Transcontinental Travel Tips ( Part 3 )

Posted on March 7, 2015 under Storytelling with no comments yet


 N.O. Band

Bourbon Street, New Orleans New Year’s Eve

( Peter MacDonald photo )


Tip # 7:  Always carry your passport with you

I’m probably a bit paranoid when it comes to this topic, but I carried my passport with me at all times when we weren’t in the car.  Any time we stopped for gas, a bathroom break, a rest area, tourist centre or hotel, I made a point of having my passport in my “man bag”.  Ladies, your purse will do just fine.  The United States, like so many countries in the world these days, is extremely security conscious.

What are the chances of finding a room in New Orleans on any given day?  Pretty good if you’re Bill Gates.   For the rest of us mortals, affordable hotel rooms are at a premium in the “Big Easy” at the best of times.   New Year’s Eve is not the best of times.  Throw in a National Collegiate football semi-final on New Year’s Day and finding any accommodations was going to be a challenge.

Enter … Facebook.

Tip # 8: Facebook is your friend on a long trip

Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  But when you are travelling, it’s like having an entire of community of people along for the ride.  Early on the morning of December 31st, I put out an APB on Facebook.  Did anyone know of anyone who lived in or near New Orleans?  Within the hour, we had secured a place 15 minutes from the French Quarter.  An old family friend was bicycling through Viet Nam and happened to stop to check her messages.  When she saw my plea, she contacted her sister and just like that, we had a place to lay our heads down for the night.  For a full blown description of New Year’s Eve in New Orleans, check out my website for the story “ A Taste of Bourbon”.

Tip # 9: Best jambalaya in Texas: Floyd’s Restaurant in Beaumont

I’m not very good at describing sounds, especially when it comes to automobiles.  Back in the day, I could recognize a screeching fan belt and, when you have a problem with brake pads; it’s pretty easy to determine what’s wrong.  The sound coming from the rear left wheel on the driver’s side came out of nowhere as we neared the end of the bayous in Louisiana.  It was our good fortune to be only a half hour away from the Texas border and the promise of a Visitors Centre.  The bad news: it was New Year’s Day.

Pete did a quick inspection of the car and determined that the problem was with a bracket that holds the shock absorber in place.  It had become disconnected from the body of the car.  Please refer to Tip # 5.  Within minutes, a picture of the offending object was sent to three back yard mechanics that we knew from home.  The consensus was that it was safe to drive a short distance but would need repair before venturing any further.

We knew that the repair wasn’t going to happen on New Year’s Day, so we checked into our hotel and received a recommendation for a restaurant just up the road.  If you ever find yourself in Beaumont, Texas, go to Floyd’s Restaurant.  World class jambalaya, amazing desserts and some of the friendliest wait staff you’ll find anywhere.

Tip # 10: If your car breaks down in Beaumont, Texas, go see Dustin at Precision Tune Auto Centre

I realize that this is a very specific tip.   I could tell from the moment we talked with this guy that he was honest and sincere.

Did you know that the Henry Homburg Municipal Golf Course (located in Beaumont) was the first golf course in the United States that permitted African Americans as members?  Neither did I.  Pete gleaned this information while playing 9 holes (11 actually) … for $9.00.  He decided to take some time to play a round while waiting for a part to be delivered from Houston to the Auto Centre.   I curled up with my book (tough reading as it is heavy on philosophy – not one of my favorite subjects in university).

Full details of our day in Beaumont can be found on my website in the story “Zen and Now”.

We encountered the worst weather of our trip heading into Austin, Texas.  It was a very dark night with driving rain and a bit of fog.  We came upon four separate accidents only a few miles apart.  Our guess was a combination of driving too fast for the conditions (80 MPH was the speed limit in Texas) and driver inattention.  This would have been a particularly bad night to be driving and texting.

( To be continued )

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Highland Hearing Clinic

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