RIDING SHOTGUN – Southeastern Seaboard

When we got to North Carolina, it was dark and late.  We stopped in a rest-area to sleep for a few hours.  When I woke, the most beautiful sites greeted me.  There were fruit trees blooming, perfuming the air.  It was quiet and peaceful.  Then we went on through to Georgia where George had to unload.  The country-side was beautiful and sparsely populated.  After reading and watching North and South I kept looking for those huge plantation houses, but didn’t see them.  I couldn’t see the ocean either.  As we were riding in a semi we couldn’t travel on the roads beside the Atlantic.   There were sites that made my two boys laugh.  First we crossed the Chattahoochee River.  Both boys loved listening to Alan Jackson’s ‘Way down on the  Chattahoochee’ and finally they saw what he was talking about.  We went to Savannah, which is a beautiful little city with lots of old, beautiful houses and mansions.  After spending two days in Georgia I only have one thing to say – Georgia should teach courses on service.  I can honestly say I never received such absolutely great, friendly and helpful service anywhere else.  The service in Georgia guaranteed I was in a good mood. The odd thing I found is most people knew where Calgary was in Canada and knew many things about Canada.  There were two explanations.  The Calgary Flames hockey team used to be the Atlanta Flames and there is a huge migration of ‘snowbirds’ in eastern Canada who go to Florida for the winter.

Then we moved on to Florida.  Daytona Beach was having their famous Daytona Races, but we couldn’t go – George had to work.  However we had a few pleasant surprises in store.  First my brother met us for dinner.  He had a house in Florida and was actually there.  Second – the hotels/motels were filled.  Finally we got the help of an individual who found two rooms still available.  Both were charging astronomical prices – that was until George mentioned to a Best Western on the interstate that he was a truck-driver.  Their rates dropped to an amazingly low price.  To this day I search for a Best Western when traveling.

We then went to Miami.  We watched a couple – dancing while we had dinner.  It was very pleasant.  Miami was very clean and open, not crowded.  I again saw my little gecko’s running around and tried to catch them to no avail.  The weather was balmy and warm – but too humid for my western tastes.  We crossed Alligator Alley and saw those unique sites, never seen in Canada.  It was a wonderful, informative trip.  I often took my boys out of school for these adventures and I don’t regret that  even slightly.  They learned more than most do in school and they never fell behind.

Another – Riding Shotgun Trip

LOUISIANA

There is much traffic between Alberta and Texas or Louisiana.  Gas & Oil companies change their personnel about every two years between these places.  Calgary, Alberta has the largest percentage of Americans outside the USA in the world.  I found that a very interesting statistic.

As my husband was moving furniture at the time he often got moves to these states.  I decided to go with him to Louisiana one time as we could get down there on a Friday and he didn’t have to unload until the following Monday.

We spent a week-end in Lafayette, Louisiana. This trip was the most obvious ‘never seen before’ trip.  Wherever we drove – from eastern States, to the mid-west States and even the Pacific coast States there are similarities between Canada and the USA.  But there is no comparing in Canada when it comes to the bayous.

On Saturday we took a boat tour on the bayous.  From the eerie, hanging moss on the Cyprus trees, I had only read about in romance books  to the alligators we saw, I could only stare and try to drink in all the sights.  Deep pink flowers and waxy green foliage, floated on the water often looking like land.  Our guide told us the trunks of the Cyprus trees could be under water up to forty feet and still tower above us.  I could imagine voodoo rituals, ghosts and crawling monsters.  I saw alligators resting on rotting logs.  (My husband said they weren’t real . Mostly they didn’t move – he thought they might just be props for the tourists).  The water is murky, dark and mysterious.

Then I asked a few people where the best place to eat Cajun food was.  I was already hooked on the scrumptious tastes and since then I haven’t found a better cup of coffee – except maybe Quebec and of course Tim Horton‘s – my addiction of choice.  We went to a restaurant called PreJean’s and dined near a stuffed alligator.  The ambiance was perfect.  The food was out of this world. I can still imagine the taste of the chocolate dessert.  The people were so friendly.

On Monday we went to unload.  Our customer had a huge sprawling house beside the river.  The woman we moved was fun and entertaining. She actually gave me her full-length mink coat, saying she wouldn’t need it.  I could almost hear her ‘ha,ha’ in my mind.  But it was such a wonderful, thoughtful gift.

The air was hot and humid.  She explained that her skin just ‘slurped’ up the moisture when she got off her plane. (Calgary has extremely dry air). She had a long boardwalk along side the river and a boat dock.  Although she warned me to watch for poisonous snakes that crawled in the murky waters I couldn’t resist walking along side the river, drinking in the wondrous sights.

Then as the cardboard boxes were emptied and thrown out on the lawn to be flattened, I saw something else.  Little gecko’s – so irresistibly  cute and inquisitive crawled all over.  There were hundreds and hundreds.  I chased them – thinking this might be a wonderful gift to bring back for my two boys. They sure were quick.  They would stand on a box and wait for me – until I was close enough to reach out then they disappeared.  For anyone who thinks otherwise – I couldn’t have brought them across the border regardless, but the thought was fun.

Overall, my first trip to Louisiana is a warm memory of fun, beauty and a uniqueness I will never forget.  I have been to Louisiana a few times since, but my first trip was special.