January 8-10, 2004

The Big Easy

Thursday, January 8

I know it's gonna be tough for you folks up in the arctic northeast reading this to feel sorry for us, but we woke up in Eufaula, Alabama to some pretty frigid temps of our own. Here's what we saw while driving out of town—I'm sure this fountain doesn't freeze very often:

Eufaula is a neat little city on the shores of a large lake separating Alabama and Georgia, with lots of elegant homes of every imaginable architectural style, right next to each other. And a great Cajun restaurant.

From there we motored south into Florida, down a road that looked exactly like this for nearly 100 miles (this is where lots of our beloved plywood comes from):

But everything balances out, and by the time we reached the Florida coast, it was sunny and the temp had climbed to sixty degrees. We picnicked on the beach on leftover Eufaula gumbo.

We then tried driving westward along the Florida coast, but were once again repulsed by our strip mall culture, so headed back inland to the Interstate to find a place to stay near a strip mall with a good Mexican restaurant with Tecate and limes and big margaritas.

Friday, January 9

Got up in the rain and headed west into drier weather. Stopped at a state park in Mississippi for some hiking, and stopped at a car wash (the Saab was atrociously filthy). For $3.99 you get a slew of guys to wash your car, inside and out, vacuuming everything—what a bargain! The downside is that we didn't expect to spend an hour waiting for them to do it...

And then into New Orleans, where friend and fellow Alfa Romeo enthusiast Barbara Eilers (a.k.a. Captain Barb, as she's a Captain in the Naval Reserve) had graciously offered to put us up (and put up with us). She lives in a really neat townhouse in the New Orleans style in the city's Garden District:

We had known Barb only via Alfa talk over the internet for over a year, and it was great to finally meet her (and her 100-pound dog, five cats, and four society finches (with five more on the way). We had dinner with Barb at a great BBQ place in her neighborhood. Here's a pic of me getting into the festive N'awlins spirit:

Saturday, January 10

Captain Barb had naval drill this weekend, so we hiked over to the French Quarter, had coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde, walked all over the place, and met a fellow art student of Vi's who'd moved to New Orleans for lunch. We're getting a needed dose of barbecued shrimp, spicy boiled crawfish, jambalaya, and all that good stuff. Here's the obligatory tourist shot of Jackson Square:

After Captain Barb returned from her day's military obligations, we went to a terrific seafood restaurant on Bourbon Street on the edge of the French Quarter, and then Barb took us for a nighttime motor tour of the city that included a ferry ride across the Mississippi. In the morning, Barb had drill again, and we packed up and left town. Barb gave a New Orleans Cookbook to Vi, an E-flat alto horn to me(!), and Mardi Gras beads to both of us. What a hostess! Thanks, Barb! We almost feel guilty for short-sheeting your bed...

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