We really wanted to participate in the Mardi Gras festivities as fully as possible, so we first put together some costumes, then packed my pickup truck with food and supplies, and took off on February 15, 2009. Pickup truck?...I was thinking I could scout along the way and maybe bring back old iron and wood salvage pieces to make into furniture and sell. We also planned to minimize travel expenses by bringing our own breakfast and lunch stuff, and taking advantage of relatively low gas prices (round trip gas cost was roughly half the price for us both to fly.)
We'd been to New Orleans several times to visit my daughter Shannon, her husband Paul, and our granddaughter Scarlett, now two and a half. But we'd always flown and never timed a trip with Mardi Gras so we were both still 'carnival virgins' according to the locals. We like road trips and saw this as an adventure, a possible business opportunity, an overdue family visit, and a rare chance to visit friends and relatives. I had no time pressure to return, but Gail's massage practice was (and still is) doing well, and she'd have to fly home after Mardi Gras, leaving me to solo the return trip.
I'd be heading back from New Orleans to the north and them west to connect up with I-40. I'm a longtime fan of desert roads and old Route 66 in particular, having hitched it twice back in the 70's, and driven the western part a few times. I couldn't wait to break out the Eagles and cruise the backroad hardtop. Route 66 has morphed over the years and been largely replaced by Interstate 40 west of Oklahoma City out to Barstow, but some old portions off the interstate are still accessible.