24 January 2009

From Nashville to Nawlins

It's a long way from Pittsburgh, where our journey started, to New Orleans, where we are now. Here's how we got here:

Night 1 was spent in a lovely Temple Guest Room at the hospitable Palace of Gold, a Hindu temple in Wheeling, WV. Gods bless the Hindus for allowing random strangers to crash in their places of worship, snag a guest key, sleep their fill, and leave totally on the honor system; we got there late and didn't see another human being till we were leaving the next morning.

Then we got on the road for real. Day 2 was spent driving, constantly, and all of it Steve, since we put my stick-shift driving lessons on hold till we were out of range of the snow. I'd booked us a room for the night in Nashville, and goddammit we were going to make it.

I love the road. There is nothing finer than rolling out of bed early in the morning, shaking the sleep out of my eyes, and getting out on the road. Breakfast is to be eaten immediately, followed by a snack after dawn (around 8am). Few things in life are so consistently fantastic -- in its literal, "fantasy-like," meaning -- as driving into the dawn. The world is blackness spiked by tail-lights and head-lights, then suddenly you look around and there's definition to the scenery. And then you look around a moment later, and there's further definition. It's like the world itself is waking up around you, getting a grasp on itself, rediscovering what it looks like. I imagine this is what the Dreamtime looked like, if there could be any modern equivalent to watching the Earth being sung into existence. Every moment reinvents the world, draws it out of obscurity, and it doesn't stop at full light; the world just keeps getting brighter all the way until noon. It is a magnificent sight, and one I scarcely ever miss when I have the chance.

So when we got on the road that morning (albeit well after dawn), it was with great anticipation and a sense of coming home. We nearly died at least a dozen times on the tiny, curvy, hilly, icy, snowy, fatal road leading away from the temple. That's certainly one way to start your morning.

By Night 3, we'd reached Nashville. This was the night of the Inauguration, which we didn't watch because we were exhausted. The Music City Hostel was very nice, and we stayed three nights. Went out to B.B. King's Blues Bar, which had great live music and a terrible, sparse crowd of middle-aged white tourists that frustrated the guest singer's attempts to get a groove going.

I should mention that until we got to Nashville, our intended next stop had been Houston. Then we thought to ourselves, "What cities between us and Houston would we like to see before continuing west?" And the single, unswerving answer was:

[Master: I think this is the spot for the hostel pic of the "New Orleans 536 miles" sign.]

Yep, New Orleans. It's Carnival, after all!

So now we're on the Louisiana coast, and tomorrow we'll start looking for ways to stay here a couple of months. We need jobs and housing. Preferably a really nice apartment in an old house with great architecture and a balcony, with a landlord who appreciates young'uns in love out to make their fortune in the wide, beautiful world. And jobs at hostels or little specialty shops or something. It's Carnival; there must be a way!

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