The forces of the universe aligned recently and it led to me going to New Orleans with my beloved. Actually, what happened, was my husband discovered that a conference he had to attend for work was occurring at the same time that my children were making their annual visit to my parents' home for VBS and that I would be home alone for a week. He took pity upon me. After he asked me if I'd ever been to New Orleans (no), he asked me if I'd like to go (yes!), and then plans were made. I mean, it's not like I couldn't have kept myself busy with stuff like painting and cleaning and reading War and Peace, (who am I kidding, I totally would have kept busy by eating crap, watching Real Housewives [even crappier], and stalking Borders all hours of the day and night, getting books flagged. Oh, Seinfeld, I still miss you!) but spending some time with my beloved in a city that I've never explored sounded more fun.
I have to tell you, that I enjoyed myself. And even though I ate well--actually, I ate very well--I walked all over the place. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but I left my butt in New Orleans. Between the walking and the sweating and eating only two meals a day, I really do think I left a few pounds behind. Sure wish it had come off my boobs. (Hi dad! Sorry!)
I walked! I saw stuff! I ate! Let me give you the highlights:
I spent a couple hours walking through the Garden District taking pictures of complete strangers' homes.
It was great. Except for the sweating. I don't know how Southerners do it. I met an elderly gentleman walking home from church. I was staring at a particularly lovely home and he stopped to talk with me for a few minutes about the architecture and the Garden District. He was dressed in trousers, a long sleeve dress shirt, and a tie. He was carrying his jacket over his shoulder. He didn't look the least bit distressed by the heat. I, on the other hand, was wearing shorts, a tank top, and flip flops and had my hair in a clip. I was melting in a puddle with every step and practically running from tree to tree to keep in the shade. I could be spotted for a complete and utter Yankee from 100 paces.
After heading back to the hotel room to cool off and change clothes--which, by the way, despite keeping our room at meat locker temps, never quite dried out--I headed off to the French Quarter to Jackson Square. It being a Sunday, I figured there would be some good stuff to see. I was right. Besides the buskers and the artists who displayed their wares on the wrought iron fence around the square, I watched a procession of lovely white gowned young ladies,
little girls in white dresses with parasols,
and young men in white tuxes.
There were flowers, tiaras, parents dressed to the nines, the Knights of Columbus,
and a horse-drawn Cinderella-type carriage.
My camera was busy.
I learned from a participant's father that it had to do with a Mardi Gras club and was a bit like a debutant's "coming out." Again, the people who were all dressed up looked cool as cucumbers while I stood there in my shorts, snapping away and stalking people with my zoom lens, trying not to evaporate.
It was about this time that I discovered that the man who sculpted the statue of Andrew Jackson was, apparently, my nephew. Who knew? See there where it says Clark Mills Sculpter?That's my nephew's name. Crazy. And here I just thought he was spending all his time lawyering and being a newlywed.
I also discovered that I wanted to be a mule. If only to get a shower from a hose.
Or a dog. So that I could sleep in the shade and have people walk by and admire how cute I am.
Nobody ever admires my cuteness while I sleep. Hmph.
That night I went with my husband and his company and customers to K-Paul's where I dined on Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Chipotle Remoulade, Chicken and Andouille Gumbo, Turtle Soup, Blackened Twin Beef Tenders with Debris Sauce (Sweet Mother of Pearl, I had a religious experience with this dish!) and then Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream. (I was glad it was loud when I ate this because I made noises that might have been misconstrued in mixed company.)
Afterwards, we took some customers out on Bourbon Street because they had never seen it. They were both born abroad and while their English was great, sometimes they used phrasing that made me grin. Like when one of them asked me where the places were where men could go to get "the quick sex" because she had heard there were places like that there. Let me assure you that I was able to assure her that I didn't have the first clue. I did rather enjoy saying that phrase for the rest of the trip, though. Things like "Hmm...do you suppose that might be one of those places where one could get the quick sex?" and "How gross and low-down would you have to be to get the quick sex?" (I am cringing now imagining the hits my little blog is going to get from google because of that phrase.)
We took other customers to Galatoire's another evening and then out for drinks. After they turned in for the evening (they had a long drive ahead of them the next day) my beloved and I stayed out a while. It was then, to my dismay, that I discovered that I am a "Woo Girl." (What, don't you watch How I Met Your Mother?) And then the next morning, I discovered that my body did not like the combination of crab au gratin and alcohol. I moved sloooowwwly the next morning. There was no Wooooing at all that morning, I tell you.
My beloved and I hit the flea market where we bought alligator heads for the boys (James named his Bobby Boucher. Best. Name. Ever.) and jewelry for the girls. Then we hit Cafe Du Monde for beignets.
The grease, powdered sugar, and Diet Coke was a magic hangover cure. I highly recommend it.
I also took a horse drawn carriage tour of the Quarter. I had a very knowledgeable guide and a shade over my head for an hour, so that was money well spent. I was able to tour St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 which was very cool. And creepy. And awesome in so many ways. I mean, really, Voodoo Queen?
Creepy. And awesome. Nicolas Cage's crypt?
Weird. And awesome. Above ground crypts that use the sun to mummify their "inhabitants"?
Weird and creepy and awesome!
And my beloved shopped in Meyer the Hatter hat store. Never heard of it? It's the South's largest hattery. Or so it claims on its sign. It has had its share of celebrities, however. On the wall were pictures and notes from Luke Wilson, Steve Zahn, Johnny Knoxville, Zac Efron, and Vanessa Hudgens among others, all thanking Meyer for taking care of their hat needs. Patrick found a hat as well. But they didn't ask him for an autograph. I took his picture anyway.
Handsome fella. You can give me your autograph anytime.
Then we ate another awesome meal, this time at one of Emeril's places (why yes, I am on a first name basis with him) NOLA. It was amazing. And I quite enjoyed our waiter because he kept referring to me as M'lady. I'm thinking I may have my beloved start talking to me that way. But in a Will Farrell voice. That would be awesome.
It was a great trip. Aside from the smell (Seriously, New Orleans, must you smell like beer and barf that has been left to stew in a crock? Even in the nice neighborhoods?) and a very long wait at the airport, anyway. I ate well, saw lots, took more pictures than I thought possible (seriously, how many doors did I photograph?), sweated from sunup until sundown, and walked blisters on my feet. (Note to self: Next time bring tennis shoes. What kind of idiot doesn't pack tennis shoes?) Thanks, NOLA for showing me a good time.