Yesterday, I flew my 311 freak flag hard and proud. I also told you about the road trip, that I took with my friend Isabelle, to attend one of their shows in L.A. Today, I'm going tell you about what I did two days after that road trip. What I did, was fly to New Orleans to see yet another 311 show. The stories only multiplied in NOLA, like Gremlins that had been fed after midnight, and I blame the music.
I hope you've enjoyed yourself thus far. If you have, come back tomorrow for the conclusion.
Thanks : )
We Slept Hard that Night - Vol. 2
I was excited for this trip to New Orleans for several reasons:
- My good friends from the East Coast (Lara & Steve) were meeting me there
- My good friends from the West Coast (Isabelle & Andrew) were also going there
- 311 Day 2014 was happening there
- Lots of excellent ghost stories and legends take place there
- Sultry Jazz happens there
- Generous drinks happen there
Furthermore, I genuinely enjoy history and adore cities—like Savannah, Georgia—that restore entire neighborhoods, in order to preserve the past. Still, I was concerned that this trip might not live up to expectations. I couldn’t squash the thought of Christoph telling me not to get my hopes up. I know he was referring to the 311 Day show specifically, but being the neurotic mess that I am, I was applying his comments to all aspects of this trip.
“I hope we have a good time, I hope this show doesn’t suck, and I sure as hell hope none of my pets die while I’m anyway this time.” These were the thoughts shooting through my mind as I buckled my seatbelt and awaited takeoff at San Francisco International Airport, two days after that L.A. road trip.
Upon landing in New Orleans and checking into our hotel, Christoph and I decided to take a nap. After our nap, we texted Lara & Steve, to met up for dinner. Christoph and I walked from our hotel to the bar inside another hotel. There, our friends were waiting, talking to the bartender and sipping on some delightfully savory cocktails. We greeted our East Coast friends and had our first drink in NOLA. Shortly after that, we started walking and we never really stopped.
We walked from bar to bar, getting louder and more tipsy with each step. We stopped our drunken parade when we heard music emanating from a van parked on the street. We walked over and inside the van we found a woman playing the piano and singing soulfully. She captivated all four of us, so we stopped long enough for a song and a compliment. She thanked us and let us know that she was also selling hot cider with brandy. It was getting cold out and she did sing one hell of a song, so we figured we’d keep the party going and sip some cider while we listed to her encore.
When the drinks were done, we moved on. We walked in order to stay warm and to move from bar to bar. Eventually, it occurred to someone that we never actually ate dinner. The bar we were currently sitting at wasn’t serving food, so someone got the bartender to order us sandwiches. The food was now under control and so we continued to talk the night away.
With the warmth of a good buzz and the joy of reconnecting with our friends, Christoph and I eventually headed back to our hotel. We needed real sleep. The nap we had taken earlier was not enough. Back in our room, we slept and didn’t get up until late the following morning.
Sober, rested and hungry, Christoph and I showered and ventured out into the French Quarter alone. We noted that everything looked different in the daylight. It was much easier to appreciate the architecture and culture that give the quarter it’s character. As we walked, I got a text from Isabelle asking if Christoph and I wanted to go to Café du Monde to sample their world famous beignets. I thought, “Who doesn’t want to eat a funnel-cake like creation for breakfast?” Excited, I texted back and told her that Christoph and I would meet her (and her man, Andrew) at the café.
As we walked across Jackson Square and up to Café du Monde, we caught sight of an enormous line. It was several blocks long. I saw it and didn’t say anything, but then Christoph noticed it. “Holy fuck, is that the line for Café du Monde? I hope that’s not the line,” he uttered as we approached. “I think that’s the line,” I replied when we got close enough to confirm. “I don’t want beignets badly enough to stand in line for hours. My feet already hurt from all that walking last night, ” I implored. “Yeah, “ Christoph replied.
Immediately, we began scanning to see if there were any alternatives nearby.Lucky for us, there was a restaurant across the street. We got in the door, got our names on the list, and waited for at least three more people to show up so we could be seated. Once everyone was there, we got our table and ordered up some brunch.
As we ate, I decided to clear out my voicemail because it was full. Another friend was house and pet sitting for Christoph and I, back in Silicon Valley. Since my most awesome Chihuahua kicked the bucket the last time I left my furry friends in someone else’s care, I was a bit skittish to say the least. If there was any type of emergency with the animals, I wanted to make sure my friend could leave me a message.
I dialed into my voicemail and began deleting. In my rush to erase, I accidentally heard a snippet of the voicemail that the pet boarding place had left for me on New Years Eve. This was the voicemail about McLeoud. The recorded voice hinted at something serious and asked me to call them back urgently. Tears instantly welled up in my eyes and I excused myself in order to regain composure in private.
One bathroom trip and a couple deep breaths later, I emerged from the rest room mostly OK. This is exactly what I’d come to NOLA to get over. I didn’t want to be reduced to tears every time I thought of my little budy and lately, I had been feeling sad all too often. I’m more emo than any one individual should be, so depression is always looming, and has been, since I was a kid. Because of this, I like to stay on top of my emotional valleys. It sounds silly, but the death of a pet can really fuck you up when you’re a sensitive animal lover.
As I walked back to the table, embarrassment began to set in. I’m sure my friends saw the tears in my eyes and I didn’t want them to think I was being a wuss. Fortunately for me, my friends didn’t flinch. They asked if I was OK and then continued with their conversation as I downed the rest of my mimosa. After brunch, we walked around Jackson Square to see what the local artists were selling. At one point, we turned a corner and ran into a band playing “When the Saints go Marching in.”
Nearby, I spotted an especially excited tourist. She was approaching the band and seemed to be asking if she could join them. One jovial musician smiled and nodded as he handed her his trombone. She took it graciously and played the remainder of the song with the rest of the gentlemen in the band. It was a wonderful moment.
After listening to music for a while, we figured we should see a cemetery. We were in New Orleans after all and cemeteries are a thing there. Isabelle, Andrew, Lara, Christoph and I then began looking for a graveyard to visit. We walked for a little while before meeting up with Steve who had missed brunch earlier. Together, we consulted a map and hopped a streetcar headed to the closest memorial park. What we didn’t realize at the time, was that we were headed into a pretty sketchy neighborhood. Once we got off the streetcar and began walking toward the main entrance of the first cemetary we saw, a kind NOLA resident, and recent transplant, approached us. She advised us to turn around and use the side entrance to this particular final resting place.
This friendly young woman informed us that we were walking toward a rather dangerous neighborhood and she recommended that we stick to the opposite side of the street. Unsure if we were being helped out or set up, we cautiously proceeded to the “right side” of the street.
Lara and I were immediately put on high alert. Together, we cleared corners and alleyways, as we made our way through the cemetery. After combing the place alongside everyone else, we finally began to take notice of the beauty in all the broken and weathered tombstones. We stayed for a while to explore and then decided we should head back. We had planned to go on a cornball ghost tour later that evening and we needed a little break.
Most of us were tired from all the walking. I know I certainly was, nevertheless, I refused to get back on the streetcar. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been on a slower form of public transportation, but then again, I’ve never traveled by rickshaw either. Instead, we walked back from the sketchy cemetery to our respective hotels. We were all staying at different places because we made our reservations at different times.
Back at our hotel, Christoph and I rested, changed and then headed out for a quiet dinner at a nearby bistro. After dinner, we headed to the bar where we were to meet everyone else for the ghost tour.
The tour was great, but it might have been a tad too cornball, because Steve abandoned us halfway through. Luckily, the rest of our group hung in there to the very end. After the tour, we headed back to Café du Monde in or second attempt at obtaining some of those world famous beignets.
At the café, we found a table immediately. What we were never able to find, was someone to take our order. Another table was lucky enough to get their order taken and their food delivered. They weren’t, however, fortunate enough to get someone to take their money so they could pay their bill and leave. Eventually, both our tables abandoned the café and thus our second failed attempt at beignets.
Instead of beignets we walked over to Bourbon Street. There, we got enormous drinks and wandered in and out of several bars. We walked and drank until we got tired again. At the end of the night, we broke off into couples and headed back to our respective hotels. The next day was 311 Day and Christoph and I would need to rest our legs if we planned on dancing through that five-hour concert.
The next morning I awoke to pouring rain. It was drenched outside my hotel window and that worried me. Four of us (Christoph, Isabelle, Andrew and myself) were going to be standing outside, waiting in line to get into this show. I didn’t want to celebrate March 11th 2014 in wet clothes because wet clothes and sloshy shoes are the worst.
After getting ready and getting lunch, we met up with our crew at our hotel lobby. We had a couple of drinks and some conversation while we waited for our cab. Soon enough, the taxi showed up and Isabelle, Andrew, Christoph and I bid farewell to Lara and Steve. We were off and it was now officially on.