Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Orleans: First Day

The day after we arrived in New Orleans, we decided to visit the city.  Well, not really "the city", but definitely the touristy parts of it.  We headed down Elysium Fields toward the French Quarter, and found that parking was free on Sundays!  This was especially exciting to learn, since the RV park owner told us she pays $12 for parking.

We wandered around one quarter of one quarter of the French Quarter, and found out that everything is way overpriced.  We bought exactly no souvenirs.  I wanted to sample some beignets, and  Cafe du Monde seemed the perfect place: not only are they world-famous for their beignets, but, as a "Wheel of Fortune" fan, I wanted to eat at the same place as Pat and Vanna.

Well, so did about hundred and fifty other people.  The line to get in snaked around the block.  I took a rough estimate of the number of people waiting, figured fifteen minutes of eating for each, divided that by the number of tables, and realized we would be waiting at least two-and-a-half hours for a donut.

We were hungry, so we decided to try a different restaurant.  The Market Cafe, at the end of the French Market, had a number of free tables.

As we entered, an Asian waitress approached us and said, "For day."

"What?"  I asked.

"For day," she repeated.

"For day?"

"Tayboo for day."

She gestured across the restaurant.  I followed where she was pointing, and saw next to me a table set with a condiment rack bearing a numbered sign reading "54".  To the left of that the table's sign read "46", behind that "47", and after that ... "48".  Table forty-eight.  We sat down.

The food was good: oyster po'boy and crab gumbo.  The service, so-so.  First, the waitress (not the same one) brought us someone else's lunch.  She brought our sandwich, which we were sharing, but it took her ten minutes to bring another plate to put it on.  We didn't leave a tip.

It was a good day, though.  We spent three hours doing the touristy thing, which was almost our fill for the month.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Jude Travel Park

This is a nice little park with the emphasis on “little”.  A handful of small spots tucked into what looks like less than a quarter acre, with a gazebo and tiny swimming pool.  Nice bathroom and showers.  It's not the cheapest park in the area, but the amenities and proximity to downtown make up for that.  It's back-in parking only, which I hate, so thank goodness someone was there to guide me.  Otherwise, I would have driven into a tree or through the fence.

 The owner, Marla, is nice, though her husband is a bit ... gruff.  One might even say rude.  He knows how to back in a big rig, though, and tends a nice garden.

It's Strange

We are milestone-based travelers (or at least I am; I can't speak for my wife). We're an hour away from Tallahassee ...  it's seventy-fine miles from here to Pensacola … the Alabama border is twenty minutes away.

But time seems to dilate the closer we got to each milestone.  It took a long time to get from Pensacola to the Alabama state line.  From there, though, it seemed only a few minutes before we were in Mobile.  After that, time slowed down again.  I'm sure it too far more than an hour to drive the thirty or so miles to the state line, and those last six miles took so long, I was shocked to see the "Entering Mississippi" billboard.  And now look: we're approaching Biloxi!  I'm certain there is some esoteric scientific principal at work here.

Good Morning!

We did sleep well last night, and were back on the highway after getting coffee from the vending machine at the rest area.  I pressed the button for “extra strong”, but it came out see-through.  I would hate to see what weak coffee looked like.

It got better, though.  A few miles over the line in Mississippi we stopped at the first rest area.  I went into the visitor center to find out how far we were from New Orleans, and the first thing I hear is “Would you like a free cup of coffee?”  Well, of course I did.  I even asked for – and received – a cup for my wife.  On the way back to our rig, I told Kazumi to go in and do the same.  Free coffee is always the best.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Taking a Rest

It's been a long drive, almost twelve hours.  We made a few stops for gas and food, and the engine is running rougher than when we left, but still okay.  We're only about four hours away from New Orleans, but that trip would get us there around midnight East Coast time.  Even adjusting for Central Time, that's still far too late to arrive.

So we're taking a rest for the night.  For a single night, Kazumi doesn't see much sense in staying at an RV park.  We're both tired from driving for so long, so I'm not going to argue.  We're heading to bed, and I know I'll be asleep within the hour.

It's a Gas

The RV gas tank was nearly empty when we arrived in Aripeka, so the first order of business was to fill the tank.  Gassing up an RV is a challenge, because it means finding a gas station that's large enough, with convenient entrance and exit (preferably separate), and an easy way to get from one to the other.  We have to quickly evaluate these attributes while cruising along at highway speeds. Obviously, we can't let price be a factor in our decision of which station to use.

We found a Mobil station which fit the bill, which was lucky because, as it turned out, we would not have made the next gas station on the amount of fuel in the tank.  The price was high, but we had to live with that.  I paid the attendant in advance, and started pumping.  It took 64 gallons to fill the tank, at a cost of $140.

When the pump stopped pumping, Kazumi yelled to me that there was a leak.  I walked around the rig to look, and, sure enough,  there was a big puddle of gasoline underneath.  I started up the engine and pulled away from the pumps, parking in the back of the building.  I looked underneath and saw three or fours large drops fall off the fuel tank, but after that, nothing.  After getting my change back, I looked again, but there were still no further leaks.

My assumption is that there is a hole in the filler spout (another thing I'll have to fix) which only leaks when the tank is completely full.  Something that needs to be fixed, but nothing that will stop our trip.

The Journey Begins Again

The engine in our RV has been running rough for a while. We had the engine timing adjusted last night,and it sounded fine.  This morning, though,, it gave me a little trouble starting, and when I pulled out of the spot, it started to backfire like crazy.  Pop!  Pop!  Bang! Bang!  Pop-bop a luma a long bang boom!

I was dismayed, to say the least.  The repair was only fifty dollars, but I still didn't want to waste that money.

I pulled the rig around to a straight part of the driveway, where I had planned to hook up the car.  There, I floored the gas and revved the engine.  It seemed to smooth out after a moment.  When I let the engine idle again, it wasn't backfiring.  Nor did it do so when I pulled the rig ahead a bit.

After mounting the car on the tow dolly, we drove out of the RV park and onto the street.  No backfiring.  Onto the main road, almost at the speed limit, and still no backfiring.  The engine still runs rougher than I would like, but the problem seems solved.

We're on the Road Again

Maybe this time, for good.

Our adventure over the past three-plus years has been disappointing, to say the least. A multitude of calamities, mostly of a financial nature, hindered our plans.

Now, however, I have a job that pays well, and allows me to work from home -- wherever home may be. I will endeavor to make this job last, and we will reap the benefits thereof for as long as we can.

Shortly, we will be en route to a month-long stay in New Orleans. When we have had our fill of beignets and jazz bands, we will continue on to Texas, for two months at an actual desk in an actual office at my new employer's workplace.

After that, if fate be with us, we will renew our traveling adventure, first to either Dallas or Austin, then in a great circle through the southeastern states, visiting friends I've never met before.

As for this web log: I started it with good intentions, planning to chronicle our travels as they happened. That did not work out as planned, obviously. I will try mightily to keep this up-to-date, but I will not try to back-fill the missing entries from the past three years. Partly because I don't remember all of it, partly because the parts I do remember are too depressing, but mostly because I'm too lazy.