Started with an early lunch at Tia Sophia’s, an amazing place frequented primarily by locals. Had the green chili stew, which is just wonderful.
Got there at 11, when they start to serve lunch, by the time I left, there was a line.Casual day of touristing in Santa Fe, took pictures of lots of the cool art in the galleries.
Dinner at Atomic Cafe, which was a bit of a mistake. Had Enchiladas, they weren’t very good, and the plate was tiny for the price. Many beers, all in bottles. Went to the Sleeping Dog Tavern, and a good IPA on tap, and Corn Dog Oysters, which were astounding. A strong horseradish/hot pepper dip to put on them, they were lightly battered, not overcooked, just delightful. Early to bed, since I had an early drive to get up to Colorado Springs by a reasonable time tomorrow.
Breakfast, since it’s complimentary and from an actual resturant across the street, and then I’ll go the day without having to stop for lunch, since it’s going to be a long driving day. Been gaining weight with the BBQ crawls and New Orleans food, so need to cut back anyway!
Slightly long haul to Santa Fe, but time for a few stops, want to get into town early enough to see the Singing Waiters at La Cantina, part of La Casa Sena, they play at 6:30, the website says, so I should make it.
Pass several great photo ops, and a couple Route 66 business route small towns worth a few pictures.
But, 40+ MPH winds the whole way. Most excitement is I pass through a town, have 1/2 a tank of gas, and just over 100 miles on the odometer. Been getting 20+ mpg. But, we now start climbing into New Mexico, and continued 50mph winds, now headwinds.I notice the gas gauge is visibly moving, with 210 miles on the odometer, the gas light comes on. Uh oh. I check the Tom Tom (which has shown this trip that it’s maps are bad enough to need a new GPS next road trip), and it tells me 20 miles to next gas. Um, this doesn’t look good, I usually get 20mpg, I’m obviously getting a lot less, and I can watch the gauge move. We hit the top of the hill, and an oasis, a no-name gas station with a mini mart. I fill up, 15.49 gallons, on a 16 gallon tank. Average MPG, 15. I was obviously getting less than that up the hill with the headwind, so I only had 5 miles left before I would have run dry. Yikes! Next exit ended up being 8 more miles down the road. I’d have run out just short of that. Then, 10 miles later, the gas the Tom Tom knew about. Gee, thanks.
See signs saying construction on the road I’m taking to Santa Fe, expect 30 minute delays. Ok, maybe I won’t make dinner, but I’ll still get there in time to find a room and get dinner somewhere. We do hit the construction, and it is probably 30 minutes. 5 miles of total road reconstruction, driving on gravel. Glad I was in the FJ, it’s pretty rough, and a lot of it you had to drive with one set of wheels 4″ higher on the shoulder. The cars behind us were driving much slower than the pilot car and the first 3 vehicles.
Get into Santa Fe about 5, still plenty of time, find a great place to stay, the Sage Inn, walking distance to downtown (8/10 of a mile), and $60 a night with the AAA discount. Love the AAA discount, it’s paid for at least 4 years of membership this trip alone.
Head over to the resturant, show starts at 7:30, they reserve a great table for me, and I go for a walk! Get back for the show, ends up only 1 free table during the show, the place was packed. I’m so happy for them. Great show, a lot of fun.
Popped by the Catamount bar, had a (very) slow poured Guiness. Fun talking to the bartender. A nice couple comes in a bit later, has an Irish Car Bomb, I tell them that was all the rage in Ausin, asked what was in them. Sounded pretty good, but I didn’t have one. They’re from Colorado, she’s a teacher, he’s an online ad salesman, doing pretty well. She’s on spring break, so they came to Santa Fe to meet a bunch of her relatives she’s never met. We have a great time talking about their trip, my trip, families. Walked back to the hotel at midnight, so much different than any of the other places I’ve visited, the city is dead. No homeless, no traffic (except the occasional police officer), really quiet. Made for a nice walk, but a bit eerie that is was THAT deserted.
Tomorrow, a relaxing day of touristing.
Through Memphis for BBQ. Checked Yelp, picked the closest and best reviewed place, had a chopped pork sandwich, it was quite yummy.
The, drove by Graceland, how could I not? Took a couple pictures, and picked up a tacky gift for our Sushi Chef/Elvis fan.
All day drive into Oklahoma. No .real stops along the way, or pictures.Entering OK, it gets windy, very windy. 40-50mph windy..Stays that way alll day and night (and the next day). Oklahoma is flat. Very, very flat.
Going with the advice I’d gotten yesterday, I started the day with a walk through the various streets of the French Quarter.
Got some coffee from “CC’s”, the local institution (coffee here, btw, is quite good, and 1/2 the price I pay at any botique coffee shop back home. Black and Cafe O’lait are the top sellers).
From there went to the New Orleans Cooking school.
For 2-1/2 hours, you get entertaining stories from your instructor, ours was a history major, and told us all about the history of the region, especially as it related to food. He was very funny, and very interactive with the audience. Then, he cooked artichoke and shrimp soup, crawfish etoffe, bread pudding, and pralines. This included making everything from scratch, so was very fun to watch. Then, we ate! The food was astounding, absolutely first rate, flavorful, fresh. And, it only cost $27 for the course, receipes and lunch. Plus, a lady in line gave me a $3 coupon! People are so nice here. Well, at least I ran into several nice people.
After that I went to Jefferson Square park.
I had heard the street performers were great, but there weren’t many there. Walked north and did a graveyard tour, very interesting, then was going to go to Mardi Gras world, the warehouse where the floats are designed and constructed, but by the time I walked down, got the ferry across the Mississippi, and landed, it was too late to visit. Went back to the hotel, did a quick business call, took a shower after walking in the sun all day, and a short rest. Then, headed out for an early dinner, figuring more people would be here on Friday. Went to get a Muffaletta (a ham/salami/pastrami sandwich, with marinated veggies) at another recommended place, was a small line, but when the hostess came out to ask how many people from various parties, she told me I could sit at the counter, if I was on my own, so I popped right in, no waiting! Ordered my sandwich, and before I knew it (probably 2 minutes), my order arrived. Well, it’s Lent, and it’s a Friday, so apparently the seafood chef was swamped, but if you weren’t ordering fish, you went to the top of the list.
Went back up through the neighborhoods, listened to some celtic music on the way at an Irish Pub, hit Bourbon street, and it was already hopping. Found some great bands, popped between them, then found Big WillyLuckett! Well, after the adventure finding him last night, I had to see what the fuss was about. He was great, a lot of fun. So, I spent the evening popping between three clubs, as they took breaks in between sets. It was a lot more crowded, and being on my own, not as fun to hang with the crowds outside, but club hopping was a great way to spend the evening and hear some amazing musicians.
Things stay hopping later on Friday, at 12:30, Big Willy was just starting a new set, but I was done with crowds, so I headed back to pack and be ready to head out of New Orleans in the morning. My summary, very fun place, it would be ideal if you went with someone who knew the area, or at least spent some time there, and with a bunch of recommendations. I was lucky, had people who’d been there before steer me to a bunch of great places I would have missed otherwise. And, if you’re going to partake of the Bourbon Street party, it’s a lot more fun with other folks, so bring a couple friends. Letting your hair down (a reasonable amount) is both tolerated, and encouraged, and makes for a more emersive experience. My second night, I had my “on my own” mindset on, and it wasn’t as much fun as the first night. Definately a town best enjoyed with friends.
Visit Tobasco factory on the way to New Orleans. Great 1-2 hour sidetrip, fun history, and a beautiful island. You can separately visit the bird sanctuary (I didn’t want to spend the time), but that looks like a good addition to the sidetrip. You get a short walkthrough on the history, then a quick walk past viewing windows into the working factory, and then visit the large store with a variety of tobasco themed merchandise, taste a variety of foods/sauces and get a small lunch if you want.
New Orleans was easy enough to navigate with a GPS. All small one way streets, so could be a nightmare without some help, but growing up in San Francisco, it wasn’t a big deal. Got to the hotel, unpacked the car for the valet. I hate valet parking, I never understood why it was considered so “high end” to have workers, usually very young men, and have people hand over their keys to them. I thought I got everything of value out, but I forgot a few things, figured I’d just chance it. Fully emptying a car I’d “moved into” for the roadtrip just wasn’t feasable.
Unpacked, put a list of places to visit together and headed out. It’s now about 8pm, seemed like a reasonable early dinner time, and it’s Thursday. Pop over to Bourbon street, and the first thing I notice are lines at all the resturants. Didn’t expect that. Went to my first choice, the Acme Oyster Bar, and figured I’d see how long the line took. After a few minutes there were folks behind me, which always me feel better about waiting. A street artist came by playing trombone, his first number was OK, then not so good. The ladies behind me in line, two sisters who were having a “sisters weekend”, were giving him a good natured hard time, so that made for an entertaining show for the 20 minute wait to get in. The food was very reasonable priced, I had raw oysters and baked oysters and Jambalaya at Acme, all reasonably priced, or downright cheap by California standards, and all exceptionally good as well.
Met a couple folks at the bar, they were on a mission to find Big Willy Wilkins, and were trying to get other people to go. They talked a nice medical student from Houson, and his visiting parents from Bejing to go, and told me to come. I finaly relented, but after asking around, found out he didn’t play until Friday. Stopped by a club with a group doing a Zepplin cover, it was great! Listened to a few more tunes, got a bunch of recommendation from the folks I’d met on touristy places that probably weren’t worth it, and popped up and down Bourbon Street for the evening. Oh, and had a Hand Gernade on recommendation. Well, had about 1/3 of one. Very strong drink, probably best purchased early and nursed all night, it appears whatever ice-like thing keeps it cool works for a long time.
Around 11:30 noticed some folks closing up, many by putting up metal window coverings, asked and found out that after Katrina there had been a increase in crime, generally after midnight, and that heading back to the hotel between midnight and one was a good call. I took their advice, and was back to the hotel by 12:30.
Visited the Cathedral of Junk in Austin.
Spent the early afternoon with friends who moved to Austin.
Went to Lockhart, the BBQ capital of texas.
My first stop, Kruez, was my favorite. Wonderful BBQ.
Next I went to Blacks. I found their meat too greasy for my taste, but it’s a popular spot, and really nice folks.
Finally stopped by Smitty’s, but they closed at 6, and it was 7ish at this point. This was a good thing, since I really couldn’t eat anymore anyway.
From here, I drove east, passed Houston, and stopped by a hotel next to the freeway just west of Louisiana for the night. Next stop, New Orleans!
SXSW! Met lots of interesting folks, many events, lots of interesting discussiions, good talks, and some movie premiers! Musical highlight, meeting and hearing Pinetop Perkins, a 95 year old Blues Pianist.
Winny Texas to Austin Texas. Drove straight through today. Very foggy as I left, then the rain started, rained light-to-medium the entire 4 hour drive. Fredricksburg is wall-to-wall people. No pictures today given the drive to get to Austin, and the nasty weather. Got to the room, really cute, but 40ish and kinda chilly. Couldn’t enjoy the patio.Here are pictures from when it warmed up though.
Blah breakfast at hotel, mucked about in Bisbee for the morning and got some gifts. There was an elder tour in town, so the shops were pretty crowded, even though town wasn’t, so I didn’t spend a lot of time shopping with the crowds. Bisbee’s a very cool town, interesting architecture, and built on a hill, very interesting to get around.
Next, started the long drive to Austin. A lunch stop in Douglas for a good TexMex lunch, Mole was a little too sweet for my tastes, saw the Mexican Border for the first time ever.
Back on the road, drive through El Paso, too full from lunch to eat. My last trip through El Paso, I had an amazing meal. Drive through Texas until 11pm, long day of driving, but wanted to get as close to Austin as I could, Winnie Texas it is! BTW, the Comfort Inn in Winnie is exceptionally nice, more like an upscale hotel than a roadside hotel.
Headed out for Oatman first thing, knew nothing would be open, but figured I’d take some pictures, and wasn’t interested in buying stuff anyway. An interesting turn of the century town, much seemed original, slightly touristed up, looks like it’s quite the town during tourist season, a fake gun fight kinda town.Made me think of a much smaller and less remodeled Tombstone. Clarke Gable and Carole Lombard stayed at the Oatman hotel on their wedding night, and visited on occasion.
Compare this to the night shot from Day 1…
Heading out from Oatman, I was on a mission to get to Bisbee, so I headed over the pass to get through Phoenix and Tucson as soon as I could. The pass was a great drive, twisty switchbacks, climbing some 2000 feet in 8 miles, passing many active mines and some interesting places to see.
After getting through the pass, a slower decent into collections of houses, then eventually towns. A quick stop in Wickieup for a Dr. Pepper, the combination souvenir store, deli, market was the perfect stop.
And, the potentially offensive “road attractor”
Past this, I hit the interstate, a 70mph blurr into Phoenix, where the road turns into a stoplight and traffic ridden road for a while, slowing progress to a crawl. It took an extra hour to get through Phoenix with all the traffic and lights. Grabbed a bite at Chik-Fil-A, which I’d never visited before, but had heard wonderful things about. It was a fine chicken sandwich, but didn’t match the hype for me. Then off through Tucson, and I realized I’d never make it to Bisbee before stores closed. There was one shop I wanted to visit with particularly nice turquoise (Bisbee Blue), but I couldn’t make it tonight. I’d passed a sign for “Colossal Cave”. My friend Keith had mentioned this a couple weeks earlier when I said I was going on the trip.So, looked it up in my guidebook, called, and I could make it there for the last tour. Ahh, road trip attractions, the key to a fun and memorable journey.
After this, another hour and change to Bisbee, then picked the Copper Queen, the nicest hotel in town when it was built, and possibly still is. I noticed the John Wayne room, as I went to my room, guessing they have many rooms that had well known guests who stayed there.Was pretty full, but got a nice, if small, room. Quiet and very comfortable. Dinner in the resturant was OK, but not spectacular and a little pricy. The semi-fry bread was the highlight, but was fine considering it was late and I was tired. Unfortunately, the wireless didn’t work, signal was poor, even next to the router, but no connection to the internet. Gets to be a pattern.