Thursday, May 31, 2007

Back after station identification...

Sorry for the lack of blogs, but we've had very little internet connectivity over the last three days, and its hard to blog from a cell phone. We have lots of pictures and stories to share as soon as we can get back online.

- Peter and Paul

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Two days in NOLA

Paul and I have been having such a great time in New Orleans over the last couple of days, that I haven't had a chance to blog. Since today was dedicated to driving through Mississippi and Alabama (and thus giving me nothing to write about), here are some highlights of our time in New Orleans.

We hadn't had the best of luck finding an outstanding meal, so I pulled out the big guns. Back in the eighties, a chef named Paul Prudhomme popularized cajun cuisine and the process of "blackening" food. So when I wanted to make sure that Paul and I had a truly remarkable Cajun experience, we went to Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.

We were walk-ins, on a holiday weekend, in one of the most popular restaurants in the French Quarter. Fortunately the food Gods were smiling upon us, because despite being told it would be ninty minutes, we got to a table in less then ten!

Paul Prudhomme didn't disappoint. God, I love Gumbo!

We spent a good part of our time just wandering the streets, popping our head into any place that looked remotely interesting...

We did find ourselves back in Pat O'Brien's, drinking hurricanes and mint julips again.

This time we met a couple of nice women who were here for the "Municipal Clerks Convention". Starla and Robin were very nice, and were suitably impressed by our three month expedition. There was another municipal clerk from Massachusetts (whose name elluded me), who was a bit put off by Paul and I. Probably because we kept him from scoring with either of the ladies. When they invited us to come with them to find all the best musical haunts, he was quick to chase us off.
It was late and we were all ready to head back anyway. I'm curious if he got anywhere...

There are some amazing haunts in New Orleans, and it really is like Disneyland for adults. Right down to the lines that form for all the popular restaurants.

We also spent some time at the Tabasco store, although I think Paul liked the stuff a bit too much.

One other interesting thing of note. We popped back to Baton Rouge to get our motorcycles after their 6,000 mile service, and low and behold, another hitchhiker!

This time, the grasshopper managed to stay with us the full eighty miles from New Orleans back to Baton Rouge! Aren't grasshoppers good luck in Chinese culture? If so, we have lots of good karma for the rest of our adventure.

Part of our exploration of New Orleans was to try and see some of the water damage from Hurricane Katrina. The first thing we did was walk along one of the levees.
It's kind of cool, yet kind of strange. The entire city is surrounded by these twenty foot tall walls that keeps the water from flowing in. The city is literally below the water line! It's easy to see that all it takes is for one levee to breech for the entire city to flood!

In our quest to see where the levees broke, we got to see a lot of the city.

The strangest part was when we passed a young man who was literally turning blue, and collapsing on the sidewalk! As good fortune would have it, he had his attack ten feet from a fire station. Paul and I and a couple of other folks went and got help before we continued our walkabout.

By the time we returned, the young man was once again flesh toned. Just another exciting day in the "Big Easy!"

Of course, no trip to the big city is complete if you haven't seen a Hard Rock Cafe. Nothing much to write home about, but I've always loved the "No drugs or nuclear weapons are allowed inside" sign.

Alas, our tour of New Orleans ends. Today we drove through Mississippi and Alabama, with literally nothing worth photographing. Oh well, we're in Panama City, FL now, and tomorrow we head towards Tampa, our next stop along the way to Key West. We'll keep you up to date right here!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Orleans, the Big Easy

Okay, Jeremy has been complaining that the titles of my blogs are not interesting enough. However, what can one say about New Orleans that possibly lives up to how cool it is? Perhaps tomorrow will inspire me with a more interesting title.

So let's get started with today!

Paul and I packed up in Lake Charles and got ready to hit the road. Little did we realize that we had picked up a hitch hiker!

Our little green friend was happy to ride along on my top bag. Then on the way to breakfast he decided to hitch a ride on Paul's helmet! I'm sorry to say that he decided to leave us by the time we got on the freeway, but we will remember him fondly.

After surprisingly tasty lunch at the "Vegas Magic" Casino, we were on the road through the bayous of Louisiana.

There would have been more pictures of the bayou, but it started raining once we got on the road. Rain... don't do it!

It did remind me of a great road trip I once made with Eric. We drove from Orlando, FL to North Carolina to visit his dad. Even though the road was perfectly straight, and didn't have an on-ramp for fifty miles, every bridge had the same sign, "Bridge Ices before road". After seeing the same sign several dozen times, once gets the impression that the bridge does ice before the road does! Still, it was one of the best road trips I've ever been on, and today reminded me of it fondly.

Today, we did make it to Baton Rouge in time to send our motorcycles in for a spa day. Okay, it wasn't really a spa day as much as my 6,000 and Paul's 24,000 mile service. Then we rented a car and headed down to New Orleans.

Our hotel, the AmeriHost, is definitely at ground zero of Hurricane Katrina. Not only is the hotel recently renovated, but it's interesting to see all the businesses in the area that are rebuilding. It worked out well for us, since our room is really nice and a bit cheaper than a lot of other places we've been to in the last week.

Now that we're checked in, its time to walk over to the French Quarter!

Not to sound completely lame, but I kept looking for the entrance to "The Pirates of the Carribean" ride! I had this bizarre feeling of deja vu as we walked through these ancient streets, listening to the sound of music, and smelling jambalaya in the air.

It really is a cool place, with an amazing balance between history, tourist trap, and adult wonderland.

And all those places that can't claim they invented the hurricane, can create their own alcoholic concoctions. Here is a sign promoting the "Hand grenade", purporting it to be the strongest drink in New Orleans. Having tried the Hurricane at Pat O'Briens, I find this claim hard to believe!

Of course, no trip to Bourbon Street would be complete without an impromptu parade, and today was no exception.

Yest, that is a ten foot tall "Leaf man".

But after an afternoon of wandering through NOLA's French Quarter, it was time to try New Orleans famous cuisine. And from wandering around Bourbon street, we inadvertently found our way to Pat O'Brien's, where they created NOLA's signature drink, the Hurricane!

Pat O'Brien's does not disappoint. The Hurricane was almost, but not quite, as strong at Margaret Hoogerbeets version, and (dare I say?) even tastier! One drink and I was glad I wasn't driving!

But not only was the Hurricane pretty amazing, but the Jambalaya was pretty incredible too! Paul loved he "Crawfish Cakes", and we both loved the desserts. We may have to go back for mint julips before we leave town.

So there you have it, day one in New Orleans! Since we're taking two rest days here, I'm looking forward to more interesting adventures.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tooling through Texas...

The day started pretty much like most of our days in Texas, with long, straight, relatively uneventful roads.

Fortunately, the solution to this presented itself in the form of homemade donuts!

And as you might suspect, the day improved markedly! Not only did we see more interesting terrain...

But Paul came to question his religious views. You see, us Catholics have the whole "Body of Christ", Eucharist thing going for us. Well being Lutheran, Paul doesn't have this experience. So needless to say, he was quite enamored of the idea of a church that provided chocolate squares as part of their Sunday ritual!

We finally made it down to the highlight of today's ride, a ferry trip between Galveston and Goat Island. When we arrived, the local animal life had the place completely staked out.

And after a short wait, we were on our way...

Galveston is known for its huge Pelican population, so I was delighted when they decided to pay our ferry a visit as we crossed the passage.

All and all, a good day of riding that took us to Lake Charles, LA. Tomorrow we drop our bikes off for service in Baton Rouge, then two days in New Orleans! Whoo hoo!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Crossing Texas...

Not all travel days are created equal. To paraphrase an old joke, "The worst day on a motorcycle is better than the best day working" Well, today was relaxing, but not particularly exciting.

This is what it looked like on our ride this morning.

And this afternoon...

And later this afternoon.

There just isn't a lot going on in Central Texas. Well, that's not entirely true.

Mmmm... Ice Cream... And now, back to the road.

There was one interesting occurance today. We arrived in San Diego!

San Diego, Texas, is a bit different from San Diego, CA. First of all, its population is only about 4,000 people. Secondly, there is only one main street. And now our final eighty miles...

Today was just a travel day. Hopefully tomorrow we'll see some more of the gulf coast on our way to New Orleans!

See you tomorrow... - Peter

Monday, May 21, 2007

Big Bend National Park

It stormed so badly last night that I was pleasantly surprised that today started off so sunny!

We got an early start and headed into Big Bend National Park. As you can see, lots of other motorcycle riders had a similar idea.

When Paul and I did Route 66 three years ago, we found out the that national park service offered annual passes that gave you unlimited access to all the natioal parks. So this morning, seeing that this would be the first of several national parks we'd be visiting on this road trip, we got new passes. Then off into Big Bend!

As you can see, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous!

We had lunch at the Chisos Mountains Lodge, looking out over Chisos basin. Then we were off once again.

We spent quite some time driving through Big Bend, the finally it was time to move on. We got onto the freeway and headed into exciting Del Rio, TX for the night. Okay, its not particularly exciting, but it does have the virtue of being half way between Big Bend and Corpus Christie, which is tomorrow nights destination.
Over dinner, we contemplated spending some extra time in New Orleans. Perhaps going so far as to spend most of the memorial day weekend there. Now we're off to plan, then off for another restful night's sleep!