I booked my plane ticket to Asia today, flying out of LAX in about 5 ½ weeks. While I wanted to show up at the airport and ask for the next flight to Thailand, it seemed like a better idea to book the ticket. I talked to my friends who have already made that trip, and they convinced me to book in advance. Supposedly it will ultimately be cheaper; in today’s day and age, Internet flight websites have replaced standby as the cheapest way for air travel. However much I was enjoying the open ended schedule, I’m glad that it is locked in now. I got a good deal on a flight, and I’ll be able to meet up with my mom while she is in Thailand wither her sister visiting her other sister. It's a big family.
So, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to the Asian leg of the journey, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Yesterday, we pretty much stayed in because of a severe weather alert that covered the state of Arkansas. I was amazed at both the similarities and the differences of a lazy day on the road vs. at home. We still got up whenever we felt like it, made breakfast and coffee and sat on opposite sides of the kitchen table with our laptops, exactly how we would have done in New Jersey. Yet,
there was a different feel to it. We were researching places to go and things to do for the next leg of the journey, not just going through our normal internet browsing routine. Drinking on a weeknight in your hometown isn’t the coolest thing to do, but on vacation, why not?
The storm itself was disappointing. Not that we wanted to be swept to the land of Oz by a tornado, but I have seen more breathtaking storms. One comes to mind, when I was in Sarasota at the Caballero’s with my buddy Joe from UPS. We found out why Tampa Bay's hockey team is called the Lightning. Anyway, the weather today was much nicer today and we were able to visit to Garvan Woodland Gardens.
Apparently, Hot Springs is not the ideal place for a 20 something single male to visit. Everyone we meet is curious to find out where we are from, and seem a little puzzled why we are here. However, after a full 24 hours in the car, it is nice to have a nice homebase for a while. That, and we are getting good practice hiking so we are prepared when we are going to have to hike to get to our campsites.
Well, we are finally on the road to New Orleans. We got up early today to clean and pack the truck. We were planning on doing all of that yesterday, but we were too tired and full to be very productive after dinner. After all, we had hiked four or five miles in the morning, and then another three in the evening. So, here I am in the passenger seat again, hunkering down for what will likely be 8 ½ hours in the passenger seat. I’ll take some time to document our trip.
Yesterdday morning, at the botanical gardens, we got to see a wild bald eagle. Since our arrival to Arkansas we have seen several large birds of prey, but nothing compared to this eagle. Large, majestic, and flying close enough to us so that we could recognize it with certainty. When we saw the signs that bald eagles nested in the area, we did not get too hopeful, but sure enough we were lucky enough to see one. I find it very fitting that we got a bald eagle sighting on our cross American journey. There was also cool bird pen they had. It was an area approximately the size of a 16 ft moving truck netted off with a feeding area and a large twig nest with several large birds in it. Mike and I were the only ones anywhere nearby, and we stopped to look. I crouched at locked eyes with the most colorful and biggest peacock, and within a few moments he spread his feathers and shook them at me. After that, all of the other birds came out from the nest and were walking around. A few other peacocks also opened up their feathers, but they didn’t hold a candle to the first one. Mike took a bunch of pictures, and then we left. I'll try and get some pictures up on the blog soon. We weren’t ten feet away when all the birds put their feathers down, and many returned to the nest. It was definitley more enjoyable knowing that their whole show was for us.
Sunday morning in New Orleans! Did you know that Mardi Gras started this week? Well, the city of New Orleans knew that. We couldn't get to our hostel because the parade route was blocking our path. We had to drive half way across the city to go around the entire parade, but it was a cool detour. After being out in the country for so long, it was nice to see so many people. There were so so so many people. We drove probably 2 miles down the parade route and it was packed with people the whole way! Eventually we do get to the hostel and get cleaned up to hit the town.
Our hostel is in the Garden District, which is probably a 15-20 minute walk to the French Quarter. The walk was a lot of fun though, because we walked along the parade route. The whole walk was a cool experience: catching beads as the floats went by, drinking legally on the streets, seeing all the cool places and interesting people. The crescent city is very charming, and Mike suggested that he might come back here to settle after he drops me off at LAX. However, we still have a lot of cities to see along the way, so its a little early for him to make a decision like that.
Last night we met up with our friend Ashley from high school who had moved down here 6 or 7 years ago. She took us around to a few non-tourist hangouts, and good times were had by all. Eventually, she gave us a ride back to our hostel and we got some rest. However, we are in a dorm with about 8 bunk beds, so when we got back there was already a few people snoring loudly. Over breakfast today, Mike told me it took him a while to get some sleep. Not me, I laid down and fell right asleep. After all the driving, drinking (after the driving, not during), and walking around the city, I was ready for some shut-eye.
Today, we'll likely catch another parade around noon and take in some more of the city. Tonight, when our friend Ashley gets off work, she is going to take us to a restaurant that she claims to be the best BBQ in the city, so i'm excited about that. Then tonight, well, probably get drunk and roam the streets again. That certainly seems to be the thing to do around here!