Our Last Night on the Road!
02 August 2021 | Punta Gorda, FL
Mary Yeomans | Sunny, 92
Not much to report for yesterday - Bill drove and drove and drove. We left Slidell, Louisiana and stopped for the night in Lake City, FL. I had wanted to stop at Florida Caverns State Park but the tickets for the tour of the caverns are first come, first served and as we neared I called and we would have had to wait for a tour for two hours, so we kept on going. Maybe another time?
We stayed in a Hilton Tru Hotel - never saw one before - and it was very contemporary and fun. We had some wine and then saw a storm coming so hurried to dinner at Gator's Dockside, which reminded us of Beef O'Brady's. We shared Steak Poutine and it was a delicious plate of french fries covered with cheese curds, brown gravy, and beef tips. Very good - we might have to suggest it to Beef's! It poured the whole time we were there, but let up so we could get back relatively dry.
This morning we packed up and ate breakfast at the hotel, then left to drive home. We got here by 2:00 or so after stopping for fuel and a car wash near home.
So, here we are! It is great to be back home, and I'll enjoy it once we are completely unpacked. It was quite a trip and I know we have lots of memories to share. 7,475 miles and 35 days. Wow!
P.S. I am terrible at selfies but thought I should include at least one. This is us toasting our trip last night.
It Was a Creole Soap Opera!
31 July 2021 | Slidell, Louisiana
Mary Yeomans | Hot and Humid, 97 degrees
We left our room and headed out - it was not a good night's sleep. The AC went on and off all night and there was lots of noise from cars and voices, coming and going. We headed for the Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana for a tour. First, a stop at King's Truck Stop for a good Southern breakfast - grits, biscuits, eggs, and bacon. Bill even had some gravy on his biscuits. Back on the road, traffic was light but certainly increased as we approached cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The tour of the sugar cane plantation was very interesting. Rather than focus on the physical things - buildings, furniture, etc. - our guide told us about the four generations of the Duparc family who lived there. They were Creole, which he pointed out in that area meant anyone who was not American. It didn't depend on race or origin, so although they were French and Catholic, the slaves and others living on their property were also considered Creole. The story of their lives could have been a soap opera, and much of the information has been found in archives in France where one woman's (Laura) memoirs are stored. We learned lots, but it was really, really hot and steamy so it felt good to get back into the car and turn on the AC!
We decided to head toward Slidell on the other side of Lake Ponchartrain and decide where to stay when we got there. Kenney Seafood was convenient so we ate lunch there - rather late since we had such a filling breakfast! Po' Boys for both of us - shrimp for me, and oyster for Bill - both were huge.
We checked in to our hotel and unloaded the car - they had a free laundry so it was time to get that done. Bill took a nap while I ran the clothes through so we are ready for the hot days ahead. We heard today we are in an area with an excessive heat warning for the next few days - not that we haven't been in a lot of heat over the last month!
We watched some Olympics coverage, I had some wine, and then we went to bed. Getting closer to Florida!
30 July 2021 | Eunice, Louisiana
Mary Yeomans | Partly cloudy, 96 degres
We woke up and packed up and put our things in the car in the parking garage, then walked to The Alamo. We hadn't made reservations so we would have to wait until later in the day to enter the building, but anyone can tour the grounds any time so we did that. It was much bigger than we thought! The Alamo church building itself is not large, but the grounds include courtyards and a very large area that is surrounded by a wall. Many plaques, statues, and posters kept us busy for quite awhile and we learned much about the history of the site. A military ceremony was taking place (a Marine retirement we learned) and we were told they often have things like this there. As we left there was a long line for reservations, so it does get busy!
Back at the car we found our way out of San Antonio and onto I-10 again. We hadn't made any plans so we were just driving until we were done, and we ended up in Eunice, Louisiana after Bill fought his way through lots of traffic and road construction - it was good to be out of Texas. I made the lodging reservations, and once we arrived I reminded Bill that we had decided earlier that should NOT be my job. Although this was rated "Very Good" on Booking.com, it wasn't. The window glass was broken, the deadlock on the door didn't lock (and you could see daylight around the door) and the bathroom was very tiny. The whole place was pretty shabby. But, the bed was comfortable so we will survive.
We had a glass of wine and then headed to a Cajun restaurant. Bill had frog's legs - he loves them and must have them any time they are on the menu - and he said they were very good. I had crawfish etoufee - it was okay but not the best I've had. Back to the hotel for bedtime - not sure where we are headed next, but we will head east towards home!
Walking Around San Antonio!
29 July 2021 | San Antonio, TX
Mary Yeomans | 90 degrees and humid
We left San Angelo this morning and headed to San Antonio. Rolling green hills surrounded us most of the trip - farms, pastures, and trees. Very different than southern Texas we saw driving west!
We went right to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens since we were early for check-in at the hotel. Lunch at the restaurant there, Jardin, was delicious. Most of the items on the menu had a Mediterranean flair. I had edamame falafel in a pita and Bill had a lamb burger. Both were served with hummus and salad. Yum! After lunch we toured the gardens, including the greenhouses in the conservatory, which each had a theme like succulents, tropical, ferns, etc. All very nicely done, but a big disappointment for me was that very few of the plants were labeled, so the ones I didn't know I still don't know. I love going to botanical gardens because I learn so much but not today...
Leaving there we found our hotel and checked in. We parked the car in a lot nearby - hotel valet parking was $49!!
We rested a bit in our room and then walked the River Walk. So pretty and unique! We took the boat tour which does the loop and includes some history of the area. The River Walk itself is now over fifteen miles long. But our ride only did part of that. It is a neat way to vitalize a downtown area, and this was started in the early 1900's! It is always being improved and we saw some stonework projects underway.
We stopped for a beer and did some people-watching, and then walked to The Esquire Tavern, which opened 10 minutes after Prohibition ended. It is an old building with so much charm! We ordered two sandwiches and shared them - Brisket on Texas Toast and Pulled Pork on a Brioche Bun. Both were delicious.
After dark we walked along the river a bit to check out the lights - it was much more crowded than before. Bill was a bit uncomfortable with all of the people, so back to the hotel for bedtime!
Covering Some Miles!
28 July 2021 | San Angelo, Texas
Mary Yeomans | Partly Cloudy, 90 degrees, scattered showers
Happy 90th Birthday, Mom! I'm sorry I'm not with her, but we did celebrate in June with the whole family. Fortunately, brother Carl and Nikki are with her to help her celebrate today with a lobster dinner! Her favorite.
I must apologize - we really just drove all day today so there isn't a lot of news. I included a photo from Zion National Park because I didn't before - I used the one of Bill and our cabin that day. We were at Zion the day after it had rained, hence the muddy water.
Bill and I left the hotel in Santa Fe and stopped at McDonald's for breakfast, again, and hit the road. We passed lots of green, scrubby meadows on rolling hills as we drove along - much prettier than the dead, sandy, littered roadsides of Arizona.
We stopped for lunch in Roswell, but didn't see any aliens. We were still in authentic Mexican food territory, and had a very good lunch at Geli's Café, although the location and ambiance were lacking. It was rated 4.9/5 so I guess that doesn't matter to the regular customers!
I took over driving after lunch and the drive was pretty smooth. The surroundings changed as we approached and crossed into Texas - many oil well heads, wind generators, and fields of irrigated crops. Also, we crossed into the Central Time Zone so clocks changed. We watched the weather radar because we could see storms all around us, and eventually we caught up with one. Speed limit was 75 mph so I was cruising along at 83 until we hit it and I slowed down. It was a heavy but short storm so not a problem, and we got to our hotel in San Angelo and checked in, had some wine, and headed to Whataburger for sandwiches. Brought them back to the room and hung out for a bit before bedtime. Tomorrow we are headed to San Antonio!
P.S. I didn't mention this before, but I started having headaches a few days ago and it turns out I had altitude sickness. So, I had to drink lots of water, which made numerous pit stops necessary! Anyway, we are slowly making our way closer to sea level so hopefully that is all behind us? Elevation is 1844 ft here, compared to Santa Fe at 7,199!
Learning About New Mexico
27 July 2021 | Santa Fe, New Mexico
Mary Yeomans | Partly Cloudy, 80 degrees
We left the hotel and stopped at McDonald's for breakfast and were on our way. Less than an hour later we were in Santa Fe, so we found our hotel and then headed to Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed - yes, it has been 5000 miles as of today! The oil change was jiffy, so we went to the Santa Fe Farmer's Market and walked around. The vegetables being sold were beautiful! Lots of radishes and peaches. But not many crafts or other items so we left and went to downtown Santa Fe.
There is a plaza there that was the original center of town when this was settled by the Spanish. We visited the Museum of New Mexico History and spent a few hours there. Unlike Pennsylvania, New Mexico's borders changed a lot during its history amid many skirmishes, treaties, and purchases. Included in our ticket was a visit to the Palace of Governors which is original (1610) although it has been updated and changed through the years. One of the governors, Lew Wallace, wrote his second novel, Ben Hur, while he lived there from 1878-80. The palace is the longest continuously occupied public building in the US! It doesn't really look like a palace - it is just a rambling building with lots of rooms. Also near the plaza, the church is the original building although not as old - 1869.
We had lunch at the Burrito Company and it was delicious. A couple of Dos Equis washed it down. Then it was off to walk the streets around the plaza and check some of the shops. The color and architecture of all of the buildings is similar and resembles pueblos with arches, rounded walls and corners (see photo). We sat on a balcony of one restaurant overlooking the plaza and had a beer and discussed plans for the next few days.
I drove and we checked into the hotel where we relaxed a bit and then walked across the parking lot to a Greek restaurant for dinner. It was okay - we decided it is time to head home and cook for ourselves again. We are getting a bit critical...