Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Gumbo and Etouffee

New Orleans, Louisiana

I haven't had an oyster Po-boy yet. They tend to run about $13.95 with an extra three dollars for blue cheese topping. In fact, I've never ever had a oyster Po-boy, but it's still on the list of things I want to eat before I die.

What we have had is a whole lot of shrimp and sausage gumbo and crawfish etouffee.

We wandered around the French Quarter for hours looking at restaurant menus. In most cases they were not open before 6 PM. We stopped in at Antoine's for some wine and to read the menu. That restaurant has been open and operated by the same family since 1840 when the original ancestor immigrated from Paris and taught the locals that there were better things than boiled meat. Everything on the menu was "A La Cart" and expensive. I figured $200 with tax and tip would do the trick.

We tried a restaurant on Dalphine just a block off Bourbon Street but they were booked until 9:30. Another restaurant we had eaten at before was not open on Tuesdays. I tend to think that Mrs. Phred had romanticized  that one anyway, which had just reopened after Katrina.

Eventually we settled on a little place near St. Charles Square called the Gumbo shop. It offered us a four course Cajun meal for $23.99. I got the shrimp and sausage gumbo, crawfish etouffee, smothered collard greens and praline sundae.

While we were eating, a huge thunderstorm hit the city. I bought some cheap plastic raincoats and Mrs. Phred took off her shoes as we made our way to the shuttle bus pickup point during the downpour. On the way, a wise and friendly overweight black lady told Mrs. Phred  to put her shoes back on. You can step on nasty things at night in New Orleans , broken bottles, AIDS syringes, dead rats... I could see hordes of cockroaches moving to higher ground and rivers of trash flowing down the streets. 

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Streetcar Named Desire

Lake Pontchartrain RV Park, New Orleans

A Sailor: Can I help you, ma'am?
Blanche DuBois: Why, they told me to take a streetcar named Desire and then transfer to one called Cemetery and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields.

We like this RV park. We've been here before. It's just off Interstate 10 that runs though New Orleans and it runs a shuttle bus downtown. They have a pool and a bar and a supply of free books as well as a store that sells beer and RV supplies. It's on a wide canal that leads to Lake Pontchartrain.

The Desire line is no longer running in New Orleans. Desire was sold in 1948 to an entrepreneur in Chattanooga and then repurchased and retired again in 1997. There is a replica on the River Line, which I intend to ride in the morrow after my oyster Po-Boy sandwich.

We could probably spend a month in New Orleans without getting bored, but we have places to go and other things to see. Maybe we can stay at Betty's RV Park next in Abbeville, Louisiana if she has space for us. We want to suck crawfish heads, buy some Cajun delicacies at the Piggly Wiggly and dance to a Zydeco band.

I need to watch my "Easy Rider" DVD again and catch the New Orleans cemetery scene with the man with the umbrella.

Blanche DuBois: You're married to a madman.
Stella: I wish you'd stop taking it for granted that I'm in something I want to get out of.
Blanche DuBois: What you are talking about is desire - just brutal Desire. The name of that rattle-trap streetcar that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another.
Stella: Haven't you ever ridden on that streetcar?
Blanche DuBois: It brought me here. Where I'm not wanted and where I'm ashamed to be.
Stella: Don't you think your superior attitude is a little out of place?
Blanche DuBois: May I speak plainly?... If you'll forgive me, he's common... He's like an animal. He has an animal's habits. There's even something subhuman about him. Thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is. Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the Stone Age, bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle. And you - you here waiting for him. Maybe he'll strike you or maybe grunt and kiss you, that's if kisses have been discovered yet. His poker night you call it. This party of apes.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

H2G2 is up for sale

Dove's Rest RV Park, Marianna, Florida

We did 430 miles today. Maybe tomorrow we'll do another 500 and hit Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana...we'll be sucking on craw fish heads and dancing to Zydeco music..

H2G2 (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) is a strange BBC social networking site. I joined it back in 2005 and wrote some articles that went though a weird approval process. I remember drinking Wild Turkey bourbon and writing my heart out late at night after work, trying for approval from a strange collection of English freakazoids.

Now the BBC is eager to sell the site as a result of the draconian budget cuts approved by the English Parliament.  You're probably reading about the riots in England. At least they're not gunning down the protesters.

Anyhow, I got an email today asking for permission to use my copyrighted approved articles in the event that BBC finds a buyer for the site. You could probably pick the whole thing up for $2.99. Here is a list of my edited articles...H2g2 is sort of a wonky and very inadequate competitor for Wikipedia.

Here's a list of my approved articles. They're up for sale.

DB Cooper - Skyjacker and Folk HeroJul 24, 2007

Harold Gatty - Prince of Navigators
Apr 21, 2006

No Surrender for Hiroo OnondaNov 16, 2005

Halibut and Salmon Fishing in AlaskaOct 28, 2005

Rudyard KiplingSep 19, 2005

Ailurophilia Gone Bad: A New Mental Illness?Jun 22, 2005

William Bligh - Vice Admiral of the BlueJun 7, 2005

Amelia Earhart - Death by Parallax?
May 3, 2005

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Great Escape

Cortez and Boca Grande

So, we'll be out of here a week from Sunday.

We've been to Cortez to eat at the Starfish, which is really hard to find. The sign says be prepared to wait an hour for lunch, but sometimes it's two hours. Fortunately you can order more wine while you wait.

Boca Grande is a fairly nice place. Lots of tennis, golf courses and nice houses. It's not the same tacky development that you see along a lot of Florida's West Coast.

So we have some Box lunches. Mrs Phred has a soft shell crab sandwich complete with little claws and I have shrimp and cheese grits.

Boca Grande is called the Tarpon fishing Capital of the world. Tarpon are not good to eat so I hope that all these lovely fish are catch and release.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Here's the Plan

Spring and Summer, 2011

No foreign vacations for us in 2011. We want to spend our dollars at home this year to jump start the economy. We'll leave April 1st and have some seafood on the Florida Panhandle and Oyster Po-boys in New Orleans. Then we'll mosey out to Benson, Arizona near the Mexican border to visit relatives.

After that I want to do the 1500 mile circle in a counter-clockwise direction before crossing Death Valley.

Some hotspots on the circle are:
... Sedona, just south of Flagstaff..
...South Rim of Grand Canyon NP
...Page, Arizona see Antelope Canyon, the dam, horseshoe bend, the lake
... Monument Valley...go with a Navajo guide
...Mesa Verde and the Canyons of the Ancients
... Arches NP in Moab
... Canyonlands NP
... Bryce NP
... Zion NP
 ...Valley of the Gods
....North Rim of Grand Canyon

After Vegas and the long drive through Death Valley we'll  catch some trout in the high mountain lakes on the East side of the California Cascade Mountains, see Yosemite National Park again and then fish and tide pool our way up the Pacific Coast of California, Oregon and Washington.

We'll hit some big parks in East Washington and Montana and camp along the shores of the Great Lakes before hitting New England for the changing leaves.

Then back to Florida for winter about December 1. That's the plan, Stan...

I'm puzzled about one of my 674 blogs. It's "Where the Great Giraffe is Stored". Suddenly I'm getting thousands of hits a week on that blog for no reason I can fathom. It's become my most popular blog of the week, month and all time. If I Google even "Great Giraffe", Google gives the blog a great ranking...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Strange Dreams and Gas Prices

I'm out in my backyard at 4 AM and I hear music coming from a parked car in my backdoor neighbors driveway. I walk toward the font of my house though my yard thick with night blooming jasmines and see an strangely thick flock of fireflies.

The Jasmines and fireflies are incredibly beautiful. I walk up on the wide front porch of our mansion and enter the house which is located just off Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa. As I walk up the stairs to the second floor I become apprehensive that someone has entered though the unlocked front door.

When I awake, I find that I was asleep in our tin can motor home and only dreaming about fireflies.

So gas at $4 a gallon...does it have meaning for our travels this summer? We get about 8 MPG with the RV, so a 7,000 mile circuit of the U.S. is going to run $3,500 over a seven month expedition. Gas at $12 a gallon might begin to crimp our travel plans, if only out of sheer disgust with the way speculators are allowed to run up prices with no regard for the laws of supply and demand.