Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Friday, May 20, 2005

Pensacola to New Orleans, LA

Finally, a decently small trip leg that won't wear us out! Before we left the Milton KOA, we thought we would try the continental breakfast the park attendant had mentioned was available. We investigated this morning and found all they offered was coffee and vending machine stuff. Not what we had in mind, and not faithful to their claim. We snarled our disapproval and went back to Homer and had a hot dog. Yes, a hot dog. It was great. Sandy and I aren't very discriminating when it comes to breakfast food. We're just as likely to cook a hamburger as bacon and eggs. This drives Mindy nuts, as she thinks it is sacrilegious to eat anything other than standard breakfast foods for the first meal of the day. When I remind her that, in certain cultures, fish is considered a mainstay for breakfast food, she usually gags and hurries from the room, much to my delight.

We strayed off I-10 in Hammond, Louisiana, looking for a good mom-and-pop lunch spot. We weren't disappointed. We spotted Charlou's restaurant, a tiny but well attended dive on U. S. 90 and enjoyed—again—some excellent seafood. We also had a very pleasant chat with our waitress, who had been working there for 13 years. We then moved back onto I-10 and made an obligatory stop at a huge new Camping World nearby. We bought a few small things for Homer and then continued on down I-55 to New Orleans. Thankfully, this stretch of interstate did not fall into the boring category; it was built almost entirely as a bridge over the swampland that is the Mississippi delta. It was fascinating to see below many of the little ramshackle cabins occupied by Cajun families on the few little patches of solid ground that were evident. I just don't think I could live like that, with the marshy goop full of reptiles all around me. I know these folks are fully comfortable with their culture and surroundings, but I think the leap for me would be too great.

Arriving in New Orleans, we found our way to the KOA West campground on West Jefferson Highway, again because they advertised a wi-fi connection. On our way to the park, we drove through a somewhat depressed socio-economic area, and we were worried that it might have some adverse implications for the RV park. It turned out not to be factor, however, and we were soon ushered to a nice concrete pad, where we backed in—with the help of Sandy and the walkie-talkies—with no problem. The wi-fi connection, however, was another matter. The RV park obviously had selected a local wi-fi provider to install the equipment and offer the service for a fee. After much manipulation of the computer and payment of the eight-dollar-a-day fee, we were able to get on line, but the signal was weak and kept dropping us off line. I finally gave up and tried to call the wi-fi provider, only to get a recording. This was to be the end of the line for my quest to choose RV parks based on their wi-fi internet service. It's just too spotty and undependable. I resolve to look for a different solution to having internet connectivity on the road.

After settling in, we were hungry again, and asked the park attendants for their recommendation of a good place to eat. They sent us to Harbor Seafood on Williams Boulevard. When we saw the place, we agreed that it fit perfectly our criteria for selecting a good food dive. It was not a chain, it looked kinda dumpy and, best of all, the parking lot was packed with cars. I probably should mention here that one should not rely on the number of cars in the parking lots of chain restaurants as an indication that their food is good. The general public, in my opinion, is largely clueless as to what constitutes good food. The chain restaurants have gotten wealthy by serving assembly-line food in too-large servings in a noisy and chaotic atmosphere. The chain restaurant experts will admit to designing these restaurants so as to amplify, rather than to dampen, the noise level. Why? Because it seems most people equate crowd noise or loud music to excitement about the dining experience. Well, in my opinion, they are excited only about the excitement, because I have rarely encountered good food in such surroundings. I particularly despise dining in restaurants where I must shout to have a conversation across the table. But, I digress again.

Since it was a Friday evening at Harbor Seafood, there was a considerable wait to get a table at the seafood market/restaurant, but the food was good. We wondered if we would finally get our fill of seafood on this trip, as we do enjoy the freshness of the offerings that surely were caught that same day.

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