PA to LA: Day 2
June 2, 2003
June 2: We wake at 7:30 a.m. following too little sleep. After packing up and showering, we say farewell to the Inn of the Red Roof and drive a few blocks away to Denny’s where we enter a restaurant straight from the collective dreams of Russ Meyer, David Lynch, and John Waters. The diner is staffed with bizarre locals:
- at least two she-males,
- an odd-looking manager whose peculiarities include a missing index finger and an off-balance walk,
- a group of senior citizens who busily drink coffee while painting oversized ceramic eggs,
- a pair of tall elderly men, one of whom describes to the waitress his preferred style of hashbrown:
“I want my hashbrowns well done. That means they should be brown—as brown as you can get ‘em—on both sides—not just one side but both. Now I went to a place one time and told the waitress to have the chef make ‘em this way and he came out an’ said he couldn’t get ‘em any more browner than that. I said, ‘What you mean you can’t get ‘em browner than that?’ So when I say I want my hashbrowns well done I mean really well done.”
Clearly the man enjoys the potato.
My breakfast choice: Moon Over Mi-hami which, despite its cornball name, is a delightful sandwich prepared on toasted sourdough bread with scrambled eggs, Swiss cheese, American cheese, and ham. I order it without ham, of course. Di orders the Belgium waffle. Both orders include a side of hash browns, which are white and soft. Note to potential Denny’s customers: Always order hash browns well done.
Following breakfast at the Bizarro Denny’s we hit the open road. Speed limits in the south average 70 miles per hour—which means most people do 80. We hang at 72 and drive all day, stopping only for fuel and to take the puppy for the occasional walk.
As we cross into Central Time an hour is gained. It is a wonderful feeling, especially in knowing that this hour will not have to be given back. It is ours for as long as we elect to live on the West Coast. Further, we’ll be gaining two additional “free” hours between now and June 14. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter most.
Forty miles outside of New Orleans the skies darken and fill with lightning and rain. To the east the skies are dreadfully black. We make a few Twister type jokes then, realizing we’re likely in a region wherein twisters are a deadly reality, quiet up and try, without luck, to find a weather report on the a.m. Fortunately, we our journey southward soon takes us away from the storm and by 8:00 p.m. CST we reach New Orleans. Our hotel, simple called “W,” is an amazingly posh resort. It is a case of “oops, I really didn’t expect such an upscale place.” The building is quite modern. The room (1506 if you’d like to visit) is equipped with a bed, chaise lounge, oversized desk and velvet chair, as well as a coffee maker, VCR, laser printer, etc.—all of which are for sale.
After settling in and freshening up, we venture north toward the French Quarter in the rain. The humidity is as oppressive as we’d heard it would be, but the rain feels good and provides a bit of relief. A man sitting in a doorway offers to polish my shoes—I think. The accent is thick and heavy. He tells me that my shoes are worth a lot and that I should have them polished. I tell him that I killed a man for these shoes and keep walking.
Ravenous, we look for a restaurant that will offer a taste of the local cuisine and stumble upon the House of Blues. The menu does not disappoint, nor does the food or service. Everything is exceptional, from the gumbo and red beans and rice appetizers, to the mixed greens salad with walnuts and blue cheese, to the crawfish and blackened shrimp fettuccine Alfredo entrees.
One word: Chomp.
The rain is heavier as we leave the House of Blues so we hail a taxi. The taxi driver is a woman, born and raised in New Orleans. She is one of a few female cab drivers in the Big Easy. I'm not sure if there are cab drivers in Philly. I'd never seen one so I'm guessing it's unlikely. The ride to the "W" takes all of two minutes and she bids us goodnight in an accent that is refreshingly sweet.
It’s refreshing to know we do not have to wake at dawn and hop in the car and continue west. It will be good for everyone to have a couple of days to simply relax. We’ve sat on our asses for 1,200 miles. Tomorrow we’ll do some walking, including an 8:30 p.m. vampire tour.
One word: Chomp.