Leaving just after the morning commute from Greenbelt, MD, on Friday, April 20th 2018, we started our two days drive, with New Orleans as our ultimate goal. We planned to arrive in the Big Easy during the evening of Saturday, April 21st, so that we would be in town to see the New Orleans Baby Cakes host the Oklahoma City Dodgers early Sunday afternoon.
Day 1: Friday, April 20th 2018
From Greenbelt, MD, we were headed for a hotel just outside of Knoxville Tennessee, where we would spend the night. Not surprisingly, the trip was uneventful, stopping for lunch in southwest Virginia before continuing on toward Knoxville. Arriving in the Knoxville area after 500 pm, we decided to visit nearby Smokies Stadium, home of the Tennessee Smokies, the Double A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
The Smokies were on the road (we would see them next week in Chattanooga), so the stadium was closed (as was the team store). Undaunted, we took some pictures before leaving, settling into our hotel before the longer drive tomorrow.
2. Day 2: Saturday, April 21st, 2018
With a long drive ahead of us, we checked out of the hotel and headed out before 900 am. Before leaving, we made a quick stop in Knoxville. While there, we saw the Sunsphere, an enduring symbol of the 1982 Worlds Fair. Of course, my interest in the Sunsphere centered around its appearance in the Simpsons, when Bart and friends rented a car and traveled to see the Worlds Fair, not knowing they were 15 years too late.
Following this small diversion, we hit the road for Louisiana. Along the way, we passed by Chattanooga, the home of the Lookouts. We stopped briefly to see AT&T Field, but didn’t linger, as we would be back next week. From Chattanooga, we drove southwest toward Alabama. This was my first time in Alabama, as we haven’t traveled much across the Deep South.
We stopped in Birmingham to see Regions Field, home of the Birmingham Barons. The Barons were not home (they were on an early list to visit, but the timing wasn’t right), but we stopped to take pictures. There was a game in progress, though it was a closed affair, and we were denied entry to the stadium. Instead, we walked around the outside of the stadium, taking pictures.
We continued onward through Meridian and Hattiesburg, Mississippi before reaching far eastern Louisiana. Being from the north, I’d never seen an armadillo in the wild. During our trip through Mississippi, we saw hundreds of armadillos; however, they were all dead. Not knowing much about armadillos, I discovered they are nocturnal, and often jump three or four feet when startled, putting them in the paths of oncoming traffic.
Pressing forward, we passed through Slidell, Louisiana on our way to New Orleans. Just as the sun was about to set, we crossed Lake Pontchartrain. While the lake looks big on the map, it seemed much larger in person. Traversing the 23 mile Causeway, we were treated to the last of the sunlight, as day melted into evening. Traffic was light, which was fortuitous, since I probably spent far too much time taking in the beauty of the lake as sunset approached.
We arrived in New Orleans as evening descended, passing by the SuperDome on our way to the hotel south of town. It had been a long two days of driving; we grabbed something to eat and settled into the hotel. The fun begins tomorrow!