A Travellerspoint blog

Texas to Louisiana to Mississippi to Alabama

George Reporting

overcast 59 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

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?

Posted by woa 17:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

From Lafayette to Leonard: Heroes of Two Worlds

George Reporting

sunny 49 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.


Let's start with a Spock logic test.
Spock is held prisoner on a hostile alien planet. The alien leader approaches him and says, "Spock, I know you are
Vulcan so I give you this choice. You must make 1 statement. If it is true, then you will be stoned to death, if
false, than you will be burned to death. What is your statement?"

Can you guess what he says dear reader? His answer is at the end of this post.

We were driving from Baton Rouge towards New Orleans on a bright, clear crisp day when we heard on the radio the
passing of the great talent Leonard Nimoy, better known as "Spock". Only a short while before that announcement,
we were standing in front of a home where one of the heroes of the American Revolution stayed.
Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette, or better know as Lafayette,
was a Frenchman (and friend of George Washington) who believed in the noble cause of the American Revolution
and was crucial in helping the new country defeat the British. I always admired Lafayette after first reading
about him in a history book at school and was gleeful when we came across this signage while in Baton
Rouge Louisiana. I was telling Andrea that sometimes I would remind people (on some social media site) that the U.S.
democratic country might not have existed without the aid of the French.

Back in the car, hearing about the passing of Leonard Nimoy made me think long and hard why I appreciated the
character of Spock he portrayed on the beloved Star Trek series and movies. Before long, I began to see
deep comparisons and contrasts between Lafayette and Spock.

One was a real person with a military pedigree and a deep appreciation for the American ideals
of democracy as well as loyal friend to General George Washington. The other is a fictitious character
with a science/military pedigree who always looked for a peaceful resolution to a conflict as well
as loyal friend to Captain James T. Kirk.

Being French, Lafayette fighting along with the Americans against the British might not seem too different
than the Vulcan Spock fighting for the Federation against the Klingons. No doubt Lafayette had feelings and thoughts
of being "different" from the others much like Spock did on the Enterprise.

Reading the Wikipedia about Lafayette, you can see parallels between his real life upbringing
and that of the fictional young Spock following in the traditions of his family. Both also faced familial recriminations
for trying to take more idealistic paths in life.

Lafayette left his homeland and became immediate friends with George Washington and fought for America. Spock left
his home-world and became friends with James Kirk and fought for the Federation. Spock was highly decorated
and later became an ambassador and was given the honor of "Hero of The Galaxy".
According to Wikipedia,
"Lafayette died on 20 May 1834, and is buried in Picpus Cemetery in Paris, under soil from Bunker Hill.
For his accomplishments in the service of both France and the United States,
he is sometimes known as "The Hero of the Two Worlds".
As mentioned earlier, it is quite possible that America might never have become free and democratic if not for the efforts
of Lafayette. And if America had not become free, than Leonard Nimoy's poor immigrant family might not have come to the
U.S. from the Ukraine. Therefore there would not have been the Spock character we know and love today. I think there
is a pretty good time travel story in there somewhere. What if?...

More on Spock:
There are a few other things about the Spock character I appreciated. First, I appreciate the fact that he brought the
words "logic" and "logical" to almost everyone on the planet. If not for Spock, I have no doubt that this method
of "corrective reasoning" would have just remained a largely unknown ancient Greek term regulated to dusty
books of philosophy. I still remember as a young boy playing Star Trek logic test games inside comic books, although,
I wonder how many relationship arguments would never have started if I never uttered the sentence, "That is just
not logical." lol

The other thing I appreciated about the Spock character was that he usually offered wise alternatives to using
powerful technologies in harmful ways. Star Trek was just as much about the sci-fi technology and weaponry
as it was about how to use them responsibly in any given situation. Spock embodied the idea (at least for me)
that wise, peaceful alternatives needed to be thought out before action was taken. His deliberate, calculating
mind regularly saved Kirk and the ship from certain doom while preserving the integrity of a new life form or
newly discovered planet. I think the success of our current travel approach is in many ways due to a 'Spock-ish way of

Spock Logic Test Answer
Spock thinks for a moment and makes the statement, "I shall be burned to death." The alien leader realizes that he
has no choice but to let Spock go.

May you, Leonard Nimoy, shake hands with Lafayette in the great hall of heroes in the sky!

Posted by woa 07:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)


by Andrea

34 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.


I just made a short trip to So Cal for a week of tending to personal business, improving travel supplies, delicious home-cooked meals, and enjoyable visits with some family and friends. Not only has it been rewarding to be welcomed into new friendships and communities abroad, but I'm grateful for the hospitality and being welcomed back by my parents, Steph, Katie, Aunt Joyce & Uncle Jack, Aunt Rosa, Hild, (the chance to see Mary Jane, Adam, & family), and a nice, long chat with Heather.

I am grateful:

  • that my husband was supportive during this week, as he stayed in warm Cancun, and is now enduring the cold in TX as I make my way there. Side note* Funny thing happened on my way to Dallas...I thought I booked my flight to DFW airport and was surprised when I arrived at Dallas Love Field (DAL). It turns out Love Field is only 16 miles from DFW, and it's pretty easy to take a shuttle back to the correct area. As George says, "live and learn."
  • for opportunities to challenge myself in little ways like - traveling alone once in awhile, FINALLY understanding the futility and waste of energy and time that worrying really is - and learning to let it go and move through it faster. (Have faith...oh ye of little faith!)
  • for those friends who remain in touch via email, facebook, and skype regularly. You all enrich our lives and we hope to see you in person this year.

Dallas is cold but no snow or rain today, so we are heading to Louisiana.

Posted by woa 07:25 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Dear (Blog) Diary

by Andrea

Dear (Blog) Diary,
If you asked me last September if I thought we'd buy a house in Mérida, I would have answered, "When did we decide to go to Mexico?"

We flew to Cancun because it was cheap, warm, and a place we had never been. Neither of us knew much about the Yucatán for that matter. The only reason we'd heard of Mérida is from a House Hunters International episode we'd seen some time ago. As you know from other entries, it has been an exceptionally surprising experience for us here in Mérida. We've literally made new friends from the moment we arrived here, beginning with Stefanie and Marcus from Switzerland, to all the locals, ex-pats, and other visitors we now know (such interesting, creative, and adventurous people). Mérida offers free WI-fi in public spaces, arts, music, and cultural events all around, a lower cost of living and what I find to be a richer quality of life.
By the exterior facade you really can't tell what the potential is inside. There are a lot of nice homes behind the tall cement walls.

So, today I would respond to that same question, "It appears to be a great city for a 'home base' and a great way to downsize living space. It also offers us the opportunity to restore and decorate a new/old house once again. It would be a place we can accommodate family and friends."

We have been fortunate to make great contacts, and have this opportunity fall into place so quickly (certainly sooner that I expected, but then again...I'm never really ready). There is a time to plan, and a time to take a leap. You never really know how long a window of opportunity stays open.
The only negative I know of at this point, is the heat is a greater challenge in the summer months. We do not plan to be here then. So dear (blog) diary, you never really know what is possible until you go out and see for yourself.

Posted by woa 10:23 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Progresso and Fragments from My Mind

by Andrea

sunny 77 °F

We heard a lot about Progresso beach and took the direct bus for 18 pesos each one way. The 30-40 minutes ride drops us off at Progresso which is also a main cruise ship destination. The fine sand sticks to my skin here on the Gulf of Mexico side, just as much as the sand on the Caribbean Sea beaches do.

FYI: A lot of Canadians seem to come to the Yucatan to escape winter. It's the end of January and having been in Mexico for a couple of months now, we forget the harsh realities of winter happening elsewhere.

We see Frida all around Merida even though she lived in Coyoacán, Mexico City.
When I see paintings and pictures of Frida Kahlo, it stirs something in me that wants to be an 'artista', currently with words, but possibly another different, colorful medium. (I do have a small sketchbook and colored pencils to play with)
I see the wheels turning in George's head sometimes as he researches and moodles about next moves, plans, and things he might like to do as well.

The possibility of buying a house in Merida (yes, we have been looking at opportunities) would offer an outlet for creativity once again - colors, decorating, a new garden to create... whether we find something on this trip, or down the road. Upfront I will say:
a) we do not intend to live in Mexico full-time, or become residents now (six months a year is a generous amount of time to stay on the tourist visa), and
b) we would approach a house of our own here with restoring the original charm, inspiration, adding comfort, with a somewhat minimalist lifestyle.

Nevertheless, there are still many places to go as it is still early in this year of travel. There are more experiences to be had, more friends to visit, and new friends to be made.

But as we once heard on the "Gidget" TV series with Sally Field, on the episode entitled, 'The Great Kahuna', Russ (Gidget's father) says to her, "In order to be free, you have to be planted, have roots. Every drifter learns eventually that being rootless simply means you're from nowhere, and you're going nowhere..."

Posted by woa 13:00 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

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