24.02.2015 - 02.03.2015 59 °F
Feb. 24-Arrived back in cold, snowy Dallas after a few months touring the Quintana Roo and Yucatan regions of Mexico. I was offered a ride from my hotel to the car storage facility by a nice woman named Shirley. She told me she felt some kind of "divine assistance was necessary" for me. We had just met in the lobby after I asked the front desk to call me a taxi. After a few questions from me, I decided she wasn't crazy and so accepted Shirley's kind offer. It reminded me fondly the day Maria "kidnapped" Andrea and I in Merida a few months back.
I picked up our car and the following day Andrea flew in from L.A. After a warm reunion, we hopped back in the car and fled the city and state to avoid the oncoming new ice storm and cold. We stopped to have the car looked at at a nearby Chevrolet service center and, after a few hours, once again hit the road under clear conditions.
We drove about 4 hours to Shreveport, Louisiana and stayed at a Travelodge just off the highway. We had dinner across the street at the 'El Chico', an old time diner established in the 1940's.
Rain and cold were expected to hit this area in a few days so the following morning we drove towards New Orleans which is in the southern most part of the state. We stopped in Baton Rouge and enjoyed a couple of wraps at a placed called 'Spotter's'. The owner was there and we talked for a little bit
and learned that he appeared on the TV reality program 'Shark Tank'. Andrea and I then sat on a bench in a park not far from the Mississippi river and ate our delicious, healthy meal.
We continued driving towards New Orleans. We heard the news about the passing of Leonard Nimoy on the radio as we headed through the Bayou.
Arrived in New Orleans on Feb 27th, staying at the Pelham hotel right next to the French Quarter. The first night was a little chilly but we quickly warmed up with libations at the Napoleon House, a darkly lit cafe that mimics the lighting and decor of a centuries old French Quarter establishment.
Afterwards we braved a walk down Bourbon street as beads rained down on us from people in the balcony who just didn't want Mardi Gras to end. We stopped for a nice steak dinner and more wine.
The evening ended with coffee and beignets (sugar donuts) at the famous Cafe du Monde.
The following day we enjoyed two tours. The first was a citywide tour which included stops at the Fats Domino house, St. Louis cemetery #3 and the homes of Sandra Bullock, and Payton and Eli Manning. You could quite easily throw a football from the Manning yard into Bullocks bedroom.
We also stopped at the Lower 9th Ward infamously known as the section of town that was devastated when its levee crumbled after Hurricane Katrina. The area is slowly coming back thanks to the help of celebrities who built homes and a music school there according to our tour driver who talked (and looked) a lot like Lou Costello of Abbott and Costello fame. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are helping build funky, new green homes for residents of the 9th Ward as well. Their home designs can only be described as "interesting".
Overall, New Orleans is bouncing back nicely after the hurricane and maybe even thriving. It is still a fun place to visit and I would say it is a much more interesting and funner place for the average adult to visit than San Francisco. There are many arts events happening here and most things are walkable.
In the evening we engaged in a classic Vampire tour and learned about the city's darker side. We enjoyed it but we must have been just one of about
10 other tours going on at the same time. The French Quarter's architecture, gas-lamp lighting and allure is really what I love about it. It's a dreamy, surreal urban-scape of hypnotic flickering lights and dancing shadows hiding secret moments filled with dread and delight. We probably could have used another few days in town but we need to move on so we leave the following morning for the beaches of Alabama adjacent to Pensacola Florida.
We stopped for a nice lunch of pizza and wine at 'Buck's Pizza' in downtown Mobile, Alabama. We checked out a few of the green spaces and noticed that free, public wifi was available right in town.
While the rest of the country shivers in snow and ice, we stayed as close to the shores of the Gulf coast as much as possible. The temperatures hover
around the high 50's and we mostly have to contend with thick fog. We are now staying at the 'Sleep Inn' in Orange Beach, Alabama. Later, we then
head to Tallahasee, Florida. Why? Why not?