I pushed myself a bit too long. I'm exhausted! I planned to drive to Lafayette, LA, or Lake Charles, LA, depending on my level of tiredness. When I got to Lafayette it was just after 5:00 and I felt fine, so I decided to push on another hour. Thing is ... the traffic going through Lafayette was awful. Rush hour! Duh! So it took me a little over an hour and a half to get to Lake Charles.
And then ... finding a motel was the next issue. I pulled off at several exits to check out what was there. And immediately pulled back on the Interstate! I was not sure I'd be safe between the car and the lobby of many of them. Seriously! Rotten neighborhoods! Scary neighborhoods! To even find a parking lot where I could sit and refer to the AAA tour book was impossible. I tried one, but several people walked by and glared or stared, and I gave it up. Back on the highway. I decided there had to be a reasonable neighborhood somewhere!
And I did, about 15 miles farther. But I had no idea if I was still in Lake Charles or some other town. The AAA book did no good because I couldn't look up what I didn't know. I finally pulled into a Super 8 which was very nice, but they didn't take pets. The lady at the desk was kind enough to tell me several others that did, and I decided on La Quinta. A bit more pricey, but considering they don't charge a deposit for the dogs, a good deal. At about 7:15 we were checked in and I carried in the night's needs.
I'm still not completely sure about my location, but I'm between Lake Charles and Sulphur. I'm just twenty miles from the Texas state line. That will make tomorrow's drive easy, something in the neighborhood of four hours or a little more.
I'm tired enough that I don't even want to eat, but I've had a V8, some cheese and a granola bar. Good enough for tonight!
I finished the Danielle Steele book. Thank goodness. My nerves were beginning to be really raw with the irritating things I mentioned in yesterday's post. I was wondering how her books get published with all that crap in them. Does she have an editor? I wonder if she is so "good" now that they don't even bother to edit. Trust me, I will not rent or buy any more of hers.
I started Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans. I'm only about 45 minutes into it, but so far so good. I'll let you know on that later.
Last night I talked to TL, and she was trying to figure out where I was, and as I tried to describe it, I mentioned that it was about 45 minutes past the place that we turned off to go to the camping area last weekend. She said it sounded familiar, and I looked at the map, I realized that when I stayed at the campsite while everyone else went to the caverns, they drove right through Marianna! The caverns are just about ten or fifteen miles away! LOL!
As I left Marianna this morning I noticed something else. TL had mentioned that she saw a restaurant when they went to the caverns that brought back memories for her. It was the only Po Folks she had seen in years. Do any of you remember those restaurants? They were a popular place for a short while. I think the one we went to in KC was open only a couple or three years. Well, the one in Marianna was right across the street from where I stayed! If I'd realized that, I would have gone over there for dinner, just for old times sake.
I got across the last piece of Florida which was very pretty. I really like the landscape in Florida. The mixture of palms, pines, and leaved trees is beautiful. The pines are tall and straight. The palms are so graceful and come in more varieties than I can think of, and the leaves of the other trees just fill in the spaces so nicely. Some of you know this, but if I could tolerate the humidity there, I would have seriously considered Florida as a place to live. I can barely stand it at this time of the year when it is fairly low; summers would just kill me. But it is beautiful, none the less.
I love going over the long bridge at Pensacola Bay. Unfortunately, there is construction on the bridge, so the lanes were very narrow, and I didn't have time to look around as much as I'd have liked to. Still, the bay is beautiful and the ships in the harbor are a wonderful addition to the atmosphere. Nice drive.
Then right after you get through Pensacola, you find yourself suddenly in Alabama. But don't blink your eyes! Alabama is only aboutsixty or seventy miles wide at that point. When you get close to Mobile, you cross another of those long, long bridges. This one spans Mobile Bay, another pretty view. This part of Alabama looks a lot like Florida where I just left. When I look at a map of this area I wonder why the Panhandle of Florida wasn't made part of Alabama. I suppose I have that same thought for almost every state that has a panhandle. Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Idaho ... why?
Next up is Mississippi. Again, just 75 or 80 miles across it on Highway 10. I was across it before I realized it. You kinda notice Biloxi, but traffic didn't seem heavy, so it wasn't something that jumps at you. I noticed here that it seems there is still a considerable amount of reconstruction going on. I drove through this area two years ago, just a few short months after Katrina, and it was a horrible mess. Especially in Mississippi. Louisiana was being cleaned up and rebuilt, but Mississippi was just devastated and the clean up here was not as organized and was very slowly progressing. So even now, it seems to be less recovered than Louisiana. We all know the economy in Mississippi is among, if not the lowest in the US. It really shows. Very sad.
I stopped for gas somewhere across this corridor, and I was stunned and amused to see a McDonalds on one corner with an adult video, etc., store right next door. There were almost as many cars at the latter as there were at the former!
On into Louisiana ... Eastern Louisiana is a lot like Mississippi. It seems to be more back to normal since my last trip through, but roads are still under repair at a higher rate than I've seen in other areas on this trip. I'm assuming that there is still work necessary because of the significant structural damage of the hurricane. Almost every bridge was having reconstruction or showed recent repairs.
Most of the tree rubble has been removed. Two years ago it was heartbreaking to see the twisted, broken trees and the debris still remaining in them. Gosh. I saw tires in the trees, refrigerators and car fenders twisted around trees. This time most of that kind of reminders are gone. There are still some trees down, but they seem to be more recent casualties, perhaps weakened earlier. It amazes me how much damage is still evident. It is just more subtle now.
I did not drive through New Orleans. I took I-12 around the north of Lake Pontchartrain, because it is shorter and more direct. I wanted to see New Orleans. I have very fond memories of a trip we made there in the early 1990s, the wonderful time we had in the French Quarter, visiting the old plantation homes and mansions, the aquarium, and the fun of Cajun country. I wanted to see that again. But I knew it would not be the same and it would be disheartening. Many of the things I fondly remember are probably pretty much the same because of their location, but the city itself has changed. No, I took the northern route.
On the Western side of New Orleans, I drove through the country that enchants me, the rivers and swamps, the lakes and the soggy bits of land in between. Looking at a map, you'd have no idea of the number of these small bodies of water. They don't show up as "water" on the maps, yet there are many wet areas. I don't know what it is about it that I like. I really don't. But it is something beautiful to me. As I drove there today, my memories were swimming back fifteen years to a boat ride through the swamps. It was a very good time, and today was a happy revisit for me.
Just before I got into Lake Charles, I was again in a construction area. I could not find a place to get off the road and take a picture, so you will have to go with me on a word trip. what I saw was one of the most amazing and beautiful sunsets ever. Even more than ones I've seen in NM, and that's saying a lot!
I was dreading the sun being in my eyes, but it was not a problem. At first the sky was a beautiful soft yet vivid pink. The sun was behind a very thin, very light layer of clouds, so it wasn't glaring in my eyes. As I drove along wishing for a place to pull off and grab the camera, the sky became more brilliantly pink. For just a short time, the sun was a little too bright, yet not quite a problem. Next it morphed into something almost indescribable. It was huge. It was a glowing ball that went through every imaginable shade of pink, peach and orange. and because of the cloud cover or haze, I could look directly at it! At one point, the sun was a rich peach color and there were streaks of cloud across it in a dusty purple. I was mesmerized!
Keep in mind that I was watching all this while driving in very narrow lanes, trucks and cars on one side and concrete barriers on the other! I couldn't stop and take pictures, but I was, by golly, gonna look every moment that I could!! It was breathtaking, awesome, and absolutely no way I could not look at it!!
Tomorrow is Texas, Day One. Do you know how huge that state is? It is especially hard to drive across on this southern route because of the bleakness on the west side. And I'll have to go through that immigration stop somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. I'm guessing I'll probably have to unpack part of the bed of the truck. I don't especially mind, but I'll hate to have to repack it. Gack. Thank goodness it won't be terribly hot at this time of the year!
So, we are here, the kids and I. I'm tired and ready for some shut-eye. Gosh, I don't think I've said or heard anyone else say "shut-eye" since my dad passed away! Anyway, everyone take care, and I'll chat with you tomorrow!