Some things are laughable, like planning to leave at 6 AM. After driving for Uber late into the night I woke up way beyond my alarm and left at 9.
My singular goal on day one was to get lunch at Lee’s Diner in Hammond, LA. My mom used to eat here during her younger years and she has always raved about it. I tried to eat there last year on my way through, but a fire had gutted the kitchen and they were renovating. My personal memories of it are sparse, I know we went a few times when I was a kid, but what I ate besides a chocolate malt escapes me. I hit the road salivating.
Before I even got out of Florida I was reminded why I was heading west. A prescribed fire was going just on the other side of the highway. I hope it was successful, given the smoke column I’m pretty sure it was.
The panhandle of Florida takes what seems like an eternity to cross. My lunch plans settled into dinner plans as I ate some roller “food” from a gas station. I know people who won’t touch those things. I figure if I am going to be sick I may as well do it right!
There wasn’t much excitement between home and the Louisiana border. Then came the Obligatory Community Coffee Stop at the welcome center.
My favorite part of the coffee setup they have there is the “Children Need Assistance” sign. Everyone should know all Cajun kids start coffee at a very young age, the younger the better. That’s why we tend to be shorter than average.
I kid of course. But really, I started coffee at five, and my growth stopped at 5’7″. There has to be a connection.
Around 5 PM I finally reached my goal. The place was packed, so I grabbed a spot at the counter. I’m not used to traveling solo so I am not used to lunch counters. I actually tried to pull my stool closer to the counter at one point. My embarrassment was quickly stifled by this:
I was persuaded that I could probably make a decent po boy at home but that ettouffe was a bit more difficult to perfect. I’m so glad I made that decision.
I topped it off with a chocolate malt and headed out full but determined that boudin balls were necessary to make my drive through LA complete. After discovering that most places were closing soon I found Hebert’s down the road was open until 7 and if I hurried I might just get me some awesome.
When I saw they had lasagna I was a little worried. After a short discussion with the girl at the counter I decided on links instead of the usual balls.
While they may look a little strange, they were amazing.
I trucked on and crossed the Mississippi at sunset.
My second goal of the day was to make it to Houston. I selected a Pilot Travel Center just outside of town thinking “this will work”. Normally this would be reasonable thinking, but when I arrived around Midnight I was met with one hour parking signs and a panhandler telling me about his seven felonies. “Nah man, I won’t snatch your wallet, I ain’t dumb.” Then he asked if I smoked “hydro”. Soooo it was on to the other side of town where thankfully I was able to find a Walmart with rvs parked out front. Rvs are always a good sign that no Walmart manager is going to scoot you along at 4 AM.
After six uncomfortable hours across the front seats of the van, I decided to trek onward.
Day two was even less eventful than day one. About the time I hit west Texas the AC stopped working well and I was forced to switch from long pants to shorts. That was quite an event! Sarcasm.
Finally I hit NM and after getting through Carlsbad and Hope I was finally climbing into the mountains.
My plan was to park somewhere on the forest and set up a tent. There was snow rumored on my aunt and uncle’s property where we plan to stay for the summer. About ten minutes from town I find out that they are actually in town and the property is pretty much snow free!
After eating decent Mexican (i.e. NOT Utah “Mexican”) we settled down to sleep in their trailer.
Now to get the rest of the family out here.