Heather and I took an excellent road trip to New Orleans last weekend. I can tell I have not posted much because the last trip seems to be just a few posts back. Meh…just the good stuff eh?
So, the last time I was in New Orleans was roughly the same time as this year in 2008. February, just before Mardi Gras. The weather was stellar and the crowds pretty tame in both cases. Luckily, we timed it perfect this year for the parade.
The Krewe De Vieux parade is apparently the local favorite. Or at least most of the locals seem to like it. The themes are extremely political focusing on local figures and issues. This time around were many BP related floats as would be expected as well as extremely unflattering effigies of local figures completely foreign to me. I saw “most” because we talked to a few folks that mentioned how adult this parade is. One lady (the greeter for the Catholic Church in the 9th ward) felt that it was no place for a senior citizen. They apparently have been known to cross a few lines.
The style is a bit more traditional as well with its mule driven carts, French Quarter route and tons of bands. The streets in the quarter are pretty small so its a very up in your face experience. Pretty much like a Mardi Gras lite. Dont get me wrong, we saw some epic drunks staggering about…but within 10 minutes of the parade finish, we were sitting at a table having gumbo just a block away.
After the parade (and gumbo) we went to One Eyed Jacks for the official after party. We still had drinks in hand when we got to the door which points out one of the obvious differences between Dallas and New Orleans.
Dallas Doorman: “No outside drinks allowed…in fact, what are you doing with an open container on the street. I should call the cops myself.”
New Orleans Doorman: “Dump your drink??? I’d hate to see you waste a perfectly good beverage….come right in!”
The afterparty was excellent. We were originally under the impression that there was to be a burlesque show. In fact, when a GIANT yellow feather clamshell was brought through the front door…it seemed obvious. Turns out it was a headpiece for War Chief Juan Pardo. They were there with 101 Runners playing some kinda funk/Mardi Gras music that had an infectious groove you could bug out to.
Finally, we patted our back for taking a taxi down to the quarter.
We stayed at the St Vincents guesthouse in the Garden District. Its not exactly 5 star accommodations by any stretch. The building used to be a halfway house for unwed teens and dates WAY back so the rooms are pretty small. The building however is very unique and the staff is amazing. They have hostel rooms as well and it appears that much of the work is done by the local homeless. The prices are very cheap and I assure you that every penny is going to the hyper-local economy. Free parking too!!!
A large focus of this trip was FOOD! Dang! We left on Friday night so we could take our time on Saturday getting down there. The beef jerky at Robertsons in Willis Point was a good start, but paled in comparison to the jerky at Krotz Springs. Louisiana is a hunters paradise and just about anything with an even number of legs could be found found in jerked, sausage or bouidin form at Kartchners. On the way back I picked up about 30 bucks worth of boudin, alligator sausage and tasso.Â The damage was not that bad as they had sold out of the jerky. (note…they do deliver…its not specified on the website, but they do).
Check out the ponce.Â Yes…thats a pig stomach filled with pig goodness.
It would be a long feat to detail all of the meals we had, so here is an overview.
To top off the food experience, we visited the Southern Food Museum. This is a must. All the history behind the food of the area. Learn why chicory was added to coffee. Gumbo File or Okra (why did they need either at all!!). Absinthe.Â You get a discount if you tell them your there for a convention. (Make one up).
Since this was close to Harrah’s, I figured I could take advantage of their parking lot. Normally, this costs $30 a day!!! It is free, however, with 30 minutes of casino play on your members card.
I left $40 in the hole. I guess Ill show them next time.
One of the creepiest attractions was the St Roch Cemetery. This is certainly an unusual cemetery with quite a history. Pics are here. So, all the literature will tell you that the cemeteries are a bit sketchy…and they are. This is not in the best part of town….but I doubt that your gonna get shived over anything so bring a cheap camera and you should be fine. This particular cemetery is extra weird as it as an actual shrine for the folk that have been healed. It has many braces, false legs and just creepy medical devices from folks that have been healed or wish to be. I took a lot of pics.
Check out the “thanks” on the bricks and the statue of St Lucia holding a plate of eyeballs.
Lightning round of cool stuff:
Finally saw Frenchmen Street