A wonderful end to my bike tour adventure!
To recap from my last post, I hitched a ride with the Keels (the subject of my next post) to Del Rio. There I picked up an Amtrak to New Orleans.
[Why does Amtrak have to be such a pain in the ass to use? I was on the train 21.5 hrs for what is schedule as a 17 hr ride. However, since I rode Amtrak back in 2019 to D.C., a real nightmare, the dining car is now only for the wealthy–i.e. those that buy sleeper car tickets. Us peasants in coach have to go to the Cafe car, a sorry and expensive excuse in itself: terrible food, very limited choices, many of which are out. I bought a cup of coffee for $2.50 and went back and had some of my energy bars from my bicycle ride stores. Lucky I had those. Essentially it was 21.5 hrs without eating. This was while my metabolism was still raging from all the bicycle riding. I lost 10 lbs between the riding and starving.]
Finally after arriving in New Orleans at midnight, I had a wonderful (and pricey ) hotel in the French Quarter, the St Pierre. From there I could have walked down a little further into the French Quarter (like across the street and down a block) for something to eat. However, the desk attendant at the hotel said it wasn’t really safe to go alone this late. Well, alone was all I had. I went to bed after another delicious, nutritious energy bar. Sigh.
I had one day in New Orleans, Saturday. Sunday morning I was to catch another Amtrak back home to Greenville, SC. I was determined to make the best of it. This was a once in a lifetime experience and opportunity for me. First on my list that morning was Cafe du Monde for beignets and chicory coffee.
They had a rocki’ street band playing: Cafe du Monde cajun jazz ban
Cajun jazz! It is hard to dance, eat beignets and drink coffee all at the same time, but people around me were doing it. I wanted to, but was content to sit and pat my foot and hands in rhythm at my table. The place was packed. It was great!
Okay, one thing off my bucket list for New Orleans. The band set the mood for the rest of the day–I didn’t really understand that until about 30 minutes later. Next was a little sightseeing around the Cafe. Beyond that I had no agenda, just a list in my head of things I wanted to do: the Cafe du Monde, pictures and walking along the Mississippi, visiting the St Louis Cathedral, eating Cajun and seafood, cigar and scotch at a cigar bar, hanging out on Bourbon Street for a few hours, were all on my bucket list. The hookers were a bonus.
My family and I had been here back in the mid-1990’s. Our children were still small. I was in a wedding of one of my graduate students at Clemson that was held in the St. Louis Cathedral, here shown in the background across Jackson Square.
We had had beignets and coffee (Mom and Dad) and the kids milk or juice. Afterwards we had walked along the jetty along the Mississippi for a while. That was what I was doing now. Reliving those moments so long ago. Looking the other direction was the mighty Mississippi River:
I had forgotten a water bottle back at the hotel, and so stopped by a street vendor to purchase a bottle. This is when and where the rest of my day fell into place, one I could not have planned better.
As the vendor handed me a bottle, and I handed him a $20, he made a comment about not having enough change yet for what was to be a very busy day. I asked him why? “All the visitors coming in for the weekend,” he said. “Why, what’s going on this weekend,” I asked? “It’s the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival,” he replied. Suddenly, my day had fallen into focus. For years I had wanted to attend the Jazz Festival and here I was. I hadn’t planned it. It just worked out that way. Wow! Maybe there was a God after all.
But you couldn’t get there on the trolley from here. You had to take a taxis or Uber. I opened my Uber app on my iPhone and got a car, having the driver first swing me by my hotel to get a camping cushion from my camping gear to sit on, sunscreen, and more water. We were off to the Festival! Entrance fee–$90 for the day! Ouch. But, hey, it was once in a lifetime, right? Before it was over, I blew through a lot of $$$ that Saturday. (No, not the hookers. I’ll talk about them later.)
Arriving at the Jazz Festival–
On my way in, I scanned the bulletin board for today’s bands and stages. I think there were five stages! And, picked up a dish of jambalaya and a beer (no stouts, so I settled for an IPA).
Picking one of the stages at random, I sat down, blew up my sitting cushion, watched the people around me, listened to the band playing (more or a cajun rap/jazz band), enjoying myself and the experience.
After four or five hours and more, building heat and sunshine, and more people pouring in, I found myself under a tree in the shade surrounded. Being an introvert by nature and for the last four or so years, pretty much a hermit, crowds drain me. It was time to move on.
Next stop, the Cuban Creations Cigar Bar, back down at the French Quarters. Call Uber. It was cigar and scotch time– Sorry. I didn’t take any pictures here. You will have to go to the link above.
Afterwards, I walked back to my hotel, rested a while, and recharged my iPhone. Time for Bourbon Street, beer, bars, and circus. I walked back down to Bourbon Street. It was 4:00pm and already rockin’! What a circus for a simple boy from South Carolina. Well worth the show. After getting a beer at one of the many bars, I walked outside and just watched the show. (Okay, now come the hookers.)
As I made my way down the street, listening to the various street bands and watching the goings-on, three young ladies stepped in front of me, actually a little over to the side ahead of me. Let me say, I got a little distracted, even at my old age. They were attractive, and provocatively dressed. Not trashy, but definitely attention getting. The most pitique one was a knockout. She might have been 20 years old, but gorgeous. Her short skirt barely covering her ass. (I was so distracted, I didn’t even get a picture of them.) I looked away for a second and she had inserted herself right in front of me where I nearly couldn’t help but bump into her and her gorgeous ass. However, I may be old, but I’m not slow, I quickly sidestepped around her like I hadn’t even seen her. She did a pretty smooth move on me getting in front of me like that. But, gees, I have grandchildren older than her. Hope I didn’t hurt her feelings.
Now don’t get me wrong. The young lady certainly caught my attention. And, to paraphrase Toby Keith, I may not be as good as I ever was, but I’m as good once as I ever was! 😊 Everything still works and I ain’t that old yet.
This was followed by a wonderful seafood at the Oceana Grill just a few blocks away: blackened redfish, on which sat a delicious crab cake (one of their specialities). These sat atop a mound of roasted garlic mashed potatoes. All covered with a Cajun cream sauce. Collard greens on the side. It was delicious, but I could only eat half of it. I had them box it for me and gave it to one of the homeless people I passed on the way home. Homelessness is a real problem in New Orleans I was told.
So ended another Dharma Doc, the eco-hermit, adventure.
Back on the train the next morning, I arrived back in Greenville, SC, to continue my post-tour life. Let’s see how it goes.