Izzo's Illegal BurritoThey really deserve an entry of their own since as well as being Jen & Jeff’s best friends, they’re really like a second family too. And they welcomed me so fully that it was pretty hard not to feel at home there. I’ve actually eaten at both of the restaurants in which they work while they were on duty during my stay here. Cassie waitresses at the Mexican chain On The Border, while Jesse has now been given supervising shifts at the ominously named Izzo’s Illegal Burrito. “Joint” is definitely the right name for that “roll your own” burrito place where you choose your fillings from those on offer and the staff really cram ’em as full as possible. Sort of reminded me of Doughmasters back home, but more mexican and with more choice of wraps. And I even have a T-shirt, courtesy of Jesse, which I still wear despite the fact it’s XL to match his…larger than life personality!

KarleighI hung out with them a lot after getting back from the Gulf Shores, including a fun game of drinking worms with Jesse (well, someone had to entertain him after Jeff refused to join in!). Just before I left I also got to meet his mother, of whom I had heard a great deal, so it was interesting to put a face to her. I think Cassie was a little worried that I was getting bored with the babies and baby talk (her son, Maddox, must be above three or four months younger than Karleigh) but honestly I didn’t mind what I was doing so long as I got to spend time with Jen and Karleigh before leaving. Actually, the image Cassie will probably keep is of me balancing Karleigh on a tabletop and feeding her while trying to calm an irate Maddox at the same time which she and Jen found incredibly amusing for some reason (though I think they were secretly impressed too…or at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

The last few days I spent all over the place: one night in Monroe, one with the Traylors, one with Jenna & Jeff, and one with the Dixons. After a great sending-off meal in a Jazz café downtown with the Dixons and some of their friends whom I’d got to know, the journey home was actually very relaxed. I quite enjoy travelling on my own because it means not having to coordinate with anyone else. Arriving very early in New Orleans and due to the ticket changes (it was fun to hand over an envelope with $200 in cash) I ended up spending a number of hours wandering around airports.

So I’m now back home and unsuccessfully attempting to settle in. Mostly everything’s right where I left it, but I’m missing certain people rather a lot…