We sought warm weather and boy, did it deliver. After leaving Telluride, we drove straight to Santa Fe, a place neither of us had been before. The sun was setting and the city was glowing – tourists and locals alike were bustling around, shopping, eating and drinking. We fit right in. Some local Mexican fare (cricket tostadas and a margarita) at Sazon, we then dined at The Shed for dinner. Situated right off the main plaza and tucked behind a beautiful courtyard, this colorfully decorated and incredibly crowded restaurant lived up to all its hype. We ate and drank well beyond our means, only making us eager to come back for more.
After grabbing some breakfast at The Shack, a local establishment famous for their green-chili burgers, we spent the day meandering around the shops. That afternoon, we took the short drive to Ten Thousand Waves, a traditional Japanese style onsen tucked near the mountains of Sierra Nevada. If you know us, you know how much we love Japan, and to find this oasis in Santa Fe felt like a godsend. It was far enough from the city that we felt like we had “gotten away” but close enough that we could still make dinner that night in town. We rejuvenated and relaxed into serenity, only to find ourselves back at The Shed for another meal after some negotiating with local shop owners for their prized Navajo crafts.
Sad to leave, we hit the road for New Orleans. It was a long, long journey. With nothing but endless cow pastures, Walmart parking lots and chain restaurants, we were fueled by the warm sun and wind in our hair. We finally reached New Orleans late in the evening on Friday and spent the next two nights at Ponchartrain Landing RV Park. Surrounded by palm trees, waterways, fresh grass and kind people, we settled in and made a few friends at the local restaurant. We even had our first “celebrity” moment. After speaking with the bartender and some other patrons at the bar, someone turned to us and said they had been following our adventure for the last few weeks!
We knew Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day and with full anticipation of the craziness we were about to endure, we hit the town. Bourbon Street was an absolute madhouse, but we loved it. Fortunately, we found ourselves some good, relatively quiet, places to eat and drink. We dipped in Johnny’s Po-Boys for some, well, Po-Boys, and grabbed some beignets along the way. That night, we ate at Samuel’s Blind Pelican, a perfectly situated restaurant in the Lower Garden District that has a killer outdoor patio, crawfish, and $0.25 oysters. Yes, that is correct. After completely overdoing it on the oysters, we called it a night.
After spending two nights at Ponchartrain Landing, we moved to The French Quarter RV Resort, a spot a bit more centrally located. Hitching up and preparing to leave/arrive is much easier when the temperature is above freezing. By the light of the giant billboard above us and the sweet sounds of the expressway, we settled into our new spot. We proceeded to spend the next two nights exploring the city by foot, with some notable spots being: The Sazerac (our bartender was from VT), Café Du Monde (beignets), Bayou Beer Garden (killer crawfish in a casual outdoor setting), Parkway Po-Boy (so good, we went back twice).
At this point, we were craving to get out of the city, so we made our way down to the bayou and posted up outside of Barataria Preserve at the State Park. We were away from it all and it felt good to be reconnected with nature. Via recommendation, we sought out crawfish at the local favorite, Perino’s Boiling Pot. It would come to no surprise that we spent lunch mingling with some locals at the bar, while we filled up on Gator Bites and Crawfish. We scheduled a bayou swamp tour through Airboat Adventures and boy, was it worth it. We opted for the most private tour they offered (6-8 people per boat) and our guide Jay was incredibly knowledgeable. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend our last day in New Orleans. That night, we arbitrarily selected a restaurant off Google Maps, that was on the outskirts of the city: Jacques Imo’s Café. This place might have been one of the best meals of the entire trip. Between the eclectic decorations, traditional Creole cuisine, and green fluorescent hue cast upon the whole interior space, we couldn’t have been more pleased.
It is remarkable to think that our trip is coming to a close. From New Orleans, we drove to Memphis Tennessee as we made our way back to Jackson Center, Ohio. We're grateful for the hospitality The Graceland Guesthouse has shown us, and the RV park across the street was perfectly located for our needs. Having not grown up in the hay-day of Elvis, we were blown away by our privately guided tour of Elvis Enterprises. It was fascinating to see all the memorabilia and documentation of Elvis’s life, and we were even motivated to put some Elvis on in the car. After putting some south in our mouth at Central BBQ, we bee-lined straight for Louisville, KY. Big bourbon fans, this was a must-stop on our journey home. Angel’s Envy took the cake, but we checked out Jim Beam, Four Roses, and Evan Williams too. Our last meal on the road was at Royals Hot Chicken, a fried chicken institution in Nulu. We’d recommend not trying the Gonzo, if you’re planning on doing anything afterwards.
Ending the same way we started and as promised, we threw our welcome home party at the local watering hole in Jackson Center, The Heideout. And by party, we mean a small group of us hanging out at the bar. But what we lacked in numbers, we made up for with incredible people and great conversation. We truly can’t say enough about the genuine kind-heartedness of the people in Jackson Center. We weren’t sure if they’d remember us, but we were wrongly mistaken. As soon as we got out of the car, we were instantly greeted by a smiling face and a loving “is your trip over already!?” We knew we made the right choice. Upon entering, more familiar faces couldn’t wait to hear about our travels. We spent the next few hours telling stories of our adventure by the sounds of live music and laughter. We were sad to leave, but we know it won’t be long till we’re back in that bar, with those friends.
We’ve been home in Vermont for a few days now. All of us have readjusted to our seemingly palatial living, compared to the tiny quarters we endured during our time on the #EndlessCaravan. Our journey brought us all over the country, and while the trip may be officially over, the quest for adventure and living #OutsideTheCubicle never ends.