Miracle loves New Orleans and was elated to get back to one of her favorite places to wine and dine. Fortunately, we had a driveway stay in the city, making it both convenient and affordable to stay within the city. We did eat at a couple of restaurants and grabbed some beignets to make sure we had the complete NOLA experience. The food was good, though I wasn’t head over heels about it (a product probably of too much hype), but the city itself was neat, I guess. I might be jaded though because… driving.
Holy shit. New Orleans wins the prize for worst all-around driving. Massachusetts loves to claim their spot as the worst drivers in the US by proclaiming themselves Massholes. But anyone who has ever driven in Florida knows the drivers there are much, much worse. Still, with Florida, their roads are paved and painted and their traffic lights work. New Orleans is the deadly cocktail of terrible roads and terrible drivers. At least in Massachusetts there is a uniformity to the madness; it seems like everyone is breaking the same laws in the same ways. In New Orleans the drivers find ways to be uniquely bad. We saw a truck plowed through the orange pylons of a construction zone to make an illegal right turn. A truck passed us on the left while we made a left turn in an intersection. Any number of cars pass whenever there is—and sometimes when there isn’t—room. And they all love to honk. It’s no coincidence I am certain that a large number of the cars looked like they have been in a demolition derby.
Then there’s the roadways, if they could even be called that. There are entire city blocks in New Orleans proper that—I am not exaggerating—are not paved. Like at all. The pavement drops off precipitously and you’re on dirt and exposed pipes. And none of it is leveled out. In fact the height difference in some places measures over one foot. I thought West Virginia had the worst roads and I was dead wrong. We have been on better maintained gravel roads. We have driven smoother dirt roads. In fact, I have been on smoother, better maintained not-roads than what passes for a street in New Orleans.
My advice to any traveler: If you care about your automobile, do not drive it anywhere near New Orleans (because also the 100 miles outside of the city the roads remain lunar in texture).
Still, the architecture is nice and the food is above average, even if the prices are double average.
So we leave NOLA and I was pretty rattled and Miracle felt like I hadn’t gotten the real New Orleans experience, although I felt like the bus and I had a fairly authentic adventure. Miracle routed us to a Harvest Host in the middle of oil refinery land. For miles and miles there’s nothing but pipes and pickup trucks and chainlink fences and rough roads. But then, there’s a little slice of paradise: the Houmas House—a former plantation that now houses several museums, a primo bar and restaurant, and some absolutely beautiful gardens. We walked the grounds and grabbed a drink and sat out in a courtyard talking until late at night. And, best of all, this was perhaps the most dog-friendly place we have visited. Ever.
The next night we stopped at a rad little joint in rural Louisiana called Bayou Teche Brewing for another Harvest Host stay. This place served pizza and had an old school arcade where Miracle and I played Galaxia. The staff was awesome and the food was some of the best we’ve had in Louisiana. And the prices were fair.