US Trip 2013: Day III: Car Day & Chinese Food

Continuing the series, we have our final day in Bossier before heading off. Mostly, we addressed the headlights and cleaned the car, but we managed to get fixed up on Chinese food, too. No pictures from this day, I’m afraid.

Remember, my interjections are in green text.

Day III (Thursday, the 28th of March 2013): Bossier City and Shreveport (by Chris)

Thursday was primarily Car Day. We set to work on going over Iolana to prepare her for the road trip. The first thing we concentrated on was the headlight problem we’d experienced the previous night, and at the time we thought we’d solved it! The headlight bulbs and their wiring harnesses push and twist into the headlight assembly, and they had worked loose so that the headlight bulbs were no longer firmly held in place. We came to the conclusion that the problem we had been having the night before was caused by the bulbs falling back into the engine compartment, and then back into the headlight assembly as a normal result of acceleration and getting bumped around by the road surface. This may well indeed have been part of the problem (it was not, as we later found out, the fundamental issue. But we’ll get to that later, dear reader), and it was a really easy thing to fix.

On the other hand, while checking the headlights, we found that the passenger side parking light wasn’t working at all. There were no fuses we could find to check for that, so we decided we had to get to the bulb to check whether it had blown, and that proved easier said than done. The owner’s manual contained information on getting to the headlights… but nothing about how to get to the parking light bulbs, so I had to consult the Great Internet Oracle to find out what to do. I determined that we needed to unscrew a couple of screws on top of the headlight assembly, and pull the entire assembly out to get to it. Sounds nice and easy!

What the Great Internet Oracle didn’t tell us was that the headlight assembly is held in at the bottom by a very stiff and awkward friction pin that defiantly holds on for dear life, so getting the assembly out requires a lot of cursing and pulling before it deigns to release its death-grip on the car. Thankfully, after all the effort to get to the bulb, we found that it had indeed blown: an easy thing to fix! After replacing bits so that the car didn’t look like a complete mess, we headed to the auto parts shop to get replacement bulbs, spare fuses just in case, and some of that most important of substances: WD40. I was shocked when I realized I didn’t have any in with the car supplies in the trunk; we had to fix that post-haste.

We ended up in conversation with the cashier, and he told us he was a Fugitive From The Law in the UK: he had visited England, and failed to pay the congestion charge while driving in London. What started out as an £8 charge had, by the time they found him and demanded payment, ballooned into over £500 of charges and fines. He’s been told not to bother paying it, and not to go back to the UK… I do wonder how much has been added to the fines since then!

We got the bulb replaced quickly and easily once we got back to Nannie’s – the headlight assembly was much easier to get out and put back when we knew the trick – and then we tidied and emptied the car so that we could go over to a nearby self-service carwash.

On the way to the carwash, we stopped for lunch at one of SJ’s favourite Asian places, a take-out called Mayflower that happens to have a few tables for people who want to just eat there. It’s unpretentious, definitely not fancy, but their food is tasty, and the staff is friendly and welcoming. We split a lunch of egg drop soup (which is impossible to find in the UK), spring roll, and lo mein. I wasn’t impressed by the soup, but the rest was great, and it was a welcome break from running around at this point.

I miss Mayflower, and American Chinese food in general. It’s different from British Chinese food – Chris recently learned that it’s because the Chinese who settled here in Britain mostly came from Hong Kong, whereas the Chinese who settled in America mostly came from mainland China, and those two cuisines are different. They each were adjusted to suit American vs British palates, of course, further adding to the disparity. The bog-standard soup in American Chinese is egg drop, whereas it’s chicken and sweetcorn in British Chinese. I like both, so I miss egg drop soup. Thankfully, it’s very simple to make, so we make it at home. American Chinese lo mein dishes are another thing I sorely miss – and, though we’ve found lo mein noodles, I’ve yet to manage make it taste right.

At the carwash, we began feeding a quarters (in a quantity I don’t even want to think about) (it was less than $10; I got a roll of quarters from the bank specifically for this. Rolls of coins – another thing I miss.) into the wash and vacuum systems so we could give Iolana a pretty thorough cleaning, inside and out. They’d changed the setup since we were last there, replacing the half-useless “vacuum and perfume” system with a proper “vacuum and carpet cleaner” option, and SJ and I worked in tandem passing the hose around as quickly as we could to get the most out of our quarters. It wasn’t a perfect job – when racing the timer on the car wash equipment, you can’t really do as good a job as doing it by hand at home – but it was decent enough, and a vast improvement on the grimy condition the poor car had been in.

Returning to Nannie’s, we finished the detailing: Armor All, treating the leather, hand-cleaning the inside fittings, cleaning windows and mirrors properly, and so on. (Yes, I’m very particular about my car, why do you ask?) We were going out for dinner with friends later, but we had time to get properly cleaned up, so inside we went to get sorted. At that point we discovered that we had been horribly mistaken: we hadn’t actually been washing away the three years of dirt on the car! As it turned out, we’d actually been collecting all of it under our fingernails; that’s the only way to explain how they could have become so horrendously dirty. Shortly after this discovery we determined that there doesn’t appear to be a single nail brush anywhere in Nannie’s house (she wasn’t home to ask). We managed to extricate the Muck Of Ages through Vigorous Cleansing, but my fingers were complaining for a couple of days after this…

We got to Peggy and Rodger’s exactly on time, despite managing to get somewhat misdirected on the way to their house (it’s a left, then a right, then the first left … no, wait, it was the second left … oh, phooey, where’s the map?), only to be greeted with “About time!” from Rodger. We’re pretty sure he was referring to the three year delay since our last visit, though… We visited for a while, catching up on things that had been going on in our lives since our last visit. Talking with Peggy and Rodger is always highly amusing for me: Rodger is a big, rough South Louisiana Cajun, while Peggy is… definitely not, and their interaction is always fun to watch. Eventually, Rodger declared that his belly was rumbling, so we piled into their car to go to Imperial Cathay. The meal there was wonderful, and they have been added to the list of places we know we can go to to get decent food when we’re in Shreveport. (Yes, that’s Chinese for lunch and dinner. What can I say? I was really jonesing for Chinese.) We chatted over dinner, and eventually returned to Peggy and Rodger’s house for more catching up and dessert in the form of cakes baked by the children of their neighbour as part of a charity fundraiser and educational exercise. They were pretty tasty, and were cooked into Easter bunny shapes as we were pretty close to Easter at this point. Neither SJ or myself are religious, but that Easter Sunday would take on some significance during our trip…

When we left Peggy and Rodger’s we finally looked at the time, only to find it was 10pm – time flies when you’re with good friends! On the way back, we decided to go to Target, as I needed new trousers: I’d found that the black jeans I’d brought over with us had a hole in them, so I only had one pair of wearable trousers at this point! Unfortunately, when we got to Target, they had just closed; the doors were still open, but when we walked in we were informed that they were closed by a very peeved-sounding worker over the store PA system. So we headed back to Nannie’s, did a bit of sorting for the next day, and generally prepared ourselves for bed, although we had to stay up until 12:20! SJ was still taking antibiotics at this point, and the timing of the pills, and fitting food around them, meant that we couldn’t have any more of SJ’s ice cream birthday cake until 12:20. We’re generally up til around then usually, but it would’ve been nice to get to bed earlier the night before setting off on our road trip. Hey ho.

After consuming cake, we headed to bed for the last night at Nannie’s before the Great Road Trip.

2 thoughts on “US Trip 2013: Day III: Car Day & Chinese Food

  1. Just loving reading all your wonderful posts!!! You obviously had a super trip. SO happy you found our unusual ways in the USA humorous. HA HA HA I find them humorous also. 🙂

    Great Internet Oracle – like the GREAT and WONDERFUL OZ
    cursing and pulling before it deigns to release its death-grip on the car
    Fugitive From The Law in the UK – OH MY GOSH!
    half-useless “vacuum and perfume” system – HA HA HA
    We managed to extricate the Muck Of Ages through Vigorous Cleansing, but my fingers were complaining for a couple of days after this… — Sounds like “fun” NOT!
    jonesing – ??
    Great Road Trip.- SO WONDERFUL

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