As I write this, I sit in my living room back 'home' in Seattle (I got back earlier this afternoon), thinking about how quickly the past two weeks went by. It seems like we just left...to head down to New Orleans.
The road trip officially ended on Thursday afternoon. We left Vicksburg around 9 am, and headed east on I-20 towards Jackson. That took all of 45 minutes, and then we were on I-55 heading south. We did have one funny sidetrack. Ryan swears he saw a sign for the "Tomato Museum" in Crystal Springs, and if you had seen our rental car, well, you'd understand our interest in getting a photo of our car at the Tomato Museum...we never did find it, but it turns out that Crystal Springs has a Robert Johnson Blues Museum. How do you like that?? Unfortunately, the sign on the door said they'd be "back at 3ish". Okay, it didn't say "ish", but we didn't feel the need to stick around. Mark it down for the next trip!
We rolled back into the Big Easy around 2, and promptly headed to the Buddha Belly to do some laundry and touch base with Ray and Marshall about our housing arrangements. We eventually met up with Marshall and his GF, Joy, at the good ol' Friendly Bar, and found out that our volunteer services were once again needed. Our site host, St. Jude's, got a huge food donation, including some frozen items, and didn't have anyone to help unload the Ryder truck. Enter Patrick and Ryan, who just happened to get back into town...it wasn't that bad, just unexpected. But we were happy to help. I was a little jealous that the next round of volunteers would be getting salami, etoufee, and fresh turkeys, though.
Ray took us to Gordon Biersch for dinner to thank us. We were both pretty exhausted even though we had an easy driving day, so I at least was happy to hear Ray say he wanted to head home. Turns out he needed to pack for a trip to Florida the next day. So Thursday night turned out to be probably the quietest night of the entire trip.
We took the day on Friday and simply wandered around the city. Surprisingly, I had never really done that on any of my previous trips. We had breakfast at the French Market Cafe, gave some directions to a few folks, and made our way over to Canal Street to hop on the streetcar. A walk through some of the beautiful neighborhoods on the western side of the city, then making our way back up Magazine Street--a stop at the French bakery La Boulangerie, a drink at Ms. Mae's, photos at Slim Goodies and Juan's Flying Burrito--then back up to St. Charles Ave to have a piece of "Slice", the best pizza I've had in NOLA. After lunch, we hopped back on the streetcar and made our way over to Louis Armstrong Park, a newly restored area that is serving as a centerpiece of pride for the community. I took lots of shots here, and nearly fell asleep on the bench near the entrance.
Of course, Marshall made sure we went out and had a good time on our last night. Joy quickly achieved super rockstar status in my book, if only because Marshall is a boy who needs some happy in his life and I can totally see she provides that. We made it back to the house at a decent hour, and Ryan and I were on the road to the airport at 4:45 am.
And here I am, back "home". Hmmm.