Made it to the Big Easy!
Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
150Trip End May 16, 2008
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I came home at about 11h00 with my stash of beads and a Teddy Bear. Check out his picture. He'll be my new mascot once I tie him up in the passenger seat of the truck. Think I'll call him "O-Hi-O".
As I arrived at the trailer the neighbours across the street from me were also arriving. They were returning from the airport and picking up their son from Vancouver. We chatted for a while. They're also from BC and are heading west towards California after Mardi Gras. They expect to be home by April. Probably the same time I'll be in BC. Remember how I mentioned in my earlier blogs that we always meet someone twice. We'll, I met these people at the first campground I stayed at in Florida. I was walking out of the washroom there one day when I noticed this trailer that was getting ready to leave and I noticed BC plates
I had parked my truck on a street behind New Orleans's City Hall and a block from the Superdome. I figured it would be easier to find after strolling around Uptown New Orleans. I never made it to Downtown New Orleans. Uptown is considered the American Quarter and Downtown is the French Quarter. The French Quarter was on the opposite side of Canal Street that was blocked off by the Parade. I started walking in the direction I was hoping the truck was in. It's easy to get lost when streets don't run in perpendicular directions. Lucky for me there's a big "City Hall" sign at the top of the building. My Spidey sense was also telling me I was heading in the right direction.
The sidewalk here has even more people. I go a block or two then realize that the Parade is not over. More floats are coming. There I meet up with Kathy (or maybe Cathy with a "C"). She's here with her friends from Ohio. She's trying to sit on a garbage container that slopes up on the four sides like a pyramid. She makes it up without sliding off. She stays there taking pictures and grabbing for beads and other stuff. We chat between floats. Fight over beads that we catch together. The ground is littered with thousands of beads that have not been caught and have fallen on the wet and sticky concrete. The area is a mess with plastic bags that the beads came in littering the street and sidewalk. More screaming at the people on the floats for the different types of beads, for the stuffed animals and the footballs. The prized items. By 10h00 the Parade is over. I say my goodbyes to Kathy and make my way back to the truck.
A lot of people have dozens, if not hundreds of necklaces. They're also wearing various types of hats, some people are all dressed up, some have masks and make-up. I feel naked without any beads so I join the crowd and start grabbing for some beads. I end up with a few necklaces and have caught a teddy bear. I almost grabbed a football but it slipped out of my hands and into the arms of a woman behind me. She was busy talking on her cell phone and wasn't even paying attention to what was being thrown. She was shocked when the ball fell in her arms. Her boyfriend was quite happy as he had been trying quite hard to get one. A few floats go by then it seems like the end of the Parade. I start following those walking up, or maybe it was down, Canal Street. It's quite warm out. Definitely didn't need the lining in my jacket tonight. We get to St. Charles Avenue and the Parade route turns there. With guardrails along the street I have to stay in the quadrant I'm in. No way to cross until the Police let the people through.
People seemed to be heading in all directions so I didn't know who was coming and who was going. I finally see a wall of people down one of the streets. I arrive at Canal Street and there's a Parade going on. None of the research I did indicated that there were Parades at night. No problem. I slowly make my way along the sidewalk through the throngs of people. People are whooping and hollering, drinking and having a lot of fun. Each time a float goes by the crowd yells even louder. They want the beads and other items that are getting thrown...Footballs, Stuffed Animals, Bags of Beads, Plastic Cups, Doubloons, and even more beads in all shapes & sizes.
I leave the trailer and head in the general direction of downtown New Orleans. I know I'm getting close when the streets are barricaded and I can hear a lot of noise echoing throughout the buildings. I stop at a red light and the guy in the truck next to me indicates he wants me to roll down my window. He asks how to get to the Casino. I'm probably more lost then he is. I drive around a while looking for a parking spot. The parking lots want $25 to park. I keep on having to turn around because the streets are blocked off by the crowds. I really don't know where I am in regards to the action by this time. I finally find a parking spot. The street corner closest to me isn't on the downtown/uptown map I have with me.
Once settled into my camp spot I take a drive to go wash my truck and go grocery shopping. I hadn't washed my truck since I was in Orlando after the kids left. It was quite filthy. Mother Hubbard's pantry was also bare. That done I have supper, finish writing my Swamp blog and then get ready to head into town for some sightseeing. I had read that New Orleans is the murder capital of the U.S. I'm not paranoid, but like to be prepared. I also figured that with all the crowds the chance of losing my wallet was greater. So I took my precautions. Took everything of value out of my wallet, left my bank card (little use to anyone without the PIN) and a bit of cash in it, some business cards and then put everything else I needed (drivers license, credit card, $20's) in my front jean pocket. I was supposed to buy a cheap wallet at the store to do this, but forgot. It's a trick I read from Jeremy's blog. Give a mugger the wallet with the non-essential stuff. Should remember to keep an expired credit card to make it look more realistic. I also decide to change watches. Don't need my expensive Suunto hiking watch when my Timex will do. Then I'm about to leave and realize that maybe I should wear a different jacket. Why wear my expensive leather jacket. So I grab my motorcycle jacket. First off, it looks cooler, and second, it has a lining for when it gets cool out later in the evening. The Kevlar padding will also come in handy if I get in a fight.
My drive from Jackson, Mississippi was quite interesting. I'm constantly watching the vehicles coming up beside me to pass. I'm starting to notice a pattern that I didn't mention in yesterdays blog. The cars passing me are driven by, and often have only young females in them. Driving through Florida all I saw was old people. But what was it on this Interstate where a large portion of the cars had young woman in them with Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee plates? They all heading to Mardi Gras? I pass into Louisiana and about an hour from my destination the swamps start. The Interstate turns into one long bridge. For 45 minutes I drive on raised concrete and water below. There's a canal next to the highway and I notice numerous boats half submerged in the water. Remnants of Katrina? I found this part of the drive fascinating. I spent more time looking at the surroundings then I was at where the road was. The buildings were built on stilts and were quite unique. At this point I noticed more people checking out the flags at the back of my trailer. Before leaving Calgary I had purchased a U.S, a Canadian, and an Alberta flag. I had stored them in the trailer and forgot about them. When I got to Maine I found them and tied the U.S and Canadian ones to the ladder at the back of my trailer. They flap in the wind as I'm driving. Due to the turbulence they often get tangled up in the rungs. So I'm always untangling them. There are also a lot of people passing me that wave as they go by.
Note that you have to read the blog in reverse order today. Each paragraph is in reverse chronological order.