Friday, June 26, 2015

Days 12-13: Good Food, Good Fun, and Some Reflections on Slightly Deeper Stuff

Today's Distance: About 430 miles
Total Distance: about 4266 miles
Today's Destinations: New Orleans, Louisiana

So yesterday we ended up not going to Dallas after all.  It was disappointing not to see the friends we were hoping to connect with, but at the same time, we were pretty tired and it was just so good to spend some time with family.  Justin's aunt treated us to a movie - Tomorrowland, which we enjoyed. Not the most original or thoroughly developed storyline, perhaps, and a bit overtly preachy toward the end, but I think it was a relevant movie, especially for youth (which is the target audience, after all).

--- Tangent follows ---
Basically, the premise is that we live in a time when everybody is focusing on all the problems in the world - and there are a lot of them! - but in all the talk and analysis and debate, it can start to feel as if nobody is actually doing anything to make it better, or that everyone has given up.  There's a point toward the beginning of the film when the main character is at school, and all her classes are talking about scary stuff - war and poverty and climate change and whatnot - and in her English class, her teacher is talking about dystopia (mentioning Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984 specifically), saying that these fantasies are becoming all too real, and the girl raises her hand and asks, "Can we fix it?" The teachers is dumbfounded and can't think of a reply before the bell rings.

Can we fix it?  If you read Huxley and Orwell, the answer is pretty much "no, you're screwed."  And while I understand the importance of stories like that, as highlighting the seriousness of the hold society can dig itself into, the sorts of moral and/or social disasters we can create for ourselves and then have to live with, when it comes to a real world application I think "can we fix it?" is the question we should really be asking.  And then answering.  And then actually doing something about it.

So yeah, I liked Tomorrowland.

--- Back to the blog ---

So it was great to have a day of rest, and we loved spending more time with Justin's family and especially his aunt.  It felt like a home away from home for a couple days.

Today we got a fairly early start and headed toward New Orleans.  It was a long drive - pretty, but long.  We hit traffic when we got close to Baton Rouge and traveled about 10 miles an hour for a good two hours before things picked up again.  Oh, and we finally had a real, good, Southern rainstorm (only two flashes of lightning that we could see though).  I wish I'd taken a picture out the windshield for my friends back home, because you just haven't experienced rain until you've experienced a Southern storm.  The rain falls in torrents, and you can barely see out your car no matter how fast your wipers are going.  Traffic slows down considerably and all you hear is the shower overhead.  We stopped in Beaumont for lunch (we can now say we've been to Whataburger) in what we thought was a lapse in the storm, but by the time we got out it was pouring again.  I'd forgotten what it was like to slosh through a puddle of warm rainwater.  You don't experience that in the North, not even in the summer.  It's a pretty weird feeling.

Anyway.  You know you're in New Orleans when you see Spanish moss and swampland.  I started singing "The Swamps of Home" from Once Upon a Mattress in my head as we drove across a long, low bridge that just goes over several miles of swamp.  Who decided it was a good idea to build a city here?  French people, that's who.  A city on a swamp that receives annual doses of hurricane and was almost wiped out during Katrina.  Who decides it's a good idea to stay here?  The people who call it home, I guess.  That's the thing about home - sometimes it chooses you rather than the reverse.  It's not always the place that is safest or smartest or most logical to live in.  It's just the place where you belong, and for a lot of people, that's New Orleans.  So year after year, they batten down the hatches and endure the storms.  Nearly 10 years after Katrina, they continue day after day to pick up the pieces and rebuild.  That's what you do when you love something.  I never understood that about New Orleans until today, I think.

We met some friends and their kids (two adorable little boys) for dinner at this great restaurant in Metairie (a suburb) called Copeland's.  Reason #1 to love this place: free valet parking.  Reason #2: friendliest and happiest staff probably ever.  The valet people talked to us about their trip, and our server was so friendly.  We would have had a great time even if the food had only been okay.  Reason #3 to love Copelands: GREAT food.  I had crab-stuffed shrimp, which (if you love seafood) is even more amazing than it sounds.  Reason #4 to love Copelands: it is not expensive!  Moses Lake people, think Michael's on the Lake food (better, really) at Michael's Bistro prices.  It was $40 with a generous tip and a $5 donation, which brings me to Reaons #5: once a year they collect a donation to help cancer patients in the immediate area.  And for every $5 you give, they give you a $10 gift certificate to any Copeland's restaurant.  We probably won't get a chance to return, but it's a great cause so why not?

So anyway, I'm glad that such a long day turned into such a great night!  We also finished Going Postal - two thumbs up! I need to read more Terry Pratchett - and started reading Agatha Christie's The Clocks.  I read this last year  back-to-back with about ten other Poirot mysteries so I have a foggy idea of how the story turns out.  Justin has only started reading Agatha Christie though so I'm reading it to him, trying to appropriate my best British accents (haven't gotten to Poirot's entrance yet but my French accent is very bad).  I'm not sure whether he likes that or not but it's almost involuntary when I read British novels, just as I can't help reading To Kill a Mockingbird with a Southern drawl.

I had an iced pecan mocha at the restaurant and completely finished it before realizing that caffeine at this hour was a bad idea.  Sigh . . .

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