XX: Penultimately, Atlanta

In the area: November 7, 8
First impression: Bad traffic can really dampen your first impression of a city.
Weather: Sun with a couple rain drops.
Strange: Paying Coke to go on a literal advertising roller coaster.
Lodging: The Highland Inn, right next to Soul Veg 2!
Vegan restaurants: A few. Vegan soul food of varying quality.
Highlights: Soul Vegetarian, Dulce Vegan Bakery, Gutenfleischers (The Good Butcher).  Tasting soda from all over the world at Coke HQ.

20140405-115051.jpg

XIX: Next Stop, Louisiana

In the area: November 6, 7
First impression: And I thought they might give South Dakota a run for their money on number of abortion billboards (nope).
Weather: Sun and scattered showers.
Strange: The sugarcane fields seem foreign.
Lodging: Nice, affordable suite outside the city.
Vegan restaurants: Had some vegan hot dogs/sausage in the French Quarter, right across from Congo Square. Vegetarian gumbo was had as well.
Highlights: The history is pretty unbeatable.  Had a nice stop at Avery Island to see the Tabasco factory (free, but underwhelming). New Orleans has plenty of charm – would be glad to spend a few more days here.

20140405-115029.jpg

XVIII: Austin (and less important neighbors*)

In the area: November 4, 5
First impression: I could probably live here.
Weather: Warm, Sunny.
Strange: The abundance of vegan food trucks.
Lodging: Budget motel.
Vegan restaurants: As mentioned, there are plenty.  However, the vast majority of them are on 4 wheels, which I assume makes dining out less pleasurable in inclement weather.
Highlights: Great vegan ice cream at Sweet Ritual, had a decent time at the Alamo Drafthouse theater.

*Houston, a night wasted.

20140405-115359.jpg

XVII: El Paso and West Texas

In the area: November 2, 3, 4.
First impression: The houses look different over that fence. Oh, that’s Mexico.
Weather: Abundant sunshine.
Strange: Uncanny resemblance to western films. It’s dry (one noted exception), it’s abandoned, and I wish I had a revolver.
Lodging: Budget hotel.
Vegan restaurants: Some, but did eat at an excellent middle eastern place.
Highlights: Amazing scenery through the desert.

20140405-115629.jpg

XVI: New Mexico

In the area: November 1, 2
First impression: I can kinda see why Breaking Bad took place out here.
Weather: Sunny and cool.
Strange: Drunk diving appears to be a persistent threat near reservations.
Lodging: Red Roof.
Vegan restaurants: Missed the vegan sushi joint in Albuquerque! Had ok vegan thai food though.
Highlights:White Sands, a great place to get lost.  Carlsbad Caverns was excellent, a truly hidden national treasure.

20140405-115223.jpg

XV: Utah (plus the Grand Canyon)

In the area: October 29, 30, November 1
First impression: Outdoors enthusiasts rejoice.
Weather: Rain and sun.
Strange: Didn’t make it to the strange part of the state.
Lodging: Zion National Park, and then a decent Super 8 in Moab.
Vegan restaurants: None; but presumably in SLC.
Highlights: Arches National Park (awesome), Zion National Park (also awesome), Capitol Reef National Park (highlights were shut down, but had a really nice hike through a canyon).  Made a “quick” detour to see the Grand Canyon (North Rim) for a couple photos.

20140405-115729.jpg

XIV: Vegas

In the area: October 28, 29.
First impression: Hey, it really is better than Atlantic City.
Weather: A further reminder that weather on the east coast is terrible.
Strange:
Lodging: Stratosphere hotel – nice and affordable (they’re expecting you to gamble).
Vegan restaurants: Good vegan pizza in the casinos, and the worst vegan restaurant I’ve ever been to.
Highlights: Vegan pizza by the slice, affordable lodging.

20140405-115001.jpg

XII: LA

In the area: October 26, 27.
First impression: I was told there would be more breast implants.
Weather: Atypical fog — “marine inversion” for wanna-be meteorologists.
Strange: Venice beach, obviously.
Lodging: Couch-surfing in Pacific Palisades
Vegan restaurants: Plenty – Veggie Grill is a great chain.
Highlights: Seeing Larry David’s house, the great hospitality of LAFD’s Station 69.