Sunday, May 1, 2011

A week in the Big Easy

Somehow a week has gone by, so I figured it was time to check back in. We arrived in New Orleans Friday afternoon and headed directly for Joanna and KK's house in Bayou St. John. We're about three blocks from Jazzfest, so there has been quite a bit going on in the neighborhood as things ramp up for the festival. We went down to the French Quarter straight away, where we sampled a "Hand Grenade" at the Tropical Isle. One was enough to get us into the spirit, and we wandered around the quarter checking out the back alleys and strange bars for the rest of the night. On Saturday Keagan flew in, so I went to the airport on the bike to pick him up. I definitely could have borrowed a car, but would would have been the fun in that?

Jill here, picking up where Ty left off.  So happy to be back in good ol' NOLA!  This place has always owned a pretty big piece of my heart, and I love when I get to come back and visit.  The people are so original and the city is so vibrant and full of character.  Not to mention having the privilege of being around some of the best music/musicians in the world.  And getting to see my girls (especially my good friend/hostess Joanna, her wonderful boyfriend Dale and crazy lady/hostess KK :) ) never hurt either!  As soon as we got to the house, Ty ran down the street to the tiny neighborhood grocery store.  When he came back, I asked him what his first impression of New Orleans was.  Laughing, he said a boy on a bicycle came up behind him and was trying to get around.  He heard him making a slight coughing noise and turned around.  The boy said, "Excuse me, my brotha!  Greeaattt Day!"  Too funny...and he was really was a great day. 

After Ty went to pick up Keagan, we of course had to take him out and see what the city had to offer.  The next night, we went out to Dale's house in Luling, a city about 30 minutes off the beaten path from New Orleans.  Dale grew up in New Orleans and can cook up a seafood feast like you can't even imagine.  On the menu for the evening: giant crawfish, beautiful blue crab, spicy roast, drinks a plenty and lovely new friends (we didn't eat them, of course :) )  Sitting outside on Dale's porch reminded me of summers at home and we really had a lovely time.  Of course, we paid for all the fun we had in bug bites!  That night, Ty and I slept in Dale's son's bunkbeds (which they so kindly gave up to us...they are so cute) and slept like babies listening to the chirps of the two chicks (seriously) Joanna and Dale gave to the boys for Easter. :)

A couple of other highlights:

Getting to catch up with Keagan...always so much fun!

When I lived with Joanna in New Orleans back in college, one of our favorite past times was going to the Maple Leaf bar Uptown and seeing the band Papa Grows Funk.  An amazing concoction of some of the best and most well-respected musicians in town, they never disappoint in concert (or in person...very funny guys...)  Had a great time, as always.

We also made a trip to my very favorite spot in New Orleans...a hidden little wine and cheese place with a four piece jazz band and christmas lights to boot.  A lady who looked to be in her early 60's (she turned out to be 81!) overheard Joanna and I's conversation about the lunacy of Donald Trump when she interjected.  She was an Obama supporter and was "very happy to hear our interest in politics."  She then told me this story.  She grew up in southern Louisiana and had an African American nanny named Mary Elizabeth, who was born before the Civil War and was therefore born into slavery.  She said she considered Mary Elizabeth more of a mother than even her own, and Mary Elizabeth raised her.  She had always been involved in politics, but when Obama ran she took things to a whole new level volunteering for the polls.  She said when she went to the voting booth, she looked to the heavens and said "This one is for you, Mary Elizabeth."  Really good story.

We ended the trip with Joanna and KK's Jazz Fest Extravaganza, a big BBQ bash in the backyard complete with their friends' band DeTour.  DeTour is a colorful group of middle aged guys that are regulars at the bar that the girls frequent...They love to cover Grateful Dead hits along with some New Orleans favorites.  So much fun...they even had a trumpet player to give the tunes some NOLA swank.  It was a great send off and we were happy we got to see everyone before we left and really enjoy New Orleans at its finest.

This morning we packed up, said goodbye to Joanna, Dale and KK and drove off for Lake Charles, LA.  It was sad to say goodbye to our friends and New Orleans, but our excitement for the next step in our trip made us look ahead smiling. 

Next up, Galveston, TX!  Thanks again Joanna, Dale, and KK for all of your hospitality and to the boys for just being so darn cute...we love you guys!!