After a few days in and around the city, I had seen a glass blowing workshop, most of the French quarter, lucky dog stands (yum!), the street cars, the river boats, a Mardi Gras exhibit at the museum on Jackson Square, Bourbon Street (never need to go back), some great music, University of New Orleans (peace corps fellowship!), and lots of rain.
It is HUMID down there! My stays in Voldasta and Pass Christian were amazing, but was really excited to have a/c in the car. Got caught in the rain more than once walking around the city. Don't know what came over me leaving without a rain jacket or umbrella, I just came from Alaska for pete's sake. Mmmm, nothing like steaming in your own skin when the sun comes out with a vengeance after a down pour. Bottom line, lots to fix in the city and lots to preserve. The Katrina fallout is still very prevalent and it's right on the tips of everyone's tongues. It was so interesting to hear personal takes on what we all just heard about on the news.
Leaving N.O. came a bit too soon but what came next was just as good. Met up with a Peace Corps friend for lunch while Nissan changed the oil in the new cruiser. Haven't had the car that long but in classic Miller family tradition, we're working on beating the hell out of anything remotely new we own. Lunch was great and the conversation amazing. It's a priceless friend who understands exactly what you mean when you say you need to "smell Africa" again. Late in the day and full of sushi, I began the drive north to Milwaukee.
A few naps in gas station parking lots got me to my destination about 20 hours later. Not bad for a solo trip AND running into a ripping storm right about St. Louis. We're talking NO ONE on the road but semi's, good thing my gas almost ran out and THANK GOD b.p. takes credit cards when no one is manning the pumps in BFE Illinois. OH, and never NEVER go to Cairo, Illinois...I'm assuming it's Illinois, things are kind of fuzzy at that point. The sign promising gas and coffee whipped me a good 10 miles off the interstate and into a town with no lights on except the "after hours club and prayer group" and one guy wandering down the street in the pouring rain. Cairo Egypt - good. Cairo Illinois - bad, very very bad.
Made it to Milwaukee and fellow boozer with new found borders, Annie, was waiting with food. Love that! It is a good friend who greets the weary road warrior with a meal. Quick shower and out the door for a few hours at her job. Essentially, she is a wrangler of small humans. Wow. Much akin to my feelings for geriatric care nurses is my opinion of people like Annie. So happy they are in the world to do those jobs I know I could not.
After romp-a-room, we headed back to put some groceries away and await the Alaska friends slated to arrive that afternoon. It's only been a month since I left the Kenai peninsula but it feels like so much longer. Lifestyle and well, everything else, is so much different up there. Wasn't quite sure how things would go with my "Alaska friends" out of context. Not to fear, we had a blast. Happened to be a birthday in the crowd so we hit the infamous "Corner Pub" and brought in the big 3-0 for Shaun the best way we knew how, dance party and booze :) Speaking of out of context, it dawned on me that I had never known Annie in the US either. She did it right and was out of commission for all of Saturday. It's like we never ended the trip!
The next week was spent exploring Milwaukee, seeing UWM, what it's grad program had to offer, and spending some down time, well, down. This was a much needed and eventful aside to life here at Miller's happy acres. We continue to live large in Paine Falls but felt good to be on the road again.