Back in Brooklyn or Troubles with a Travelling Violet

Man, oh man good intentions. I had high hopes friends, I really did. I had dreams and expectations of blogging from a hot sticky car, driving through the dessert, stealing wifi from Motel 6’s, and posting photos moments after they were taken.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as I had pictured it.

It was: Magnificent. Exhausting. Breathtaking.

I have stories to tell and lessons learned to share. Today, I give you Part One of my very best recommendations from each city on the road. Stories to come. Photos too.

Los Angeles

Got to be Tacos Por Favor. L.A. is not want for any high quality Mexican food but this spot is totally affordable and is all fresh food. Seriously, no chemicals, fresh vegetables, good meat the whole thing. The restaurant is on Olympic in Santa Monica and it literally comes out of nowhere, we past it twice on the way. Though it is plopped alongside warehouses and parking lots it is magic and delicious and it cannot be denied.

Plus they make Sopes (not sopas) –  they’re discs of masa and the have all the yummy insides of a taco on top but they’re even better.  It is a recommendation from my dear, dear Californian friend and she never disappoints.

Also, we ate our weight in In n Out.

Phoenix

Truthfully, we were here for only one night and it was just to see old family friends. The highlight was most definitely trying on our friend’s cowboy hats. We pretty much had a cowboy hat fashion show.

Austin

Oh man, this city. I’ve spent time here before but it was Michael’s first time. We fell in love. I think my favorite thing was swimming in Lake Travis as the sun was setting and then having a night swim after it had gone down. The water was so warm and there was the most perfect breeze in the air. We also spent a whole day exploring SoCo (South of Congress St.) it was very hip and bourgeoning and filled with charming little stores like Uncommon Objects (where we bought a lucky horse shoe).  We jumped off the diving board in Barton Springs and dreamed about the places we would live there. (We did not get to see the bats and now have to go back just for this experience).

Unfortunately, we never made it to New Orleans. I cannot tell you how sad this made us, but hurricane Isaac hit the day we were supposed to be there. Instead the adventure took us to Memphis a day early and we promised to do a week long trip in New Orleans in the future.

Memphis

Memphis was particularly magical. It is a truly mesmerizing city. So much of it is abandoned and falling apart, but at the same time there is an incredible music and art scene. Our first night (after getting stuck in crazy traffic, seeing a double rainbow and driving through the scariest, most intense thunderstorm) we went out to listen to music. We went to a place called Ernestine and Hazel’s. It’s in an area of Memphis that is becoming pretty hip, but this place is real old. It used to be a sundry store but more famously it was a whorehouse back in the day. The first level is this old dive bar with a juke box and a long bar. Michael and I walked to the very back of the room and up the stairs (as instructed). The stairs, I might add, were amazing. Each had its own creak and they all sagged in the middle. Once upstairs, the place feels pretty spooky; there are lots of large empty rooms that are garish colors. There are no real lights, just some random red light bulbs that illuminate lonely pieces of furniture.  At the end of a long hallway there is a door. You can’t tell that there is a door because it is pitch black but you can hear the faint sound of music and chatter. We were a little nervous to enter, it feels like going to party you haven’t been invited to. The room you enter is small with two large windows and a short bar. The bar is tended by an old african american gentleman who goes by the name of Nate and often has a cigarette between his lips. The vibe is relaxed (like everyone has been drinking whiskey all night long) and cigarettes are smoked one after the other. The little room adjacent to the bar houses an old piano. The night we went, an accordion player, a banjo player and oboe player were performing. People sat on the floor, got up and sang, drank with the band and everyone was friends and no one new each other and it was its own little world. We smoked, we danced, we drank and we listened to funky little renditions of Elvis. It was truly magical and the exact thing we had hoped to find on our trip. At the end of the night, we went downstairs to try one of their famous ‘soul’ burgers (also the only thing they serve besides beer) and ate it happily as the blues spilled out of an old, faulty juke box. (Legend has it that Wilson Picket and Steve Cropper wrote Mustang Sally and The Midnight Hour there).

On that lovely memory, I must go to bed. Since returning home, I have developed a cough that won’t quite so it’s early nights for me.

It’s good to be back friends. Check in soon for Part 2 and for what driving across the country will teach you about everything you know. Hiatus over. This Violet is back in Brooklyn and growing happily.

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