Posts Tagged ‘ new orleans ’

Crescent City

mila: Imagine the height of a two-story house. Now, with that picture in mind, there is a house that sits on a pile of bricks and poles that high above ground. This house is on my street. Right across the street actually. There are no means of getting into said house and a lot of it is boarded up. Obviously no one lives there. I don’t know why it even exists. There’s a story behind it, everything around here does. For some reason, I don’t really want to know its history. There’s a mystery about it and I think I’d rather keep it that way…

Right next door is Parkway, a popular po-boy tavern. My upstairs neighbors, who are the loudest girls in America, they work there. I go in and they always hook it up. Well, usually. Okay, not really, but I got a free loaf of bread and a free drink with my po-boy once… I had a hard time saying po-boy for a while… I felt like a poser, like since I don’t really use that word back in L.A in reference to sandwiches then I shouldn’t use it at all. It’s like when people call soft drinks either soda or pop. You have to grow up saying it or else you sound kind of lame. I certainly have over-analyzed the issue, and came to terms with my problem. I now say po-boy… Sometimes… Hardly. Back to my neighbors. I live on a compound. Automatically this idea should pop up in one’s mind about what a compound should be or look like. I picture a grassy knoll with several log cabin-style homes strewn about. But that’s not where I live. Basically, there’s this guy, who I’ve never met, he owns a lot of property and so he broke down all the fences so that everyone could share a communal yard. Also on the compound is a community center, which is referred to as the temple. Supposedly everyone on this compound is a Buddhist. Awesome. Doesn’t make a lot of sense though cause most of them are arrogant in their own way. That also doesn’t make sense. Let’s brief: we were planning a goodbye party to be held on a Sat. night, went around and told people about it- kind of “okaying” with the Buddhists. Most were cool about it and this one particular guy was like, “Well, how many people?”
-“I don’t know, like 20-30?”
-“How late?”
-“I don’t know, like 1 a.m?”
-“Wow, that’s kinda late.”
-“Um, midnight?”
Anyhow, this guy was just annoying. So the party comes into fruition and all the compounders encircle the fire pit, yes, we have a fire pit, it’s next to the stage, yes, there’s a stage in the yard. Anyhow, they just sit there and judge us all and don’t mingle. Oh well. That’s not even a good story.

Now that’s just the compounders. Overall, I love every other neighbor here. I love my black neighbors. Yes, I’m racist. Oh well, I have a grip on reality. Everyone sits on their porch and always says hi, how are you, how you doin’, good morning, good afternoon, good evening followed with some term of endearment. At first I didn’t understand why everyone called me baby or honey, and I used to avoid eye contact- so New York of me, which is weird cause I’m from L.A, which in that case is the same deal. No stranger says hi to one another in either of those cities and if they did then they’re automatically a weirdo. Anyhow, greeting just anyone on the street has become one of my favorite things to do. (Especially when you’re scared of a certain area of the neighborhood, if you just wave, the tension is cut in a second and it’s all good.) The South is great for that reason alone… You get a sense of community and belonging. That makes me happy.

Voodoo Fest

mila:

Day One

Date of observance: October 24, 2008
Time period: 4:00 P.M – 11:00 P.M

Bands (in order of viewing)

1. Joss Stone
-Opinion: She has an amazing voice, if I could sing, I’d like to sing like her. But why don’t I like her? Maybe it’s her face or the fact that’s she’s irritating. I don’t even know what it is. But I’m not the only one who feels this way… Can’t put my finger on it, but she is not a likeable character. And she doesn’t put on a good show, as in, not a good front woman. She kind of stumbles around stage and makes awkward comments about politics when we all know she knows jack crap about our government. I started laughing cause she tried to do the “cool artist” thing and bad mouth the politics of Louisiana and no one said a peep, no one cheered or hoorayed alongside of her, everyone just stood there. What a dummy.

2. Wyclef Jean
-Opinion: He was awesome. He had a great presence and really had great showmanship. He played electric guitar behind his head and then later with his teeth. He even took off his clothes, piece by piece, until he showed us his beer belly- that was terribly exciting. At the very end of his set he had the whole crowd jumping in the air and waving whatever they had in their hands and I think we were singing something about carnivals. He spoke about Haiti. He talked about Obama and McCain. Now when he talked politics, people actually listened and clapped in jovial agreement.

3. Erykah Badu
-Opinion: I didn’t even know when she came out on stage because I just saw hair. Literally, her hair was everywhere, she had the craziest wig? on. She’s cool though… I guess cause she Erykah Badu and that’s what makes one cool. There was one part that was really weird cause I didn’t know if the sound went out or not… But then her and her back-up singers were doing this weird clap thing in addition to a clap track but they were totally off and it sounded strange. Anyhow, she shrieked and sang with her hands. And she’s pregnant, no big deal. I smelled a lot of marijuana at this one…

4. TV on the Radio
-Opinion: There was something oddly fantastical about this band. I don’t really know much about them, except I researched them before the concert to familiarize myself with their music. But they had a lot of energy. They reminded me of a really dorky version of N.E.R.D, which is funny when you think about it for like five seconds. They seemed like a bunch of computer engineers who like to make cool music. They were fun.

5. DeVotchKa
-Opinion: They were amazing. Their musicianship was really great. The choice of classical instruments with their eclectic style was really fitting and worked. And they looked really cool in their suits- classy. The singer kept breaking out in Spanish and I actually tried to interpret it to myself in my head and caught maybe three words total. I especially enjoyed the song, How It Ends, it was just thoughtful or some other word to better describe the song. I really dig this band, especially after watching them live I have a new found respect for the band.

6. Stone Temple Pilots
-Opinion: They rocked. Simply put, they were out of this world. I couldn’t have asked for a better show in them. I grew up listening to their music and I still listen to them. When I heard they were playing at the fest I got so excited because they were one of those classic bands that I’ve always wanted to see but never had the chance to. Scott Weiland looked so badass: black tuxedo pants, sunglasses, a hat, and a red and black plaid jacket- which he then took off to reveal a checkered button down, tie and a vest. Almost all of his clothes fell off his body at one point or another and for his encore he wore the coolest Loungefly t-shirt, which I need to find, a scarf and another hat. Talk about presence. There is a lot of pressure when the lead singer doesn’t get to hide behind a guitar and has to actually perform. Much like Mick Jagger, yes, I’m comparing him to a Rolling Stone cause I’ve seen them a few times and I saw a lot of similarities. Weiland seriously brought the house down- with his voice, which sounded so good, and his dancing. It was honestly mesmerizing watching him perform. And every song I absolutely loved, from Sour Girl to Interstate Love Song to Creep. I would totally see them again, they sounded incredible and put on one of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen.

Day Two

October 25, 2008 4:20 P.M – 11:00 P.M

In Order of Appearance

1. Lil’ Wayne
-Opinion: Great stuff. So ghetto, like me, so that’s why I related so well to it. He was a lot of fun and put on a show. I almost got trampled on at this one… For some reason, after every other song, the crowd pushed forward and everyone jumped like fifteen feet. I kept getting shoved around until I started shoving people. There was this wonderfully annoying drunk guy who kept trying to dance with everyone and bothered these teenagers near me, so I pushed him really hard, grabbed the girls and created a blockade so he couldn’t get back to where we were. I did all this whilst dancing and singing. He sang everything from Lollipop to Mr. Carter to A Milli to Mrs. Officer. It was a lot of fun.

2. Fishbone
-Opinion: They were kinda out there at first, until I realized what they were all about, which is basically everything from jazz to ska to punk to… They were very entertaining and musically talented. The lead singer even crowd surfed, very lovely.

3. Ghostland Observatory
-Opinion: The show was insane. I almost got into a fist fight, no exaggeration there. These three sluts were moshing and driving everyone insane and hitting people, I shoved one girl so hard and I told her I would punch her in the face. Meanwhile, GLO were rockin’ it out. Aaron Behren really pulls off being a old school type front man, much like… Mick Jagger? Eek, I’ve made that comparison twice. I’ll go with Freddie Mercury on this one then… Or is that too much? Anyhow, the laser light show to go with the music was a really nice touch. Oh, did I almost forgot to mention that when the sluts started attacking this guy, the guy shoved her into me and I grabbed the girl, restrained her by her wrists and told her to stop or else she’d get kicked out. In no less than five minutes, security pulled them out of the crowd… This duo is very cool.

4. Nine Inch Nails
-Opinion: Like in the vein of STP, this is one of those bands that I never thought I would be able to see but have always wanted to. This show was spectacular. The lights and stage were awesome. They even had a ascending and descending cage that was the full length of the stage. And when it came down, it turned into a TV screen and they had all these crazy digital looking images lit up on it. And for two songs they had scenery photos lit up on there. It was pretty sick. Trent Reznor was really on top of his game. The band truly kicked ass. Everything was really tight and sounded amazing. I danced a lot. They played everything from Closer to Piggy and closed with Hurt. So good.

Day Three

Final date of music: October 26, 2008
Time Frame: 1:50 P.M – 9:15 P.M

1. Cold War Kids
-Opinion: Impressive. They really had their sound together and sounded really good. There isn’t much to see per se but all in all the musicianship is what counts and that was tight.

2. Dashboard Confessional
-Opinion: I didn’t know most of the songs that were played… I knew Screaming Infidelities and that was fun. They also did a few covers, one which was Pink’s So What song. It was kind of just what it was, they sounded fine though. It was so freaking hot that I just laid in the grass and watched the screen.

Pissed off that N.E.R.D were no-shows… That really was not okay.

3. Lupe Fiasco
-Opinion: I really only wanted to hear one song, which was Superstar, and it was last and I had fun dancing around to that one… He was a really good performer though and had the crowd goin’. I didn’t really know much of his music but it was fine, all you have to do is wave your hand in the air and bop. I stood next to these awesome dudes that were dressed like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, totally 80s-style.

Saw a tidbit of Panic! at the Disco… I didn’t know any of their music so I just moved on… I would’ve given them a chance had it not been so stupid hot.

4. Soul Rebels Brass Band
-Opinion: They’re a big deal in New Orleans. They are very talented guys. I love anything that sounds similar to a marching band. They were so awesome. I was blown away by how they got a smaller crowd really dancing and jumping and singing. This was the highlight of the daytime music.

I’m going to blame N.E.R.D for messing up the entire day… Because of them everything got moved around and people were either going on too early or too late and it threw off the entire schedule.

Tried to see Butthole Surfers for old time’s sake but that didn’t happen… Also tried to see Trombone Shorty featuring Juvenile but that also didn’t happen…

5. R.E.M
-Opinion: This was the last band I saw for the night and also the closer to my entire festival weekend. The epitome of the 90s was all wrapped up this weekend and I’m glad it ended with them. They are a classic, and although I didn’t recognize a few songs I still enjoyed them very much. Michael Stipe is a great frontman and everyone was really into it. Their background show was basically live footage of them in 24p and black and white. Then from time to time it would switch to their lyrics or pictures pertaining to the current song. Then Michael, as well as every other band this weekend, told us to vote for change and blasted a picture of Obama on the screen. It was all great and they ended with It’s the End of the World and then came back out for their encore featuring Man on the Moon. I had fun and didn’t really have any near misses with death today.

red cross.

mila: I’m currently on call right now… That means what it sounds like. When I came to New Orleans this time around, I suddenly decided that Habitat for Humanity was not enough to quench my thirst to venture out into non-profit organizations. So I started looking to the Red Cross… I signed up, took an orientation class and told them I wanted to be on the DAT (Disaster Action Team)… It’s basically a team of Red Cross people that respond to emergencies. So in this case, I’m on call to respond to fires for the most part. On average their is a fire call every 11 hours but there have been times when they’re occurring every few hours. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, I have this picture in my head of what it might be like… So we’ll see.

On the other hand, Red Cross as a whole has got me interested right now. I heard that Texas has sent out a call looking for ERV (Emergency Road Vehicle) drivers. Especially in the disaster zones along the coast… So, the plan is to wrap up things here in the next couple weeks, then head to Texas on my way home. I have been interested in checking out how bad the damage is since we only hear so much from the media. I have friends in the AmeriCorps that were deployed there and I saw some horrific pictures… It’s an idea that’s been formulating for a week now and I really feel strongly about it, so we’ll see what happens….

Road Tripping

ashley: Mila wrote this. I did not write it. She recorded our road trip so well, I didn’t feel the need to re-do it. So here is her work of genius.

The Road Trip to New Orleans…

Departure Time and Date: 9:58 P.M Tuesday, September 9, 2008
City of Departure: Burbank, California
Route: 5 South to 10 East to 15 North to 40 East (current)
Travel buddy: Ashley

I’m basically too tired to even be creative. So one of these days I will spiff this up and make this worth reading (that’s an empty promise)… Presently, lying in a bed in the Travelodge of the lovely-too-much-to-take-in-overly-populated city of Tucumcari, New Mexico… I haven’t slept since Monday night, which even then I didn’t go to bed that night, technically I went to bed Tuesday morning (4 A.M) and woke up at 10 A.M… Left that night and drove and drove out of California into Arizona. The expanse of the night sky was indescribable… The stars were countless and it was just plain peaceful. Ashley saw a shooting star, I saw bolt of lightning.

The plan was to stop in Flagstaff, Arizona, but when we arrived there this morning, which by the way, it was freezing, we could not get a hotel or a motel for a price we found worth stopping/sleeping for. So what did us penny pinchers do? We kept on driving. It was hard for about 10 minutes, but then the sun rose and the scenery was killer. It was mountainous and foresty, old time trains chugged alongside us, the sky was orange… A scene out of a movie. We tried taking pictures but sometimes cameras can’t capture real life beauty. So we just stared in amazement.

For some reason we did not stop driving… And before we approached New Mexico we decided we really did need to sleep. At this point we were near Winslow and pulled in… Gorgeous (not really) town filled with fancy motels (fancy means rotting). We drove up a graveled pathway across the railroad tracks into a motel that could double as the set of some horror movie. “This has to be cheap.” So, Ashley gets out, and finds out that it’s $25… Not bad, but we looked around and noticed that at any moment we could get mauled and never heard from again. So we hit the road running.

We drove through the Petrified Forest… There was nothing to be seen there… Not one petrifying object. Now in New Mexico… By 8:00 A.M, it got to the point where we were seriously needing sleep so we found a decent looking lodge of sorts and again, the price was just too pricey. And as we were about to hit the freeway once again, we found a shady (the good kind) spot, parked the car and took a two hour nap. We pulled our morale together and decided we were going to make it to Albuquerque.

Ashley decided that she was mad because we just wanted to eat at a Cracker Barrel. So, being the good passenger and best friend, I “ChaCha”-ed it. (If you don’t know what that means ask me, it’s fantasmical) Before I got an answer, we approached Gallup and through the mirage appeared a Cracker Barrel. Flipping out, Ashley swerved off the highway to exit. The food was great and fueled us enough energy to keep on trucking…

Every so often on the side of the road, that green sign appears and kindly let’s you know how far away the major cities are. When we look at the cities and the numbers next to them, we find it a challenge to drive to one with the most miles next to it. In turn, this meant that there was no stopping in Albuquerque for us… Why stop now? So, deliriously, we keep driving, maintaining the speed limit the entire way and being more than courteous to all on the road. (By the way, we had made a pact on the 5 South that we would not partake in any sort of road rage whatsoever)

Stupidly we took it upon ourselves to make it a goal to get to Amarillo, Texas. In no time, as we passed through the civilization of Alb., we crumbled and decided to stop at one of two bolded cities on our free AAA Arizona/New Mexico map: Santa Rosa or Tucumcari. My skilled sister looked up the cheapest place to stay between the two, and it ended up being the latter…

By 5:00 P.M, we arrived in where-the-fun-never-stops Tucumcari. Checked in at the Travelodge, as one guest… Ashley hid in the car. And now I’m here, exhausted… If you’re questioning why we decided to take the 40 instead of the 10, well, you see, there is a hurricane named Ike and he just won’t quit… He’s headed to the southern most part of Texas and there will most likely be an evacuation order, if not already, and imagine millions of people leaving the city as you’re trying to enter… It’s impossible. So, we decided to steer clear and even stop by Memphis while we’re at it. Heard this famous musician used to live at this unknown place called Graceland…

Leg 2

So we slept and slept… A lot longer than I imagined. But don’t worry, we did not miss the 11:00 a.m check-out deadline! It didn’t take us long to get out of Tucumcari… There was nothing keeping us there. So, back to the I-40. The original plan was to stop in Little Rock, Arkansas. At this point you must realize that original plans never work out, and it’s always for the better, mind you… So we got to Amarillo, Texas within an hour or two of departure. We went to a Starbucks… I managed to get a free grande Iced Coffee for Ashley. All I had to do was flash my official partner card and well, the guy just ended up giving it to me. No big deal. I’m used to this sort of thing, really… After making a birthday call to Scott, we got back on the road.

We drove and drove, all day long. When Ash gets into it, she’s in for the challenge- at this point in time we decide it’s Memphis or nothing. Well, not nothing, but it’s go big or go home mentality for us. Texas didn’t take too long, which is a funny statement in itself, considering what it would’ve been like had we taken the I-10. In no time we were in Oklahoma, which was just weird and strange. And I actually could go as far to say that it is my least favorite state of all the United… There were so many damn bugs. There were more bugs in those few hours in Oklahoma than all the bugs put together during the entire trip. It was actually sickening really. We made a stop at a Shell gas station and I was swooshing the squeegee like a maniac trying to get the insects off of my car. Meanwhile, Ashley was in the bathroom, ran back out to grab her camera and went right back in. An ordinary person would question this behavior, but since I’m used to this sort of thing, I knew there would be a story by the time she got back. Well, by the time she got back there was a lovely plump male with a graying six-inch goatee and a rather unusually large travel cup with the words “OVERSIZED LOAD” written on it. He began dancing for me and acting like an Ozark. We go in the car and took off. She then proceeded to tell me about the prostitute that she encountered in the restroom. Basically, this whore, I mean, working woman, has her glued-encrusted press-on nails strewn across the sink alongside her make-up and outfit for the night. It sounded like a missed opportunity for a good time.

Anyhow, we barreled through Oklahoma until we got to Arkansas. We got hungry and stopped at The Waffle House where we ate grilled chicken sandwiches and watched the restaurant get conned by two thieves who stole an $18 meal. So, we left, angry at the state of the youth in this country… In turn, I borrowed the internet from the local motel… We booked a room in Memphis- this way we had no choice but to drive there that night. For some reason, I never took into account any of the time changes and when we thought it was one hour it was actually one past that and so on. In Memphis, the Days Inn looked and felt like a mansion. We charged all of the cameras and other electronica. We knew we had a big day ahead of us…

Leg 3

I forgot to mention that the night we checked into the motel that the fire alarm went off. The siren wailed and me and Ashley looked at each other and laughed. Then, for some reason, Ash wanted to go to the receptionist and tell him it wasn’t us that tripped the alarm. And I questioned this gesture… Why exactly would he think it would be us? And she said, well, cause we’re the only ones awake. Well… We never went out there and confessed to nothing…

It’s now Friday and we were starving. So, upon recommendation from Jon, we went to Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken. Sounded healthy, so we figured we’d give it a go. Well, let’s just say their sweet tea was amazing and if that was amazing then you would have to imagine what the chicken was like. If you can’t imagine, well, it was good.

Thereafter we trekked over to Sun Studio. Notice that it is not pluralized and that is due to the fact that there is only one recording studio in the building. This was our favorite stop. The people were awesome- hipster guys who were either musicians or music lovers. We sat at the bar, which served us Dr. Pepper in bottles. The guys were very kind and we just kicked it there. Memphis was so hot that being inside just felt like the right thing to do. Anyhow, we found out that the tour of the place would cost us some amount of money… Since we aren’t made of money we just kind of lollygagged around, hoping to catch the legend by osmosis. And it worked for the most part… After a while, one of the musicians must’ve taken pity on us because he waved us over and lead us into the studio. We entered into the area where the secretary used to sit and that leads into the recording studio…. This is where we staked our claim. I sat on the Gretsch kit, Ashley sat at Jerry Lee Lewis’ piano and we listened to our lovely guide, David Brookings… David even made up a song for us on the fly to the tune of “Blackbird” by the Beatles.

Sun Studio Fun

Then was the journey to Graceland. We got lost thanks to the navigation system… Which is funny because we never used it once during the whole trip and we thought we’d finally turn it on to help us get around Memphis. That was dumb. Well, we got there too late and really couldn’t take a tour. Didn’t really matter anyway cause it’s not like we would’ve shelled out money to go see it. But we wrote on the walls that fenced the Elvis mansion and took some pictures.

It was around Memphis when Ashley figured out she couldn’t find her Driver’s License. No big deal… Just her one and only form of identification. So that left me to drive the rest of the way, which wasn’t terrible at all. Mississippi was very pretty to drive through. I decided that my favorite type of highway is one surrounded by forest and rivers while Ashley’s is just the open road with endless vastness. So it worked out really.

I basically flew us to New Orleans because were home in no time flat. There is this entirely too long for its own good bridge that you have to take into the city… This bridge goes over a large body of water. Ashley hates bridges over water, it’s her thing. I knew exactly what I was traveling over and I knew better not to mention it… She finally realizes that we’ve been on a bridge-like highway for quite sometime and decides to say something… What is that? And I go, Oh nothing. And she looks over and she says, that’s water, it’s so high, the water level is way too high. And I say, stop looking at it then. And she goes, I can’t help it. So, I’m going as fast as I can to get us off of the stupid thing, meanwhile, Ashley is leering out her window watching and waiting for the slight off chance that the water level would flood us over. I forgot to mention that earlier we had passed by few exits that were shutdown and Ashley had peered over and saw that an entire city was sitting in water… Thanks to Gustav. For some odd reason the water didn’t wash over us on that bridge and soon enough we were on the other side… Entering the city was sort of surreal because it was the end of our road trip. It didn’t have some significant impact at the time but I’m slowly seeing it and then again not really yet. The familiar weather, the smells, the sights… It was strange navigating the twisty streets by own doing… It was good to be back.

The Roadtrip to New Orleans

mila:

Departure Time and Date: 9:58 P.M Tuesday, September 9, 2008
City of Departure: Burbank, California
Route: 5 South to 10 East to 15 North to 40 East (current)
Travel buddy: Ashley

I’m basically too tired to even be creative. So one of these days I will spiff this up and make this worth reading (that’s an empty promise)… Presently, lying in a bed in the Travelodge of the lovely-too-much-to-take-in-overly-populated city of Tucumcari, New Mexico… I haven’t slept since Monday night, which even then I didn’t go to bed that night, technically I went to bed Tuesday morning (4 A.M) and woke up at 10 A.M… Left that night and drove and drove out of California into Arizona. The expanse of the night sky was indescribable… The stars were countless and it was just plain peaceful. Ashley saw a shooting star, I saw bolt of lightning.

The plan was to stop in Flagstaff, Arizona, but when we arrived there this morning, which by the way, it was freezing, we could not get a hotel or a motel for a price we found worth stopping/sleeping for. So what did us penny pinchers do? We kept on driving. It was hard for about 10 minutes, but then the sun rose and the scenery was killer. It was mountainous and foresty, old time trains chugged alongside us, the sky was orange… A scene out of a movie. We tried taking pictures but sometimes cameras can’t capture real life beauty. So we just stared in amazement.

For some reason we did not stop driving… And before we approached New Mexico we decided we really did need to sleep. At this point we were near Winslow and pulled in… Gorgeous (not really) town filled with fancy motels (fancy means rotting). We drove up a graveled pathway across the railroad tracks into a motel that could double as the set of some horror movie. “This has to be cheap.” So, Ashley gets out, and finds out that it’s $25… Not bad, but we looked around and noticed that at any moment we could get mauled and never heard from again. So we hit the road running.

We drove through the Petrified Forest… There was nothing to be seen there… Not one petrifying object. Now in New Mexico… By 8:00 A.M, it got to the point where we were seriously needing sleep so we found a decent looking lodge of sorts and again, the price was just too pricey. And as we were about to hit the freeway once again, we found a shady (the good kind) spot, parked the car and took a two hour nap. We pulled our morale together and decided we were going to make it to Albuquerque.

Ashley decided that she was mad because we just wanted to eat at a Cracker Barrel. So, being the good passenger and best friend, I “ChaCha”-ed it. (If you don’t know what that means ask me, it’s fantasmical) Before I got an answer, we approached Gallup and through the mirage appeared a Cracker Barrel. Flipping out, Ashley swerved off the highway to exit. The food was great and fueled us enough energy to keep on trucking…

Every so often on the side of the road, that green sign appears and kindly let’s you know how far away the major cities are. When we look at the cities and the numbers next to them, we find it a challenge to drive to one with the most miles next to it. In turn, this meant that there was no stopping in Albuquerque for us… Why stop now? So, deliriously, we keep driving, maintaining the speed limit the entire way and being more than courteous to all on the road. (By the way, we had made a pact on the 5 South that we would not partake in any sort of road rage whatsoever)

Stupidly we took it upon ourselves to make it a goal to get to Amarillo, Texas. In no time, as we passed through the civilization of Alb., we crumbled and decided to stop at one of two bolded cities on our free AAA Arizona/New Mexico map: Santa Rosa or Tucumcari. My skilled sister looked up the cheapest place to stay between the two, and it ended up being the latter…

By 5:00 P.M, we arrived in where-the-fun-never-stops Tucumcari. Checked in at the Travelodge, as one guest… Ashley hid in the car. And now I’m here, exhausted… If you’re questioning why we decided to take the 40 instead of the 10, well, you see, there is a hurricane named Ike and he just won’t quit… He’s headed to the southern most part of Texas and there will most likely be an evacuation order, if not already, and imagine millions of people leaving the city as you’re trying to enter… It’s impossible. So, we decided to steer clear and even stop by Memphis while we’re at it. Heard this famous musician used to live at this unknown place called Graceland…

Leg 2

So we slept and slept… A lot longer than I imagined. But don’t worry, we did not miss the 11:00 a.m check-out deadline! It didn’t take us long to get out of Tucumcari… There was nothing keeping us there. So, back to the I-40. The original plan was to stop in Little Rock, Arkansas. At this point you must realize that original plans never work out, and it’s always for the better, mind you… So we got to Amarillo, Texas within an hour or two of departure. We went to a Starbucks… I managed to get a free grande Iced Coffee for Ashley. All I had to do was flash my official partner card and well, the guy just ended up giving it to me. No big deal. I’m used to this sort of thing, really… After making a birthday call to Scott, we got back on the road.

We drove and drove, all day long. When Ash gets into it, she’s in for the challenge- at this point in time we decide it’s Memphis or nothing. Well, not nothing, but it’s go big or go home mentality for us. Texas didn’t take too long, which is a funny statement in itself, considering what it would’ve been like had we taken the I-10. In no time we were in Oklahoma, which was just weird and strange. And I actually could go as far to say that it is my least favorite state of all the United… There were so many damn bugs. There were more bugs in those few hours in Oklahoma than all the bugs put together during the entire trip. It was actually sickening really. We made a stop at a Shell gas station and I was swooshing the squeegee like a maniac trying to get the insects off of my car. Meanwhile, Ashley was in the bathroom, ran back out to grab her camera and went right back in. An ordinary person would question this behavior, but since I’m used to this sort of thing, I knew there would be a story by the time she got back. Well, by the time she got back there was a lovely plump male with a graying six-inch goatee and a rather unusually large travel cup with the words “OVERSIZED LOAD” written on it. He began dancing for me and acting like an Ozark. We go in the car and took off. She then proceeded to tell me about the prostitute that she encountered in the restroom. Basically, this whore, I mean, working woman, has her glued-encrusted press-on nails strewn across the sink alongside her make-up and outfit for the night. It sounded like a missed opportunity for a good time.

Anyhow, we barreled through Oklahoma until we got to Arkansas. We got hungry and stopped at The Waffle House where we ate grilled chicken sandwiches and watched the restaurant get conned by two thieves who stole an $18 meal. So, we left, angry at the state of the youth in this country… In turn, I borrowed the internet from the local motel… We booked a room in Memphis- this way we had no choice but to drive there that night. For some reason, I never took into account any of the time changes and when we thought it was one hour it was actually one past that and so on. In Memphis, the Days Inn looked and felt like a mansion. We charged all of the cameras and other electronica. We knew we had a big day ahead of us…

Leg 3

I forgot to mention that the night we checked into the motel that the fire alarm went off. The siren wailed and me and Ashley looked at each other and laughed. Then, for some reason, Ash wanted to go to the receptionist and tell him it wasn’t us that tripped the alarm. And I questioned this gesture… Why exactly would he think it would be us? And she said, well, cause we’re the only ones awake. Well… We never went out there and confessed to nothing…

It’s now Friday and we were starving. So, upon recommendation from Jon, we went to Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken. Sounded healthy, so we figured we’d give it a go. Well, let’s just say their sweet tea was amazing and if that was amazing then you would have to imagine what the chicken was like. If you can’t imagine, well, it was good.

Thereafter we trekked over to Sun Studio. Notice that it is not pluralized and that is due to the fact that there is only one recording studio in the building. This was our favorite stop. The people were awesome- hipster guys who were either musicians or music lovers. We sat at the bar, which served us Dr. Pepper in bottles. The guys were very kind and we just kicked it there. Memphis was so hot that being inside just felt like the right thing to do. Anyhow, we found out that the tour of the place would cost us some amount of money… Since we aren’t made of money we just kind of lollygagged around, hoping to catch the legend by osmosis. And it worked for the most part… After a while, one of the musicians must’ve taken pity on us because he waved us over and lead us into the studio. We entered into the area where the secretary used to sit and that leads into the recording studio…. This is where we staked our claim. I sat on the Gretsch kit, Ashley sat at Jerry Lee Lewis’ piano and we listened to our lovely guide, David Brookings… David even made up a song for us on the fly to the tune of “Michelle” by the Beatles.

Then was the journey to Graceland. We got lost thanks to the navigation system… Which is funny because we never used it once during the whole trip and we thought we’d finally turn it on to help us get around Memphis. That was dumb. Well, we got there too late and really couldn’t take a tour. Didn’t really matter anyway cause it’s not like we would’ve shelled out money to go see it. But we wrote on the walls that fenced the Elvis mansion and took some pictures.

It was around Memphis when Ashley figured out she couldn’t find her Driver’s License. No big deal… Just her one and only form of identification. So that left me to drive the rest of the way, which wasn’t terrible at all. Mississippi was very pretty to drive through. I decided that my favorite type of highway is one surrounded by forest and rivers while Ashley’s is just the open road with endless vastness. So it worked out really.

I basically flew us to New Orleans because were home in no time flat. There is this entirely too long for its own good bridge that you have to take into the city… This bridge goes over a large body of water. Ashley hates bridges over water, it’s her thing. I knew exactly what I was traveling over and I knew better not to mention it… She finally realizes that we’ve been on a bridge-like highway for quite sometime and decides to say something… What is that? And I go, Oh nothing. And she looks over and she says, that’s water, it’s so high, the water level is way too high. And I say, stop looking at it then. And she goes, I can’t help it. So, I’m going as fast as I can to get us off of the stupid thing, meanwhile, Ashley is leering out her window watching and waiting for the slight off chance that the water level would flood us over. I forgot to mention that earlier we had passed by few exits that were shutdown and Ashley had peered over and saw that an entire city was sitting in water… Thanks to Gustav. For some odd reason the water didn’t wash over us on that bridge and soon enough we were on the other side… Entering the city was sort of surreal because it was the end of our road trip. It didn’t have some significant impact at the time but I’m slowly seeing it and then again not really yet. The familiar weather, the smells, the sights… It was strange navigating the twisty streets by own doing… It was good to be back.

new orleans.

mila: Everyone says… “What’s the point?” To some degree I agree with that question but then I go down there and I see that it does matter after all. Although it is a city that’s basically a bowl, waiting to get filled up every year, it’s still home to so many people whose past and present reside there. And to me that matters enough to help build the city back up long enough for people to enjoy living their lives there as long as it exists. What’s funny is that I always wanted to help people but I could never find the right avenue and this year I decided to give this a whirl… Which is kind of hilarious cause the thought of me doing construction is, well, ridiculous. I had to basically force myself and commit to it and it ended up being the very best work I’ve ever partaken in my entire life. I could not recommend this line of work more… Sweating, bleeding, bruising, exhausting… At the end of the day the culmination of all the hours is well spent and is fruitful because it’s tangible- you see what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day. There is nothing better.

If you are bored and unsatisfied, come out there and do it for a day or two (or more). It’s unregrettable.

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