The Birthplace of Equality

Heading west from Florida, we just had to stop at Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. Why did we stop then?

We were on a mission to enjoy the Cajun specialties at Dooky’s buffet because the restaurant has an unique attraction.

Dooky Chase’s is the landmark restaurant of the civil rights movement in the United States. In the apartheid 1950s, it was also the only place in town that had a black dining room, a white dining room, and an upstairs where blacks and whites could sit in the same room and not be harassed by the local police. In that upstairs meeting room, community leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Thurgood Marshall, and many others, discussed civil rights issues, plans, and strategy over meals provided by Leah Chase, the Queen of Cajun Cooking.

It was Leah’s vision that drove Dooky’s from a 1941 sandwich shop to the first African-American fine dining restaurant in the United States (and also the first African-American artists’ gallery!). Yet it wasn’t just the restaurant we visited. After a delicious Cajun lunch of fried chicken, pickled okra, red beans and rice, collard greens, and andouille sausage, we went backstage to visit the amazing Leah Chase herself.

At age 95, the very woman who cooked for nearly every civil rights leader that ever marched, a Supreme Court Justice, two US Presidents, famous jazz musicians, and the entire Who’s Who of African-American celebrities, still arrives at the restaurant early every morning to prepare the dishes.

We talked to her when she just sat down after peeling the sweet potatoes for tomorrow’s lunch. Did we mention that she’s 95 years old? She has all her wits about her and then some. All we can say is that she’s not only the Queen of Cajun cooking, she’s also the queen of positive attitude and behavior. Even Hurricane Katrina, which closed Dooky’s for two years, couldn’t stop Leah Chase. It was an honor to converse with this giant of a woman.

If you go, make sure you arrive before it’s open, or be prepared for an hour wait. The buffet is quick, easy and delicious, and Ms Chase loves visitors after lunch, so don’t be shy.

Cape Perpetua

Of all the beautiful places in the world, the Oregon coast is still one of my favorites. It has a palpable raw energy in its forests and in the ocean crashing against the rocks. The area has an ancient soul, a place where one can feel the tree spirits, the animal spirits and the rock spirits.

Treacherous cliffs dive into the Pacific Ocean, sending foamy waves to meet the oncoming surf from across the world.

Trails meander from sand beaches and rocky plateaus into old growth forests where the Ents of Fangorn from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings have come to life. They guard the undergrowth with craggy branches and shadowy, hobbit-sized holes in their living trunks. One is almost fearful to walk too loud, lest they awake and snatch you from the path.

The dampness of the rain forest is a constant companion. In the evening, a cloud blanket rolls in from the distant horizon, like a fog in a B sci-fi movie. It comes closer and larger until it covers the beach, the rocks, and the forest. Under this shroud of cloud, our campfire is uncomfortable, perhaps too well aware of it’s old enemy:  water.

On the rocky crags, the Pacific churns into the crevices with deadly force. Or it blows through holes creating a geyser of salty spray. In some places, the ocean decorates the sand beaches with a driftwood forest.

We camped at Cape Perpetua, originally named in 1778 by Capt James Cook while looking for the western entrance to the mythical Northwest Passage.  In those same ancient bays, whales still cruise for dinner, oblivious of us onlookers.

In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps which President FDR formed to put people to work during the Great Depression, built a stone shelter on the highest point of the coast. At 800 feet above sea level, one can see 37 miles out from the shore. The shelter was used as a lookout during World War II. Maybe we should stay up here and watch for North Korean missiles.


Our Worst Travel Moments — Owners Return Early During our House Sit

We’ve had so many fantastic moments traveling the world continuously for the past five years. In spite of all the “regular” living, there have been challenging moments when things have gone wrong. To be fair, things go wrong even if you live in one place for five years.

We’re just thankful that it hasn’t been one of us waking up and asking the other “Who are you?” And we won’t write about the tsunami alert in Indonesia that turned out to be a huge wave of … wait for it … 2½ inches.

This is the fourth of a series of accounts of our worst moments. In spite of these few misadventures, we are still loving the life of continuous travel!

Owners Return Early During our House Sit

Zichron Yaakov, Israel

How did it happen?

In countries where the cost of living is high, we usually look for a house sitting assignment to cut back on some of the cost of our travel. We had a sweet assignment in England with an adorable therapy dog and then another terrific house sit in Israel.

Us with our new friend, Diana, and her therapy dog, Enya.

Oddly, in both instances, the owners were forced to return early from their travels due to medical reasons. In England, the overlap was only a week and we enjoyed spending time together, cooking and walking the dog with our new friend.

In Israel, they returned with one of them in a leg cast. We stayed on to mow the lawn, walk the dog and do some cooking for them. After a while though, we began to feel unneeded and a little bit like an imposition, even though they insisted otherwise.


Since Ivan had finished his work and they didn’t really need us to be there, we rented a car and set out to explore Israel. This was going to be different from our usual style of travel.

We normally settle in one area of a country for 3 months, digging into the local culture and traditions. We often have the use of the owner’s car so we are able to take the dog to nearby hikes. Israel became a road trip adventure!

Ramat Hanadiv

We traveled the width and length of this small country, visiting good friends we hadn’t seen in countless years; and seeing new friends we had just made. We visited an archaeological dig that I worked on in my teen years. (Yes, it changed!)

We bought an annual National Parks Pass which turned out to be a real bargain. We hiked, swam and climbed in about 20 parks throughout the country. We snorkeled in Eilat, and saw the Milky Way from the desert.

Lesson Learned

When the unplanned happens, make a new plan. Where we go is pretty random anyway so what difference does it make if we change the plan? We accept the wabi sabi of travel. As long as we are together, anywhere we travel, and anything we do, is the best plan.

Driving through Israel!

The other stories in “Our Worst Travel Moments” series are:

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