Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Gallumphing Through The Big Easy - Part I: The Descent

You may have noticed that I haven't posted anything for a while. I was on vacation, you see. For this I apologize. Ummm... for the not posting part, not for the being on vacation part. My friend Joe and I hopped in his car and headed wildly off in all directions, or at least in the general direction of New Orleans, Louisiana to visit a buddy of ours. We had been feeling kind of bad, as this buddy had been living in the party captial of the world for the last few years, and we hadn't managed to get our act together sufficiently to go visit. I am happy to report that this grievous oversight has now been remedied.

First of all, I have to say that I LOVE NEW ORLEANS. Whew, that feels better. What a great town. We arrived on the 16th of May after Cannonballing right down the middle of the States - 26 hours in the car including coffee breaks and naps. This was a part of the USA I personally had never visited before. The route went something like this: West from Toronto on the 401 to Detroit, then south through Toledo, (in the pouring rain, no less) dinner at Denny's somewhere in Ohio, on through Cincinnati, Louisville (still raining), Nashville (sun at last), a two hour nap at a service station in northern Alabama (or was it southern Tennessee?), on to Birmingham, then west through the great state of Mississippi including lunch at a Waffle House in Picayune, then finally, New Orleans.

Normally, when on a road trip with friends, we play the LCBO Game to pass the time. For those of you not familiar with this game, I will explain. In Ontario, the only place you can buy liquor is the LCBO store (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Consequently, there is an LCBO outlet in every single little town in the province. The game is to be the first person to spot the LCBO sign as you pass through each little town, shouting out "LCBO!" and pointing at the sign. Of course, when road tripping through the States, this doesn't really work so well, but after driving through Ohio for a while, we noticed that there seemed to be a place called the Waffle House in pretty much every single little town along the interstate. So, we played the Waffle House Game. I am the king of the Waffle House Game. To be fair, Joe did all the driving, so he couldn't exactly spend all his time searching for the signs, buy hey, a win's a win.

Anyway, after spending all of that time playing the game, by the time we got to Mississippi and we were looking for a place to eat, we thought, "Why not the Waffle House?" Why not, indeed. So, we found one in the lovely little town of Picayune, Mississippi. It's too bad I didn't take a picture of my lunch that day, 'cause it was truly a sight to behold. I had a double order of hashbrowns with pretty much whatever they could throw at it on top. There was chili, tomatoes, mushrooms and ham. I think that was it. The ensuing week has since blurred my memory of exact details from the trip down. Long story short it was everything a growing boy needs. It was REALLY good.

We got into Nawlenz at around 5pm, but it took us a bit of time to find our friend's place, because about 25% of the street signs had been Katrina casualties. Combined with the rush hour traffic (such as it was), and the uneven roads (Katrina again), it took us the better part of an hour to find the house.

We stepped out of the car into what we considered to be beautiful weather. It was about 80 degrees, with a nice breeze and clear skies. Ahhhh yeahhh. Paul was still at work, so we reclined in our camping chairs outside his place under some enormous oak trees. When he finally got home, after saying hello and all that, Paul apologized for the weather. Huhnh? Apparently, New Orleans had been experiencing somewhat of a 'cold snap' for that time of year, and the extremely nice 80 degrees was a record low for May. Must be nice. We had just come from Toronto, where at that point, the weather was still in the high fifties. Of course, now in Toronto it's at least 90 and damn humid, but that's a story for another day.

Paul wasn't exactly expecting us until the next day, because we had originally planned to go camping somewhere on the way down, but we had been making such good time, we really wanted to just get there. Because of this, Paul hadn't booked the next day off either as we were expected the next evening. So Joe and I amused ourselves for the day at the Audubon Zoo, which is right across the street from Paul's place. Nice. I took a pile of pictures while at the zoo, but of course, forgot to get more than one or two with me actually in them.

After baking in the sun all day, we regrouped at Paul's place, hooked up with his friend Frank, then headed into the CBD (Central Business District) for Wednesday At The Square, which turned out to be a big crowd of people having a great time eating and drinking accompanied by some live jazz courtesy of a band called The Iguanas. I had some crawfish etoufee and some beans and rice, and a really good local beer called Abita Amber. I was in heaven. After that, we went to a little Cuban place Paul knew where I had the best catfish po'boy sandwich I had ever eaten. OK, it was the ONLY catfish po'boy sandwich I had ever eaten, but do I ever like catfish. I'd been in the city two days, and already I had decided that I could happily live there.

Stay tuned, the Gallumphing continues...


Kalyn said...

I love New Orleans. I've been there quite a few times for meetings, which meant eating on an expense account, even better.

Ian said...

I really do love the place too. And, I would LOVE to be able to do the town on an expense account. Cheers!

Anne said...

Oh man. One of my biggest "wants" in life is to go eat my way through Nawlin's! Had to have been awesome!