Day 23--Thursday, July 10, 2003
Morning. Ben tells me that we passed through Houston around 6:15, which was also around the time of the sunrise. Shortly after 7:00, I took the driver's seat again and stayed there until we found somewhere to pull off for showers two or three hours later.
We arrived in New Orleans and the Jude Travel Park around 2:30. Including stops, we had been on the road for almost a full 24 hours. We were definitely read to rest. The lady in the cluttered office sent us to site 42 at the back of the campground. On our way there, we realized that we were one of two tents in an otherwise all-RV park.
We set up our tent, which was pretty gross from being bagged up for nearly a week. We decided that our first priority was to take a nice, long nap, so we crawled into the tent. However, it did not work out quite as I had expected. For starters, my legs were already itching unbearably from bites by mutant mosquitos. The weather was simply humid and boiling. We turned on our little fan, but it was too small to be effective in the huge blanket of heat. Ben read for a while and then promptly fell asleep while I continued to toss and turn. I just kept getting sticker and more miserable. Finally, after lying there for about an hour, I woke Ben up.
We left the tent and he tried to get me to either the shower or the pool. I was severely dehydrated and almost passed out for the first time in my life. Finally, he got me up to the bathroom and got a little Gatorade in me. I spent ages in the shower, just letting cold water rush over me and revive me a little.
Minutes after I left the shower, the heavens opened up and a huge rainstorm let loose. We secured our possessions as best we could and waited it out in the car. It only lasted for ten to fifteen minutes, and then we drove into New Orleans.
The road we needed was closed, so it took us a little while to get to the French Quarter. Eventually, we parked in the Harrah's Casino lot and went to the Riverwalk. We went into the mall and got dinner in the food court. Ben had red beans, rice, and sausage, and I had a bleu cheese burger. Afterwards, we wandered the mall, bought some pralines, and sat by the river for a while.
Then we went to Harrah's, where Ben signed up for a membership. The objective in doing this was that if he played for half an hour on his membership card, we would get free parking and a scratch-off ticket with $5 winnings guaranteed. Ben played nickel slots for the required time, losing $5, which we got back with our scratch-off card. Given the fact that we no longer had to pay the $8 parking fee, we came out ahead.
We returned to the Jude Travel Park and got ready for bed. It was still sticky and hot, and I didn't need so much as a fleece blanket, much less my sleeping bag. My legs had huge bugbites nearly covering them, and I tried to calm the itching with Ben's poison ivy cream. All this succeeded in doing was getting the cream all over my mat.
It took a long time to fall asleep, and neither of us was asleep for long. We were awakened to the horrible sounds of crashing metals. It sounded like bombs were going off outside our tent; it was an explosive series of ground-shaking impacts. With an orange-ish street lamp above our tent, it looked like we were in the middle of a fiery war. For hours, we kept jolting awake to these horrible crashes, sometimes sitting bolt upright and clutching each other in instinctual fear of the horrible noises pulling us from our sleep.
Around 2:30, we both got up to go to the bathroom. I couldn't take it anymore. It was too hot for me to be able to fall asleep, and even if I had been able to manage it, I would have just kept being woken up over and over again. I decided that my best course of action was to turn on the car, leave it on idle, and sleep in there. That way, the air conditioning could keep me cool, and hopefully the sound of the engine and the walls of the car would block out the crashing sounds. Ben decided to tough it out in the tent.
It was not exactly what I would call "a good night of sleep." I woke up often, and I had to alternate having the car on and off in order to save gas. All I could think about was how I was going to insist that we check out in the morning and demand our money for the next night back. It was a long, miserable night.
16 / 40