Society

Greetings from 7 STATES IN 7 DAYS

Eating our way across the gulf coast
BY BILL AND KATHY MARTIN
Reporter Travel Editors


Photography by Bill and Kathy Martin Photography by Bill and Kathy Martin While most people plan their vacations around sightseeing and such physical activities as hiking, biking or mountain climbing, the ex-cheerleader and I are a little different. The tourist stops we mark on our atlas are purely for comfort—comfort food that is.

On our most recent trip of seven states in seven days to Savannah to visit The Girl, we ate our way across the gulf coast and threw in a little sightseeing for good measure.

Since we have traveled this route before, we have established our favorite places to graze, but we also discovered a few new places to chow down as well.

We also picked up a hitchhiker in Hammond, La., The Girl’s friend Preston Tesvich who rode with us to Savannah.

We had the opportunity to meet his mother Judi, a gracious host who got our trip off to a delicious start by plying us with cinnamon coffee cake for breakfast. Yummy.

A tour of Hammond revealed a cool little town with plenty of arts, entertainment and unique restaurants. It reminded me of how Austin used to be before all the yankees moved down here.

Preston was an entertaining companion, he made this weird snorting sound when he slept in the car and with every snort, the drool coming out of his mouth stretched out longer and longer and longer until it hit the floorboard like a stalactite. At one point we had to cut it off with a pair of scissors.

But I kid... sort of.

Now because we were repeat offenders to Savannah, it’s a given where we will go—Mrs. Wilkes and The Crabshack at Tybee Island.

Despite its pedestrian name, The Shack features an enticing array of seafood which they pile up in the middle of your table, family style, if you order the shrimp boil, which is the cheerleader’s all-time favorite meal.

I also enjoy the Brunswick Stew, which is a Georgia specialty and only available in the peach state.

I got hooked on the stuff because my father was from Fayetteville, Ga. and it was a delicacy to him that he only got to enjoy on rare occasions and, like him, I take advantage of the opportunity to lap it up.

We hit The Shack on our way back from the golf capitol of the world, Hilton Head, South Carolina, where we enjoyed the white sandy beaches, the breaking waves and the unusually cool temperatures.

Didn’t play any golf, but considered teeing it up at a puttputt course near the beach.

Could’ve stayed there a couple more days, weeks even.

Did I mention we hit the Hilton Head Goodwill? A unique experience to say the least.

Of course a visit to Savannah would not be complete without a visit to Mrs. Wilkes, featuring the best home cooking in the South.

Met a fellow food-o-file from Miami at our table who stopped in Savannah just to eat at Mrs. Wilkes.

When he asked for one more piece of chicken, the lovely ladies brought him a whole platter.

In between naps and eating, we took the Savannah ghost tour and if you haven’t heard, Savannah is the most haunted city in the United States.

While no spirits of bad meals past made themselves known to us during the murderous twohour trip, it was a nice tour of Savannah anyway.

Speaking of murderous, the mind-numbing, never ending five-hour trip through Florida’s pan handle did produce one good feed, at Wayne’s Family Diner in Pensacola, which almost made it worth the drive. (Not really.)

On the way back, we stopped at one of my favorite childhood tourist stops—the U.S.S. Alabama— harbored outside Mobile.

When my brother Tim and I were kids, this was the ultimate destination on our trips to Georgia. We couldn’t have been more excited to play army on a real battleship. Despite being a battleship, it did look smaller since I last climbed aboard its gangway 4o years ago. They have turned it into a park with airplanes and even a submarine.

We took the southern I10 route through Mississippi and got a scenic view of the Gulf of Mexico and were amazed at how empty the beaches were and how beautiful the houses were.

Not to mention gas was $3.20 a gallon.

Of course, ol’ Miss leads us directly to our home-awayfrom home, Louisiana, and, on the spur of the moment, we whipped into New Orleans and spent a couple of days.

While the cheerleader relaxed at a New Orleans spa, I kicked around the French Quarter most of the afternoon, visiting cigar stores, Jackson square and hanging out at the famous Peaches Record Store (met Peaches) and grabbed up the latest from the Preservation Hall guys for the father-in-law.

Of the thousands of places to eat in the Big Easy and area, we have found that the high class Bourbon House in the French Quarter is the most accommodating, with a variety of both steaks and seafood with a great view of the street if you’re people watchers like we are.

The last time we were there, a dixieland band marched through the restaurant.

I was able to get the outstanding shrimp creole, while the cheerleader got her favorite— rib eye steak—and by the way looked gorgeous in the New Orleans scenery.

On the way over, we had stopped and hung out in one of our favorite towns, Breaux Bridge and eaten at Pat’s in Henderson (stuffed shrimp, out of this world).

On the last leg of the trip in Lake Charles, chowed down at Darrell’s for the best po-boy in God’s creation and then met former pastor and good friends John and Sandra Warren at Steamboat Bill’s for a cup of the best gumbo around.

Sandra and the cheerleader had a nice visit. John and I mostly listened.

It all seems like a blur to us now and poor Preston never knew what hit him. And as we make plans to eat more salad and to turn one of our bedrooms into an exercise room, the haunting aroma of rue, corn meal and fish grease are calling our names once again....



Clockwise from above, Lillian had just come from the beauty shop when we ran into her at a grocery store in Beaumont, buying some boudin for supper that night. In South Carolina, the view from Hilton Head beach was breath taking. At the top, the U.S.S. Alabama brought back some fun childhood memories. Next, in Tybee Island, Georgia, Preston is engulfed by the mountain of seafood at the restaurant. In Henderson, Louisiana, Mae waited on us again. She has been dishing up great food and friendly service at the famous Pat’s restaurant for 65 years. The Gulfport, Mississippi shores were enticing on a long drive down the gulf coast. Above, Wayne’s Diner in Pensacola provided a tasty respite from the seemingly endless drive through the Florida panhandle. Clockwise from above, Lillian had just come from the beauty shop when we ran into her at a grocery store in Beaumont, buying some boudin for supper that night. In South Carolina, the view from Hilton Head beach was breath taking. At the top, the U.S.S. Alabama brought back some fun childhood memories. Next, in Tybee Island, Georgia, Preston is engulfed by the mountain of seafood at the restaurant. In Henderson, Louisiana, Mae waited on us again. She has been dishing up great food and friendly service at the famous Pat’s restaurant for 65 years. The Gulfport, Mississippi shores were enticing on a long drive down the gulf coast. Above, Wayne’s Diner in Pensacola provided a tasty respite from the seemingly endless drive through the Florida panhandle.

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2013-08-22 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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