Warriors Specializing in Roof Racks and Cleaning Airbnbs.

Days 9, 10 – Sunday, April 26th, and Monday, April 27th, 2015

Day 9

We woke up Sunday morning and went straight to Mark and Terry’s for bloodies, biscuits, and farewells. Saying goodbye to everyone is always sad, but this time it felt somewhat easier because we knew we’d be seeing everyone again along the road. Our Florida relatives we’d being seeing in a week. We were among the last to leave, as we had no flight to catch. We drove the few minutes back to Donna and Pete’s to gather our belongings and pack up the car. We had the extra task of setting up the top rack so that our mom would fit comfortably enough to spend 5 hours in the car on our way to Montgomery. The directions provided with the cargo carrier were extremely ambiguous and it ended up taking much more effort than we had expected. By the time we hit the road again we knew it would be too late to see any of the historical civil rights attractions we had wanted to see. This night was the only night that we knew for sure we’d be staying in a hotel rather than camping, staying with friends and family, or staying at an Airbnb. We had looked for an Airbnb in Montgomery before we left Minnesota, but this hotel was the cheapest and most suitable option.

We checked in, unloaded the car, and found a table at the hotel restaurant for some dinner. Our waitress, the only one on staff, was very friendly and interested in our travels. It turns out she has a close cousin whose family stays at a Ronald McDonald House while he receives treatment. We left her with Keep Smiling cards, toothbrushes, and a Tug for her son who was about to lose a tooth, none of which would we have been able to do without our sponsors and donors. We spent the rest of the night spending time together and prepping with our mom for our laughter yoga community event in New Orleans.

Day 10

We found an Italian restaurant for lunch after we checked out of the hotel. Our mother’s bus to Atlanta was scheduled for three o’clock, so we had some time to look around Montgomery, but not enough. For as long as time allowed, we explored some of the Civil Heritage Trail. It was surreal to again be in a place rich with so much international history. We were walking streets where slave trade was conspicuous, legal, and abundant only 150 years ago. The streets we were casually perusing used to be one of the largest southern slave trades in North America. Africans were marched in chains up through the commerce capital from the riverfront as the main source of imported goods. Montgomery thrived because of the slave market where humans were treated as livestock because other humans decided that’s what they were. The peak of this cruelty was from 1840 through the commencement of the Civil War, though the inhumanity didn’t cease there or in many places around the newly established United States of America until a century later. On those same streets, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat after a long day of strenuous work, which became the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts and the modern Civil Rights Movement. At that same intersection, the march from Selma to the capitol ended for the same cause. Reading the Civil Heritage Trail plaques dotting the city was chilling. I kept thinking that this is not how it works in the animal kingdom. I could have read on and on, groping for some inkling of an understanding of how people can be so cruel to one another. We, however, were hastened by my mother’s date with Megabus and our drive to New Orleans. We saw her off and reunited with the road.

The concierge at the hotel in Montgomery had warned us that we would be met by severe tornado and thunderstorm warnings on the road. We had also watched the weather forecasts online before we left, which lead us to believe we might be just missing the brunt of it based on our ETA. Our predictions were pretty accurate; we didn’t hit any rain or bad weather until the last hour as we crossed into Louisiana. We try to get a picture every time we cross a new state line. The rain made Louisiana’s welcome sign very blurry, but we used the picture anyway. We were eager to arrive in the Crescent City. The worst weather we encountered on the road that night was while we crossed over an unidentifiable bridge into the city. The rain continued as we arrived at our second Airbnb and began unpacking our stuff. Unloading the backseat revealed the leakage caused by the straps from the roof rack. Water had been dripping into the car onto our makeshift closet for the past hour. We unhooked the straps and contemplated the best way for two 5’3” girls with mediocre upper body strength to lift the very tightly packed cargo bag off the top of the car, up the tiny staircase, and into the house. We weren’t going to leave it unhooked, sitting on the car all night for fear of wind and theft.

We were drenched. Once all of our necessary bags were inside we had a chance to access our new home. It was not as clean as we had expected. There was a large bucket of cleaning supplies by the front door, which had clearly not been used to completeness. We could feel rubbish beneath our feet as we explored the half shotgun. The beds had “clean sheets” folded and stacked on them that smelled of cat litter, cigarettes, and laundry detergent. While looking for extra towels and blankets, Allison was startled by a large cockroach in the closet seeking shelter from the storm. We immediately went to work sweeping, making the beds with the best combination of suitable sheets and blankets we could find, and sprayed everything with Febreze, stuffed the excess of pillows under the futon’s mattress to make it more comfortable, and noticed the lack of paper towels and toilet paper. Both beds had plastic covering the mattresses, which would later wake me up from the noise each time I shifted in the night. The twin bed had a puddle of liquid that we could only hope was water since it had no smell. There didn’t seem to be a leak near the bed and we couldn’t figure out what could have possibly caused it. We took a look around at our handy work. We were warriors in the stormy jungle of New Orleans. We used our muscles, we killed roaches, and we had created a livable space in the shelter protecting us from the angry thunder hovering above the city. It was actually a nice little place, well decorated, air-conditioned, and minimalistic.

We deserved some dinner. We found Theo’s Pizza nearby. We made it just as they were closing. We ordered a large pepperoni and pineapple pizza that we enjoyed as our joint excitement about being back in one of our favorite cities grew. We avoided getting any wetter by hopping under any awnings on the way back to our car. The streets were pretty empty on Magazine with the exception of a few malingerers. We knew we’d be calling it an early-ish night. We were expecting one of my best friends, Dori, to join us, but her flight had been forced to return to the Atlanta airport after having made it over halfway to NOLA. After much ado, her flight was eventually cancelled and they put her and her seatmate whom she had befriended on another flight for the next morning. Back at the Airbnb, we got cozy in our pajamas, did some blogging and work, and then went to sleep. The fun would begin tomorrow.

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