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'18 Travels through America

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I'm so glad Rosie is feeling better! :) Both of you have been going and going practically nonstop, plus the humidity/temperature/foliage/different elevations were probably changing the whole time, so that may have contributed a bit as well as the alcohol and limited rest.

 

I could say it was the excitement of you both finally getting to meet Jim in person, but I don't want him to feel any worse about it than he already does! :P

 

It may have been excitement, thought Rosie had a 'touch of the vapours' when Jim appeared

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Monday 26 March Day 34 ~ Austin, TX to Kinder, LA
Updated in the Allier, France ~ Wednesday 18 April

 

 

8:45am and Jim arrives, load his car and he drives us across to the rental company less than a mile away. Another young man what wasn't completely sure of what to do but was pleasant, had to check with his manager a couple of times.

 

We get no paperwork, it's all done online so we're told? A very black Chevrolet Malibu is brought round, I hate blacked out windows, prefer to see out through the sides and back. Worse, the clerk mentions the interior mirror self darkens at sunset, a couple of miles down the road I realise it doesn't matter if it darkens as can't see anything through the back window anyway. Just to help the vision thing the door mirrors are tinted, this is going to be a fun ride.

 

Jim says he will drive us out of town a couple of miles, it's time to say our goodbyes. Jim Hudson has been heroic, looking out for a couple who couldn't have been much fun for him. Mr Hudson is a person we will remember for a long while, thanks from both of us Jim.

 

The roads are pretty quiet and are interesting to us, it's a nice car to drive and there's a non tinted front window to look out of too. Lots and lots of wildflowers along the road, it makes the journey come alive. In east Texas Rosie spots a couple of road-side signs that make us laugh, ' We sell dirt! ' and further along ' Cheapest dirt in town! '. Once again 2 countries separated by a common language maybe.

 

We stop for a break for an hour or so and get to Kinder just before 7:00pm, nice drive and makes a change to be on the road and not in a bus. Same hotel as last year and as Rosie books us in the girl in reception says she remembers Rosie, we're taken aback at this. We'd planned to eat at a Cajun restaurant we hadn't tried last year, but they were only a carry out and we wanted to eat in a restaurant. Secretly we were pleased as it meant we could go back to Fausto's, the place we ate last year.

 

Enjoyed the company, the staff make you feel at home and wanted. The clientele is very varied by type and colour, what a great place to eat. Rosie has become a red bean and rice aficionado recently and would only order that. Standing in the queue waiting to order the man in front ordered Gumbo, I asked if he would explain what it was and how good was it. Well he didn't have to try hard but convinced me to try it, what he didn't mention is it can be hot, that's very hot and spicy.

 

Rosie is in heaven with her red bean, I'm starting to sweat eating what is obviously delicious, face turning to beetroot, eyes streaming and nose is running. But it so nice all I can do is keep drinking water so I can have the next few mouthfuls. On other tables the 2 local police are smiling, on another 3 Canadian cattle ranchers are laughing and asking questions knowing I can't speak. Rosie looks slightly concerned but is intent on enjoying her red bean. Now love Gumbo but need to find a mild version as obviously it can kill.

 

This restaurant employs a lot of students and they all know their jobs well. Probably grew up coming to eat at this family restaurant and knew what to do before they started. If you are ever in Kinder it's certainly worth a look if you're hungry.

 

We cross the road to the Market Basket supermarket, we need to buy genuine small white beans from Louisiana to take home with us. This is a good small supermarket, again as anywhere in Kinder it appears with exceptionally friendly and helpful staff. Find the make we need (Camellia) and load up with supplies, also buy a few things for tomorrow including bread pudding as we are not moving on, the idea is to give Rosie a break after travelling all day.

 

Lay-in tomorrow and a catch up with some business work and personal emails. The room is very comfortable and we can take a walk in the afternoon if we want, but not forgetting the highlight of the road trip to visit the Kinder Rice Drier . We also have to get some sleep as Wednesday we leave at 4:00 am and it will be our longest day on this entire journey.

Edited by v v

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Tuesday 27 March Day 35 ~ Kinder, LA
Updated in the Allier, France ~ Wednesday 18 April

 

 

Relaxed day but we get some stuff done, it's afternoon and Drier Day. Had no idea what a rice drier was but it surprised us with it's size, what amount of rice do/did they grow round here? It's easy to locate on the edge of downtown, but with a population of 2460, downtown could easily be missed if you blinked.

 

 

It really exists, not sure if it is still working though?

 

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... and here it is in all it's glory

 

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After visiting so many major US cities on this trip, Kinder downtown at rush-hour is heaven

 

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We're really into dried beans (is this caused by tiredness?) and return to Market Basket buy a few more packets including the Louisiana version of red kidney beans. After that it's fill up with gas and we're all done. Rosie pops into the office to pay, a couple of sweet 16 year old girls are working there. She was complemented on her accent and then one girl asked this " Where are you from? " R 'London' " Don't you have a lot of cameras there? " Rosie agreed that we did, in fact the UK has/had more cameras than all the other countries in Europe put together, we must be a wicked lot or 1984 has arrived.

We were so surprised that a couple of young girls in a tiny and sleepy small town in the American south should have any idea about this, what a rep to have.

 

All set for the very early off in the morning, driving into New Orleans airport in rush hour without rear view and limited side view should be fun, but it can never be worse than Palermo!

Edited by v v

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Nice pics Jaime, yall did miss the Huge Indian owned Coushatta Casino and Resort outside of Kinder.

 

Louisiana and the area around Houston used to be the Rice Capital of North America but most of the businesses that were associated are long gone as are the Rice farms.

 

Cajun food is an acquired taste that can range from tourist mild to blow torch hot!

I can just picture a Cajun joint in England, y'all would probably come from France just to eat there! LOL

 

As for the visit, it was fantastic meeting yall, so sorry Rosie became ill!I marveled at your positive spirits,in spite of being tired and Rosie ill, we never get to old to stop and smell the Roses along the way.

 

Next time I visit "Dons Depot" I'll let the Chick Magnet know y'all are making him famous Internationally.

 

Look forward to the rest of your trip, hope y'alls Spring and Summer is great over there, and that y'all get to visit South America on your next trip!

 

Hope to see y'all "again sometime on the avenue.." as the Real Bob Dylan says!

Edited by Bob Dylan

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I liked the adjacent two sentences: ...red kidney beans. After that it's fill up with gas... :D Just my juvenile sense of humour!

 

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

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Nice pics Jaime, yall did miss the Huge Indian owned Coushatta Casino and Resort outside of Kinder.

 

Louisiana and the area around Houston used to be the Rice Capital of North America but most of the businesses that were associated are long gone as are the Rice farms.

 

Cajun food is an acquired taste that can range from tourist mild to blow torch hot!

I can just picture a Cajun joint in England, y'all would probably come from France just to eat there! LOL

 

As for the visit, it was fantastic meeting yall, so sorry Rosie became ill!I marveled at your positive spirits,in spite of being tired and Rosie ill, we never get to old to stop and smell the Roses along the way.

 

Next time I visit "Dons Depot" I'll let the Chick Magnet know y'all are making him famous Internationally.

 

Look forward to the rest of your trip, hope y'alls Spring and Summer is great over there, and that y'all get to visit South America on your next trip!

 

Hope to see y'all "again sometime on the avenue.." as the Real Bob Dylan says!

 

Our hotel was about 500 yards from the casino, but we've done our casino people watching years ago in Las Vegas and don't gamble so it didn't have any pull for us.

You couldn't miss the hotels and casino though, at night they at a shining beacon in rural Louisiana.

 

It had to be something like that re the rice drier, must have been big business at the time. Did the farmers change to another crop? as if not rice production moving away must have hit the town hard.

 

Yep, we think Cajun food is drugged, we don't even particularly like spicy food but we seek it out now. Tomorrow I'm cooking red bean and rice Cajun style, got to remember to put the beans in soak tonight.

 

If Donn's starts to get very busy, maybe you could manage Shelley's fan club. Just occurred, can see this in Rolling Stone, ' Bob Dylan manages the Chick Magnet ', it's got a certain ring to it.

 

There's a bit more to come on the blog, 'The Longest Day' next, then a surprise. Will Rosie ever get to a beach with a warm sea so she can dip her toes, what suspense! Weather is superb all over Europe at the moment, as you know we have a list of jobs as long as... so having good weather helps.

 

Jim, you are the real Bob Dylan to us, wouldn't it be good to meet again on the avenue...

 

 

 

I liked the adjacent two sentences: ...red kidney beans. After that it's fill up with gas... :D Just my juvenile sense of humour!

 

 

Ed.

 

Delicately put

Edited by v v

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Wednesday 28 March Day 36 ~ Kinder, LA to New Orleans, LA - The Longest Day
Updated in the Allier, France ~ Thursday 19 April

 

 

Up at 3:00am off by 4:00. It's all very dark on these state roads, car windows not helping. Arrive at Baton Rouge in time to take the longer route across the causeway, being out of sight of land is a drive to remember. To have to drive this 24 mile bridge backwards and forwards if it's your route to work 5 days a week would make you yearn for driverless cars, but very pleased to have driven it once though.

 

 

This is what it looks like on a GPS

 

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And in real life with 15 miles to go

 

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Our car rental ended at 9:00am at NOL airport, arrived by 8:00am and quite relaxed. Fully automated hand back system, this time I asked for a piece of paper as some form of evidence of what I had just signed off on.

 

We were early for our bus so check with airport information if there is an earlier alternative, the lady at the desk had all that information at her finger tips, excellent service. 10 Minutes later we were on our way from the airport to the Union Passenger Terminal where Amtrak trains, Greyhound, Megabus, local buses and the red trolley bus all start from. $2 each for the 45 minute bus ride through the lesser seen parts of New Orleans.

Driver was superb, handled all the various people (including us) with some panache and seemed to know most of them, we were a varied group to say the least. Half-way to the Amtrak station a man gets up to get off at the next stop and as the bus stops he leans over to the driver, gives her a big hug and a few kisses and just walks off the bus with a wave, she didn't blink.

 

Back to the Union Terminal, we'd arrived a year earlier and understood the layout. First Amtrak, next is Megabus, on the far side Greyhound. The local buses are out front, the trolley is outside round the Greyhound side.

 

 

Two iconic signs

 

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First a cup of tea from Subway inside the station, it was surprisingly good so we had two. It's now about 10:00am and we are a little weary, but first we need to store our bags. Our Greyhound isn't due out until around 9:30pm this evening, nearly 12 hours. We choose Amtrak to store our bags but they want to see a ticket so I show him the next one from Jacksonville to Miami, FL, no good. Then I remember that we still have the unused tickets from Memphis to NOL arriving that afternoon, he said it's good enough but why aren't we on it? He accepts the answer, $9 saved over the cost of Greyhound storage.

 

Now we're free for the whole day and decide on two different places. First we want to return to the Garden District where we stayed last year, there's a small garden center down by the river we must visit as it's possibly the last chance we have to locate a form of Aloe Vera cactus/succulent (see Note) that we have a spot for on a newly built rockery back home, we've been looking for a suitably small one that we can pack in a bag and wont be noticed at customs.

Second go back down to the river in the French quarter and just walk.

 

Again use the brilliant free wifi that Greyhound provide in many of their bus stations and on all their buses, Amtrak you are missing a trick here! Find the bus No. and the stops online, it's 500 yards beyond the big Wal-Mart.

 

Walk straight to the place no problem, ask where the cactus are kept and told they have just had a fresh delivery of cacti, about 4 boxes full, a really good selection. Our type isn't there, certainly never seen one in these tiny pots. The smallest we saw was at a Home Depot in LA, about 2 foot tall and very sharp spines, never going to get that through Heathrow without customs seeing it. Rosie double checks, then I treble check, no it's not going to be.

Higher up on a rack is a tray of succulents, no not there. That's it, we gave it our best shot. Did I look at the rear row of the succulents? best go back and check. It was like a searchlight shining on this one pot, there it was complete with baby spikes and the correct blue-green tint to the leaves, the only one after a 2500 mile search. Didn't look at the price just clutched it tight, biggest grin of the trip so Rosie said.

 

 

It looks like this except a bit smaller

 

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OK, we have to walk it around much of New Orleans day and evening, then work out how to transport it on bus, train and plane but we will. Have a nice chat with the owner of the place, he's very enthusiastic about his small business and rightly so, it's very busy too.

 

Note: is this an Agave succulent that is used to make Tequila and not Aloe Vera at all?

 

 

 

To be continued...

Edited by v v

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Wednesday 28 March Day 36 ~ New Orleans, LA - The Longest Day - part II

Updated in the Allier, France ~ Friday 20 April

 

 

Walk part of the way back to downtown, overcast but a pleasant morning. In a quiet side street in the Garden District there was this unusual building. Is it Egyptian inspired, a Masonic lodge? What was it built for, why such an unusual design?

 

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It's pretty humid so decide on a bus to take us to the center of the business district, again no problems and end up near Lee Circle. We want to see what Robert E Lee looked like and a large statue of him would do it. Arrive and Robert is gone, his pedestal is there but being overhauled, guess he's being overhauled a little himself. Do have a photo of the empty pedestal but thought it a bit facetious to post it.

 

Defineately getting a bit warmer, but more noticeable the humidity is quite high. We walk across to Lafayette Square as we know it has large shade trees and will be a nice place to while away an hour. Not our day today, the square has been taken over and fenced off by a corporate event, we do find a bench to sit in the shade on the outside of the square, nice having nowhere to go and nothing to do..

 

 

Took this photo of a green Streetcar, it's the third one we'd seen pass and the passengers all looked as though they were suffering a little, it's 83o F with high humidity.

 

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Now we're tired and decide to retreat to the air conditioned/cool Union Terminal, we need some sleep.

 

 

This unusual building is across the street from the Terminal, can be seen a long way off if you lose your bearings

 

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There are 3 sets of seats inside the terminal, the most uncomfortable are Greyhound, the middle comfort is Amtrak, the nicest by far are Megabus seats but as soon as you sit on them someone asks if you have a ticket. The quiet end is Greyhound, there's no passing foot traffic, but we can't work out a way to recline a little to sleep. So we take 30 minute spells of one sleeping leaning on the other who stays upright and mostly awake, it's not our best time. After about 3 hours we decide on a comfy seat in Subway, two long drawn out cups of tea each, then we're ready for an early evening ride on a Streetcar.

 

 

This is the terminus for the red Streetcar, maybe 40 yards from the main entrance. Took the car out to Elysian Fields Avenue (what a great name) and walked down to the river. Second photo is looking past the car driver.

 

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We really enjoy walking around New Orleans, it's a relaxed and happy place to be. The climate must help being able to be outside much of the year, a bit like many of the Meditereanean countries along the shore line. No that's not quite right as new Orleans has something extra, can't put that into words right now.

 

 

Would have spent $7.50 just to see what you get, pity they were closed.

 

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Another what looks like an impromptu street band

 

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New Orleans just relaxing and enjoying itself in the early evening

 

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Walk along the river to Canal Street, then up to Loyola where we catch a red Streetcar back to UPT, it's the same driver as on the journey out. Retrieve our bags from Amtrak, check which gate our bus leaves from, write out a new address label for a bag that has lost one and then just sit and wait. A German girl asks what is the procedure to board, we must look like we know what we are doing. She's travelling alone and it's her first Greyhound ever. Show her where the address labels are, what to and what not to put on them and describe the procedure although it does differ from station to station. Behind us another German voice, which bus are we getting on?

 

He comes round and sits next to us, he's also travelling alone and it's also his first Greyhound. Rosie asks does he know the German girl, no is the answer and decide it may be good if they met. There are more co-incidences. They are both travelling to Atlanta, both stay a couple of days and then move on to different destinations.

Both are engineers (they are German after all), she has a masters degree and this US journey is to celebrate getting it. She has a job waiting for her in Munich and is fairly driven to start work. He has almost finished his degree but has taken a 6 month research project on Long Island first. She thinks he's a slacker, he thinks he's enjoying life on the way to his degree. They are lovely young people and very interested in the world, they also have interesting ideas on where the world of work is going and they think it's just around the corner too.

 

We sort of shepherd them onto the bus, they sit together and are soon laughing, he's a very charming young man and good company for a bit more serious young lady. Bus leaves at 9:35pm. Bus is full again, but we have good seats and are comfortable. We thought we'd sleep immediately but are still awake when we reach Mobile, AL around midnight. Here everyone has to come off the bus as we are all changing for other destinations, only a few have Mobile as their destination.

 

The German couple are first to leave, he visits France often and we tell him we will have a cold beer for him if we're there. With 3 1/2 hours before we board our next bus Rosie whose out on her feet decides to sleep with her head on a table, it sort of works but she wakes a lot.

A 30's something young man and I start to talk, and we're still talking when our next bus for Tallahassee bus comes in. He still has another bit to wait for a bus heading directly north to Illinois.

Edited by v v

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I love New Orleans, thankfully it has not been too humid on my visits.

 

I was interested by the "winged" symbol on the building in your photo, it reminded me somewhat of the Zoroastrian "Faravahar" symbol, seen here in Mumbai:

 

12088102_10153642740394120_7024852736192

 

Probably many countries and religions have similar winged motifs... Maybe yours is an American Eagle! :D

 

 

Ed.

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I love New Orleans, thankfully it has not been too humid on my visits.

 

I was interested by the "winged" symbol on the building in your photo, it reminded me somewhat of the Zoroastrian "Faravahar" symbol, seen here in Mumbai:

 

12088102_10153642740394120_7024852736192

 

Probably many countries and religions have similar winged motifs... Maybe yours is an American Eagle! :D

 

 

Ed.

 

It does look very similar if only the concept of it. Here's another closer photo.

 

BTW Ed, have you or any of your mates ever visited Iran?

 

post-6862-0-96688600-1524352906_thumb.jpg

Edited by v v

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Thursday 29 March Day 37 ~ Mobile, AL to Jacksonville, FL
Updated in the Allier, France ~ Saturday 21 April

 

 

Having arrived around midnight from NOL on a Greyhound we have a 4+ hour wait for our next bus. Rosie tries to sleep and a slightly serious 30 something man and I talk about the world, politics, travel in the US and then he explains where he's come from and where he's going. There are similarities with at least a couple of others we've met on this journey who move around the country seasonally for health reasons.

 

In his twenties he starts to suffer from a form of arthritis, not good as he's a carpenter. It's affecting his hands not being able to hold tools properly. Lives in Colorado and is advised to move to warmer drier climate during the winter. He's fortunate as his brother lives and works in central Florida, so for a number of winters he has lived with his brother and wife for about 4 months each year. His brother gives him work as he's in the same trade, although he does mention ruefully that his sister in law is not so happy with this arrangement. Maybe that's understandable or maybe he's miss-reading the situation?

 

In Spring he visits the rest of his family in Illinois for a month and then returns to Colorado to his regular life. He is also interested in developing ideas, doesn't have original ideas but is good trying to develop and improve ideas others have. He hopes one day to make a big breakthrough on one of his projects so he can leave manual labour behind.

 

He had good news too. One of his hands had had an experimental operation, and it has been a big success. He has been told that within the year he may regain 95% of full usage of his hand and makes sure he carries out all the physio he has been told to. If this works as well as it appears to he'll have the other hand operated on. He's a quiet and thoughtful man but we also share some jokes about public figures and some of life's idiosyncrasies.

 

Our bus arrival is announced but that's the first and last announcement, it's a scramble to get on the bus to a decent seat and in fact to get two together. Mobile Greyhound bus station is chaos, Greyhound, what's happening to you?

 

Rosie has now had 2 hours sleep since 3am the previous day, I've had 1. It's 4am and we're dog tired, no wonder we get into our seats and sleep immediately. Apparently the bus leaves at 4:30am, it breaks down at 5:25am on the Interstate heading for Pensacola, FL. The next is Rosie's view, I don't wake up.

 

We are pulled just of the road in the dark, trucks rock the bus as they wizz past not so far away. Driver makes a phone call for help but makes no announcement, then gets off the bus to stand beside it. Voice from the back "The bus done broke?" from the front "Yeah, it broke" . People on the bus groan together, I sleep on. Girl announces she's going to ask the driver what happens now, returns and announces we have to wait for another bus, 1 - 3 hours. Time for Rosie to get some sleep too, but notices quite a number of people get off the bus and stand in the grass. Later the driver comes back on board and announces a replacement bus will be an hour, and aren't we lucky he will be the driver all the way to Jacksonville, oh goody!

 

As the replacement bus arrived there was a crazy scramble to get good seats again, we board and find just one pair of seats empty but with good leg room. Looking around I recognise this bus immediately, it's our freezer bus from Kansas City to Denver earlier on in the journey. The one that was dirty, many parts broken, a pair of seats not even attached and an uncontrollable air conditioning unit that leaked and could not be turned down. Still, on the bright side we were sat a fair way away from that prize position in the bus this time, just went back to sleep wrapped up. All the way to Jacksonville we mostly slept, except to transfer buses at Tallahassee. All the stops were shortened to try to make up time, the driver was as tense as a wound-up coil spring.

At Tallahassee Greyhound station we talk with a lady and her 11? year old son, off to visit family in JAX, she is one of the Katrina victims who lost her home. After 8 years she eventually managed to start to buy a new house, she also lost her husband to mental illness being a veteran of the Iraq war and who returned 'damaged' I think the term is. After this the bus breakdown didn't phase her, her son was doing well and was in a marching band, life was good, she loved living in NOL and she now wanted to travel with her son as much as possible. She thought travel would give the boy a good perspective on life, quite an inspirational lady who always had a smile.

We're on the last bus of this journey, arrive in Jacksonville only two hours late, not too bad and it's only 7:00pm. Have to get from downtown to the airport area where our hotel is, to be in place to pick up our rental car the next morning.

 

 

Jacksonville, FL Greyhound bus station. A new Greyhound station is being built out of town??? Guess the central downtown location of the current one is ripe for redevelopment?

 

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Local buses and an intermediate bus station cheer us up, the world has returned to normal. Wait for about 30 minutes at the (local not Greyhound) bus station for a transfer, sit and talk with a man who looked like Wild Bill Hickok (and pulled it off). He told us things about JAX. He loved living there, said there were good and bad areas (aren't there everywhere), and his life was wonderful as he had a great job and could spend his free time reading (he did have a book in his hand). He extolled the virtues of the JAX central library and explained all their services, then went back to his book.

A younger lady approached us to ask if we could pay her bus fare up to near the airport, we agreed immediately and said stick close to us when we board and it's a done.

 

We all board the bus, it's fairly busy, ask for 3 tickets and the driver says are we sure we want to pay for the bag lady who is a couple of people behind us, "no doubt at all but thanks for asking" We learn on the bus from Wild Bill that many homeless move out of downtown in the evening as it's safer, then return in the day. The lady who we buy the ticket for had heard us ask about where to go in JAX, she came in with a couple of suggestions of her own, these poor people often try to give something back and we're grateful for the help.

 

As we've found with many bus systems in the US, people who regularly use the buses know each other, it's a good atmosphere and a couple of 'good nights' to the whole bus as people get off, we're the last to leave. Bus stops about 50 yards away from the hotel, we're knackered but happy to have got through an interesting time without Rosie suffering again. A quick snack then try to make breakfast and collect the car tomorrow.

Edited by v v

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Gosh, I admire your fortitude with the Greyhound bus sagas! I do like to use them, but only for a daylight ride, can't ever sleep on a bus. Shame if the Greyhound stations are moved out of town, the ease of connecting from them to local transport may not be so good.

 

I think Iran would be a fascinating place to visit, and one I would love to see. Probably not going to happen, it seems that managing solo travel gets a lot trickier as one ages!

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

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Greyhound has been hard work at times this trip, but mostly it's not like this at all. Some of the later buses are very comfortable and different positions in the bus have different amount of leg room. The seats recline a fair way so most people appear to be able to get comfortable but it depends on the bus you get.

Still, much as I love Amtrak our next train down to Miami in coach was a long way overdue for an overhaul, and it ran at times on very poor track too, not a good combination. We have also had really good Amtrak coach seats this journey too, as you know pretty easy to sleep in. It's luck of the draw a bit isn't it Ed.

 

Depending how the next 12 months turn out (Brexit) will decide whether we head for S America or Iran first. Funny but Iran appeals most at the moment and not sure why. Can you not team up with another single traveller to go places you wouldn't go to alone? I think there are forums to facilitate these sort of trips.

 

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated.

 

ps: So where are you off to next?

Edited by v v

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Hubby and I did the same trip between Jacksonville and New Orleans, but in the opposite direction. We are not up for night time bus travel, so we stopped for the night in Tallahassee (which we quite liked, fun walking in the soft warm evening with people on porches greeting passers-by like us). We had much the same experience in Mobile. We had to change buses, and the one we got on was already mostly full. No one would change to give us seats together.

 

Side note, not germane to the post: I ended up sitting next to a sweet young woman in camo that was terrified and tearful, as she was about to be deployed. The recruiters had promised her a post assignment with her fiance when she signed up, but that promise was broken almost before the ink was dry on her contract. Poor thing, an abused background, a current career as cannon-fodder, and what kind of a future? All I could do was hold her hands and try to reassure her that she was strong enough to face it. Very glad when we all got to NOL, and I could rejoin Hubby.

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Hubby and I did the same trip between Jacksonville and New Orleans, but in the opposite direction. We are not up for night time bus travel, so we stopped for the night in Tallahassee (which we quite liked, fun walking in the soft warm evening with people on porches greeting passers-by like us). We had much the same experience in Mobile. We had to change buses, and the one we got on was already mostly full. No one would change to give us seats together.

 

Side note, not germane to the post: I ended up sitting next to a sweet young woman in camo that was terrified and tearful, as she was about to be deployed. The recruiters had promised her a post assignment with her fiance when she signed up, but that promise was broken almost before the ink was dry on her contract. Poor thing, an abused background, a current career as cannon-fodder, and what kind of a future? All I could do was hold her hands and try to reassure her that she was strong enough to face it. Very glad when we all got to NOL, and I could rejoin Hubby.

I find the reference to our active duty military personnel as “cannon fodder” to be outrageous. Be thankful that there are those who serve our country at their peril, to make the rest of us safe.

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I find the reference to our active duty military personnel as “cannon fodder” to be outrageous.

As a veteran that sees the way our troops are employed these days, I agree with the characterization. Lives destroyed, both while deployed and after returning home, for no real good reason. Bless you, Jennifer, for giving one of them a measure of solace and comfort.

 

Be thankful that there are those who serve our country at their peril, to make the rest of us safe.

You're welcome.

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Hubby and I did the same trip between Jacksonville and New Orleans, but in the opposite direction. We are not up for night time bus travel, so we stopped for the night in Tallahassee (which we quite liked, fun walking in the soft warm evening with people on porches greeting passers-by like us). We had much the same experience in Mobile. We had to change buses, and the one we got on was already mostly full. No one would change to give us seats together.

 

Side note, not germane to the post: I ended up sitting next to a sweet young woman in camo that was terrified and tearful, as she was about to be deployed. The recruiters had promised her a post assignment with her fiance when she signed up, but that promise was broken almost before the ink was dry on her contract. Poor thing, an abused background, a current career as cannon-fodder, and what kind of a future? All I could do was hold her hands and try to reassure her that she was strong enough to face it. Very glad when we all got to NOL, and I could rejoin Hubby.

I find the reference to our active duty military personnel as “cannon fodder” to be outrageous. Be thankful that there are those who serve our country at their peril, to make the rest of us safe.

 

 

JRR, hope you don't mind me making a comment here but the term 'cannon fodder' is used universally.

 

Without putting words into Jennifer's mouth I think she is applying the term to some of the people who control how the military operates, not to those at the sharp end. It's obvious that Jennifer is a very caring person just from her actions, the condemnation maybe is for those who 'use' people as cannon fodder as per in this young woman's situation.

 

Obviously you may also have personal experiences of the military that colour your view too, but possibly don't be too hard on a very nice lady.

Edited by v v

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No objection to your comment. Everyone is entitled to their own view. I have stated mine.

 

To keep on topic, I will state that travel through America does give one exposure to different views.

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Perhaps you missed the part in History Class where your teachers explained how most Wars are started by Rich Old Men and fought by poor Young Men ( along with McNamara's Infamous Collateral Damage,ie Civilians)in the name of Profits, Nationalism and "Noble Causes??"

 

Basically the Infantry has always been "Cannon Fodder", but I'll agree that now that we have all Volunteer Armed Forces with No Draft, the term no longer applies

to todays Service Members.

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An "all volunteer" armed force often still seems to be populated mostly by the poor and disadvantaged folks... I believe that the US military are currently having problems recruiting, as there are now more attractive job alternatives than "volunteering".

 

Hearing a wide selection of opinions and outlooks is one of the joys of all travel experiences!

 

Ed,

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An "all volunteer" armed force often still seems to be populated mostly by the poor and disadvantaged folks... I believe that the US military are currently having problems recruiting, as there are now more attractive job alternatives than "volunteering".

 

Hearing a wide selection of opinions and outlooks is one of the joys of all travel experiences!

 

Ed,

 

Agree with that sentiment although not sure about the 'mostly' Ed. In the last 18 months we've travelled about 14 weeks through America and have had similar recurring meetings with people. Either directly meeting a young person, the parents or grandparents of a young person who had or was about to join the military for one of 3 reasons. The most common reason was to get a better education than their family could afford, another was to learn a skill properly, and also to serve long enough to gain medical cover or a military pension. That would indicate they were not always from families who were comfortable economically.

 

To us it sounded a good deal all round. The military offering a path to a better stable life through their massive facilities and gaining interested volunteers, for the young people taking sometimes the only route for them to better their and their families lives without the vagaries of will I still have a job next week.

 

They all came across as patriotic but for some is wasn't the driving reason to join.

Edited by v v

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Friday 30 March Day 38 ~ Jacksonville, FL
Updated in the Allier, France ~ Monday 23 April

 

 

May as well get this day written about, bit disappointing and slightly surreal.

 

It felt good to stop moving and took our time to breakfast and get across to the airport via the hotel shuttle, we're about to collect a car for a 2 day rental.

 

Pleasant middle aged lady behind the Dollar counter, hand over the UK rental agency fully paid invoice for the rental including insurances, passport, photo driving license and a credit card. After less than a minute the woman asks if I/we have a credit card in my/our name. Pardon, all the documents are in my name including the CC I gave her. No the credit card must have your first name written out in full. We have two other credit cards with us but all only have initials, not the first name spelt out. She's looking a little uncomfortable, I'm unhappy.

She volunteers that do we have debit cards with first name written in full, we have two but only initials. Ask why does it matter and she says it's company policy that credit cards must be fully spelt. I ask what to me is an incredulous question, in particular as we have just rented a one way rental from Enterprise from Austin to New Orleans with the same card... "Have I got this right? I have written proof of a fully paid for rental car agreement, have 2 forms of photo ID that actually look like me (passport is only 3 months old), a qualifying license and between us 5 credit and debit cards in our married surname which matches our passports, and I can't have the rental car?". No sir I'm afraid not. Ask to speak with the manager, told he's busy and will say the same. tell her I'm not moving until he appears, within a few seconds he appears. To everyone's credit there are no raised voices but a lot of frustration and disappointment. Basically he repeats everything the woman has said adding 3 things. The new regulation was decided recently by the board of directors, started 1 January this year. Florida as a vacation state has a lot of fraud, that's a LOT of fraud he states again, and they have to be extra careful. Third, and this is the killer, there are about 4 other rental agencies all in a line in this smaller airport, he said "I'm sorry to say that none of the other agencies will rent to you either for the same reason". And that's it.

 

We're completely bemused, what the hell is happening here. Return to the shuttle pick-up area and someone calls the hotel shuttle bus for us, driver asks what happened? When we explain he says oh yes, it's happening a lot now. Get back to the hotel and ask them what's going on, the clerk say he doesn't know and calls the manager, "never heard of it" although the shuttle bus driver had, must be better informed than the man who manages the airport hotel. Speak with an older cleaning lady about where to buy soap for the washing machine (the hotel had run out), by the way have you heard of this? Oh yes, happening as lot right now, the cleaner knows more than the manager too. Had it confirmed by a third person that same day when we went to eat in Denny's.

 

Email the rental agency in the UK and get a fast reply, "never heard of it, we'll investigate". Also add in a couple of days time we have via themselves a 3 day rental car to pick up with the same Dollar agency in Miami, should we expect the same? Get an answer later that day from the UK agency, still no idea what's happening but we have contacted Miami to make sure it doesn't happen there, sorry we can't help at the moment with the Jacksonville rental.

 

That's great. We've taken a hotel out by the airport to make it easy to collect a car, there is nothing here and even if the airport is exciting as airports can be it is 4 miles away. We are supposed to be visiting Amelia Island for personal reasons and the State Park in the north of Amelia too, that's off completely as it's too far with too many taxis to get around, and the public transport out there is hit and miss and almost not connectable too. So we decide on a positive course of action to celebrate and do our clothes washing, except there's no soap. We're supposed to meet up with a friend who lives in Jacksonville tomorrow, at least we can get the bus in to downtown.

 

We use the extra time we have to write, relax, read and do the washing, one of the gas stations near the interstate has washing powder. That evening eat at Denny's, watch tv and write and read some more, we needed the break is what we told ourselves.

 

The upshot of this is it's 24 days since the refusal to rent us a car. Apart from one email to say Miami has been contacted which also said we wont hear from them about Jacksonville until the matter is resolved, and they're right, we haven't heard from them. No refund, no apology as to not updating us with credit card requirements but it wont get dropped.

 

Hey ho, tomorrow will be better as all you Americans always tell us, and we believe you too.

Edited by v v

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Sad to say that there is,way too much of this Corporate Directed BS going on in lots of businesses!😣

 

Probably using American Express or one of the other "Premium" Cards is the only way to ensure that crap like this doesn't occur during travel.

 

Looking forward to the next Chapter in y'alls adventure, and for sure y'alls next trip to Iran!!! (Not sure I'd want to visit a Muslim Country right now????) or South America!😎

 

An AU friend is in Paris right now, hope Spring has Spring on the Continent!

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(snip)

Looking forward to the next Chapter in y'alls adventure, and for sure y'alls next trip to Iran!!! (Not sure I'd want to visit a Muslim Country right now????) (snip)

I know Iran is portrayed as a boogieman country in various places around the world, but it’s undeserved IMHO. As are other ‘Muslim Countries’.

 

The only reason I’ve not yet visited Iran is that I needed to make sure I was granted entry to the USA, and the USA makes things very difficult for those who have an Iranian stamp in their passports.

 

I’m likely off to Iran next, and everything I’ve read details the generous hospitality of the Iranian people, their genuine interest in you as a foreign traveller. And this level of hospitality is common throughout the Islamic world.

 

I spent several weeks in Turkey recently, and even though that government was becoming less liberal, the people I met were lively, unafraid, interactive, proud of their culture and history, generous, and inclusive. I felt safer walking the streets late at night there than I do in parts of my own Oz city. There was a much lesser level of street aggression, likely because there was nowhere near the level of drunkenness and drug taking there compared to most western cities, and much less macho posturing that’s so prevalent in the Anglosphere.

 

Iran is becoming more liberal, it can scarcely not do so because of the huge proportion of its population under 30. It has a literate, well edicated, and engaged city-based population with a vibrant culture. I can’t wait to get there.

 

I’ve never conflated a government’s actual or purported harshness and belicosity, with its people. Most people around the world are interesting and interested.

 

The most populous Islamic nation on the planet is Australia’s nearest neighbour, Indonesia. It is a country which is well under most peoples’ alarm radar, and rightly so.

 

I reckon we have nothing to fear from experiencing life in other nations, regardless of their predominant religion. Be open minded, act as if you are a guest (you are), be ready to accept a different normal, and everything’ll go swimmingly and leave you proud to be a member of the human race.

 

In relation to different normals, I’ve just discovered you in the USA have decided not just to drive on the wrong side of the road, but to turn on and off your light switches the wrong way around too! But I’ll just accept that as another odd cultural difference and get on with things :-)

 

I’m sure the Iranians aren’t as odd :-)

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I know Iran is portrayed as a boogieman country in various places around the world, but it’s undeserved IMHO. As are other ‘Muslim Countries’. The only reason I’ve not yet visited Iran is that I needed to make sure I was granted entry to the USA, and the USA makes things very difficult for those who have an Iranian stamp in their passports. I’m likely off to Iran next, and everything I’ve read details the generous hospitality of the Iranian people, their genuine interest in you as a foreign traveller. And this level of hospitality is common throughout the Islamic world.

I don't have any problem with average Iranian citizens. By all accounts they're calm, educated, and reasonable. I do however have several problems with their irrationally oppressive government. Hard to visit the former without living under the latter.

 

 

I spent several weeks in Turkey recently, and even though that government was becoming less liberal, the people I met were lively, unafraid, interactive, proud of their culture and history, generous, and inclusive. I felt safer walking the streets late at night there than I do in parts of my own Oz city.

Becoming less liberal? You mean the jailing and torturing people based on the whispers of vindictive neighbors and disgruntled coworkers, the enacting of a faith based judicial system with government sanctioned discrimination, and the systematic dismantling of any meaningful political opposition? I guess that's one way to put it.

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