Gra Nomad Wanderings

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Not all residences have been restored.... six years after Katrina.

When the rescuers had been through a house, they marked them with an X to show they had been through it. This house had been renovated and they had decided to keep the X.

Here is the "Make It Right" scheme.... with help from Brad Pitt. The places are environmentally cool also.
Guess some folk just decided to walk away!

Very stylishly renovated. Plenty of colour - which is very New Orleans.

Why would anyone wanna go to New Orleans? Louis Armstrong sang “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?” back in the 40s.

The city of New Orleans with a population of half a million people, sits at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the state of Louisiana. What a different city is New Orleans. You don’t have to be here very long to believe that it has a charm all of its own. In fact, I liken it to Alaska – maybe it’s hard to describe the place but you can’t help getting a feel that it is SO unlike the rest of America. But then I’m beginning to think that about other places we’ve been too in this vast country.

Currently staying with Liz and Lane in their penthouse condo – maybe that’s why one feels the charisma of the place after having only been here for such a short time. Last night for dinner, Liz cooked up a bean dish that you have in New Orleans on Monday nights! (At least that’s what they tell us.) You can check out Liz' blog at - cool.

Yesterday we experienced a condensed taste of the place as Liz drove us around – the streetcars, the bars, historic St Charles Ave, the sad evidence of Katrina’s visit here in 2005, the rebuilding, the colourful houses, the beautiful green parks in the city and the visual remains of the celebrations they had to mark Memorial Day.

Amazingly, New Orleans has a history a bit similar to our Aussie history. Named after a French regent, the place was initially filled with “thieves, prostitutes and other undesirables” (from the AAA Tour Book 2011). Yes, it was a mini penal colony! No wonder it’s got some oomph, some gusto, some character. No wonder it says…. “I’m not gonna die!”

The famous French Quarter (the true heart of the city?) suffered disastrous fires in 1788 and 1794, taking out practically all the French structures. Today the architectural influence is more Spanish than French.

Why haven’t we discovered N.O. before now? One year we were to take a car here but when crunch time came, the vehicle was not road worthy. Another time (1970), we were enroute when Fay became quite ill and we had to abort and return hastily to the safe haven of Canada where our health insurance was going to be a happier situation. Still another time we were to fly in from South America in 2006 – Hurricane Katrina did it’s damage the previous year which put paid to that visit. BUT, here we are now. Let’s have a crack at this city! What can I wear so that I don’t look too much like a tourist?

Monday, May 30, 2011


Remember Ron, 90%!
Hey, Chari and Ron have looked after us big time! We don't need to eat for the next week and a half. Sure had fun partying with these guys - in and around Derby - near Wichita, Kansas.

Fill 'er up thanks, and give me some coffee please. This coffee cost me 43c (US cents!) There's enough coffee in this cup for the day!

Not a bad mug eh? I mean the one I'm drinking from! That'll be able to feed the whole Sussex Inlet tennis team on Monday mornings!

You need the right maps, preferably some experience and above all else, a very good navigator! I have a brilliant navigator! Today we are going to drive 637 miles (over 1,000 km) in what turned out to be 11:30 hrs of driving. First on I35 (interstate 35), then onto 380 before we got into Dallas, briefly onto the 75 (which is also the 121), then ring road 635 E (make sure it's an E), and then I20 E. Another important thing is watching the exits - they're all numbered. (Just passed exit 552! Yes, the bride is having a drive right now. Yes, the bride, the brilliant navigator, is actually at the wheel.)
Left Derby at 7 am. Arrived Natchitoches in Louisianna about 7:30 pm. Natchitoches is about 50 miles south of Shreveport - a city of 200,000 that neither Fay nor I had ever heard of. If you can pronounce that name (Natchitoches) then I'll shout you out in New Orleans! I still can't pronounce the name of the town.
Even with my exceptional map reader, we got a bit lost today - momentarily. Finally we found Cabelas. What a store! See below. Fishing, hunting, boating, archery, sporting clothes, ... did I miss something? Heaps of stuffed animals and...

...opportunity for kids to shoot animals via TV shooting games. (You'd be good at this Pete!) Gotta train 'em early they reckon.

Don't know how this bison got there, but he looked pretty much in charge.

The moose is still one of my favourite animals. He is huge! I only found 2 fully stuffed moose in the shop. I lost track of the number of deer and elk. Only found one caribou. Staff are great. It's a fun store, even if you don't buy anything!
Tomorrow we head into New Orleans.... meanwhile, we'll enjoy Natchitoches!
[It's now just a week since the deadly tornado in Joplin!]

Saturday, May 28, 2011


OK, what models and makes and years do we have here? Found in Nephi, UTAH. This is the only reason I can imagine anybody wanting to call in to Nephi! We did stay at the Safari Motel.

Picture B (above)
Picture C (above)
Picture D (above)
Picture E (above)
Picture F (above) These are specially for Peter Anderson, Andrew and Creighton, and Bill & Alpal. And for Ron who took all those photos in the salt mine. Thanks Ron.

Friday, May 27, 2011


AUSTRALIA v USA Pie eating competition. Can you get a look at these pies? In Kansas, they really know how to make pies. Like, REALLY KNOW! Anyway, I didn't let the side down at all.

Fay and I with Lonnie who took us down into the underground salt mine. Fascinating.

We went 650' down, down, down!

This is a hunk of salt. Just think, the Statue of Liberty is 152' tall. The Seattle Space Needle is 605' tall. Where we were today, there was 38 acres of salt mine! Unreal.
There is UNDERGROUND VAULTS & STORAGE there. They use the salt mines to store valuable docs, films, etc etc. Do you have something you wanna keep safe? Here at Hutchinson you can store some of that stuff!

More eating! This is ribs and sides. Thank goodness I went for the small!!!
We head off to New Orleans, Louisianna on Sunday. It'll be a 2 day drive - 14 hours.
Thanks Chari and Ron for looking after us bigtime!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

10,000 in UTAH

We have wanted to return to Red and Bryce Canyons ever since we went there back in 1969.

These canyons, and others, are in southern Utah. From here we went to Las Vegas in Nevada.

I'm not all that good a photographer unfortunately. These landscapes are really HEAPS better in the flesh than my best efforts with the Panasonic Lumix.

I figure that a picture is worth a thousand words.... so I'd better stop talking and let the photos do it for me.

Bryce Canyon is incredibly huge. You have to drive from view point to view point.

Just shot this out of the car window as Fay was heading away from the canyons.

This part was quite spectacular.

After leaving Utah we had 2 sleeps in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since Vegas, we've travelled through Arizona and now into Gallup, New Mexico. We're headed east towards Wichita! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Just heard about Joplin being devastated. Over 100 dead, and remember, they were READY for tornadoes in that area! It'll take us another 2 days to reach Wichita, Kansas. Oh, forgot, I traded a Victorian number plate for 4 plates (New Mexico and Arizona!)

Friday, May 20, 2011


I caught Mum having lunch in Seattle with this really creepy guy (see above). He just wasn't a pleasant sort of bloke.

...on the other hand I found a lovely lass - Kierstin. She and I are good friends. I've invited her out to Oz. She graduates from college pretty soon. And she collects number plates!!!

Lynn and Monte might come too! They are tandem bike riders from Seattle. They have 11 bikes downstairs! We have to return to their place on 2 July!

This just counts as ONE bike.

This is HALF the apple pancake Kelly and Dave talked us into having this morning before we left Seattle. It would have fed half of India I think! Oh well... that's enough sugar for the week I guess. Hey, I gave half the pancake to Fay!! What you see is only my half.

The Original Pancake House. 8037 15th Avenue NW Seattle. Give it a try. Here we are with Dave and Kelly. He's the bloke who flew us round the San Juan Islands back in 2006. Kelly is the one who suggested it! She's had a tough time of late... well they both have. So, they are in our prayers. May your recovery continue kelly and may your patience ..... how do you say? Improve? You know what I mean. She wants to be better..... yesterday! Love you both.

Love this little HYUNDAI ELANTRA too! Goes like the wind. Economical. Fun. We have it for 44 more days. How many miles do you think we'll do in that time?

Fay found a Mini! Were they really that small? She had one in 1966-67.

Are you allowed to run two plates?
Now are you happy Pete? Strike, you put the pressure on a guy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


We found GRAND CENTRAL BAKERY and CAFE in Seattle. And, on a sunny day! Around 16 degrees!

Great food and a lovely eating area. Very old and traditional with new ideas.

Clean and fresh and very delicious. Thanks guys. We'll be back.

Make a note of it, OK?

Also went to the PUBLIC MARKET down near the water here in Seattle. A real tourist spot, but with some very creative shops.

Think they had just about everything.

No, Fay didn't buy a fish! She bought a fridge magnet (at a different shop!) Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the famous fish throwing at this shop, although we did witness it. They sure chuck big fish!
We leave Seattle on Thursday 19 May and head for Las Vegas via southern Utah.