Few things feel more like a Southern cliché than sitting on a rocking chair with a glass of ice-cold sweet tea while looking at the Mississippi River from the deck of a paddlewheel steamboat. And I, a French, along with my partner, a Canadian, embraced it wholeheartedly. To add another layer of Americana, it was July 5, and the vessel, the iconic American Queen, and most of its passengers were still festooned in red, white, and blue the day after the Fourth of July.
The American Queen, a picture-perfect 1995 recreation of a Mississippi River paddlewheel steamboat, took us from Memphis to Nashville. The full journey took nine days to cover less than 200 miles. Granted, we stopped along the way, but still, this is slow travel taken to the extreme. Obviously, nobody on board would have it any other way — we had nine days of great food, free drinks, river lectures, music, excursions, and brand-new (to us, at least) scenery to look forward to — all in a luxurious time capsule. The pilots could take it as slow as they needed.