Through East Texas – even though i’ve lived in texas my ENTIRE life, i’ve never seen east texas. always wanted to, it just never came up. hey, give me a break. it’s a big state. i knew i wanted to go to New Orleans, so i thought it would be a good excuse to go through east Texas on the way. i stopped a night in Waxahachie to see my sister and brother-in-law and to have a free room and board night before an expensive two weeks and to spend some time with them. i only get to see them a couple times a year so i grab every opportunity to see them.
the next day, i headed in the direction of Waco. i passed West on the way. it was about a month after the blast. the damage was pretty unbelievable. after that, i drove into Waco to see the Dr. Pepper Museum. really cool museum. i learned a ton. and then… my first dark moment of the trip. i got lost in downtown on my way to a unique shopping area i’d read about online. i got turned around and i guess i ran a stop sign. not that anyone was coming in any direction…except for a cop. it cost me $184 and my pride. i cried in front of the cop – he wasn’t buying it. dick. total and complete dick. i decided to go ahead and pay the ticket so that i could put it behind me and move on with my trip. i cried in the county courthouse while writing my check. the clerk was mildly sympathetic. and then i cried in my car in the parking lot.
after a few minutes, i dried it up and decided to get the hell out of Waco. sorry Waco, your stupid ass of a cop soured my experience there. so i took some back roads to Houston. i have heard stories about Houston. they are all true. the roads suck, the humidity is terrible, and the people drive like maniacs. i don’t deal well with any of that shit. maybe there’s a reason why i never went there. i did find a cool outlet mall on the way there. it was an outdoor one so when it started raining, there was no where to hide but the stores. but considering there hadn’t been rain in the Texas Panhandle in a LONG time, i took the opportunity to just enjoy it. i was done with my shopping so i walked the long way around back to my car. it took me forever to dry off but i didn’t have anywhere to go for the rest of the day. it was glorious, cool rain. amazing.
i spent the night in the random town of Orange, TX. i knew i didn’t want to drive all the way into New Orleans in one day. that would be a VERY long day, and i’m really not good at being cooped up in the car for too long. (funny that i choose to take a 4,000 mile road trip by myself, huh?) so i choose a town that would be safe to stay in for one night that was semi-close to New Orleans but wasn’t too close to Houston either. even though i considered myself pretty adventurous for the entire trip, i was still concerned about my safety. i brought my taser (my Christmas present from my parents a few years ago) with me everywhere…except when i forgot it was in my backpack. so my stay in Orange was extremely uneventful. i’m pretty sure i went to bed at like nine so i could have a full day in New Orleans.
New Orleans – so i got up early in Orange, ate some breakfast, gassed up and headed out before eight in the morning. the drive was nice and pretty much a straight shot into New Orleans. i passed over many bridges and through lots of nature areas. i didn’t stop during the four hours it took me to get into the city. i knew i couldn’t check into my hotel for hours so i had planned some activities for myself. i went to the National World War II Museum downtown. amazing place! i’m a social studies teacher so i know the history, but there were so many unique exhibits. i was there for two hours. it was truly fascinating. and then i would look around and see vets there in their wheelchairs and walkers with tears and memories in their eyes. it was heartbreaking.
i took a stroll down the block to a restaurant that i’ve seen on tv and read about, Butcher Cochon. the neighborhood was sketchy (honestly, all of New Orleans is sketchy) so i wasn’t paying attention to what was happening out front when i saw the restaurant sign. and then right in front of me, the chef took a whole pig off of a refrigerated truck and wheeled it into the side door of the restaurant. i love animals and that includes cute little pigs. but i also love the taste of pork too. i stopped in my tracks and let them get the pig in the door before i went in the front door. i ordered a muffaletta sandwich and some bacon pralines. yeah, i said bacon pralines. yum. just yum.
when i got back to my car, i noticed a little piece of paper on my windshield. oh no, i thought. not another ticket. this parking one was for $64. but i paid! i was careful to make sure i got it right because i didn’t want to lose any more money on something stupid. and yet, i got another ticket. luckily, the attendant put in the right license plate number but the incorrect state. so i decided then and there i wouldn’t pay it. how would they know? could they track me down? was it worth the effort? i decided no. i stand by that decision. 🙂
i finally found my French Quarter hotel, handed my car over to a 16 year old valet (and prayed it would come back safely the next day), and checked into my hotel. after a quick nap in the air conditioning (curse that heat and humidity), i changed clothes and headed out to explore the French Quarter. i did not know what i was getting myself into…
the first thing that hit me was the smell of rotten trash. it was made worse by the relentless heat. i couldn’t get away from it. it was everywhere. and since a ton of the shops and bars and restaurants had open french doors, i couldn’t even drop in one to get away from it. and then there were the people. regular people were vastly outnumbered by drunk douche bags, slutty bachelorettes, nearly naked strippers, and bums. and not a one was afraid to talk to me. another thing i noticed was an intense feeling of evil. i’m not one to say something like that. the place is just dark. bad vibes everywhere.
after being catcalled for the umpteenth time, i decided to head back to my hotel. literally dripping in sweat, i ducked into a fancy hotel that also had a Starbucks in the lobby. they were about to close so i quickly ordered a bottle of water, a bottle of green tea, and an iced tea. i promptly dropped the green tea on the ground and it shattered glass everywhere. i felt terrible, but the manager was really nice, gave me a new one, and cleaned it all up. i noticed on the way out that the glass had cut my toes. so i walked back to the hotel bleeding a path behind me, sweating from every pore and generally feeling dirty. New Orleans wasn’t my favorite place.
the next morning, i got up early, ate breakfast at the hotel, and headed out again. the trash smell wasn’t as bad in the morning, but it was still noticeable. i walked multiple blocks to St. Louis Cemetery 1. for some reason, i had always wanted to see it. i’m not a cemetery person. quite the opposite actually, but this place seemed fascinating so i made the trek past vulgar construction men and sleepy bums to the century’s old cemetery. there were already a few people there so it wasn’t quite as creepy as it could have been. i just strolled around and took a few photos. i even found Madame Laveau’s tomb and the homeless man who tended it. he told me to give her something so she would favor me. she got some half used lipgloss. shortly after the trip to the cemetery, i headed out of town. i had plans to see the Gulf Coast…