Today was the day when we finally did some driving - 350 or so miles from New Orleans to Houston. It was a loooooong drive that ended with a good meal at a cheap Taqueria.
The drive started well - we hit I10 and the traffic flow was good - we were really eating up the miles. We weren't far outside the New Orleans metropolitan area before the freeway was cutting through swamplands. It reminded me a lot of the Camargue in France, only with no bulls and lots of alligators.
The swamp gives way to forest and you drive for hours and hours along a corridor of trees. Pleasant, but not exactly scenic.
Undfortunately, about 3 hours in to the journey we hit the back of a traffic jam and ended up crawling along for well over an hour. The sat nav showed our ETA in Houston slipping from 8.10pm to 9.40pm before we got to the cause of the jam - a truck had come off the road and was jackknifed ; half in forest, half on the road. Emergency vehicles were also occupying the nearside lanes so the freeway was reduced to a single lane bottle neck.
Once clear of the jam everything was free flowing again. It was getting near dark and we were driving towards the setting sun, squinting all the while.
Just as the sun had set we drove over the state border from Louisiana into Texas. We pulled over for fuel and a toilet break and we noticed a notice that was worth noticing.
As you move into Texas the forested landscape gives way to mile after mile of oil refinery. Then you start to hit the very outskirts of Houston. We decided that as it was now nearly 10pm we should stop at the first hotel we could find, a La Quinta Inn, and go find some food.
Some research performed by my fellow BBQ seeker, Ren, revealed that La Quinta is Spanish for 'Next door to a Denny's' - a nugget of information that seems to be borne out by our observations since then.
Anyway, we checked in to our rooms and then headed off to Taqueria El Regio, just a mile or two from the hotel. As we entered the Taqueria you could tell that this was a pretty local hang out. Spit and Sawdust is probably how I'd describe it. We took a seat and ordered. Ren went for 3 lengua tacos - lengua is slow cooked beef tongue. I ordered a lengua gordita, a carne asada taco and a barbacoa taco. Chris, the other guy in our group, plumped for a burrito.
When the food arrived we were really ready for it after so long on the road. The gordita was different to what I expected and, after a discussion the next day with the receptionist at the hotel, was different than she would expect too. Rather than being a pitta-like pouch stuffed with filling, it was 2 lightly fried corn tacos used to sandwich the filling. Other than that minor point, the taste of the food was superb - plenty of cilantro (coriander) to complement the meat, lime wedges to squeeze over, plus a tomatillo sauce and a spicy red chile sauce to pour over.
It was hunch and munch food - you need to grab onto it and bend over to avoid sauce and juices getting on your clothes. As it was, I had juices dribbling from hand to elbow.
The whole meal for three people, including 4 soft drinks, came to $20 (about £12.50) including a tip.
Day 7 will include a trip to the Houston Space Center and a drive down to Austin for our first memorable BBQ feast.. ..but I'll write that up later.