Sun. Dec 15th Port of Galveston and New Orleans
Up 6 am ship-time. Our cell phones on Eastern Time 7 am. At some point our cell phones woke up, adjusted their internal clocks to the time zone we were sailing in and suddenly our phones began beeping, dinging, and ringing. Text messages, private messages and emails that were over a week old found us. Breakfast and goodbyes to Deloris and Rudy. By 7:30 am the announcements came for those with A or B self carry luggage to precede to Deck 4 area for debarking. And off we went to the races, rolling two suitcase, carrying one backpack, bookbag, my purse and coat. Down the elevator, ramps and into a warehouse, through customs, then outside. JR and Jackie were somewhere behind us. We go to our shuttle to EZ Cruise Parking. Joe has the parking ticket needed to board shuttle. Our shuttle driver said we had to get moving, our bus was full and JR could get the next one. So Joe texted a photo of the ticket to JR. In minutes we were in our car waiting. Within 20 minutes the next shuttle deposited JR and Jackie at our car. They said De and Rudy were with them and already at their vehicle. When JR told them that Joe was already in the car waiting, De said, “Of course he is,” being familiar with her father’s meticulous traits.
On the road by 8 am. 146 was a breeze on this bright sunny Sunday morning. Not like the two hour drive into Galveston a week ago. I-10 moving great also, heading east toward Louisiana and New Orleans. Lunch at Cracker Barrel in Layfette. Good food.
We enjoyed a respite at the Atchafalaya Basin Herigate Visitor’s Center. The Atchafalaya Basin is the nation’s largest river swamp, containing almost one million acres of America’s most significant bottomland hardwoods, swamps, bayous, and backwater lakes. We walked around taking in the dioramas of the swamp and it’s creatures inside, but we were informed that the alligators, who inhabited the waterways out the back door, were “nesting” that they only like to come out when it is warm to sun themselves. Joe and I have stopped here before and saw the scary reptiles sunning themselves under the wood walkways that we traversed. We did sit through a short film about the bayou and its inhabitants, introduced by a talking Cajun turtle and a southern bell raccoon, that Joe said sounded like Jeff Sessoins. Inside a wooden blue Heron perched above us introduced the flick, explaining that the film about the protected wildlife area, was originally a 2 and half hour documentary until the alligator chopped it up. Funny. Now it is 5 minutes.
Back on I-10 through Baton Rouge, crossed the Mississippi. Nice city, big with lots of industrial areas. Oil refineries on one side of the road before we got in town. Warm here, 70s and sunny. We made it to the Big Easy by 4:30 pm. Our hotel the Le Richelieu is in the French Quarter on the corner of Chartress and Barrack Streets. Chartress runs parallel to Bourbon. The building is old with wrought iron balconies running the length of the 2nd floor. Inside it is soooo amazing. There is a bar and restaurant on the right and an old fashioned check-in desk on the right. We parked out back and walked through the courtyard, past a small pool and through an open outdoor seating area for the restaurant and bar. We are on the 3rd floor, with a window that swings open to the courtyard and pool below. JR and Jackie, are on the 2nd floor, facing the front. They have French doors that open onto a shared balcony facing the street. We wasted no time, checking in and then heading out to walk down Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ most notorious tourist attraction. We were quite a few blocks from the heart of the French Quarter. We walked and walked, past a lot of old private homes, apartment buildings and a few businesses. We eventually got to the center of crazyville. Loud music, lots of people carrying drinks while walking down the middle of the street. Open doors to every shop, bar and restaurant. We passed a Vodoo store, skeletons and other magic paraphernalia displayed inside. The live street music grew louder as we drew closer to Canal Street. One place we passed had the musicians standing on the bar. It seemed there was a battle to get patrons to walk into their establishments, a battle of the bands, using decibel levels to attract the moths to the flame. I felt like it was an invitation to have our eardrums blown out. We were not drawn in. Four old white people from the mid-west, guess our partying days are way behind us. We passed a small boy sitting on milk crate, banging his drum sticks on an overturned 5 gal plastic bucket, accepting tips in his hat. Jackie and I scored plastic beads thrown down to us by a guy on a balcony. It was beginning to get dark and we wanted to stop somewhere sane to get a bite to eat. Our search was interrupted when the four horsemen of the Apocalypse galloped by, right down the middle of the street, causing the crowds to part for them. None of the riders were dressed in cowboy attire, just four black dudes in jeans and baseball caps. No one seemed to think this was unusual so, we also did not react.
We did eventually stop in a cafe that advertised Po Boys and Gumbo on the displayed menu. We ducked inside just as a loud fire truck roared past. After we ate, we felt we had seen enough. One block before the intersection of Canal and Bourbon, we turned left twice and headed back up Royal Street. Now we were in a totally different space. No crazy crowds, no loud music, only saw one street musician, a thin girl playing on her guitar, like some grunge artist in Seattle. We passed numerous art galleries and antique stores. Most were closed, so we gazed in the windows. We stopped at a corner grocery that advertised lottery tickets to buy bottled water. The lady who waited on us spoke with a thick Eastern European accent. Jackie got hung up inside with her, as she was unable to answer her questions to the lady’s satisfaction. We did have to refer to our phones to get our bearings. Joe, who always seems to know where he is and how he got there at all times, was correct. We needed to go over one more street to Chartress, where our hotel was. We got back to our rooms before 10 pm. Such wooses. Hot bath and down for the night.
Mon. Dec 16th Homeward
Up at 6:30 am. Packed car and breakfast at hotel. Not Free. Coffee in travel mugs and on the road. We have over 700 miles ahead. ETA per I-Phone is 8:25 pm. Nice day to drive, clear, mild and sunny. I wish we’d had more time in New Orleans, especially during the day light. We were only blocks from the Mississippi River and St. Louis Cathedral, the Jazz Museum, and Jackson Square. Maybe next trip.
We listened to Christmas music on Sirus XM driving out of Louisianan. Driving through Mississippi there are lots of evergreens on both sides of the road. We did a drive-through Arby’s lunch somewhere off I-59 in Alabama. Hell bent on getting home. We drove on into the dark, which started at 5:30 pm. Switched drivers somewhere north of Birmingham. Me and Joe in back, JR and Jackie in front. JR took us through Nashville in the dark, through a hard rain during rush hour traffic. It is always a bitch driving through Nashville. We will definitely not be home anywhere near 8:25 pm. More like 10 or 11pm. Inside Kentucky, we decided we all needed a break and stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel. No sense in hurrying now. Already dark and late. Joe took over the driving the last leg, since JR does not know the country roads we take off I-75 to get to our house. We got home around 11:30 pm. It was cold and raining here.
One more task. I have to go pick up our little Boom Boom at the kennel.
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