This is the second part of our trip to Florida.
We went to celebrate Bill earning his wings 50 years ago and to meet the people and their wives that he trained with down in Selma, Alabama. When we left New Mexico, I was wearing long sleeve shirts, not quite sweaters, but not summer wear either. After four days to drive down there, I got the idea that I had brought the wrong clothes. So, my cotton dresses with short sleeves were much cooler. That humidity always gets people from the Southwest. We know hot—however, we do not do humidity well.
The most water I saw growing up in Iowa were two small lakes. Here in New Mexico we have a couple of large lakes and the Rio Grande. Any time I am around the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Gulf of Mexico, I feel like a little kid. I watch the tides like a kitten with a birdcage. You know you can’t get it, but you still want to watch and catch a little water on your toes. Upon reflection, maybe this analogy does not work out with cats and water, but it is hypnotizing to see the tide slip out and thunder back and the sun setting with great lingering emotion to the west.
Destin is as tourist a town as Santa Fe—if Santa Fe had shrimp instead of coyotes as pets. There were lots of Taco Bells there, but a taco was the last thing we needed.
When we bid goodbye to old friends for Bill (and new ones for me), the sun was shining in long mellow yellow streaks across the Gulf with aquamarine hints in the water. It is why the television show Miami Vice made pink and light turquoise a national trend in the 80s. In New Mexico people visiting don’t understand the colors in Navajo blankets until they see our sunsets. To each their own.
Our plan on the way back was to stop in New Orleans, Covington specifically to visit Sonja Lee and Tony Pollino and their daughter, Lydia and husband, Will. We call Sonja Lee Tots and our children grew up together, so it is always great to fill in the gaps of how each family is doing. When we arrived in Covington, Louisiana, just north of New Orleans, we were greeted with a huge pot of Gumbo. “OoowhEE” as they say in Cajun, that was some fine food.
Lydia has made a living writing for Disney and Well is a medical doctor, but they can just give up those professions and cook for a living. Tots and I used to make any recipe we found, tearing up each other’s kitchen often. We cooked up a batch of homemade spun sugar, which deals with extremely hot sugar and water. When it is caramel-colored you dip a fork into it and wave it around in the air, hoping it will fall off into a pan. We were hard at it when Bill opened the kitchen door from the outside. He had not read the sign we posted: DO NOT ENTER!
We had spun sugar on the walls, ceiling, cabinets, everywhere, and the dogs loved it. We two, not so much. Tots could speak French before she could English. Me, Latin all the way. I could cook in French, but not speak the name of what I cooked. Tots taught me it was Gateau, not Gat toe. And then it was a Bechamel, not Be Carmel sauce. Tony and Tots taught for the Department of Defense, in the Philippines, Panama and Cuba. They recently moved from Savannah to Covington to enjoy retirement. Ha! They wore us ragged.
We tore around antique shops, St. Joseph Abbey, where we met a real live monk; they do talk. We went to a British tea shop. At this point I might add it was not any better than the annual Moriarty Museum tea we had this fall. We can British it up with the best; if you missed it go next year. It is easier to drive to Moriarty than New Orleans.
After trying to eat all the fried oysters in Louisiana, Bill and I made our way back, stopping in Fredericksburg, Texas and going through the Admiral Nimitz museum. All you ever wanted to know about the Pacific war during World War II is outlined so well there. And the German food brought to you by ancestors of immigrants in the 1800s is worth the stop.
Our big shock was the oil rush in southwest Texas and southeast New Mexico. The roads are bumper-to-bumper with huge trucks, and the motel went for $200 a night; or we could have gotten a room at the same chain in Carlsbad for $400 a night. Texas won.
There is nothing like a road trip to give you true appreciation of being home. Dixie has many assets. The food is terrific, but there is no place like home in New Mexico with good dry air and a burrito for breakfast. Roaring mouse, making posole. Out.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.