50/50

Amtrak Adventure 25/31 (about October 24th, 2021)

Yesterday, I visited my 50th state! It’s official, that’s all of them now.

I hit that milestone as we crossed the border into Louisiana; Alabama and Mississippi were also firsts for today (and NC, SC, and ND this trip).

It wasn’t just me to accomplish that today, though! My mother flew into DC three days ago to take this leg with us and accomplish the same thing just before me: we got special permission to step off the train at a non-rest stop in Meridian, Mississippi—which was her 50th state, accomplished at 51 years old.

(Mattea still has 13 to go, which she’s also trying to visit before her 21st birthday!)

At 8 PM, after a long train day, we pulled into New Orleans—where it was very hot and humid, to nobody’s surprise. An hour and a half later, we started walking around near the City Park looking for food—sadly, most restaurants close at 9, so the options were limited.

We found a Mexican place which looked good, though. I got a burrito and Mattea got a quesadilla—to which, after cooking, they gave her the option to add every topping! The result was essentially the same thing as my burrito, except with extra cheese, all for $0.25 cheaper… which we don’t think they intended? It was all very good.

As we finished up, Mom offered me some extra tortilla chips. This place had a salsa bar next to our table which had spice levels up to habañero (which I’d never had before); how bad could it be?

Well, I’ve never had habañeros before… and didn’t know that their spice (at least in this sauce) hits slowly, and burns for a long time. So after a quick taste, I naïvely proclaimed victory, and scooped a whole gob into my mouth with the next chip. Oops!

It turns out that Nola doesn’t actually mess around with spice; as I stubbornly finished the chips with my too-hot sauce, my tongue and lips and gums and teeth only cried out harder for cold. Water wasn’t doing the trick, so we looked around for ice cream.

Luckily, this restaurant shares a building with a frozen yogurt shop! Sweet relief was only twenty feet and five minutes away. A word of advice: don’t mess with habañeros!

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