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Sunday
Nov232014

New Orleans or Bust

Went to Meteor Crater west of Flagstaff this morning. Really interesting and impressive. Huge crater formed in 10 seconds upon impact. Best preserved meteor crater on the planet. We then caught I17 South towards Phoenix. We basically drove off the Colorado Plateau at 75 miles per hour dropping several thousand feet. By the time we hit the bottom it was 100F.

I loved driving south singing along with the Eagles and Credance Clearwater Revival watching the mountains get closer.

We hit Phoenix, turned left onto I10 and headed east. Called it a night just west of Tucson and landed in the biggest Motel 6 I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of Motel 6's. I told the young woman who checked us in that when I was in my twenties I stayed in Motel 6's when it cost $6.00! (British friends, thus the 6). She just smiled and I realised she must of heard that from a thousand old farts. Oh well.

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We left Willcox, Texas early this morning (and yes Willcox has two l's). Beautiful morning driving through west Texas - very little traffic at 80 miles per hour until we reached San Antonio (though I must say there was a LOT of road kill). For our sing along we reached way back to the Kingston Trio. I have to say, some of their songs would never be written today! For starters the Dixie Chicks would probably sue them. Times they have a changed (there was one song about an ugly sister who got married while her more attractive but shy sister was turning into a spinster - the Trio pleaded for some man to come along and save her).

Unfortunately, we hit Houston at rush hour so found a Motel 6 in west Houston. Confession: I'm getting tired of Motel 6 and long for the elite luxury of say a Holiday Inn Express.

Tomorrow we reach New Orleans and we both are looking forward to getting out of the car and on to our feet. I suspect finding the hotel may be challenging, but then blissful walking.

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New Orleans, Louisiana!

We left our hotel in west Houston at 5:20a.m. to beat the morning commute. It worked, though there was a hell of a lot of traffic nonetheless. It was nice entering Louisiana. The I 10 is for miles a low flat bridge over swamp land. It goes in for ever. Really beautiful. After driving 2,647 miles we entered New Orleans and drove straight to our hotel - I was navigating. Hotel is OK. It would have to be pretty bad after all those nights in Motel 6's to be disappointing.

New Orleans is really interesting. Lots of homeless, so if you're rich I'm afraid you'll have to mingle with the folk. And there's more fortune tellers and tarot card readers in one place than I've ever seen. Obviously the music around most corners in the French Quarter is great. Now time for rest. I am not a morning person! 5:20a.m. - you got to be kidding.

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I guess in all cities there are areas where almost everyone goes and places where some of us shouldn't spend a lot of time, especially after dark. Today in New Orleans it was a lot of the first and a little of the second. Obviously the French Quarter belongs to the first. Always fascinating and often beautiful in an old world kind of way. We took a walking tour with the museum (really good) and the guide was telling us about Formosa termites being introduced to the city (a serious problem) when the USA military brought back equipment from the WWII Pacific war effort. The termites hitched a ride. Anyway, a member of our little group asked if Formosa was near Taiwan. I kept my peace.

By the way, the Spanish when they ruled New Orleans were in the "French" Quarter as long as the French were when they ruled. And, though Andrew Jackson and the Americans are credited with beating the British at the Battle for New Orleans, apparently the Brits actually won, but the Americans took the land anyway. Some royal British screw up (historians, you better check that, our guide was a real, and wonderful, character).

Finally, the folks in New Orleans say the city has four F's: Fire, Floods, Formosa Termites, and FEMA (FEMA being added after Katrina).

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The apartment is on the corner of Ursulines and Roberson. The other day a funeral band, followed by what I think is called the second line of people dancing, came up Ursulines and turned on Robertson. Apparently, if I had wanted to, I could have joined the second line.

We went to the Tremé Coffeehouse this morning. Nice place and very friendly. Roberta arrived and brought with her the gizmo that enabled me to transfer my photos from the camera chip to my. So...the Tremé Coffeehouse.

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Interesting morning in the Tremé Coffeehouse. The owner, Tracy, asked the guy at the next table to me, Mark, what time I should appear at the Candle Light on Wednesday night to hear the Tremé Jass Band. Turns out the band is scheduled for 9:00 but never starts until 9:45 so I should enter at 9:30, introduce myself to the woman behind the bar and order a beer - a beer because they can't mess with the beer. Tattooed and pierced Mark has a little girl - a real cutie - and he worries that when she reaches the age of rebellion she might buy a pants suit and get a job in a bank. Mark's an apprentice to become a tattoo artist. He was practicing on a light board in the Coffeehouse. His wife is a teacher who also writes fiction. I told him why I was in NOLA, gave him a free digital download card for The Woman in White Marble, and then we exchanged emails. It was all a lot better than reading about religious fundamentalist anti-science right wing Republican ideologues in the paper.

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Woke early, bought a paper and headed to the Tremé Coffeehouse. On the way I took a pic of my house and a banana tree across the street. I haven't seen Tracy, the owner of the Coffeehouse, in three days. A young woman with writing on her arms took my order. Two days ago it seemed to positively pain her to help me. Today she was all smiles and friendliness. Was it her, me, or both of us two days ago?

After paper and coffee I wandered down to the Quarter (I've gone native). I bought beignets at the Cafe Du Monde then sat and listened to a three man band. (Question for my fundamentalist friends: why did the Intelligent Designer make things that taste so great so deadly?)

After beignets and jazz I went to Voodoo Authentica, as one does. Bought the paperback Jambalaya by Luisah Teish -"A marvellous blend of memoir, folk wisdom, and Afro-American belief." I also bought a Juju Guardian. As I carried the colourful doll out of the Voodoo Center I remembered buying a wooden carving of an Indian god while in India. A fundie Christian told me my home would be forevermore possessed by the devil. The poor man would have fainted if he saw me with a New Orleans Voodoo juju guardian.

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Here's a heads up. If you want to experience NOLA jazz down and dirty then skip Bourbon Street and by all means avoid the Hard Rock Cafe. Go instead to the Candlelight Lounge on N Robertson in Tremé on a Wednesday night to hear the Tremé Brass Band. The Lounge is a smallish rectangular room, humble to say the least. To the left as you enter is a small "stage area" and a bar with ten or twelve bar stools. The rest of the room has a dozen tables covered with red table cloths. In the back is a folding table across from the toilets. On the table is food - looked like stew of some kind served in a plastic bowl. Don't serve yourself. You'll get a friendly ear full from one of the two women who work the bar and tables. As soon as I entered, and everyone did a quick check to see who walked in, one of these fine woman was asking me what I wanted holding my hand. This is a down and dirty place, no place to be sensitive. Don't expect a glass with your beer. It would be embarrassing to ask for one. But it's friendly and real.

I sat at the bar and drank Dixie beer. The band was scheduled for nine and began shortly after ten, which apparently is the norm. They were great and in this small space wonderfully loud. In no time forty or so people were crowded in front of the band dancing, including the two women serving us. The sax and trumpet liked playing in the crowd. 

The Lounge was filled with locals and visitors like me. We had old and young, white and black, male and female. Sitting next to me at the bar was a young couple from Denmark living in Germany. Great guys who bought me a beer. Great conversation. Great music. Great fun. Great experience.

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Went to a community festival today. Local art, food and open houses welcoming visitors in to have a look around. Really fun and interesting. A great, and loud, youth choir. This truck was sitting outside a small restaurant.

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Made it home safe and somewhat sound from New Orleans. Almost missed my connection in Newark but made it with a breath to share.

Copyright © 2014 Dale Rominger

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