.

True to our Canadian roots, the first place we drove to in Detroit was a Tim Hortons.

Distracted and nervous from our second border crossing attempt, we had barely ate that day.

At the drive thru, Chris ordered an orange juice and a breakfast sandwich. I think I confused the staff with my medium half french vanilla, half black coffee and grilled cheese panini order.

What we ordered, what they confirmed, what the receipt said, and what we actually received as our order were all entirely different. We didn’t care. Still riding off our successful border crossing, we were happy with any kind of meal and didn’t bother complaining. We laughed off the absurd and bountiful amount of errors and enjoyed the meal we ended up with.

Quick to not waste anymore time, we hightailed it into Ohio that night.

First on the to-do list: Purchase a US phone plan.

We researched various phone providers. The best course of action appeared to be buying a prepaid AT&T data plan from Best Buy. We wouldn’t be caught in a contract. $10 for the sim card and a quick set up on McDonald’s’ wifi and we were good to go.

Consequently, this plan has actually gone over our original cellphone budget. We have had to add an additional 9 GBs of data since our initial purchase of 8 at a cost of 20 dollars per 3 GB. 2 cellphones and 2 laptops connecting to the same data network is more costly than we had anticipated. Apparently we use a lot of data!

The following day we found ourselves in Toledo, Ohio.

Second on the to-do list: Acquire a gym membership to workout and shower!

We researched Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, and 24HR Fitness. The problem that became apparent was that the gym membership would be restricted to the local gym location for the first 36 days. They were on to us!

We settled on the local YMCA. At most YMCAs they allow out of town visitors to use their facilities at least once or twice if not more. So far, it’s worked smoothly. They have varied in their upkeep but for the most part have been really nice gyms.

We did a lot of driving with minimal stops that first week. Our goal: make it to New Orleans for the weekend.

We drove through Ohio, Kentucky,Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.

In Nashville, Tennessee we stopped for a full service hands-on car wash of our mobile home (a tad pricey but totally worthwhile).

Saturday January 28th, we did a slight detour into Fairhope, Alabama. According to Wikipedia, Fairhope was voted the second best small town in the south by Southern Living magazine (We still do not know what the first best small town in the south is).

Parked by the Fairhope Pier, we were able to stretch our legs and take a bit of a wander along the coast of Mobile Bay (located within the Gulf of Mexico). The day was overcast and windy. As Chris puts it, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”

About 40 minutes later, we were back on track headed to New Orleans just in time to hit up Bourbon Street for the Saturday nightlife.

We were introduced to the French Quarter of New Orleans after dark. Balconies adorned the second level of most of the buildings. Every passerbyer on Bourbon Street could immediately be distracted by the number of people occupying the above balconies. Most of the balcony occupants waved Mardi Gras beads yelling at pedestrians below to catch them, or alternatively, threw them to the ground below either way.

It is one of those places where you could people watch indefinitely. Numerous middle-aged men walked by plucking the beads from the ground (which we found an interesting demographic to like the beads as much as they did…). Other tourists yelled back to the people in the balconies, demanding beaded necklaces be thrown. One woman flashed her bra to the appeasement of the cheering crowd in one balcony. She was, thus, rewarded with various beaded necklaces. The whole atmosphere was carefree, a little bit of a tourist trap, and actually really fun. People filled Bourbon Street. Everyone had a drink in hand. Music filled the streets. Outdoor performers and indoor performances loudly boomed from every venue. Evidently, jazz was the genre of choice.

We went for dinner at a place off of Bourbon Street and indulged in New Orleans jambalaya and crawfish. Afterwards we walked around with drinks checking out the bars and venues. It was a tourist hub and being a tourist, I quickly fell for one of the many hustler’s tricky selling tactics.

The girl approached us from a corner bar with a quick “Can I talk to you for a minute” to me and grabbed of my hand, pulling me into their bar. I barely got a word in and before I knew it I was taking a shot and unwillingly paying 8 US dollars for it. That is the strategy though. Provide a service or entity without mention of payment then demand money for it post-exchange. It is aggressive and definitely felt like a ripoff.

Lesson learned: say no right off the bat and walk away. Or end up paying for something you never really wanted to begin with. Close day 1 in New Orleans.

We spent the following morning exploring Decatur Street. We had been on a constant watch for a windshield sunshade for the Ford Focus. The sun via the windshield had been heating up the car to unbearable temperatures in the morning. Plus it would make sleeping past sunrise much easier.

We had checked numerous Walmarts to no such luck. We found our somewhat creepy cat eyed windshield sunshade in a New Orleans souvenir shop on Decatur. Welcome new edition to our snug little mobile home.

Off Decatur Street we checked out viewing points of the Mississippi River as recommended to us by a New Orleans local. Surrounding Jackson Square close by were many street artists displaying and selling their work. Again, live music was everywhere. There were acrobatic street dancers preparing for a show that we briefly caught a glimpse of. Constant entertainment on every corner!

From here we headed out of a warm 19°C day in New Orleans toward even better temperatures (especially compared to winter in Ottawa) in Texas. Yee-haw!