Day 9 began early, like at 4am (eeek!), and it was the first time in a week that I’d actually beaten the mailman. I had been trying since Tuesday to send off a postcard from Elle to my folks back in Jacksonville but the mail gets delivered at the crack of dawn apparently. I finally beat you, USPS! Unfortunately, we also beat the postcard to Jacksonville. I expect it to show up tomorrow.
(Okay, let’s get down to business…you may now begin singing Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” as I document our drive south and then east on our journey back to North Florida – it added two hours to our drive time but significantly cut down on the amount of whining coming from me due to altitude sickness and overall unpleasantness and discomfort. This made Matt a happy, happy man. Early on during the trip, a coyote ran across the interstate and Matt had to swerve a bit to keep from running it over. I’d finally seen a coyote! This made me a happy, happy girl. NOT getting plowed over by my car made the coyote a happy, happy coyote. And Elle? One word: Dramamine. She was outcold. I’m sure she was happy, happy…in her own way.)
Texas: I WAS BORN HERE! Okay, so nowhere near any of the places we actually saw or even drove through (or really within a 300 mile radius of a single road we were on), but I was excited to be back for the first time since I was…oh, three weeks old! Matt mentioned there was a huge carving of Texas (perfect for a photo-op) after I failed to capture a decent picture of the standard “Welcome to Texas” highway sign. Of course, we had to stop!
Because Matt attended grad school in Denton, Texas, he was eager to show us his old college stomping grounds. We drove by his old house, his former office on the UNT campus, his favorite sushi restaurant, and he took us to the best coffee shop in town right next to the county courthouse. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen.
Then we were on the road again to Dallas. The dreary but tolerable weather we’d had on the way to Oklahoma City the week before would have been better than the drizzles and the downpours we encountered for hours once we got through Dallas. Sadly, I have no photographs of Dallas that are worth posting as every picture I tried to take is muddled up by raindrops and wet splatters on the windshield.
Louisiana: The rain stopped long enough to enjoy our drive through Baton Rouge as we crossed into the state of Louisiana. I was surprised by the architecture of this city (of which I have no photos – sorry!) and how much it reminded me of the old red and brown brick structures of Richmond, Virginia. Baton Rouge and Richmond are two very different versions of The South but still beautiful in their own ways and very separate from one another in terms of visual charm. One thing I noticed about these towns that are situated on the Mississippi River (such as Baton Rouge) is the amount of smokestacks and manufacturing facilities that litter the view from up top. Instead of taking those kinds of pictures, I actually found the trusses on the bridge into Baton Rouge to be much more intriguing. This is not meant to sound like I hated Baton Rouge (quite the opposite!), it was just so gray and wet and blah…
The rain really didn’t let up once we got south of Baton Rouge. There was a break, very briefly, that allowed me to take a few pictures of Lake Pontchartain just northwest of Metairie, but all you really have to do is imagine yourself on a bridge completely surrounded by water and hope that nobody gets into a car accident up ahead or all you’ll be doing for hours is sitting on a bridge completely surrounded by water. Thankfully, no accidents on I-10 eastbound.
Another thing I’m grateful for is Matt’s internal GPS (he does have a master’s in geography, coincidentally…or not), and his superhuman ability to find his way around a city. Any city. But Matt had been to New Orleans before and was therefore designated our unofficial tour guide. He did not disappoint!
Our hotel was a few blocks from the French Quarter and we braved the weather (a bit chilly and wet, but we were happy to not be in a car) and walked to Pierre Masperos for some real fried crawfish po’boy sandwiches! Elle, who was not surprisingly hamburgered out, opted for macaroni and cheese but decided to be adventurous and take a bite of the fried crawfish. The verdict? “Mmm…whoa! That’s good!”
After dinner, I took my foo-foo alcoholic drink to the streets (a Crescent City Sunrise…?? I dunno, fruity stuff! Sadly, Matt had to finish it for me because I’m a lightweight) and we walked around the French Quarter. There was music and prostitutes and alot of cops and people smoking pot and neon lights and fun humor and everyone was just in good spirits! I loved New Orleans and so did the kid. I do hope she forgets about the naked ladies in the windows, although that’s unlikely because she’s telling everyone about them who asks, “So, what did you think of New Orleans?”
On Bourbon Street, I actually managed to capture this quiet moment. Whether or not the man in this shot knew I wanted to include him in the scene really makes no difference at all.
It’s a juxtaposition of colors, lights, shadows, and sounds…though you can’t hear the chaos that lined the street in front of us. Here, in this moment, it just seems so quiet and so peaceful…everything that New Orleans is not.