Conn. We will publish a series of posts about what they experienced along the way.... (Read Post 1) 

The first moments of today were a little bit hectic.

I awoke at 9:57 a.m. and immediately checked the email that contained our hotel reservation details. I had to see when our check-out time was and it turns out it was at 11 a.m.! I rushed to open the room’s curtains and attempted to get Dani and Samuel out of their slumbers by telling them that we needed to be out of our room in one hour. That got them right out of bed.

The three of us got ready within the time we had to check out but we were interrupted twice by housekeeping, who apparently really wanted us out of our room so they could clean it. This was kind of funny considering that our room was not entirely tidy when we arrived. Anyway, we left the room with five minutes to spare and packed up the CR-V for another journey.

The three of us enjoyed our time in New Orleans (NOLA) so much that we decided to stop by the French Quarter once more before we departed. We got lucky today because it was coincidentally the historic Red Dress Run in New Orleans, which brings runners from around the world together in a fun run for charity. Dani, Samuel and I had no idea that this event even existed. When we pulled into the French Quarter and were surrounded by mobs of people donning red dresses and other red clothing we were quite taken aback.

We parked a little outside of the Quarter so as to avoid the commotion and made our way into the chaos. It was much more wild than the NOLA we saw yesterday and the three of us were very into it. We stopped at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo once more. I got tarot cards and Dani got a sticker. And then we traveled to Cafe Beignet to get another staple NOLA food: the beignet.

A beignet is a French pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry doused in white sugar. These little fried-dough confections were yet another highlight of our incredible trip to NOLA.

After we finished our beignets, we continued to explore the French Quarter as we maneuvered through the huge seas of red. We did not stay for much longer as the time on the parking meter was almost up, but it was still fun to see as much of NOLA as we could before we embarked on the trip to our next destination: Jackson, Mississippi. Luckily for us, the distance between NOLA and Jackson is only three hours so this was our shortest trip yet.

We stopped twice on the way to Jackson to get fast food (Wendy’s and Taco Bell) and gas. The gas station we stopped at was actually in Jackson so it was only about a 10-minute drive to our stay for the night: the Baymont Inn & Suites. It was a smooth check-in and we got into our room by about 7 p.m. Then we searched for a nice restaurant somewhere in Jackson.

I searched on my phone for the best places to eat in Jackson and stumbled upon a place called The Iron Horse Grill. I was attracted by the low price of the menu’s southern-style cuisine and the promise of live music. We arrived at the restaurant and immediately knew we had made the right decision: there were barely any parking spots, a line out the front door, and aromas that signified some delicious food was being prepared in the kitchen. We had to wait a few minutes for our table but we didn’t mind because we got to explore the mini gift shop located at the front of the establishment.

When we finally sat down, we were instantly overwhelmed by the eclectic menu. The food ranged from enchiladas to steak to fried chicken and just about everything in between. Our waiter had to come back three times before we had decided what to eat. Dani and Samuel both got a dish called “Navajo Chicken” (an Iron Horse Grill original) and I opted for the All Aboard Chicken Club. My order has the choice of either grilled or fried chicken and when I told our waiter that I wanted it grilled he said: “I would just like to point out the irony of coming to Mississippi, the fattest state, and getting your chicken grilled...it also tastes much better fried.” I did not take his criticism lightly and changed my order from grilled to fried.

During our meal, there was a blues singer performing on stage. He had a tambourine around his ankles so every time that he stomped he added more fun to his vocals. In addition to singing and toe-tapping, the energetic singer was also playing the guitar. The live music was the perfect culmination to our restaurant experience. After we finished our meal, we visited the Blues Museum located on the second floor of the restaurant. We saw life-size models of legendary music stars, such as Jimmy Buffet, B.B. King and several others. We did not stay in this museum for long as it was already about 10:30 p.m. and we were ready to head back to our hotel and call it a night.