Travels with Luna: Texas, New Orleans, & Selma

It’s been a while since I last updated about this trip, and there are a few reasons for that. First, I did not care for Texas. Second, my dad joined me once I was in New Orleans, and I’ve been spending time with him in the evenings instead of just with Luna. Third, Luna has been in a mood for a few days and it’s been taking most of my energy to head her off at the pass before a temper tantrum.

After I left New Mexico, I passed in to Texas. We stopped in Amarillo; there wasn’t much to see there. I ate at a steakhouse (see the featured photo above) and we moved on quickly in the morning. I failed to get any souvenirs for Andres here.

In Dallas, we stayed two nights. While there, I visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library. I hated him as a president, and I certainly felt the Library was bold in its pride in some of his actions, but it was a beautiful space.

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The main reason I wanted to visit was to see some of Bush’s retirement paintings. They have an entire exhibit of his portraits of wounded soldiers; I have a deep fascination with his painting, and it was a treat to see them in person.

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The other thing I did in Dallas was go check out Dealey Plaza and the 6th Floor Museum about JFK’s assassination.

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The whole city just felt haunted and sad and aggressive and dark. I was glad to put it behind us. I also skipped souvenirs in Dallas, except for a book I purchased of the former President’s portraits. I took a ridesharing trip to dinner the second night, and the driver asked my opinion about the removal of the slaver/Confederate statues in Louisiana, and when I told him (that I supported removing them from the public square and thought they could perhaps find a place, and better placards, in a museum) he laughed in my face and said it was typical of a “Northerner.” Yeah, fuck you too, buddy.

After Dallas, we moved on to San Antonio. The Riverwalk is beautiful, but Texas is still Texas. Also, this was when the humidity began.

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Andres wanted a tie from San Antonio, so I bought him one with yellow roses embroidered on it. It seemed an appropriately Texan thing to do.

From San Antonio, we moved on to Houston. We had a nice view from our room in Houston, and the hotel was hosting a conference of Black Psychologists, so every time I was in the lobby I was surrounded by people hugging and speaking kindly to one another.

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On our way out of town from Houston, I stopped at the Houston Space Center, where I got a ton of swag for Andres (to make up for the missed souvenir days) and some cute things for myself, too.

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It really did seem like a place worth spending more time at, but the air was so humid that even with air conditioning running and plenty of food and water, I didn’t like to leave Luna in the car for more than about 20 minutes.

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We finally left Texas—and rest areas!—behind and moved along into Louisiana. The people are friendlier in Louisiana than in Texas, generally speaking, and this was my second trip to New Orleans, so it felt good to be back. Several people from the hotel remembered me from my last stay, and did nice things like give me free wifi.

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Luna got really into chilling on our balcony on St. Louis Street, watching horse-drawn carriages go by and street musicians settle in. We stayed in New Orleans twice, during which time we got some resting—and some laundry—done, and then the second night Dad joined me for the next leg of the trip. He knocked his teeth out on some gumbo—don’t ask me how, he says it didn’t hurt at all—so we’re doing the Southern leg of the trip looking like this.

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We left New Orleans the following day and stopped only long enough to pick up some beignets and a box of Cafe du Monde beignet mix for Andres, then made our way up into Alabama—and the return of rest areas!—and paused for lunch in Selma.

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We also made sure we stopped at the memorial park for the marchers, which for a sleepy Sunday afternoon was surprisingly well visited.

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It was pretty uncanny and deeply moving to drive across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and then to follow by car the historic trail the marchers took from Selma to Montgomery. Before we left Selma, we stopped in at the little gift shop next to the park and I bought a button for Andres that said “Obama Haters Got to Go!”

We stopped in Montgomery for the night, and it was humid but pretty there. In the morning, we ran a few necessary errands and then got going on our way. We left Alabama, passed through a corner of Georgia for—no joke—about 10 minutes, and then entered Tennessee. We’re staying in Chattanooga, in the Lookout Mountain area, which I’ve read was the site of a battle that swung local fighting during the Civil War decisively in the Union’s favor. Right on.

I’ll update again in a couple days, but we’ve passed so many Confederate flags in the last couple days—and have felt so exhausted by the deep, penetrating humidity—that I’ll be glad to put the South behind me. You can’t beat Southern people for being genuinely warm and kind, so don’t mistake me for maligning the entire South, but it’s not the place for me long term.

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