Becca Miles and I took a 9 day, 3,000 mile road trip through 11 states immediately following the submission of our Law Review write-ons. The basic plan was to get to New Orleans in a day and a half (890 miles in 14 hours including stops!), spend a day there, then drive to the border of Texas. On Thursday we would drive the rest of the way to Houston and go to Six Flags Astroworld for the day. We would then drive to Dallas that night and go to Six Flags over Texas on Friday, before Memorial Day. After that it would be Oklahoma, Arkansas, Memphis, and Nashville and then up to Louisville, KY and Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom -- if we still wanted to go on any roller-coasters! We would then finish off the trip with a drive through West Virginia, stopping at the Federal Penitentiary in Alderson and taking some pictures of the surrounding country-side for the people at the Alderson Clinic at W&L.
To say that it rained a bit on the way down to New Orleans would be an understatement. In fact, it absolutely teemed through much of Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Alabama after 8 hours of driving and dinner at McDonalds somewhere in Tennessee. We were unable to locate the Georgia Welcome Center, so we quickly left the state. In the morning we headed out to New Orleans via Mississippi. The weather had cleared and it was projected to be cool and clear for the next couple of days. In fact the temperatures were 15 degrees below normal in Louisiana.
In the car on the way down to New Orleans we listened to a book on tape about Sue, the Tyrannosaurus that was the subject of an extensive legal battle and ended up being sold at auction (by Sothebys) for over $7 Million. It was pretty interesting, although occasionally confusing when listing a bunch of scientists during a tangential trip through the past to the early days of fossil collecting. We actually had to turn the tape off a few times on the first day because the rain was coming down so hard we couldn't hear it.
We arrived in New Orleans and managed to find the Aquarium and IMAX theatre. We had tickets for the Mysteries of Egypt at 4:00 and made it with half an hour to spare. Next we headed to the hotel, Château Dupré in the French Quarter. After lugging many tons of luggage up, we settled in and headed out for dinner and a Ghost/Vampire Tour. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe, 'cause I needed to get a shirt, you know? We ate there and then walked over to the other end of the French Quarter and started our tour. We toured various sections of the French Quarter and learned about its checkered past. We ended up at a blues club called the Funky Butt. After a couple of songs by a local band we walked back to our hotel via Bourbon Street.
In the morning I tried to book an air-boat tour through the swamp and a jazz cruise around the harbor on an actual steam-driven, paddle-wheeler (The Natchez), but it was not to be. The good tours on the air-boats did not coincide well with the steam-boat so we decided on just hitting the swamp, air-boat style. The relative coolness was much appreciated as we would otherwise have been quite toasty, despite the 40 m.p.h. top speed of the air-boat.
We saw alligators, herons, and other assorted birds. We even got to hold a little alligator, about a foot and a half long. We also learned about the Bayou from the local guides who own much of the land we encountered. They told us that the water is only about two feet deep and that the alligators generally stay away from humans. We decided not to test this theory. However, one of the guides took a header into the water while he was trying to catch the little gator. Better him than me.
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