Revisiting New Orleans
Mon 14 May 2012 - Wed 16 May 2012 80 °F
I've been meaning to write an addition to this log for the past few days, but a combination of amazing scenery and a dearth of respectable network connections has foiled even the very thought of contributing to roadtrop.com - but now, Melissa is driving from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon -- at night -- so I'm going to make the most of what I have and catch up on my thoughts on the trip.
We are going through so many things that if I fail to write them all down, I fear I will forget the details. I don't even really remember the last thing I wrote on this site, so I'll start at New Orleans.
My first trip to NOLA was on April 1st, 1999, for a somewhat life-changing interview for a job I didn't end up getting. I didn't see much of the city - just what I could see out the windows in a drive from the airport to the garden district. The following year, I spent an extended weekend in the city with online friends - the main premise was to see Nine Inch Nails in concert, but we also wanted to explore the city, and catch The The at the House of Blues. It was such a good time that a few of us decided to do it again the following year. This time, we rented out a house on Borboun Street, and basically lived in New Orleans for a week. "Let's do this again next year!" We were all totally into it. But I was talking to this girl in Australia who was going to be going to New York for a week, and then New Orleans for a week, and I had a new car, and I suggested maybe we drive down. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.
I am a nostalgic person, romantic to a fault. I can't really express to you how good I felt when, ten years later, Melissa and I opened the door to the room we stayed in a decade before, and aside from the futon being replaced by a bunk bed, that room was exactly as it had been. Something about that room, and walking down streets I hadn't revisited since 2002, took me right back to that place in my heart when I fell totally in love with Melissa. Seeing equipment that sent man to the moon is cool, sleeping in the Everglades is cool, hanging around Key West was really cool, and there are great things yet to come - but if we drove straight home from New Orleans, this vacation would be wholly satisfying.
Aside from all that gushy stuff, I *finally* met Butler Ives, who I've been talking to on and off for over a dozen years. He took us to get Po Boys at Tracey's, where they serve Barq's Root Beer in bottles I'd never seen before - because as Butler told us, Barq's is from New Orleans, and somehow they work it out so that they only serve those bottles in their hometown. I wanted to take some home with me, but space is limited. It wasn't until just before Butler had to dash that we could even remember how we first got in contact. He had sent me a write-up about a party in Trent Reznor's house way back in the early days of the NIN Hotline. It's a little crazy, thinking about how long ago that was.
As much as I enjoyed reliving old memories, there are new ones waiting to be created, so after spending the night in New Orleans, we were Texas-bound. We were going to Dallas by way of Beaumont, where we camped overnight in a Walmart parking lot. Dallas was where Mel's friend Julie lived - I think Mel goes into more detail here, but in short, Julie's family knows good food, and hooked us up. In between a home cooked meal and Fuel City Tacos, we visited the spot where JFK was shot. Dealey Plaza feels like it's a different shape and size when you're there, compared to photos and videos you see all your life. Up the road, near the cabin where Dallas was founded, was a memorial to John F. Kennedy, which I had not been aware of. It's minimal, but it's respectful, it's simple and effective. You can stand in the middle of it, and it blocks your view of the city around it, although sound gets through just fine.
What followed was a long haul from Dallas to Carlsbad, New Mexico - but not before fulfilling childhood dreams of seeing petrified dinosaur footprints. Since I'm trying to compress several days of travel into a post that I can write in the two hours between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, I'll put it like this: Dinosaur Valley State Park is an idyllic location, and I feel like anyone who's ever animated dinosaurs has done so after having visited this place, because it looks like the setting of any dinosaur video, shy of the Jurrasic Park films. I wish we could have stayed longer, but so much to do, so little time. The next stretch was basically a sundown trip across Texas. In a nutshell: It was dark and I took most of the trip doing at least 80mph, and it still seemed to take forever.
We spent the next day at Carlsbad Caverns, a phenomenal experience. The caverns were extraordinarily expansive, and very nicely lit by the park service, but what really sold me was the natural entrance to the caverns. This gaping maw of a cave, with an installed path that seemed to descend forever, while cave swallows swoop and poop overhead, is something pictures simply will not do justice to. I couldn't get the phrase "Mines of Moria" out of my head as we kept going down further and further into the depths of the cavern. Winding through the chambers, you go from a room that has a cavernous reverb sound, to another section that is so quiet I can hear nothing but the constance of blood rushing under various freuquency bands of tinnitus I've developed over years of aural abuse. After several hours seven hundred feet below the surface, the chill was getting to us, so we took the elevator to the surface, where the sun quickly warmed us back up for our trip that evening, the goal of which was Las Cruces by way of El Paso.
That's where I've got to wrap it up for now. My next entry is likely going to be very, 'woo, cars!' as I gush about my drive down the Coronado Trail, and the drive from Sedona to Flagstaff.