Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Orleans, Day 3

It's actually day 4, but I'm calling it day 3 because we did nothing but recuperate on the day 1. Yesterday we went on a swamp tour looking for flora and fauna of Bayou. All we got was a bunch of 6-foot alligators. The guide's story about life in Bayou -- how small a community they were across Barataria preserve and how they while away barbecuing drinking and watching sports -- was more interesting.  They have to drive 10 miles out in order to date someone other than their cousins here. Sounds much like alligators confined in the swamp. Except that it's the mating season and alligators are not swimming 10 miles out to avoid their cousins.

It's now almost a month since we left San Francsisco and now I'm settling in to a familiar pattern of activities: one day up and one day down. The activity went up quite a bit on the first week, with packing and all. Then it dropped down to the pre-trip average of about 42,000 steps per week. The excitement factor doesn't last more than a week after all, it appears. Today, I'm fatigued and achy all over despite mostly sitting on a boat for 2 hours yesterday. It must be the wake of 10,000 steps I took 2 days ago in French Quarter.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Olde Town Inn

From French Quarter, you take Decatur toward French Market. Past the Hotel De La Monnaie, it won't look much French anymore. Follow Elysian Field around the curve and come to Rampart. Then take a right into a quaint residential street lined with clapboard houses and colorful Victorians. In the middle of it is the Olde Town Inn. Ask for room 201.

It is huge two-room suite with 10 feet ceiling. The south-facing french doors will lead you to the balcony looking down on the street lined with tall Oleander trees that you can see lying on the bed. In a balmy April evening with the doors open, you can smell the perfume as well. When it gets dark, the street light of the color of setting sun streams through the plantation louvre laying a maudlin shadow on the bed and then casting it on the opposite wall. Your silluette with fedora on you head and a cigarette in your mouth would complete a scene from a film noire.

We checked out of Extended Stay yesterday and came to this place. The $47 deal from was no longer available. This inn lacked the kitchen, but it was about the same price and it was a lot closer to French Quarter and downtown. And I'm sure glad we moved. It's so nice here I could stay here for a month, only if it had a kitchen.

We spent a few hours in French Quarter after checking out. Mostly around Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde. Then we took the mule tour around the quarter. A perfect substitute for a CFS patient, yet I ended up 10,000 steps for the day. I slept like a baby and woke up with ache all over. I had to call Louisianna Tour and moved our swamp boat tour to the afternoon. I was gonna write in the morning instead, but I ended up spending most of the time in bed recuperating.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New Orleans, LA

I'm in no hurry. We'll take a day off and get some much needed rest. Even with a day in Lafayette doing nothing but charging the car, I was still pooped. Going to Acadiana RV park to refuel may have taken quite a bit out of me.

We went to Giles Nissan in the morning and then went to the library after leaving the car hooked up. Hour and a half later, and we ended up with only +10 miles after spending 17 miles going there and back. I was going to come back in the morning on the way to New Orleans and charge two more hours, but then went to Acadiana park in the afternoon to fill up.

We took the southern route to New Orleans from Lafayette. The plan was to follow the scenic route #76 from the Reader's Digest book. But the range anxiety took over after St Martinsville. I aborted driving to Oaks Manor in Franklin and then drove straight to Slidell supercharger. Extended Stay in Metarie was on the way, so I dropped luggage and wife and then arrive at the charger with 8 miles to spare.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lafayette, LA

"Tai Soong?" Shaqanette says as soon as we walked in. "Fill in this and this and sign here, sweetheart".  Then a white woman, a wiry and petite version of Dame Edna, says "I'd appreciate if you return this when you are done" in a curled southern drawl  as we check out the kitchenware. A haggard looking couple outside complains to each other something about getting or not getting a room on the first floor. They all wear this frown on their faces even when they are friendly. It's the weary look you see on Appalachian hillbillies or Okies in faded pictures.

This is Louisiana, the land of Confederacy of Dunces. I forget the plot --it's been decades since I read it in the college -- but it was a tragicomedy about haggard life of a ragtag group of blacks and whites in Louisiana. I meant to re-read, but never had a chance to. Maybe I'll get a e-book version and read it while I'm here. Or, check it out in the library. I'm going there anyway this morning. It's right next to Giles Nissan with J1772 charger.

So we checked in yet another Extended Stay yesterday evening. I don't seem to be able to get away from it. I was gonna book the cheapest motel instead of Extended Stay for the night before continuing to New Orleans. I still got Extended Stay when I booked it on I'm damn glad I did though. We were going to camp out while charging the car but it showered and wife was too tired from the effect of the med she took the night before. And this morning I'm too tired to continue, so we decided to stay here one more night and recuperate.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Austin TX, Day 3

OK, I changed my mind about Austin. We hung out around the university and it was quite vibrant over there. UT is in line with Capitol and the whole area makes the center of the town. With the downtown next to it, live music scene near by, and Barton creek just south of the river, it is one lively place. I wouldn't mind living here. There are some old neighborhoods in the West Campus and Pease district and I can easily imagine myself in one of the tree-shaded houses there.

Tomorrow morning we'll set out for Louisiana. It's another 500 miles to New Orleans from here. It'll take us at least 9 hours so we'll set out early.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Austin TX, Day 2

I developed a small blister on my upper lip, from the long drive two days ago, no doubt. It's the first time in 8 years. The limit imposed by CFS post-exertional sickness is so low that I've been keeling over well before I could do enough to develop a blister.  Now that I can handle long drives, the stress of it must be suppressing my immune system enough to trigger the cold sore without producing enough inflammation to trigger the post-exertional sickness. That means that my CFS threshold has been lifted enough to tolerate the amount of stress that triggers cold sore. I should be happy that I'm getting cold sore.

This Extended Stay in Metro Austin is so nice I could stay here for much longer. They originally gave us a dingy room with just one window by the bed. I asked for one with more window, and they obliged with very nice Jr 1 BR with windows on two sides.

I'm not quite as impressed about Austin. It is a nice city for sure, verdant and cosmopolitan enough. But nothing particularly special. It could be any large university/capitol town in the eastern half of the US. It could well be Raleigh. Barton Springs Pool was stunning though. It's probably a couple of hundred meters long and presumably filled with spring water sipping from Colorado river or Barton creek. The temptation to jump in was so great, I think I'll make another trip tomorrow and dip in.

We went to the State Capitol afterward, took a few pictures, got hungry and went for a bite at C'ilantro. I'm not keen on "fusion" Asian food as they are mostly sell-outs by people with no culinary self esteem. (There is no fusion French or Italian).  But we went for this one since I saw it a few times on TV. And it was a fusion alright, no more, no less. It is a fast food off a truck, so being fusion is excusable, I suppose.

Our next stop? New Orleans. But first, I need to rest one more day. I'm still tired and I don't want risk a sickness.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Austin, TX

Grass is greener in Texas. Rocks and mountains gave way to prairie and farmland shortly after we crossed the state line. It is as flat as Kansas too. There was no hill in sight over the horizon. And it must've been raining in the breadbasket farmland. By the time we got to Childress, the humidity was palpable.

We left Albuquerque Extended Stay at 7AM. We got to Extended Stay Metro in Austin in 3AM local time. A total of 19 hours on the road. The Tesla navigation routed us through Childress and Cisco and it was 200 miles between those two through country roads meandering through millions of small Texas towns. I had to keep it at 55mph most of the time, despite the speed limit of 75 between towns, to make it with 10 miles left in the tank.

We drove and drove through the humid Texas night with bugs pelting the windshield and the high beam rhythmically flickering on and off as cars came and went from the opposite direction. A gas station was open at midnight in Stamford and I pulled in to clean the windshield. A few local young people came and went. It was as if I was transported back to North Carolina. We used to ride in the back country road in the middle of the night on weekends, with a six pack in the backseat. Only with self-driving electric car this time around instead of 68 Rambler or 76 Mustang.  And a wife in the passenger seat instead of looking for girls.

It would've been faster to stay on the interstates and go through Oklahoma city. It's 45 minutes longer on Google maps, but you can drive at full speed of 80 mph. And Tesla would've driven by itself. Not only the country back roads slower, Tesla had to slow down to make the distance between sparse superchargers. But this was yet another blessing in disguise: I got to see the Texas country side. This trip is about rediscovering America, and you can miss a lot by hopping city to city, from tourist site to another, on the interstate highways. And I got to time-travel for a bonus.

 Here is a rough route I took:

19 hours on the road is certainly a record for me, with or without CFS. I remember feeling semi-delirious driving 60 miles from SF to SJ in 2008. I could barely hold up my arm to hold the steering wheel back then. I felt similar while driving down to LA last Thanksgiving after stressing planning for the trip. But I recovered on the way down after a few hours.  This time I was dead tired from the ordeal, but no such malaise. So there is no doubt that I've made progress. I could declare victory right now if it weren't for the limit imposed by the post-exertional sickness. I'm still risking getting sick if I walk faster than 94 steps per minute. I'll challenge again and see if I made progress on that front as well, but not while I'm travelling. Maybe I'll try when I get to NYC, but not now. I can't risk getting sick while travelling.