NOLA or bust

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:

Max and the anonymous trucker at the Red Roof Inn, Milton, FL. I have to get better at asking names!

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.”

I tried to get him to sit in front of the sign, but he wasn’t having anything to do with that. I don’t think he wanted to go inside either. He was watching a woman who had been his latest biggest fan walk away.

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!

Anybody seen Roberto? I’d go for a ride, but…

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…

NO DOGS ALLOWED in Jackson Square Park, but I took a page from a friend’s playbook who says, “I give it a shot and if I get sent out, I go.” That’s the cathedral in the background. We didn’t get busted…

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.

Apologies to my daughter, who makes amazing food photography! After I had eaten half of one crabcake, I thought I should document the meal. They were better than this photo makes them look!

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?


About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Eating out on a road trip, Friends along the way, Musings, New Orleans, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to NOLA or bust

  1. Diana Richardson says:

    Make sure to go to “Mother’s” for breakfast!
    The pictures of Max are just wonderful. What would you have for pics without him??
    Enjoy NOLA! Laissez les bons temps roulez!!!(If you get to Rue Chartres, look for the Quarter House, it’s the time share in which I own one week a year!)

  2. Steve Murray says:

    Windy and wet here in FL. (frontal passage). You left for NOLA just in time! Glad Max seems to be getting over his seawater overdose. Expect you’ll run across more Mainers as you travel, those Maine plates will draw displaced Maniacs like flies! Daughter’s roommate was Cheryl Davis, I think her dad still lobsters out of Deer Isle but don’t know what community.

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Thanks Steve! Yeah, we missed the rain completely on our drive. I had expected it to be blowing and raining most of the way, but we were lucky. And too true about the displaced Maineacs. Hpe the sun returns soon for you!

  3. guy oliver says:

    Maureen Glad you made it to Nola as they call it down there. We spent a three months honeymoon there when I was in training as a flight instructor out at the Naval Air Station on Lake Ponchatrain. Now a luxury housing development. The actor Robert Taylor was in my class and we saw him and his wife of the moment, actress Barbara Stanwyk, frequently. Big difference between us, both officers but he had a valet to carry his parachute out to the plane and I had to lug it myself. My brief claim to fame was that I graduated tops in the class and he was an also ran.LOL. You will be passing through Lake Charles and the lakefront is home to gambling casinos. I lived there back in the 50’s when it was a bathing beach that we took the children to play. You will see the chemical plants and I was instrumental in locating them along our railroad when they were looking for sites to build in La. Oh, how I wish I were making the trip.

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Guy, You have had such a full and interesting life – and I’ve only heard a tiny amount about it! I just spent an hour and 10 minutes tied up in slow moving traffic for three miles by Lake Charles. Fortunately, it was a tanker truck that broke down on the bridge, and not an accident. As much as you think you’d like to be making this trip, I think you would be disappointed by the changes. I am finding myself disappointed by how the small towns of America have been swallowed up by the interstates and sprawl. Keep reading, keep on commenting, and know that I am so happy to have this contact with you. I love that you tell me these stories about what the areas I am going through were like when you knew them. Thanks, Maureen

  4. I am so envious that you’re in N.O.! But I’m so glad that you are there! I don’t think your food shot was so bad–no worries. . . Isn’t it great down there? Have a great time and have some beignets and chicory coffee for me! love, Cin

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Cindy, as you know fro mour phone conversation this morning, I sat outside at Café du Monde with chicory cafe au lait and beignet with Max hanging out with me. Well, they were SOOO good that when we had finished walking in the French Quarter, I put Max in the car, extra quarters in the parking meter and went back for another round!! Had ot, since I was leaving town!

  5. Ellie Adams says:

    I am Steve Murray’s sister and he told me o fhis enconter with you and wonderful Max! He also directed me to your blog to which I have subscribed. I was hooked after rreading two entries! I am now vicariously taking your travels with you and leaving Maine cold behind! Thank you and Max for sharing your trip with me!!

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Hi Ellie,
      I was 45 minutes into sitting in a traffic backup that lasted for an hour and 10 minutes to go 3 miles, when I decided to read my email as I waited. Your comment was there and made me smile and laugh! Thanks for subscribing and for your wonderful comment! It made my day, believe me.

  6. Glad you doubled up on the B & C! xoxo

  7. Lori C. says:

    Yum! Beignets and coffee… fond memories!

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