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Greetings from a New Orleans Hostel!

We did not get off to the best of starts. We were both behind on a little work and a lot of sleep when we finally set off to New Orleans a mere five hours behind schedule. By the time we arrived at the hostel, we were a little cranky, hungry, and in my case, sweaty and gross from the humid Louisiana summer night. We wandered around the area for food and settled on some thoughtlessly acquired though delicious nachos. All in all, it was quite a normal day, fueled by our ready optimism as well as plan b's (and c's and d's). However, it feels my unfortunate duty to be honest--my journal entry that night was comically bleak and forlorn, as my expectations buckled under the weight of the perfectly nice and reasonable reality.

But come morning, with several hours passed in a shockingly cozy bed and free hot coffee in my belly, I'm very glad to say I bounced back. Now feels a fine time to mention that my biggest goal for this trip is to grow as a person, communicator, and problem solver. As far as I'm concerned, our less than idilic start was a fantastic opportunity to work towards that goal. It was inevitable that the first few days would involve us figuring out what does and doesn't work as we get used to each other and being on the road, as Grace very helpfully reminded me that morning. And, really, trying to be upset is difficult when you're in a beautiful city with an amazing friend.

This reorientation was especially convenient because that next day in New Orleans, our only full day, was my birthday. I'm not one to make a huge stink of a birthday, but who doesn't like a nice one? Thank you so much to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! It wound up being a pretty amazing day.


After a morning of working in the beautiful hostel, we walked to get a quick lunch (po boys, of course) and caught the St. Charles street car toward East Riverside to visit Peaches Record Store. While this is a beloved business of New Orleans in its own right, I really wanted to stop by because my dad had worked there more than one-adult-daughter ago. As luck would have it, the woman behind the counter seemed familiar given stories my dad had told me before the trip. I asked if she had opened this shop and when she said yes, I told her my reason for visiting. She remembered my dad, gave us a few free stickers, and told me to pass along that he needed to come visit himself soon. When we had broken down what we really wanted from our day in New Orleans that morning, the only thing I was really committed to was Peaches, and the experience couldn't have gone better in my own imagination.

As we came to know firsthand, the sidewalks in New Orleans are notoriously uneven. A woman working the counter at the Garden District Book Store told us this was because of all the large trees, whose roots would quickly upend any work that did go into fixing them, so they were mostly let be. She told us this as small talk after we'd nearly ran into the establishment five minutes before closing, red-faced and sweaty from speed walking in the heat. You see, we'd more or less scoffed in the face of Apple Maps' estimated "thirty-one minute walk" from Peaches as we set off for the charming book store with twenty seven minutes before they'd close--I'll give you a moment to do the math and be amazed. We're collecting stickers on this trip and the five minutes were all we needed to pick one up. And maybe we just liked the challenge. Either way, stickers were secured and a memorable experience was had.

Next, we were able to take a much more leisurely walk for some ice cream. I felt a little sheepish not going for snoballs while in NOLA, but ice cream is what spoke to our souls that day, and I'm glad it did. We went to Parish Parlor in the Lower Garden District, who's flavors were incredible. I got a mint chocolate chip that tasted like an actual sweet mint leaf, herbal and creamy and fresh. While in line I also met a fellow birthday girl and had a lovely chat with her and her friends while picking out our flavors. You may be noticing a theme of the day in our interactions with strangers. Maybe its the city or perhaps some magical birthday luck, but Grace and I encountered nothing but lovely people and had nothing but great chats with everyone we encountered.

After finishing up our cones and checking out their adorable courtyard (as one must always check the adorable courtyard when there is one), we started walking toward our dinner. Upon the recommendation of give or take everyone, we went to Cafe Maspero, which did not disappoint. We split a muffuletta and each got a one dollar daiquiri. That child-size drink (though likely not recommended for actual children) wound up being the only alcohol we consumed in one of the party capitals of the world. This is where it may be appropriate to mention that the game plan for this road trip is to do whatever we want, regardless of what we "have to do" in each of our stops. The idea is to enjoy just existing in different spaces.

So, we walked back to the hostel after dinner and I published this website while Grace finished her med school applications! After heading out one last time to grab a late night bite at Cafe Du Monde (because we can't skip all the must-do's), we walked with the warm, riverside breeze back to the hostel. Unfortunately, my plans at an early evening with plenty of rest for the coming early morning was upended by writing this blog post. Because if you give me something to write, I will get more invested than I planned; and if I get more invested than I planned, I will spend five times longer than necessary getting it done.

Hopefully you, dear reader, can find some enjoyment from these efforts. Either way, I know I did. And there's oh so much more to come! Next stop: Nashville!

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