Last night, after settling in at the Red Roof Inn in Milton, FL (just east of Pensacola) I made a reservation for TONIGHT in Metairie, LA – the most reasonable and closest motel to New Orleans I could find. Whew! Another first! I usually make a reservation about 1/2 hour before arrival! I get on the iPhone and look up the nearest La Quinta or Red Roof, and book online, then show up 30 minutes later…
So, the pressure was on for today’s driving. I already knew it was about 3-1/2 to 4 hours driving time, so I knew we were good for it. The other thing is that we moved into another time zone yesterday so Max and I think it’s 7:45 AM when we wake up here at 6:45. That means we got an hour earlier start this morning!
Before I get into the drive, and the day’s events, I want to share this photo and story from last night at the Red Roof Inn:
Max and I were coming in from our after dinner walk when a young man at the soda machine said, “That is one beautiful dog! My daughter would go nuts for him!”
I asked how old she was, thinking maybe she was 5 or 6. Turns out she’s thirteen! “Do you have a camera on your phone?” he asked. “Would you take a picture of me and the dog and send it to her? She’d love it!”
So, I got out the iPhone and took a few pix. This is the one I sent to his daughter:
Of course, sending the photo wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3! Here I am, traveling with the latest iPhone 4 and I barely know how to do anything with it! Another guy had an iPhone and showed me how to send it like a text message… I can just see my son-in-law, Jon, laughing his head off over this one!
So this morning, Max and I were on the road (in search of a Starbucks for my morning eye opener) by 8:30 – a new world record that might make it into a book someday! We got the latté and headed west on I-10, for no better reason than I wanted to make tracks. And make them, we did.
I didn’t realize how close to the Alabama border we were, but I think it was about 9:30 when we were welcomed in. Already, I was missing palm trees. But I was appreciating the new landscape; more rolling fields, lots of pine trees and bare deciduous trees, less Spanish moss (was there ANY Spanish moss?? don’t know.). It positively reminded me of Maine in late fall.
I couldn’t get the words to Walkin’ to New Orleans out of my head as I drove. I kept singing, “We’re DRIVIN’ to NEW ORLEANS!” and I‘m pretty sure Max put his paws over his ears after a while.
Just outside of Mobile, I stopped at a Super Walmart for an oil change and tire rotation. While that was happening, Max and I went for a nice walk, and while we were walking my phone rang. It was my friend, Katy, calling from High Point, NC to see how we were doing, where we were, and to make sure I heard a familiar voice. It was really nice talking with her, and helped pass some time while we wandered the grassy edges of the parking lot!
After hanging up with Katy, I decided to call my son, PJ, back in Maine and see how things were with him and his wife, Julie. Seems I caught him driving home in a snowstorm! I didn’t realize until he said he was just turning into his driveway that he was on the road the whole time! Anyway, we also had a great chat. Later, as I drove through Biloxi, MS I was wishing I had called him from there; he was in school there at Keesler Air Force Base a few years ago, and I think he would have had some comments about his experiences.
Ever onward, we arrived in New Orleans (NOLA) about 3:30 and went straight to City Park. It’s a beautiful 1,500 acre park – they claim it’s bigger than Central Park. We drove around and scoped it out, then settled on parking near the New Orleans Art Museum and walking around this large pond named Big Lake. (After seeing Lake Pontchartrain, how can they call that a lake??)
By now, any sun we had enjoyed was long in the past, and there was a chilly wind whipping across the “lake,” making it feel colder than it really was. Max was happy to be trotting around with me, and would cheerily return to my side when he got to the end of his leash and I reminded him to “come back.”
There’s an Italian gondola available for rides around the lake (call Roberto – I kid you not!), paddle boats to rent, and instead of a swan boat, there’s a pelican boat!
The giant pelican was just a little bit scary to Max:
As we walked around the park, there was a gorgeous live oak tree – branches spreading out I don’t even know how far. The most amazing thing about it was that an artist name of Tim Hunt had placed huge wind chimes in its branches and they were making the most beautiful music. I made a video just so I could capture the sound, but unfortunately you won’t get to hear it because it’s 89 megabytes in size for a 1 minute, 10 second video!
So, back in the car and down to Jackson Square and –joy of joys, a parking space! – more walkabout. We parked on St Philip Street almost at the corner of Decatur, and started walking around. The first thing Max got excited about was the carriages lined up by the park waiting to take people on tours of the French Quarter. They are drawn by mules, and Max wanted in the worst way to touch noses with these giants, while at the same time leaping back away! Picture him straining forward on his leash, hind legs WAAAY back, front legs WAAAY forward, head sort of low. Now, he spooks! Leaps back away, does a spin and barks! All while wagging his tail. Since I didn’t want him spooking the mules, we walked on down the block…
After walking around, buying some postcards, and fielding umpteen compliments on that “beautiful dog,” including “that is the beautiful-ist dog I ever saw!” we were invited to a dog-friendly restaurant for dinner (can’t tell you the name tonight cause the menu is in the car! I’ll update later).
I ordered Louisiana style crabcakes with crawfish cream sauce on a bed of mixed greens and an order of plain rice for Max, who is still struggling with his upset. Oh man! Those crabcakes were out of this world. Sorry Kyra – as much as I love yours, these had you beat. Warm garlic bread and a margarita rounded out my meal. Pumpkin and probiotics did it for the pup.
Then, back to the car for the drive to Metairie and our bed for the night – an easy 10 minute drive. Tomorrow, we’re going back into town and really do the walkabout! Beignet, good coffee, hopefully sunshine. What more could a girl and her dog ask?