Tuesday, February 23, 2010
We've had some beautiful weather here in Picayune, MS. We've been staying with my old friend and high school wrestling teammate Mike Gassman. You may remember his sister Laura and soon-to-be brother-in-law Wes who hosted us during our stay in Colorado Springs.
Friday we barbecued and played outside most of the day.
Oh, the heat.
Nate, another of our hosts, had his daughter Adyson on Saturday, and we played outside some more. Oh yeah, and we barbecued again. Life is good.
That night we got ready to head into New Orleans for our first real Bourbon Street experience.
We all loaded into the Dod and made our way back into Louisiana.
We didn't have to search very hard for parking and in not too long we joined the party. Little did we know, however, that beers on Bourbon cost about as much as they do at a ball game. so we bought our first, and last, $6 beers of the night. Even though the mechanical whale was quite entertaining, we decided to hit the street and do a little people watching.
Even with Mardi Gras over the streets were fairly packed, which is pretty standard for a weekend, I hear.
Tip #1: Don't buy beers in the bars. You can buy them on the street for $3. Since everyone gives them to you in plastic cups (cups are allowed on the street, but bottles are not) you can walk into most bars with it.
However, some bars are very strict about buying a drink before you can use their bathroom. One woman offered to call the cops to explain the rule for us. Instead, we decided to leave and find somewhere else to pee. Fortunately for us we "found" three Coronas on our way out. So, you win some you lose some.
Tip #2: The restrooms at pizza places are the easiest to sneak into. The staff either doesn't care who's using their bathrooms, even though the signs on the wall say they do, or they are too busy to notice.
You can find all types and all ages ate Bourbon street. There's live music coming out of every other bar, but standing on the street and people watching is just as fun. Crowds form beneath the balconies that line the street as revelers toss their beads. Tip #3: Don't pick beads up off the ground. In fact, don't pick anything up off the ground. It's gross, and you don't need the beads that bad. If you don't catch it in the air consider it gone.
Nikki smoochin' the Bourbon cowboy.
You'll also notice the same bars, trinket shops, and margarita/pizza places appear over and over along the street. This makes it easy to get lost since many of the blocks look exactly the same.
Around two we decided to head back to the Dod and ride home. On our way we noticed that, in lieu of beads, one gentleman was throwing Po'boys off his balcony. (Tip #4: Po'boys are delicious, eat one)
As I watched him toss one down to a screaming partygoer, mesmerized by the sight of a flying sub, I see Rick, another of our hosts here in Mississippi, with his arms raised. Then, like mana from heaven, a Po'boy floats down into his arms from on high.
It was awesome.
Well wouldn't you know it, that night we hear a grinding noise coming from the rear of the vehicle. Guess what, it was the brakes.
After stopping at three other auto-care places we finally found one that would look at our vehicle. And to shorten yet another long car-care story, the Dod is back on her feet and the work was covered under warranty. Tip #4: Be prepared to do a lot of looking if you have a vehicle from up north and you need to get some work done in the South. Mechanics are appalled by the amount of rust on our vehicles.
It's been nice having such nice weather and getting to spend so much time outside. Hopefully it holds up.
Rick and our new friend Mike put on a pretty good show for us.
Nothing beats a good, old-fashioned book burning.
So tomorrow we make one more trip into New Orleans and then begin our trip north into Tennessee.
Friday, February 19, 2010
We got the Dod back on Monday with the brakes finally in working order. We spent the last day walking around the Woodlands and catching a flick. Don't go see "Wolfman", it's a terrible movie.
That night we loaded up and set our alarms for 5AM so we could head out and make it to New Orleans for the last day of the Mardi Gras celebration. However, the Dod stalled out before we even left Jenny's neighborhood.
Jenny drove around the corner to give us a jump, and we made it to the gas station where again the Dod wouldn't start. We got another jump but el Dodo stalled out again as we waited to pull out from the gas station.
A call to AAA got a tow truck and a truck driver named Bubba dispatched. As we were hauling the Dod back to the shop Bubba made it very clear to us his stance on homosexuals. We had told him we had spent some days in Austin and the only thing he could tell us about Austin is "that's where all them gays at. Me and them gays just don't get along. My brother brought me down to sixth street one time and I had to tell him to take me home. All them gays..."
After the awkward ride in the tow truck, Jenny picked us up from the shop because we needed to have all three belts replaced and it was going to take some time. By the time we got the Dod back it was almost 4 in the afternoon, which meant we wouldn't have made it to New Orleans till almost midnight. We'd heard that Galveston parties it up pretty good for Mardi Gras so we made the executive decision to make the 2-hour drive south to the Gulf of Mexico to celebrate Fat Tuesday there.
We bid farewell to Houston and made it to Texas' paradise island just in time for the last parade.
After the parade finished, folks of all ages clogged the streets, screaming for beads tossed from balconies that lined the streets. Live blues blared from one bar so Chris and I stopped in to listen.
Even the puppies joined the festivities.
As we walked around the street collecting beads we were stopped by a group of fellow Michiganders, Tahd, Marie, and Matt. It's pretty strange how Michiganders can always recognize one another. We're drawn together like magnets. Or perhaps it was Tahd and Chris' beard magnetism.
Marie and Tahd from Traverse City.
We joined our new friends at an outdoor bar to dance the night away listening to another live band play classic rock covers all night. One woman was especially appreciative of the music and the booze and showed her gratitude to the band and bartenders (and everyone else, for that matter) by flashing her boobs.
A Jimi Hendrix cover, no doubt.
One drawback about the Galveston Mardi Gras, however, is that the whole shebang shuts down about 11:00PM. So we picked up some beers and followed our Michigan friends back to their campground to continue the party. Chris and Tahd entertained us with some acoustic guitar.
By 3:00AM we made our way to the nearby Walmart to crash for the night. Because it was a holiday we allowed ourselves to sleep in and treated ourselves to breakfast at the Waffle House. I recommend you order the hash browns covered, diced and topped (that's covered with cheese, mixed with diced tomatoes and chili for those of you Non-WaHos.) And a word of advice to my fellow soup enthusiasts: don't even try to order their "famous" chicken noodle soup. I don't think it exists. :(
We drove back through Galveston to see the town in the daylight. We coasted up and down Seawall Boulevard and admired the sunny coast. Then, we headed to the end of the island to hop on a free ferry.
We traced the coast North and East, through swamp and marshland, and hopped on another ferry. Some of the bridges spanned the swamp for miles and miles. Other times, we drove right next to the swamp offering us an up-close view of all it's beauty. There were dozens of white cranes perched on tree branches and pelicans soaring overhead. We even saw an alligator hanging out in the swamp! Her name was Gertrude.
After an eventless night in a Walmart in Crowley, Louisiana we drove to New Orleans. We faisons une promenade in the French Quarter and down Canal Street.
We stumbled upon an eight-member band playing in the street. There was an accordion, trumpet, trombone, banjo, steel guitar, tuba, washboardist and chanteuse. We stayed for a few songs. I wish now we had bought one of their $10 CDs.
Some boney guy tickling the ivories.
We met Mike and Dialis at the Hard Rock Cafe. Mike is in a band called The 54. Check out their band at http://www.myspace.com/the54. They have a tour coming up and the dates and locations can be found there. Dialis is a travel writer and has done an impressive amount of traveling herself.
Laissez les bon temps roulez!