We started posting our travels on Travelpod.com so we figure why duplicate it here. For a link to our ongoing round the world blog click here.
For a link to Steves monthly round the world summary blog click here.
For a link to our USA RV blog click here.
Below are 2 sample entries from our RV USA roadtrip posts.
The winds were howling consistently across the highway as we moseyed down the straight 2 lane highway toward Baton Rouge. I hugged the right lane line to add a level of buffer when the strong gusts would push Big B unexpectedly a few feet toward the fast lane. Unlike in New Mexico where the strong winds blew open our rolled up side awning. I wasn’t as concerned for that now that we had used zip ties to secure both ends.
I noticed a Louisiana State Patrol car come up in the fast lane, then slow down and pull behind me. I consistently drive Big B at about 55-60 mph in order to maximize the fuel economy so I knew there was never a issue with getting a speeding ticket. None the less, it was strange. He stayed there for a minute or two (possibly reading all the bumper stickers and noticing the CA plates.) Then he sped around and pulled ahead as a big Mac truck entered the highway in front of us
. The patrol car drove ahead about 1/2 a mile then pulled over to the shoulder and slowed down. I drove by him but kept an eye on what he was doing. Instead of staying on the shoulder, I saw him get back onto the highway a ways behind me. At that point, I had a feeling he was going to go after me.
Sure enough, he pulled behind me and flashed his lights. I pulled over, and the officer came up to my window and asked if I’d step out. I figured maybe a tail light was out or Big B was falling apart and dragging something. I wasn’t speeding for sure. That much I knew. Maybe too slow? Is that possible? He introduced himself and stuck out his hand to shake. I shook it and thought, “That’s weird?!” Then he started asking me all these personal questions, like where are you coming from, where are you going, what are you going to do at that place, where do you work, how long did you work there, how long have you been married, etc. After about the second question, I knew he was trying to see if I was drunk, which was surprising since it was like 1 pm. I just came from the Tabasco tour so I wasn’t worried about getting caught for a DUI. I looked him in the eye and answered his questions. As shady as the answers sounded…
COP: Where are you from?
Me: Hawaii but my hometown is
San Diego, CA
. CA, that’s where I registered this RV.
COP: Where are you headed?
Me: Baton Rouge.
COP: What’s there?
Me: Uhh, I’m not sure really. We are on a road trip and going to find out when we get there.
COP: Where are you headed after that?
Me: Down to Florida and then around the rest of the US.
COP: Where do you work?
Me: I don’t.
This continued for longer then it needed, with more personal questions. Not because he probably suspected me of drinking but because I think he was trying to gauge if what I was telling him was really true. What’s an early 30’s couple from Hawaii doing in a huge 34′ motorhome with CA license plates, on an indefinite travel agenda, no job and driving outside of middle of nowhere Lafayette, LA?
. I’m sure he knew that high profile vehicles are difficult to keep absolutely straight in strong cross winds so I don’t really buy it. I think he pulled up, saw our 23 bumper stickers, including the one that reads, “How’s my driving? Call 1-800-AINOKEA,” (AINOKEA=I no care=I don’t care…in case ya didn’t get it) and decided to pull us over to see what we’re all about. Maybe not, but no matter. We were back on our way after our brush with the law.
We stayed in Baton Rouge one night. We walked the New Capitol, the awesome free LA State Museum, Old Capitol, some old churches, historic buildings, USS KIDD battleship and along the bank of the muddy Mississippi River. The most memorable moment though was being woken up at 4 am by Wendy yelling at me about the rocking of Big B. I struggled to wake up, open the shades and saw the lightning and heard the thunder/rain all around us. It was pretty violent but so what? I’ve been in strong storms before, no problem. I decided to check my iPhone’s Weather Channel app and see how bad it really was. To my surprise there was a severe weather alert for exactly where we where.
It said a strong storm system was coming through the area and people should stay inside secure areas until it passes. The map showed the storm band and the max (red) rain area was directly over us. We were getting rocked around and it was starting to get rough. When Wendy said they frequently get tornadoes out here I started to freak. My mind flashed the images of mobile homes scattered with debris in the wake. Oh shit! We’re in a mobile home, albeit in the Walmart parking lot, but everyone knows that tornadoes love mobile homes. I imagine the tornado searching around from mobile homes then go over to rip ’em to shreds
. Decision time.
Wendy’s freaking out, Rusty’s looking up at me with even wider boogley eyes than he normally has, and I’m looking outside at the lightning, wind, and rain. Do we make the 100 yard dash to the 24 hr Walmart (another good reason to park somewhere that’s 24 hrs!) and wait inside with our dog or wait it out? I consider putting down the jacks to try to stabilize us, then decide not to because of all the lightning and pools of water everywhere. I’m starting to sweat. I imagine us getting picked up or tipped over, and I tell Wendy if that were to happen, grab our hand rail, get down, away from the windows. I’ll grab Rusty and try to find something to hold onto. For the next hour or so, different band of rain/wind would pass over us. I watched it all in real time on our iPhone. Then it was over.
Outside our motorhome, next door was a large 24hr truck stop casino sign that was torn up from the winds. Everything else seemed fine outside and I imagined it only felt to us much worse then it probably actually was but it was a real eye opener. I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (so to speak). We’re entering a land of foreign dangers like tornadoes and hurricanes. Coming from the west coast most of my life, I’ve never had to deal with these things. This was Tuesday morning.
Wednesday we learned a super storm system caused a massive outbreak of twisters resulting in 341 deaths, across 7 states. It was the 2nd deadliest day from twisters in US history. Thankfully we weren’t traveling through those areas, which were not too far away! I’m considering getting one of those covered strollers for Rusty so the next time there is some serious weather we’ll take him inside Walmart or what ever other lot we may be staying in. We’ve decided to use his adopted name from Aunt Dacia, Russell, in case anyone asks. Sounds more human…
The hot seat and Tabasco…
I shouted as I spotted the roadside, “Welcome to Louisiana” sign! I was in the navigator seat which is decidedly the busiest seat in Big B. When riding shotgun your responsibilities include everything from navigation, emergency response (closing cabinets or doors that spring open when we don’t properly lock this down before departure), mobile cooking, sunglass hunter/cleaner, DJ, ventilation supervisor, dog puke re-action team, and pretty much every other responsibility besides driving. Not an easy job, mere driving is so much easier (unless it’s driving through cities!). Undoubtedly the most important job of the navigator is the rolling documentor. Meaning whenever a photo worthy landmark appears on the horizon, that person has to immediately grab the camera and jump into action. Bumbling around searching for the camera or a slow flick of the on switch and it’s missed/gone forever! No turning back, no pulling over or slowing down is permitted. If you want to ride Navigator in Big B, you’ve got to have the camera ready at all times, prepared to whip it up, on, zoom, focus and shoot at a moments notice
. The dreaded “Quick take a picture” shouted from the driver means you’ve just walked 10 paces and now it’s time to spin around and fire for your life like an old western gun-slinging duel.
One of our most coveted photos is the welcome sign as we pass into each new state. I was on sign watch patrol as we headed out of Texas and I wasn’t going to miss my shot this time. I had help from the most useful tool ever invented, the iPhone. I had the maps app on and was tracking our little blue dot as it approached the dotted state line border that would cross us into Louisiana. As we crept up, camera ready, window open, I spotted it in the distance and nailed the shot. Ahhhh, now I could relax for a couple more hours until we hit Lafayette or a least until another Navigator duty popped up!
Lafayette? What’s in Lafayette? No idea. We did some pre-planning like deciding on a general route of travel based on some must see places, but then we connect the dots, usually limited by our self imposed limit of not wanting to drive more than 3-4 hours in one day. Lafayette was one of those in between stops on our way to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Typically, we’ll pull into the local visitors center, pick up a bunch of brochures, checkout the local events calendar from their weekly publication, then we’ll decide how long we’ll stay, depending on what we want to do. It’s a formula that has been amazingly effective with minimal effort on our part. the only problem was, if you arrive after like 4pm, the visitor’s center is closed and you don’t have a clue what to do. This was the case with Lafayette as we pulled in on the eve of Easter.
. Open up the maps app on our iPhone and type in Walmart, which is in every city we’ve been to big or small. Only thing is staying the night is never a sure thing. Some have big signs that say “No Overnight Parking.” We still ask the manager and usually they say it’s fine for the night, just don’t stay a week. Some say city codes won’t allow it. (Not sure how city codes apply to a private property but whatever.) Others say, “Talk to the security guy,” the person who drives a truck with a flashing light on top, patrolling the 24 hour parking lot. Sometimes the lot just looks shady and we move on.
Our first Walmart pick in Lafayette, fit that last description so we decided to move on, hoping to find another location that didn’t make me want to start singing part of that rap song that goes, “In the ghetto…” 2nd stop, 4 miles down the road, we saw something we’ve never seen before, a 12′ gate post around every entrance to the parking lot. It’s only purpose was to keep out tall vehicles like RV’s and Mac trucks. We took the hint and pulled into a nearby truck stop and 24 hr casino for the night.
The rest of our stay in the area included a Tabasco factory tour at Avery Island. We love Tabasco so to drive in and smell it in the air brought us some joy that maybe others would not appreciate. They even gave us miniature samples of their more popular sauces. We also visited Acadia National Park, the historic New Iberia downtown and ate one amazing po-boy and muffelata, that came recommended to us, at the Old Tyme Grocery Store just outside University of LA – Lafayette campus.