Thursday, March 25, 2010

3 Weeks and 3 Days Living in NOLA

The vacation home in front of our permanent home. Or is it the other way around?

It's been 24 mostly sunny days in our new city New Orleans. Apologies for the delay on kerouaking updates. We promise to not make you wait so long next time!

Chris has been playing the traditional breadwinner role at Marigny Brasserie while I've been nursing another flare-up of what my best friend likes to call "Reindeer Eye" (See: Iritis. No it's not made up. I know it sounds like it, but it's real and it sucks).

Nevertheless, I'm proud to announce that I was hired by a hotel as a front desk clerk today! It's not my dream job by any means, but it'll give me some income. I start training on Saturday and the hotel is even closer to home than Chris's restaurant is.

In other big news, Chris and I signed for a 2009 black Ford Focus. How nice it will be to have a compact car to zip around in and not have to worry about parallel parking the voluptuous Dod in the quarter.
Voila, le chat noir.

We've been lucky to have had two sets of visitors in the three weekends we've lived here so far! Mike and Amber came for a night and we tried an Italian restaurant on Decatur. Service was very slow but Amber ate the best chicken alfredo she's ever had.
Mike tired himself out having way too much fun with Chris's GI Joe cards. Which makes me think, how do we not have a couch yet but somehow have a deck of GI Joe cards? Something isn't right here…

Jenny and Mykle came out the following weekend and we painted the french quarter red. Jenny and I didn't make it home until 4:30 on either night. We ate some delicious food, sauntered around Bourbon Street, went dancing and we also played pick-up-sticks. The weekend flew by!

Here are some things I've learned from living in New Orleans the past three weeks:
1) When it rains, it pours. Nighttime thunderstorms are common and LOUD. This will certainly take some getting used to.
2) Sometimes food that looks like dog food tastes like heaven. When you come visit I'll show you what I'm talking about. (I won't make you eat Kibbles and Bits, I promise).
3) Open container laws are the best laws. Sure, you can smuggle a coffee thermos of your favorite alcoholic beverage in pretty much any US city. Well, maybe not Salt Lake City since caffeine is frowned upon as well. But in NOLA, you can take your tall boy of Bud Light out on the streets without a second glance from NOPD. With all the "TO GO cup" signs, you'd think they even promote it...
4) EnVie, the cafe around the corner, will make you forget everything you ever loved about Starbucks. They serve coffee for your pep, cocktails for your edge and big ass cookies for... your ass of course. If your not convinced yet, they also offer free wi-fi, they play excellent music and there are even a couple slot machines in the back room if you're in the gambling mood.
5) Bourbon Street should be avoided during the daylight hours like a vampire avoids sunlight. Don't get me wrong, it's a one-of-a-kind awesome time on any given Friday night but you just feel dirty and, well, outright sinful walking along the street during the day. Remnants of last night's shenanigans are cleared by daybreak by the honorable street cleaners, but there's just something in the air (or maybe in the gutter) that makes you feel like you should cut over a block.
6) Never, and I repeat, NEVER wear flip flops on Bourbon Street.
7) Cajun food is not diet food.
8) Po'boys are insanely crave-able for being mere sandwiches. French bread, main ingredient (you name it: shrimp, oyster, alligator sausage, roast beef, ham, turkey, even french fries!), mayo, pickles, lettuce, tomato... who'd a thunk they'd be so spectacular?!
9) Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie live around the corner. I'm being serious, they have an apartment down the street. Do you know how many people have told me this when I tell them where I live?
10) Lizards like to sneak their way into apartments around here. The lady in apt. 10 told me she had to put aluminum foil around her ac unit to keep them out in the summer. And I thought pets weren't allowed here…
11) Abita Strawberry Lager is excellent. It's the newest addition to my top 5 favorite beer list.
12) Crawfish are delicious and vicious.

Well, that's all for now. Kudos to Jenny Thornsbury on her new job and a shout out to beautiful mother-to-be Chellsea Wilson and her engagement to the handsome Nick Heiden!
The view. Sometimes I feel like I'm on vacation...

PS: Sorry about the vampire reference in #5.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Living (it up) in the Big Easy

Of all the grand and glorious places Chris and I have traversed over the past five and a half months, nothing can compare to New Orleans. With it's rich history, french architecture, cajun food, warm people, street musicians, cajun dialect, and all-around interesting folks it's unbeatable. (Not to mention the daiquiri shops, Bourbon Street and open container law.) It's a little like Chicago, but without all the snow and frigid temperatures. New Orleans is certainly one-of-a-kind and different from anywhere I've ever been.
One of the "interesting folk" that occupy the streets in the French Quarter. Notice the ladder ends right near the top of the picture. Who knows how long he held that position.

So, about a week ago Chris was browsing and came across some apartments in the French Quarter for a very reasonable monthly rate. We decided, what they heck!, we might as well check a few out. The first apartment we looked it was no bigger than the Dod but it didn't even have an engine! Over the next two days we checked out an apartment with a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street. We looked at a huge apartment with a fireplace in the middle of the kitchen. We saw a tiny furnished apartment with a hot tub and murphy bed.

After looking at about a dozen apartments, we eventually came across a clean little apartment smack dab between Bourbon Street and the French Market. It was far enough away from all the noise to be peaceful at night. It had three entry doors and a courtyard with barbecues, tables with umbrellas and a POOL! Best of all, the rent was cheaper than most of the places we looked at - and none of them had a pool.

So, we put in our application but didn't let our hopes get up. Because, really, it seemed too good to be true. But wouldn't you know, as Chris was filling out an application at a restaurant he got a call from the landlord to tell us he approved our application. As we skipped around in Cathedral Square all the fortune tellers and street artists stared as I laughed hysterically and repeatedly yelled "REALLY?! NO! Really?! REALLY?!". After a quick call to Deo and Bob & Jan, we signed the lease and that cute little apartment with the pool we can now call our home!
Right here.

A shot of our building from Chartres Street.

Therefore, kerouaking is on a one-year hiatus. However, we will continue to update the blog with our adventures in the Big Easy and our upcoming trips. The Dod will most likely make her way back to Michigan soon - she's just too big to be parking on these narrow streets. We're thinking about getting a smaller car and/or maybe a scooter.
Our Walmart nights are over... for now.

After only a few days of applying to jobs and passing out resumes, Chris got a job at Marigny Brasserie! It's a restaurant with an impressive menu of po'boys, soup, and seafood. It's just four blocks away so Chris can walk to and from work in under five minutes. He brought home a soft-shell crab po'boy and portabella mushroom bisque last night and it was delish!

Since Chris is working in a restaurant, he trimmed his epic beard and cut his hair. Here's a before and active photo:
Friggin' hippie...

He cleans up good!

I am actively searching for work. I've been applying to hotels in the quarter and I have a second interview as a swim instructor uptown next week. I'm really hoping for a position with AmeriCorps, so keep your fingers crossed.

We can't wait to have visitors so come see us soon! Until you see it in person, here are some photos of the apartment and courtyard to tide you over.
This is the view from the end of our floor, looking out into the courtyard. Michael, our landlord, really keeps up on all the flora and greenery.
This is our view from the balcony. That is the pool at the hotel next door.
Here's a nice shot of our courtyard and pool.
Here's one of the patio tables. There's two barbecues in the courtyard for tenants to use and the landlord provides the propane. There's only about a dozen apartments within the Lanata House so we won't have to worry about waiting in line to go swimming or grill food.
The outside view of our apartment. All the shutters are closed, but they open to a second door with a window. The first door leads into the living room. The second door is the main door and leads into the hallway. The third door leads into the bedroom.
Our bed-less bedroom. Somebody please send us a mattress!
Our living room right after we got done bringing everything up from the Dod.
The living room as it is now. The only furniture we have is two folding chairs and my old wine-tasting table from when I worked at Union Beverage.

Aunt Kiki said we HAD to try some deep fried peanuts and, boy, was she right! They're fantastic. You eat the shell and all! This stand is in the French Market, two blocks southeasterly from our apartment. It's open every day and there are fruit and veggie stands, live bands, jewelry and art tables, tee-shirts, daiquiris and coffee stands, etc.

Love, your favorite kerouakers and newbie Lousianians.