The first rule of daiquiri club is: watch ...
Trip Start Jun 29, 1999
29Trip End Dec 04, 1999
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Yes, the toughest part about slurping down a 32 ounce Hurricane Daiquiri (for $9) is avoiding the Braino (some call it the Milkshake Headache). But enough of my drinking prowess I must take you back a couple of days.
Monday, November 22
I took off from Houston early listening to the sounds of KLOL radio, one of the better hard rock stations I've come across in my various car trips. How do I know it's a good radio station? First off, they managed to play both an AC/DC song (Thunderstruck) and a Led Zeppelin song (Ramble On) within the first 10 minutes of me dialing in
I headed along I-10 to Beaumont where I then curved southward to Port Arthur. Everywhere along the Gulf coast of Texas above Corpus Christi you cannot forget that this is a state knee-deep in oil. The oil business isn't so great right now and the boarded up downtown of Port Arthur attests to that. I continued onward towards Sea Rim State Park. Texas Hwy #87 goes straight through the middle of an oil refinery and all the way along the river here you can see giant aging ocean-going drilling rigs. It's like driving through an alien city as this architecture is so foreign to what I'm used to. Sea Rim State Park is very nice with a great beach. I only dropped by to see what it was like and didn't stay long. It's tough to enjoy a beach when you can look out into the ocean and see those big drilling rigs. I came back towards Port Arthur and then turned eastward along Texas Hwy #82 which soon crosses over the state line into Louisiana. On this side of the stateline things are quite a bit more pristine. The road flattens out as you cross the continent's biggest swamp. The fall season had come to the swamp which made it even prettier. Soon you find yourself driving right along the coast where the turbulent water lifts up so much silt that the surf appears to be liquid chocolate
Tuesday, November 23
New Iberia is home to a wonderful antebellum mansion built in 1834. Shadows-On-The-Teche remained in the hands of the Weeks family from construction until the final generation to live in it willed in to the National Trust in 1958. What's amazing about this home is that 90% of the furniture is authentic - it actually belonged to the family - and whatever they didn't have they could reproduce as the family kept all its records, 17000 documents including grocery receipts, from the time the house was built. The tour of the home and the grounds were well worth the $6 fee. The last resident of the house was Weeks Hall an art professor at Tulane University
After the tour I then found out the easiest way to turn your car into a steamroom. I suggest leaving it out in the hot Louisiana sun for two hours with a wet towel in the back seat.
I stuck to State Hwy #182 until it hooked up with Route 90 and followed it through the deep swamp into New Orleans. I quickly found a hostel which is located only a block from the Garden District. My first move was to head up to the University of New Orleans in hopes of running into Professor Douglas Brinkley. In 1992, Brinkley initiated a university course where students would ride a bus across the US for 6 weeks visiting historic sites and reading seminal works of American fiction. His account of this first trip, "Majic Bus: An American Odyssey," helped push me toward this adventure I'm currently undertaking. As luck would have it I just happened to show up on campus during Brinkley's only course of this term. I staked out his office but unfortunately he must have left straight from class (probably running out to get ready for Thanksgiving)
In the evening I headed down to the French Quarter for some dinner and drinks. I stopped at The Country Flame restaurant on Iberville for cheap beer ($1.50 per glass) and cheap food ($4 for a Cuban sandwich and free chips and salsa). Then I was ready for Bourbon Street. New Orleans is home to a rich musical tradition with jazz, blues and Cajun being very popular in the area. I stopped in at Maison Bourbon for some traditional Dixieland jazz. The band was very good but I couldn't stop giggling to myself as the bandleader and trumpter was a dead-ringer for G. Gordon Liddy. Just the notion of Liddy as a jazz man kept me tittering all evening. I took in a couple of sets and then headed back to the hostel for bed.
Wednesday, November 24
I spent most of the day wandering around the French Quarter admiring the old buildings and sampling pecan pralines. The Quarter needs at least a full day of wandering to be able to appreciate it all. The prettiest streets are Royal and Chartes. Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral are the highlight of the quarter
Thursday, November 25
This was Day #150 of the trip. It was also the first time I had encountered rain in 50 days
Igor's, a bar around the corner from the hostel, was offering a free Thanksgiving dinner and I took advantage. It was excellent - turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potato, pumpkin pie, lemon loaf, and some strange spicy green bean and onion dish. I enjoyed a couple of beers and watched the football games (Yea Cowboys!!!). I took a short walk around the Garden District in the rain and then called it a day. I chose not to head out for the evening.
Friday, November 26
Remeber these three words that will revolutionize breakfast as we know it: Cajun Chicken McBiscuit. In a town full of awesome restaurants even I think it's a shame I went to McDonald's but I admit that I'm addicted to McBiscuits. I headed back to the Voodoo Museum to do my cemetary tour. The tour starts with a guided look at the Museum which focuses on specific terminology like gris-gris, juju, and vey-vey as well as the repression of the religion and Creole society by the American government after the Reconstruction