Our few days in Bossier City and Shreveport before setting off on our road trip were a blur: shopping, preparations, squeezing in a bit of family time as we could (it being weekdays, people had to work, of course), etc. We took hardly any photos in this time, and none from this first day. Chris has somehow managed to tease a narrative out of what I thought were boring enough days to merit skipping … so I suppose I should go ahead and share it with you!
(Remember, my interjections are in green text.)
Why yes, I am using Roman numerals for the day numbers at this point. Much like preface material in a book, the first few days in the US were preface to the road trip; days will be numbered in a more conventional decimal form when we get there.
I woke and shambled (he’s good at shambling, especially before his first cup of tea) into Nannie’s kitchen a while before SJ, seeking hot water to apply to the bags of precious life-giving Tea I had carefully packed to bring with us (US tea is, in my experience, almost universally bletcherous). (So very true; we’d brought his and hers tea supplies.) To my immense shock and amazement, Nannie had a wireless access point right there in the kitchen (in fact, she also has a tablet and a kindle, something that completely blew away SJ and I!) I could even get my phone to talk to it, thanks to strategic placement of the password! After correcting the alarmingly high level of blood in my teastream, some food, and some chanting of the Ancient and Forbidden Words of Command (“Work, damnit, useless thing! Work!”), I had the data connection on my phone working properly.
I had no idea at the time just how massively helpful, if not vital, that data connection would be for us over the next few weeks…
After SJ had emerged from the depths of slumber and consumed breakfast, we headed out to deal with earwax. Yes, wax of the inside-the-ears variety, specifically SJ’s. SJ suffers from slow but inexorable wax buildup, to the point that it will seriously impair her hearing if not addressed from time to time. In the UK the local GP practice (and all others I’ve heard about) is incredibly reluctant to syringe ears, and when they do the method is so horribly ineffective as to be pointless, so we decided that one of the first things we would do when we got to the US would be to get SJ’s ears thoroughly evacuated.
Off we went to visit a doctor SJ has seen in the past, the inimitable Dr Lippton, an individual who can best be described as being “something of a character.” (US readers: you should note this is Chris employing that infamous British understatement thing you hear about sometimes.) He was more than happy, if not positively enthused, to clear out SJ’s clogged ear canals, presenting the extricated globulous clumps with something approaching a paternalistic pride, all the while providing a commentary that, if a British doctor even attempted it, would cause massive scandal. There was absolutely nothing wrong with his patter, mind – it was highly amusing and entertaining. I’d thoroughly recommend Dr Lippton to anyone in the area (or passing through) – his amusing banter helped lighten the mood during this uncomfortable procedure, and he’s always known just the thing to fix me up – including my first ear syringing some years back, before I’d ever heard of it. It’s just that British doctors are supposed to have Zero Personality, it seems. Despite this, his ministrations were spot on: SJ’s ears were cleared, and as soon as he’d finished he saw what our GP couldn’t (because of the earwax in the way!): SJ had an ear infection. (I’d gone to the Dr a few days before leaving.) Dr Lippton prescribed ear drops and antibiotics – of a strength I don’t think you can get outside of hospitals here (Judging by how big my UK doctor’s eyes went when I got back and showed her the paper for it, I think Chris is right). With vouchers [coupons] in hand, we headed off to a nearby grocery store to get them filled.
While waiting for the pharmacy we wandered the grocery aisles in a sort of daze, “So much lovely stuff! So much stuff the import stores don’t carry! What is their problem?!” Despite us being on the Junk Food Tour of America, we managed to resist the urge and did not stock up on… well, everything, but a few things did manage to end up in the cart anyway.
When we’d finished there, we returned to Nannie’s, and were bundled into her car to go to Sam’s Club. ((For the UK readers: Sam’s Club is a warehouse-style, membership-only retail chain run by Walmart, where goods are often sold in bulk or with no frills, and sometimes – but not always! – for lower prices. Much like Costco or Booker Cash&Carry, but anyone can pay the fee and join; you needn’t meet any criteria to qualify.)) We prefer a few American things enough to import them, so we wanted to take the chance to stock up before we returned to the UK. However, we found that there was very little we needed that we could get there. While they had a lot of stuff, there was very little selection within any given type of item: for example, I found exactly one type of one brand of toothpaste, and this singular form of tooth goop is not one that either SJ or I use. We found a few things on our list there, got some boxes of snacks for the trip, and managed to get a 2.2 litre Airpot flask for my Life-Support-Tea-While-Roadtripping needs. However, the majority of our list included things we simply couldn’t get there, and we left somewhat disappointed.
For dinner, we went to a Mexican restaurant called Trejo’s. SJ actually used to work at Trejo’s back in her wild, rebellious youth (I had one of those? Learn something new every day!), and we were both looking forward to some real Mexican (well, Tex-Mex) food that we hadn’t cooked for ourselves. Unfortunately, we were both quite disappointed with the meal: SJ’s entrée (Bistek Mexicano) was entirely too spicy, mine (a chimichanga) was okay but it was certainly nothing on the food we cook, and the sides – refried beans and Mexican rice – were similarly disappointing. Maria, one of SJ’s old co-workers, was our server, and she and SJ caught up a bit. I mostly looked on with bemusement, and couldn’t really join in the conversation, as I could barely understand a word Maria said, her accent was so strong! (Oh, yeah, it is … sorry, love, totally didn’t think about that!) When we’d finished dinner, on the way out to the car, SJ ran into Joey Trejo (He’s a classmate and former co-worker of mine – he runs this location now, I believe. Sweet guy; I was glad to hear he and Danielle are busily living their own happily ever after.) and caught up with him a bit, and thankfully I could actually understand him.
Just as we were sitting down to eat, SJ’s dad had called. After dinner we decided that it was rather silly to phone him back when, for a change, we could just drive over and see him, so we did! We visited for a while, chatting about a variety of things, but then he showed me some of his workshop, the cabinet he was making, and made me immensely jealous by showing me his stores of hard woods (which, in the UK, would be insanely expensive). Much of the work I do has to be with pine, simply because hardwoods tend to be ruinously expensive in any useful quantities, and seeing all that hardwood there made me very tempted to find a way to sneak it back in to the country. Alas, I suspect that wandering through airports with large pieces of hardwood shoved under my shirt wouldn’t work too well. We did discuss cutting it into lengths to fit in a suitcase, but Chris oddly vetoed this idea.
After tearing me away from the shiny, shiny wood store, SJ and I picked up a few things from the shop. Water was high on the list of needs, as Bossier City water is drinkable, but it didn’t taste like what we’re used to. We decided to opt for bottled water. We also got some bottles of a drink I love, but can not get in the UK: Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Chai Tea. I find this drink weird bordering on gross, but hey, to each their own.
By this point it was getting late, so we headed back to Nannie’s and headed to bed.