Thursday, March 13, 2014

road trip - spring 2014, part 3

This is the third installment of the series of posts on the road trip I took in the spring of 2014. I came home with close to 5000 photos and video clips.

I10 passes through a place called Taxes Canyon characterized by the huge roundish bolders
a rest area in New Mexico
There are many US Boarder Patrol Check Points like this on I10 in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico
 the vast distances feel like crossing the great oceans on a slow boat
 finding a Mexican restaurant in El Paso - this one looked promising
has the right decor as well the clienteles

the chips are good but not great; it must be me that feel Mexican beer is so overrated
sorry to say the main course has to be one of the worst Mexican food I'd ever have
I drove all night through the high elevations in Texas but decided to sleep a few hours before resuming down to low elevation the next morning. It was quite cold but the diesel furnace kept me toasty. The next morning I would learnt not to spent the night in high elevation in cold climate if I can avoid. The weather moved in and brought moisture as the temperature drop slightly below freezing. In the morning the road was covered with sheet of ice. I waited a bit hoping the pavement is warm enough to melt the ice. I soon set out to test the road carefully. I was still at close to 3000 feet elevation.
As soon as I got onto the highway I knew it was not a good idea to proceed. It is unsafe to try even to make it to the closest exit. I pull off the highway onto a high spot on the grass - least a vehicle slide it's way into me.
here on the service road I can see how thick the ice is when inspecting it closely

Slowly the temperature creeps up as the sun rises. I carefully proceeded downhill. There few vehicles including this tractor trailer skit off the road.

the ice build-up from the moisture during the decent of the mountains at temperature hovering around freezing
I took the pilgrimage to visit the famed Texas barbecue Kreuz. It is in a small town near Austin and it has a huge parking lot.
Kreuz Texas barbecue
meat is sold by weight here
the dinning hall where you buy your drinks and side dishes

they have some serious stockpile of smoking wood
the city hall
Passing through Huston I remember to locate a Academy Sport and Outdoors store to see the old country smoker I plan to buy.
Initially I couldn't find the Wangler model that I plan to buy so I thought this one at twice the price would give me some idea of the construction. I was impressed. The steel looked to be thick enough for building light armor vehicle.
Just before I was ready to leave I found a staff that point me to where they store the Wangler. It is built with thinner gauge steel and the fit and finish is not as good. Still it is quite good given the $499 price tag. I planned to order it once I return home from the trip.
 the store's fire arm section

one of many meals I cooked on the road - this one has my home made andouille sausage and wild shrimps that I bought with me from home
I could not wait to try out Cajun food as soon as I cross into Louisiana. While it was still a long way before my first planned visiting locations I checked out a few places and picked one that looked promising. I thought the sooner I experience the food the sooner I form a point of reference baseline despite the quality.

it was early in the morning and this one is already buzzing with customers
i decided to have their buffet - this is soup with their smoked sausage

 the food is good but no great
everyone order the bottomless soda
this is my first tasting of boudin; while I have not have boudin until now I knew it is not meaty enough and lack flavor
Next stop is B&O Kitchen and Grocery. I found out about this place through Go Coast Louisiana  which I use to bookmark many places I planned to visit in Louisiana.
B&O Kitchen and Grocery
like the clearly marked pricing on the board
The owner was very friendly and we struck up a conversation. I told him how I know about his place and he recall the Go Coast production two years back.
the cured/smoked meat produces

He was out of andouille sausages so I settled on some smoked venison sausage and a bag of cracklins. A lot of customers were stopping by for the cracklins.
my first tasting of cracklins
 arriving at Lake Charles

like me these fine folks were also stopping to see the alligators but they didn't see any either; i would later learnt that alligators don't come out until the temperature reach around 70s; it was a 50s morning
 Famous Food was another place I bookmarked to visit

 a small menu is always a good sign - i bought some barbecue brisket
my refrigerator happen to be still quite full so I passed on buying more sausage; i would later regret as this place looks like a real deal

 they were very nice here and I could buy just 1/2 lb

 it is no less good compared to Kreuz
 one of the Louisiana state parks I camped in

the geometric distortion of the panoramic photo made the swamp looks like a round pond
i am quite sure these are rice fields - it was Sunday and I was heading to small towns on Southeast Louisiana to explore a few places that I bookmarked
i was starving driving all day skipping breakfast and lunch; i was happy to reach this seafood restaurant that I want to try but I learnt that day that a lot of businesses are closed on Sundays; they are using the restaurant for a baby shower event
not a restaurant was open in this small town - i ended up fixing myself a quick meal (i think it was instant noodles)
between Baton Rouge and New Orleans I10 passed through many miles of swampland and the freeway is built on pilings reminded me of the very long bridges in the Florida keys
in this strip of huge swamp I spotted a family living in the middle of the swamp; you can tell they are living off the swamp
 I was so hungry I pull of the highway and found a spot under it to make a meal

 more home made andouille and shrimp - very delicious
the sun was setting; i nearly got hauled away by the mosquitoes being in the middle of the swamp
i was glad i carry this tiny bottle of chinese topical herbal oil which i used as mosquito repellent

One of the places I bookmarked was Wayne Jacob's Smokehouse in Laplace. Unfortunately I arrived to the town at night and had to decide if I want to sleep over and visit it the next morning. It was the only place I wanted to try in Laplace and I decided to stay for the night. The next morning I went there and found out they also have a restaurant.
they have a rather large menu and this is one of many pages

i order the cheddar beer sausage soup and the smokehouse meatloaf for breakfast; the soup is quite good and rich though a bit too salty; it is understandably so given the ingredients
 i would love to have this antique industrial strength sausage stuffer
may be i had very high expectation the meatloaf is very pedestrian and is just too sweet to my taste; i could taste the over-the-top amount of ketchup in the meatloaf; the only thing that stand out over common meatloaf is it is very smokey
the sweet corn side dish is cooked with coffee like Folgers that reminded me those very bad coffee often found in auto junkyards
Before I left I bought a pound of their andouille which I would snack on as well as cook with during the trip.

finally I arrived at the French Quarter in New Orleans

when I first saw the photo of the Jackson Square I was so taken by the surreal setting with the Disneyland like castle in the backdrop
by cropping out the surrounding context you see what i mean
a different composition
i think this one looks even more Disneylandish

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