Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Road Trip Day Nine - Long Day's Journey into Day Ten

What were we thinking??

It was Monday. I wanted to be home Wednesday by 4pm. Mom had an 8am flight on Thursday and she needed time to decompress before the flight. If we could get from Willcox, AZ to San Antonio, TX on Monday then we could get to Biloxi by Tuesday and Orlando on Wednesday. Makes sense and could be doable.

But then we would hit the horrible Houston morning rush hours traffic on Tuesday morning and the New Orleans nightly rush hour traffic Tuesday evening . . . how could we avoid that? 

Hmm? Oh, how about by foregoing our senses completely and driving from Willcox, Arizona to Biloxi, MS without stopping for the night??????

The day did not start out that way. Upon awakening at 6am we decided to make do with the sugar free lo carb muffins and fruit in the car with a quick stop at a drive thru for coffee. By lunchtime we were in El Paso, Tx - the most western point of Texas. We stopped at Dave's BBQ restaurant. I had a meal of hot wings, sliced beef, salad, cole slaw, onions and green beans. We continued on Interstate 10, crossing Texas all day and all evening. Around 6pm my husband suggested that he was willing to just keep driving. He had a nap in the car and felt he could keep driving. I had consumed diet Pepsis all day for the caffeine (caffeine is something I normally do NOT have), so I was raring to go. My Mom said she was up for whatever we wanted to do because we were the drivers. (Oh foolish Mommy!) 

And so we drove on. At 8:30 we stopped at Wendy's and I had a grilled chicken sandwich and ate 1/2 the roll, tossing out the rest. There was lettuce and tomato and onion and pickle so I called that my veggie of the evening and we drove to San Antonio, arriving at the Alamo at 10pm. Mom and I had gone to the Alamo on our way west but I knew Larry wanted to see it so we stopped and enjoyed the place all to ourselves for about a half hour.
After a romantic walk around the Alamo, taking photos and enjoying the quiet, we drove on. We reached Houston at about 2:00am. I am a New York City girl and I know that even at 2 in the morning there will be people on the major roads in New York. Only a blizzard can keep people off the roads in the Big Apple. Down by Houston there was no one on the roads. We literally had the road to ourselves from one end of the Houston city limits to the other. What a blessing that was. I know what the traffic was like in Houston on  our day going west and it was great to miss it going east. 

After passing Houston we started talking about where we should stop. We found a hotel and I went in but they did not have any rooms on the ground floor. My mom had said she was not going to be able to climb stairs, so we moved on. At 4am we stopped for coffee and an early breakfast at a breakfast style chain whose name escapes me for the moment. I had yet more coffee. They had sugar free syrup so I ordered a whole grain health breakfast with fresh fruit.  We talked about where we could stop but after all the coffee all three of us were wide awake (at least I hope we were) and we choose to get to Louisiana.

We did get to Louisiana and drove until about 2 hours from New Orleans when I knew I needed to stop. How did I know? I was starting to fantasize about what yummy things I could eat at the next gas stop.  When we stopped at a nice Bayou town we realized that if we checked into a hotel at 8am and slept till 4pm we would be charged for two nights stay (checkout is 11am). Grrr.  I pulled into a shaded parking space in a hotel parking lot and asked my husband and mom to either nap or read a book because I needed to shut my eyes for a few minutes. I reclined my driver seat, opened the windows, shut the engine and closed my eyes. 

 Thirty minutes later I was up and feeling a lot better. (Coffee from the McDonald's across the street helped) and we drove on through Louisiana for New Orleans. We reached New Orleans around 11am. I went directly for the waterfront near the French Quarter where I knew there was parking, shops, and places to walk. We walked through the shops and enjoyed the architecture. We found a shop with my Fathers/Brothers name and took a photo. I bought some trinkets and we went to lunch at a decent restaurant where I ordered a sample of dishes that did not contain butter - which is not easy in New Orleans. 
After lunch we walked to the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States and stayed long enough to give a prayer for thanks for the safe trip to this point and made a prayer of petition for a safe end to our journey. I also took time to read about the history of the cathedral and admire some of the beautiful art fescos on he walls and ceilings. By now it was close to 1 o'clock in the afternoon and it was time to retrieve our car from the by-the-hour lot. Having been to New Orleans 10 months ago, I remembered some of the more historic streets and took my husband and Mother for a ride in some of the areas where the streets are famous before we found our way back to the loop for Interstate Ten. 

Now we just wanted to get out of New Orleans. We figured check in at hotels is usually between 3pm and 4pm so we figured we just had to drive 2 hours and we could stop. Once we left Louisiana it was a short drive to Biloxi. We stopped at a really nice LaQuinta at 3:30pm. Once I saw mom had everything she needed in her room and was set for the evening I went to our room where my husband was getting our luggage open. We talked about resting a little while and then going over to the casinos on the beach but that never happened. I laid down at 3:47 and was asleep before 4PM. At 6:30 I woke up and joined my husband for a little TV time. I ate some yogurt and cherries and I was back asleep by 8:15pm with a wake up call for 4:00am. 

So 33 hours and 1,447 miles after we left Willcox, Arizona, day nine and day ten were over. My next post will cover our last day - the final day to get home and then I will highlight lessons I learned from the entire trip. To those who may be freaking out that we drove so many hours without sleep and on hi-test coffee I say you are right. We will not do that again. Driving sleep deprived is no better than driving under the influence and it was a selfish and stupid thing to do. I will not take part in that behavior again. More to follow . . . 



Diane Fit to the Finish said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. That is a ton of driving! My goodness, I can't even imagine.

Jane Cartelli said...

It was foolish insanity to do so much in so short a span.
I have learned a valuable lesson from this trip and will share in it my next post.