Posts in Food

Mainland Nova Scotia

Basking in white sand beaches on Nova Scotia’s south shore in Hubbards and Chester before exploring the beautiful historic town of Lunenburg. We also watched the sunset over Peggy’s Cove and spent a night in Antigonish before hitting the Canso Causeway in mainland Nova Scotia.

After departing PEI, we were on a new mission to collect a very special antique from a family member in southern Nova Scotia. It was a 150+ year old spinning wheel used by Justin’s grandmother and great-grandmother for years to make yarn. We made our way down to Hubbards to see it, but not before grabbing a bite of donair on the outer rings of Halifax. If you’re American, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about but Halifax donairs are pretty famous and boast a wrap-sandwich-thing like no other – especially in the realm of drunk food. The secret is in the sauce, which has condensed milk in it, giving it a sweet taste as opposed to the usual heavy garlic of a shawarma or gyro. If you’re in Halifax, it’s practically your duty to at least try one. That being said, they’re not my favourite (womp womp woooomp) but at least I did my due diligence as a tourist. Also, do yourself a favour and tie up your hair before eating one – sauce in the hair is inevitable, no matter how proper you are.

Generic Van Life - Mainland Nova Scotia Antique Spinning Wheel
This spinning wheel was used for over 100 years in Justin’s family to make yarn

Saucy hair in tow, we made our way down to Hubbards, about half an hour outside of Halifax to meet up with Justin’s first cousin once removed (we spent way too long studying cousin charts to learn that that’s what your dad’s first cousin is to you to not use the term). We drove by some pretty gorgeous sandy beaches like Queensland Beach that made us question if we were in Nova Scotia or Florida. Seriously, these beaches were very different than the usual rugged and rocky coastal beaches. Another interesting thing is that although these are ocean beaches, most have a freshwater lake beside them. Pretty cool. Once we got to Hubbards, we disassembled the spinning wheels and realized just how big it was; the wheel itself was about the size of our bed. Luckily we didn’t have to transport it all that far.

Generic Van Life - Mainland Nova Scotia Hubbards Beach
Soft sandy beaches in Nova Scotia?! The south shore was a real treat. This is Hubbards Beach

The East Coast hospitality continued as we spent the evening drinking beers on a private beach while the sun was setting and enjoying the last couple weeks of summer. We woke up the next day and checked out Hubbards’ farmers market that was filled with an interesting mix of people of all ages. Although not a place we had ever even heard of, we totally understood why Justin’s first cousin once removed (sorry, had to) has spent 20 years there. A small enough town for everyone to know your name but still with unique events going on all the time.

Generic Van Life - Mainland Nova Scotia Hubbards Farmers Market
Lots of folks hanging out at the Hubbards Farmers Market

After leaving the market, we drove through more beautiful seaside towns like Chester and Mahone Bay that made us lust over south shore Nova Scotia. Sid, Justin’s dad’s cousin, took us to Lunenburg, which is a town out of a postcard. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and played a big role in Nova Scotia’s history. It’s now the home to the Bluenose II schooner that was unfortunately out at sea the day we were on the wharf. The town is full of colourful buildings and amazing boats from all over, really similar to the coastal towns of Scandinavia in Sweden and Denmark. We walked around all the hills, popping in and out of cute little shops and eventually having a bowl of chowder while overlooking the ocean. Does life get any better than this?!

Generic Van Life - Mainland Nova Scotia Lunenburg Dory
A couple of yellow dories in the Lunenburg Harbour

After another open-ended goodbye, we set out to Peggy’s Cove to see one of Nova Scotia’s most iconic sites. Driving along more of the south shore was absolutely breathtaking and made for some pretty spectacular scenery. The views didn’t stop when we got up to the lighthouse where the rocks turn into smooth almost white boulders and the land opens up to beautiful, open coastline.

Generic Van Life - Mainland Nova Scotia Antique Peggys Cove
Post card Nova Scotia at Peggy’s Cove

As the sun started to set, we did our best to avoid moose on the road by boogying through Truro and New Glasgow to a gravel pit not far from Antigonish. Here we were close to the causeway to cross onto Cape Breton Island the next morning and do the Cabot Trail. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit downtown Halifax but seeing how much we enjoyed the south shore, I’m sure we’ll be back again.

Lobster Land, PEI

Crossing one very long bridge to get to the land of lobster and potatoes that is PEI. We got spoiled with fresh oysters on red sand beaches in Tyne Valley before hitting the big city in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

There’s no better way to be welcomed onto PEI than by having two fresh lobsters on your plate within minutes of arriving. After crossing the Confederation Bridge, we headed through Summerside toward Tyne Valley where Justin’s friend had recently moved and was living with some top-notch PEI’ers. People talk about Southern hospitality but East Coast hospitality is where it’s at. Along with fresh lobsters, we were also spoiled with the freshest oysters out there: hand-picked from a private lease of ocean just minutes from home. From living in Toronto so long, we know that PEI oysters are the crème-de-la-crème and come with a crème-de-la-crème price tag to match. At the last bar that I worked at, we charged $18 for a half-dozen raw oysters – that’s $3 per oyster. Out on the fishing boats, our friend’s dad sells a case of 400 for $100 – $0.25 a piece! They were flabbergasted to hear that PEI oysters, specifically Malpeques, were seen as such a delicacy and were equally grossed out to hear that we enjoyed eating them raw. On the mainland, we always think that people on the east coast practically eat raw oysters for breakfast but we soon learned that most of the locals wouldn’t even give you a thank you for a platter of them.

Generic Van Life - Lobster Land PEI Lobster Supper
Now that’s a welcome dinner

As plentiful as the seafood was, the only thing that was even more abundant was the obscene amount of mosquitoes. After being deep in the woods in Northern Ontario and around plenty of ponds and bogs in other places, PEI easily took the crown for the most bugs. While shooing away hoards of skeeters, we went to a quintessential red sand beach and enjoyed PEI’s beautiful, undeveloped coastline. I had heard that Cavendish is a cool spot to visit but was quickly corrected that it’s really no different than any other beach on the island aside from the fact that it’s littered with shops and food stands, AKA it’s a tourist trap. We were so grateful to get the inside scoop from locals and be taken around to some much more authentic places.

Generic Van Life - Lobster Land PEI Red Sand Beach
Embracing the red sand at a classic PEI beach

After the beach, we went to the wharf to watch the lobster boats come in and unload the fruits of their labour. It’s funny to see how different people’s daily lives are and see your own job from a different perspective; Justin and I are sat behind computers all day building websites and making graphics while others are out battling the sea. Anyway, we had some local grub called “fries with the works”, which is like a PEI poutine: fries with gravy, green peas and ground beef. That might not sound all that appetizing but it was actually super tasty and filled our bellies before a boat ride out in the ocean. We went for a cruise and even got to collect oysters and bar clams in the shallow waters. We indulged in a spectrum of bar clams by eating them raw, bottled and steamed – all delicious but I think steamed was my favourite.

Generic Van Life - Lobster Land PEI Boats Wharf
Lobster boats calling it a day

After leaving the Tyne Valley area, we drove the loop of the island, which barely took a couple hours. It’s a beautiful place and is filled with prosperous farms and exceptionally well-manicured lawns; you can tell that the folks take great pride in their farms and it’s nice to see. We popped into Charlottetown for a little while and drove around the island’s capital city. It’s definitely the most densely occupied area of the province but still maintains a small town vibe with a lot of character and charm. We were originally going to take the ferry from Wood Islands to Nova Scotia but decided to stick with the bridge to save a bit of time. If you didn’t know (I didn’t), it’s free to get to PEI whether you take the bridge or the ferry, but leaving the island comes at a price. Driving across the bridge into New Brunswick costs $47 and the ferry to Caribou, Nova Scotia is $78. Just a word to the wise so you don’t go blowing all your money on lobster and potatoes and end up having to live on the island since you don’t have the 50 bucks to get off.

Generic Van Life - Lobster Land PEI Wharf
Can you spot Clemie?

With Atlantic province #2 off of our list, we were Nova Scotia bound and ready to keep exploring. This would be Clemie’s second last province to conquer and my last while Justin had practically rode in with the Bluenose. Onward!

Hello Wisconsin!

Unfortunately Point Place is a fictional town so we settled for the state capital of Madison and the beer capital of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The drive further down the Mississippi River into Wisconsin kept those beautiful views coming. This part of the states is really unique and totally underrated as far as scenery goes. We made it to Madison and did a few much-needed errands like an oil change and a visit to the gym before exploring the city a little bit. It took us by surprise how nice it was and how crazy that State Capitol building is. We surely didn’t expect it to be so grand and the city to be so alive (sorry Madison, we doubted you). The Capitol building has a really cool x-shape and hosts all kinds of cool events on the lawns that take away from the typical stuffy feel of a government building. We were too late to do one of the free tours but if the inside is anything as beautiful as the outside, I’m sure it’s worth the price. University seems to be the main drag in Madison and it was chockfull of young people with backpacks and all the things that come along with that. Also, to Madison’s roster of cool stuff is the fact that architect Frank Lloyd Wright grew up there and has designed a number of classic houses and buildings around town. We didn’t have a ton of spare time but would have loved to tour around checking them out.

Generic Van Life - Wisconsin Madison State Capitol
The Wisconsin State Capitol Building is pretty cool architecturally. Who cares what’s going on inside when it looks this nice from the outside

We resorted back to the ol’ Walmart game and spent the night plugging our noses from sewage smell at the Monona location. Just to clarify, there’s a sewerage plant nearby so if the wind is blowing in a certain direction, it definitely makes its presence known. We had a decent sleep and woke up the next morning with two things in mind: beer and cheese. We made the pilgrimage to Milwaukee to visit the Pabst Brewery and walk the streets of beer-land. Once we found a place to park, we gathered some change to feed the parking meter and saw that it accepted nickels and dimes. Cheap parking is always an awesome surprise but this was downright comical. Parking in Toronto can be $4-6 per half hour so throwing in a few dimes and parking for an hour felt like a steal. We checked out the Best Place, which is the brewery store and learned that the brewery in Milwaukee no longer actually produces any beer and is in the process of being preserved into a museum and historical place. Walking the streets tells the story of the beginnings of the brewery and how the Best family’s (Best being their last name) beer company evolved into Pabst. Not bad for sidewalk literature.

Generic Van Life - Wisconsin Milwaukee Pabst Brewery
The Pabst Brewery now hosts tours and is working toward becoming a historic place in Milwaukee

Driving by the Miller Park was pretty cool, even for non-sports lovers, although the rest of the city was mostly concrete and not the most scenic. We didn’t really have time for scenic anyway since we were on a mission to stock up on some cheese before leaving Wisconsin and we found just the place to do it: The Mars Cheese Castle. South of town in Kenosha is a literal castle filled with God’s gifts to humanity – cheese, cured meats and libations. There’s no denying that cheese is pure magic since every person who walked out of the castle was carrying a very full bag and smiling (albeit their wallets were probably a little thinner). Every cheese under the sun from Wisconsin and other parts of the world were available to take home and some even to sample. We could have spent all day and all of our money there but we picked up a few interesting new cheeses and headed back on the road. With the fridge stocked with beer and cheese, we knew our time in Wisconsin was well spent. We had a couple more Great Lakes to get around before another border crossing into the homeland and the race was on to get back.

Generic Van Life - Wisconsin Miller Field
Pretty cool lookin’ place for a baseball stadium. Wait, they play baseball here, right? 😉
Generic Van Life - Wisconsin Mars Cheese Castle
A castle filled with cheese. A reality in Kenosha, WI.
Generic Van Life - Wisconsin Mars Cheese Castle Beer Cheese
Cheese, beer and beer-shaped cheese

Peaches on Peaches

Taking in our last days on the East Coast before heading back west. Georgia and the Carolinas sure did treat us good!

Anyone who’s taken the I-95 into Georgia has seen them: row after row of huge billboards that won’t let you forget exit 58 in Townsend, GA. And anyone who has seen these signs knows that that is the exit for none other than, Peach World. Falling almost too easily into their trap, we had to stop and see what all the hype was about. I mean, peach wine? Peach salsa? Peach cider? Yes please! Gotta say that we were quite surprised by how small and unassuming the place was but once they started hitting us with free samples, we had both feet in the door. With peaches not being in season, we stuck mostly to pralines but were determined to try the peach wine. If you like syrupy sweet wine that has the strangest aftertaste of oregano, then this is for you. I found it to be pretty much undrinkable unless mixed with soda water or something else to dilute it but Justin couldn’t get enough. He also loves Vienna sausages so make of that what you will. On the other hand, the praline pecan honey butter has got to be one of the best things to come out of Georgia. It sure is sweet but in the most heavenly way possible. Seriously, this stuff is dangerously good. And as far as dangerously good goes, we also had to make a stop at a Krystal after beginning our love affair with White Castle in Vegas. Seemingly the exact same mini square burgers, we’re still confused that they’re not actually just the same company. That being said, there was something about the Krystal burgers that took them one step further into the weird processed “why did I just eat 12 of these” world that they live in and for that, I have to pass the throne onto Krystal. Feel free to argue otherwise, I’m always up for a debate about important things in the world like burgers.

Generic Van Life - Georgia Peach Wine
Verdict: Questionable

After all this new food excitement, we headed into Savannah and were so bummed to see that the visitor’s centre no longer allows overnight parking. Some fellow vanners had just stayed there not long before us and recommended it but it seems that the change happened in response to people taking advantage of the great parking opportunity and treating it like it was their backyard. We’ve stayed at plenty of Walmarts where we’re continuously stunned by how at-home people in big RVs make themselves with their generators running, slides out and even having outdoor TVs or radios going. Just because the visitor centre was charging 10 or 15 bucks to allow the parking does not mean you’re entitled to treat it like an RV Park or even worse, leave trash around or damage the pavement with jacks and hitches. I’m going to save this rant for another post with some simple steps on how not to be a complete asshole when staying in a parking lot (especially when it’s FREE) and ruin it for the rest of us travellers that are just looking for an overnight stop. On that note, we were still able to park for a couple hours in the afternoon and explore Savannah but definitely not as much as we would have liked. It is such a pretty city! It just feels so quaint and cozy with Victorian-style houses shaded by mature trees wrapped in vines and colourful flowers.

Generic Van Life - Georgia Savannah II
Savannah was just the prettiest

It seemed like every street had something lovely to see, whether it be intricate architecture, cool shops or lush greenery like that of Forsyth Park. There was a wedding going on by the fountain and every angle looked like it was out of a storybook. This was our first real look at a city in the south (we only got to see the gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama, which had a much different vibe) and it was certainly chock full of the dreamy secret garden-esque homes that people lust over on House Hunters. Whether that’s a realistic representation in 2018 or not, it sure made for some real purdy scenery. To our dismay, we had to leave the parking lot by 6 so didn’t get a chance to go for a drink somewhere or enjoy the open container laws but it’s at the top of our list to revisit another time. Savannah had many similarities to New Orleans with the European influence on architecture and liquor merriment but didn’t feel at all trashy like the NOLA overkill did. Sigh, onto the nearest Walmart to have a snooze.

Generic Van Life - Georgia Savannah Street
Streets of Historic Savannah are allowed to be filled with booze in Dixie cups!

The next morning, we made a brief stop in Hardeeville, SC to take Clemmie’s picture with the pink and grey elephants at Papa Joe’s Fireworks (assuming this is owned by John’s lesser known brother). No clue what the significance is but they’re definitely different. When we have longer drives, we use this website to see some “quirkier” tourist attractions that break up our drive and make it a little more interesting.

Generic Van Life - Georgia SC Elephants
They call them Thelma and Louise

Our next mission was to see what Charleston was all about but being a Sunday, parking spots seemed to be a mythical concept. When we’re in cities, we generally just drive around to see what’s up so we were satisfied taking in more of that southern charm from the van windows. Looking quite similar to Savannah, Charleston echoed the fairytale look with the historic homes and low hanging trees that lined the streets as people lined up to have their photo taken in front of a row of pastel coloured houses. We took our cue to move away from downtown and headed across James Island to Folly Beach. It was a moderately warm day so it was busy but nowhere near as jammed as Charleston and made for a nice little rest stop on the beach before heading north.

Generic Van Life - Georgia Folly Beach
Folly Beach was a nice, quieter spot just outside of Charleston

We’re big fans of the multitude of options for camping in National Forests, BLMs and WMAs in the United States. Being from Ontario (Southern Ontario specifically), although we have plenty of Crown Land, the resources and databases offered to the public are quite confusing and make it difficult to navigate exactly where you can and cannot camp. To that point, most of the more known spots that I or friends have visited are meant for portaging and are certainly not accessible in a camper. The amount of fully developed campgrounds that we’ve stayed at in the US that are completely free or require a simple free permit is mind-boggling. If you’re an American reading this, get out there and explore some of these public use spots while they’re still around! We’ve had better free campsites here than some of those that we’ve paid for at home. One of these spots being right by the Francis Marion National Forest in the Santee Coastal Reserve. It was so nice to be back in secluded wilderness after being packed in like sardines in Florida’s WMAs. No cell service and a sky lit up by stars and fireflies always makes for an amazing night’s sleep.

Generic Van Life - Georgia SC Santee
Taken at the Santee Coastal Reserve (in 2018 despite looking like 1982)

Continuing up the coast, we spent the abnormally cold work week at Myrtle Beach State Park and rejoiced that we no longer have to pay for campgrounds to use electricity to work. Our solar is up and running and we couldn’t be more excited! We were happy to have shore power this particular week because it was very overcast and cold and with the endless storms hitting the northeast, we decided to rethink our drive through North Carolina and just skim the bottom before heading to Tennessee. We made a stop in the Nantahala National Forest and admired how beautiful it was to be back in the mountains. Clemmie’s gotta get used to mountain driving again before we get back to BC and Alberta because everything east of New Mexico has been pretty flat for the past while. We’re on a mission now to get west as swiftly as possible to give ourselves enough time to explore America’s Pacific Coast before our tourist visas run out. As always, seeing all the things we can see along the way. Any suggestions?

Generic Van Life - Georgia Myrtle Beach
The beach at Myrtle Beach State Park

Born on the Bayou

Getting our share of flooding and crawfish in Southern LA before chooglin’ on down to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Our journey from the Great White North has opened our eyes to a lot of different landscapes but this was our first time venturing into full-on wetlands. Louisiana was also such a good host and gave us the full experience by flooding on our first morning, causing everything to become a wetland. It all started when we set up for the night in a light rain at Rutherford Beach, south of the town of Creole. With only two fishermen on the beach, we had the whole stretch to choose where we were going to set up shop. We had been warned that the sand was very soft in areas so as expected, we got stuck. We were able to dig ourselves out fairly easily but it was comedic nonetheless.

Generic Van Life - Louisiana Rutherford Beach
Favourable beach conditions as always
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Well that’s no fun

With our streak of grey weather, we were checking the forecast constantly in hopes of sunnier days. This time, we were promised a bit of rain in the night and a thunderstorm by early afternoon the next day – not great but no big deal. What actually happened was rain so heavy in night that I could barely sleep and waking up to flash flood warnings. We groggily started getting ready to move during a brief lull in the rain to avoid having to deal with mud-like sand if it got any worse. By the time we got back to paved road, we got emergency alerts from Apple so it seemed this was going to be more than a regular thunderstorm. Most of the roads weren’t too bad since they had banks alongside where water was pooling like it was its job. Keeping a slow pace, we sloshed around a bit but were happy to reach the Interstate that had much better drainage. Flash floods aren’t really things we’re used to dealing with so it was crazy to see peoples’ front yards as ponds instead of grass. Of course this wasn’t a flood of much grandeur but people living in these areas must just have to get used to it. I guess they’d be equally as shocked if they saw how our houses get half covered in snow and we barely bat an eye.

Generic Van Life - Louisiana Flooding
No shortage of water here

Being such a gross day, it was a good opportunity to run some errands around the Lafayette area and catch up on a couple home projects. The main one being replacing our sink faucet since our old one (probably the original) kept breaking and then started to leak. Thinking about modernizing and bringing ourselves into the 21st century, we browsed for some electric pumps to have normal water flow but were discouraged by how powerful even the weakest ones were – if 2.5 gallons of water could be pushed through our plumbing in a minute then probably burst. We stuck with a new version of what we had before, a manual hand pump. It’s not ideal when you want to give your hands a good scrub or rinse out a sponge but it does the trick and saves a lot of water. Maybe we’ll look into getting a fish tank pump to give us that gentle flow we need. Any suggestions?

Generic Van Life - Louisiana Clean Stove
Rainy days = time to clean 30 years of grease off the stove! Look at that sparkle!

When the rain finally subsided, we ended our day at the Atchafalaya Welcome Centre between Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Beyond just being a free, safe spot to sleep for the night, the welcome centre boasts free coffee, lots of helpful tourist info and even a little museum of sorts all about Cajun culture and heritage. The ladies that worked there were total sweethearts and were eager to give us some good food recommendations and of course, speak French! I went to French school and even studied Franco-Caribbean literature (don’t ask) so I’m quite familiar with Creole and was disappointed to hear that learning French isn’t part of regular schooling anymore. Although, it’s not surprising since Spanish is evidently much more prevalent in the US. Anyway, we popped in the next morning to grab another cup of that sweet java and a different lady at the desk insisted that we get some authentic Cajun food before heading to New Orleans. She directed us to Lake Martin in Breaux Bridge to check out some of the real deal swamps and maybe even see an alligator. Believe me, we looked for them but those fellas are so good at blending in that we didn’t see any. In any case, the area was super cool and home to so many interesting birds and other wildlife that rely on the disappearing wetland areas to survive. After driving on the stretch of the I-10 that is basically one big bridge over a swamp, it was interesting to walk on the boardwalk and see the green waters up-close. We didn’t do a swamp tour but perhaps we would have been more successful with gator patrol had we done one. Next time! After the swamp, we went to a small café called Chez Jacqueline, run by a French lady cooking up tasty Cajun food. As per the welcome centre lady’s recommendation, I tried the crawfish bisque and it was ridiculously good. Like better than I would have ever expected. We’d never tried crawfish before so were shocked by how much texture it had before just melting in your mouth. Everything we ate was delicious, probably because as Jacqueline insisted, always use butter and never margarine.

Generic Van Life - Louisiana Lake Martin
Boardwalk through the swamplands surrounding Lake Martin by the bird rookery

As any tourist in Louisiana does, we made our way to New Orleans. We managed to find a parking lot in the French Quarter that has a $50 RV rate so you can sleep in your car. It’s good for 24 hours so you’re free to roam around a bunch and be comfortably hungover the next day since you’re not in a rush to check out by 11AM and face the judgment of a hotel front desk person. The first thing we noticed were the somewhat gaudy cemeteries with large concrete tombs similar to those that I’ve seen in France. These seemed to show their age a bit more than those of Père Lachaise but still set the tone for the European influence on the architecture and style of the city – or, the French Quarter at least. We walked around and explored a bit before having dinner at Cochon in the Lower Garden District on a street with a name so long I’ll probably exceed my character limit. We heard it gets quite busy and we’re not big fans of waiting in lines so we were prepared to have to go somewhere else (can anyone say Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant down the street?!? Sarcasm.) but we seemed to get there right as a two-top was leaving so we were able to snag a spot in no time. It’s hard for me to even articulate how delicious everything was. It’s a very pork-centric menu (yum) with roots in Southern comfort food. We had the gator, the rabbit & dumplings and pork ribs with pickled watermelon and it was the best I’ve ever had in each category. Prior to this, I didn’t even think I liked gator since I’d only had botched probably Sysco-supplied bites, but I could have eaten these bites by the dozen. From the delicious cocktails to the impressive whiskey list, we cannot recommend this place enough. Without turning this into an unwarranted Yelp review, we’ll just leave it as a must-visit if you’re ever in New Orleans.

Generic Van Life - Louisiana Cochon
Follow the neon lights!

Obligatorily (very surprised that’s actually a word), we did the Bourbon street crawl and admired and cringed at the same time. This was the weekend before Mardi Gras kicked off so the bars were treating it as a calm before the storm but that sure didn’t stop people from decking themselves out in beads and slamming back slushy daiquiris. NOLA has obviously earned its stripes as a party city but it wasn’t really our scene. As similar to Vegas as it was, there was a clear distinction that I can’t quite put my finger on aside from it being a bit overkill and a bit less tacky-on-purpose. In any case, we had a good time checking out some other bars on the outskirts before eventually retiring to our lovely parking lot hotel. Not only did this parking lot provide accommodation, but there was also no shortage of entertainment. Shortly after we returned, a couple of guys got into a fight directly beside the van before renewing their ultimate bromance by telling each other they’re the bestest friends they could ask for and everyone lived happily ever after. With our minds at ease knowing that these guys are forever buds, we passed out and were abruptly awoken by the loudest Christian music around 4 AM. It was way too loud to be coming from a car and sounded like it was coming from a PA system or even a live concert that magically began and completely shut down when the song was over. We have no clue where it came from or what it was all about and we’re just gonna continue to leave it that way.

Generic Van Life - Louisiana NOLA
The French Quarter makes you feel like you’ve taken a trip out of America

We got ourselves up in the morning to see how it all looked in the daytime and enjoy a beignet (or three) at Café du Monde. It was lovely to have breakfast outside while jazzy musicians played some tunes and tourists emerged from every crevice of the city. We walked through Jackson Square and around a bunch of small streets with musicians set up and countless crews of people doing repairs on buildings to prepare for the madness that is Mardi Gras.

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St. Louis Cathedral from Jackson Square
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Music so good it puts dogs to sleep

After skipping town, we continued along the Gulf Coast, taking the scenic highway 90, and were blown away by how pristine and pretty the coast of Mississippi is. White sandy beaches and plantation-style homes with mature trees lined the highway the whole way until Biloxi’s hotels and casinos hit. We had no idea that this vacation destination existed but we’ve clearly been left in the dark because it even had a Golden Nugget! I’m not sure that that’s a unit of measurement per se, but let’s just leave it at Biloxi being a bigger city than we thought. There’s clearly a lot of money in this zone so we can see why it would attract people wanting luxurious vacations that they can’t get in other parts of Mississippi. We stayed the work week in Gautier in a more forest-y area that was generally pretty quiet until there was a police chase on our last night. No clue what was going on but I’d like to think it was juicy. Maybe I watch too much TV.

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Pier in Gulfport, MS

After Mississippi came the blink of an eye stretch that was Alabama. We decided to get groceries in Mobile just so we could say we spent more than 40 minutes in the state. We ended up talking to a guy in a Starbucks parking lot as we were stealing wifi who told us that Mardi Gras actually originated in Mobile and not New Orleans, despite their ubiquitous association with it. CNN fact checked this and it’s apparently true so there’s a good trivia question for ya. In addition to enlightening us about Mardi Gras, we also learned that it’s pronounced mo-beel and not mo-bull like we had been saying it. In our memories, Mobile will just be full of fun facts! Anyway, these were all just rest stops as we make our way to the east coast of Florida to watch the Falcon Heavy Launch. Something we both never thought we’d be able to do so living the van life definitely has its perks!