Jean asked yesterday when I last wrote a blog post and I was unsure. Turns out it was a long time ago, but we have been busier than I thought we would be. As of the writing of this we are alive in Tucson celebrating our 7,500 mile crossing at the mechanic for some preventative care. Here’s a quick (thousand word) explanation of where we’ve been for the past fortnight.
We headed southeast from Knoxville and into our second national park of the trip, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and found out we had arrived about a month too soon to see what would have been a spectacular forest of blooming rhododendrons. But the temperature was agreeable and we saw a waterfall. Neat.
Next we went to the Charlotte/Asheville area to see my lovely parents and sister Mary. They waited a week to celebrate Mary’s birthday so we could partake in the festivities which was done in typical Koewler fashion with tons of fried and fatty food and a huge carrot cake. The first couple of pieces were eaten like civilized people and left the remaining three-quarters in plain sight under a cake cover where it was eaten clandestinely and in shame in the next 24 hours. We also went whitewater rafting on a man-made river and saw the 175,000 square foot Vanderbilt mansion.
Next stop was Congaree National Park in South Carolina. This was a nice park with a fancy boardwalk over swamplands with Cypress trees, loblolly pines and tons of palmettos. We saw skinks, turtles, cuckoo birds and southerners in NASCAR shirts searching for snakes. Maeby went swimming in a murky lake that apparently is home to a monster alligator.
How do you know if someone has visited Charlston, South Carolina? Oh, don’t worry about it–they’ll definitely let you know and inevitably, will tell you that you need to go. Well, we went and you can go if you want. We lucked out since the dogwoods were popping. We slept and ate pizza in the Vixen parked on the street in front of a 4 million dollar house.
Savanah, Georgia. Things just didn’t really go that well for us in Savanah. One of the things that we have learned during this trip (and south America) is that if something starts poorly, it will stay that way. It’s cosmic and unwavering, so whenever something starts off on the wrong foot, we cut bait. Also, the bench from Forrest Gump is not a real thing.
According to most, there ain’t shit between Savanah and New Orleans, so we decided to haul ass to the Gulf Coast. We took a good amount of roads off the interstate and found them to be tailor made for the Vixen and had loads of fun driving. Although we have different taste in music, we agree that loud is always the best flavor and crushed Allman Brothers, Creedence, Skynyrd, etc. at an unhealthy volume.
We landed in Pensacola, Florida, home of the Blue Angels and chose to splurge and hole up in an RV park for 2 whole nights. Unfortunately, those candy ass Blue Angels needed a day off and weren’t flying when we were there. As a consolation, we got a key lime pie (and exercised self-control by making it last for five days) and lounged on a sugar sand beach. We tried to relax on the beach but southerners on spring break wanting to touch the dog put a stop to that. It would be ideal if our next car were to be nondescript and our dog to be ugly, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
Next, we arrived in New Orleans and parked the Vixen in a grassy lot next to the $2 ferry to the French Quarter. We did the tourist things and tried the po’ boys and the jambalaya and looked at the stuff and listened to the jazz and it was all right in line our expectations. It wouldn’t have felt right to go there without seeing Bourbon street, but we didn’t want to deal with too much craziness and went early, around three o’clock, which turns out to not be so early as we thought because girls were already collecting beads. We laughed at the riff-raff and condescended but by dinner time found ourselves with drinks in hand measured by the foot served in novelty glasses and went to bed hungry and with headaches.
Houston never appealed to me and still doesn’t. My feeling about cities is that they are kind of plug-and-play unless you are able to get the straight dope from a local and do what the locals do. But we went to an Astros game and saw the Padres lose the game with a humiliating dropped infield fly, leading to a walk-off win. The crowd went wild and we hustled to get out of traffic with the intention of seeing Jean’s good friend in Bryan, Texas.
We enjoyed a domestic Sunday in Bryan with the Dew family. Upon arriving, I was greeted by a 5-year-old boy with a bandana around his head throwing rocks into an empty storm culvert. He then told me he sometimes likes to go to the bathroom in there and I immediately liked this boy. We had a LEGO building competition, rode bikes, ate burgers and played in the yard.
We had options from there: Big Bend National Park or Carlsbad Caverns National Park and chose the latter. No disrespect to Big Bend, but we made the right choice. It is a different world in there and a bit overwhelming. Words wouldn’t describe it. I wonder what it would be like to take strong hallucinogens and go in that cave? What if they cancelled one another out and it looked normal, like an office or something.
And now we’re here, Alive in Tucson, enjoying the A/C at the mechanic. But the Vixen is almost done and we’re going to an RV park with not one, but two pools. Being as this is the home of Phil Miller, we can only assume that one of the pools is the toilet pool.
Next stop: San Diego?