With trepidation, we hook up, load up and depart Dead Horse Ranch State Park leaving the images of Sedona in the rear view mirror. We hated saying good-bye to Sedona’s natural beauty of red-rocks.
Many of these red-rock buttes, spires, and monuments have names, such as the popular Coffee Pot Rock. Red Rock Country is definitely worth the visit on any trip to Arizona. I know it’ll be a regular stop for Al and me. We already look forward to returning.
And while the red-rocks are majestic and stunning, another site catches our eyes….McDonald’s. Oh, but this McDonald’s is special. It’s the only one in the world where the Golden Arches are Turquoise Arches. Turquoise is a color most associated with the desert southwest. As I’m taking a photo, a gentleman from Japan joins me to my left, while a woman from Spain joins me on my right. Sedona is a highlight for folks from around the world. We all comment about the Turquoise Arches and the southwest architecture as we snap away.
With the Rig pointed south, we slowly meander toward Phoenix. Arizona is a land of contrast and diversity. The scenery is undeniably beautiful, ranging from hot and dry deserts to evergreen mountain forests to towering red rocks and canyon gorges.
One minute we’re traveling among ignored, undeveloped desert, the next we stumble across an old pioneer graveyard or ghost town. Then within a few short miles, we happen upon a populated area of new homes and shopping centers.
It appears everything in Arizona is either very old or very new. What an amazing land. And it’s ours to explore!
Son and I wake early and rested. We slept great and are ready to get to our destination. New Orleans here we come! We grab some coffee and bananas ‘to go’ from the breakfast bar; included with our room. We’re anxious to hit the road.
We’re heading south from Shreveport, Louisiana, on Interstate 49. Son is intrigued with the lush, green landscape, and the flatness. There’s little to no traffic and we enjoy the drive taking in the environment. After about an hour into the drive, we stop at McDonald’s for more coffee and a couple of McMuffins……one of my travel vices.
The McDonald’s is busy. Folks are jovial, engaged in conversations, and extremely polite. Once again, son and I question what country we’re in. We focus really hard to understand this interesting form of English and even then we’re not sure what was said, but everyone is helpful and happy. A smile, nod, and a thank you on our part seems to work, even though we’re not sure what we’re responding to. Did I already mention how polite everyone is?
We continue south on I-49 to the city of Lafayette at which point, we head east on Interstate 10. It was after Baton Rouge where the drive got interesting. We experienced driving via a Causeway over swamp land…..water, water and more water. No drought around here, that’s for sure. This Causeway, a long series of bridges, and the swamp water all around was definitely unique. I drive so son can look around. He’s excited and in awe as he takes in the environment.
We agree, we wouldn’t want to break down around here. The vegetation is thick. The bugs are big (as evidenced by the yuck on the windshield). There’s water everywhere….some clear, some green, some scummy. The land is flat and the air is thick. Louisiana and Colorado couldn’t be more different.
As we approach New Orleans, we witness more water. We pass Lake Pontchartrain and then the famous Super Dome. We’re here, we’re finally here. I’m driving and I’m not sure what exit we should take to get to the hotel.
Our plan was to switch drivers before New Orleans, but there just never seamed to be a good place to do this. Also son was so fascinated with the surroundings, I wanted him to have the opportunity to look around without having to focus on traffic.
I’m old school and don’t use a GPS. I use paper maps. However this will be changing with the addition of my new smart phone. Back to the maps….I have son grab the atlas and all my print outs from google maps for him to navigate. We pass our exit and get off at the next one. I’m pretty good with directions (I don’t get lost, just turned around) and between the two of us we find our hotel. Fortunately for us, during our “turned around” drive circling some blocks, we saw parts of the French Quarter and drove by the famous St. Louis Cathedral – on my must see list. This gave us a great prospective as to walking distances for our explorations.
We check into our Hotel, valet the car, and head out on foot for a yummy Cajun meal….