… as the American Queen sets sail along the southernmost area of the Mississippi River. My mom and I will be aboard the 432 passenger paddlewheel, on March 24, after spending one night in Memphis, Tennessee.
Longer than a football field and six decks high, The American Queen is the largest riverboat in the world. She is a beauty, complete with gingerbread trim, fluted stacks, and a giant red paddlewheel giving her an old-fashioned appeal, even though she was built in 1995 and refurbished last year.
As a (former) California girl who feels right at home in the northwest or northeast areas of our country, living aboard the American Queen for one week will be as foreign to me as I felt observing a Balinese cremation ceremony and walking the old city streets of Casablanca. I live in a house with rattan furniture, handicrafts from my world travels, and fused art glass. The American Queen, in contrast, will be like stepping back in time to “Gone with the Wind”.
This is precisely the motivation for booking passage aboard the American Queen steamboat: Experiencing something completely different and not expecting it to be like home. There is nothing more frustrating to me when I travel than hearing other Americans whine and complain about how, “At home, in the U.S.A., the food is (fill in the blank), and the hotels are (fill in the blank), and the service is (fill in the blank).” BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! What I wish to tell those people, at that point is, “Well, then, you should have stayed home!”
Traveling, to me, is all about stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying new things. Not that an American Queen cruise is exactly roughing it. But, to me, the Deep South is like being in a foreign country; not unlike the experience of living in Texas, when we lived there for four years. Culturally, the people of Texas and Griffin, Georgia, where we have lived for the past four years, are more culturally different from Californians than many of the foreign countries I spent a lot of time in, including Australia and New Zealand.
It’s all good! I absolutely love the experience of living and traveling in new and different places. Ever since I spent one year traveling the South Pacific, solo, with my backpack, I have craved new adventures. Whether it be trying exotic foods, traveling to experience different cultures or moving from the 7th largest city to a town of 23,000; I have been up for it all.
So, on Saturday, I leave my casually and comfortably furnished home (and healthy food… and swim training…) for an ornately decorated steamboat and good ol’ southern cooking.