Despite my best efforts, we traveled to New Orleans with a plan. S has a hard time not planning...but he is very good at being somewhat flexible at changing the plan as needed.
Day 1: Flying to NO went smoothely and some of the time was spent planning, which was actually pretty important (yes, I'll admit it). Upon arrival, we checked in to the Marriot, found our room, then promptly left to wander about the Vieux Carre. We also wandered along the Mississippi and saw ghostly lights in a building on the other shore. Dinner was the lovely gluten-free experience I mentioned in an earlier note. Then to bed early, as we had big plans for the next day.
Day 2: After a breakfast snack, we headed off on the St Charles streetcar into the Business District and the Garden District. We had a nice walk through several blocks, which S regaled me with some of the similarities between the neighborhood he grew up in and the one we were in. We shopped at Whole Foods (no luck at finding already boiled eggs), and caught a cab back to the hotel. Thus far, we were perfectly on schedule. We headed to the Hermann-Grima house. It is a Georgian-style home, unique in the French Quarter. The tour was informational and fun. We learned about the financial ups and downs of the families who lived here and the customs of the day. I did not take any pictures, which would later be to my advantage. We found lunch at a Po-boy sandwich place before heading down to the river to listen to the Calliope organ concert. Ordering a grilled chicken salad from a sandwich shop is not recommended for a gluten-intolerant diet. After boarding the steamboat Natchez, we ate aforementioned lunch...which caused me some stomach upset toward the end of the boat ride. Although it was narrated the best parts of the boat ride were going down to the steam engine and having S explain how it all worked. I cannot remember what we did that night...but most likely it was another early night.
Day 3: Breakfast, then off to Jackson Square to join a tour of the French Quarter, then tour the 1850 House. Our tour guide was an interesting woman who brought out the rabid Unionist in me, by consistently referring to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggressions. Although we learned to distinguish a balcony from a gallery and which bricks were made from Mississippi mud, it was not a very interesting tour. S and I went to find some lunch before going for the tour of the 1850 House. The pictures of the house are already uploaded. There was no tour of this, but it was fun to wander around. At one time, the door to the attic swung open, then shut (ghost or draft?). Back at the hotel, we rested before going downstairs to meet our transportation to our swamp tour. The drive off to Slidel, LA was illuminating as we drove through areas in the city and in the suburbs that are still completely desolate. The swamp tour was fun. It was a beautiful area, but cold. Because of the weather, we only saw the one alligator. But I did see no-see-ums. Mostly, after I'd slapped them (they are tiny little specks). I would later develop welts which still itch a bit. Returning after the swamp tour, we found dinner, then went to bed.
Day 4: After registering for the PCA/ACA Conference, we took a tour of the nearby Insectorium. There were much larger crowds of children than I could appreciate. But I got to pet a dung beatle and have lunch at a table with a tarantula. What more can a girl ask for? Back at the conference, S and I went our separate ways for most of the rest of the day. The conference had a wonderful conglomeration of areas. Over the course of the rest of the week, I heard about many fascinating topics: vampires, BTVS, romance novels, feminist utopias in fiction, medicine, fat studies in many different disciplines....and many I'm sure I'm forgetting. After finding dinner together, S and I, then, attended a showing of Fido. It's a movie I highly recommend and a new genre for S, who I think is still not sure what to make of it. I also one a drawing and now have a collection of "classic" horror films.
Day 5: Most of the day spent in the conference. S and I had planned to go for an Evensong at an Episcopal church, but after some checking learned that there would be a Maundy Thursday service that night, instead. So we went off to Preservation Hall to hear the performance of a brass band. I was a bit foot weary after waiting in line for over an hour, so I didn't find myself wanting to stay for the full set. But I did enjoy what we saw.
Day 6: We went to one session before heading off for another walking tour...this time on Cemeteries and Voodoo. We toured the St Louis Cemetery #1, where we learned how those tombs in the pictures can house several generations of remains. Many of the memorials have fallen into disrepair as families died out or moved away. We walked to Congo Square and Louis Armstrong park and learned about some of the African American history of early NO, then it was to a Voodoo Temple and store. Miriam, the Voodoo priestress, is older and appears to be having a bit of dementia. Still, it was cool to see the altars, and I made some promised purchases in the store. S and I wandered back through the Quarter and found a place for lunch. Then it was back to the hotel for the rest of the day of conference. That evening, we met up with most of the other presenters of the Fat Studies sessions for dinner. It was a lovely time.
Day 7: Conference all day, with my presentation in the late afternoon. During my session, another presenter, Charlotte, introduced us to The Chubsters, a fat, queer, girl gang which she offered to "jump me" into after the session. The Chubsters has become part performance and part activism. I am now (as "Plump Puppy") a card carrying Chubster. So don't mess with me! After the session, S and I had plans to go to see a performance by Chris Owens at her club. (Chris Owens is a performer who is something of a New Orleans tradition, and from S's description is well worth the price of admission....she looks a bit like a female drag queen. She's also the sponsor/hostess of the Easter Parade for the next day). Unfortunately, I was exhausted and feeling strongly introverted, so I sent S off and stayed at home to have dinner in the room and watch television. We both had a lovely evening, although it would have been good to be together either way.
Day 8: Wake up and dress up, then we headed to the continental breakfast at the Astor hotel. Once we got our float assignment, we headed out and started taking pictures. It was a blast. The family and gay guys on our float had lots of beads which they generously shared. Throwing out beads was fun, and everyone I saw with a dog got one. After the parade (we went through 12 cases of beads on our float alone), we went back to the Astor for brunch. Good food, good company (a family from Fargo who were taking a break between floods), and some good dancing (the Electric Slide...then I taught S the fine points of the Chicken Dance). We headed back to the hotel to try to recharge my camera battery, only to find that the charger is now broken. So we rested before heading out to watch the gay Easter parade. We were recognized once as we went to the parade, then afterwards someone thanked us for sharing "our" city with them. I guess we looked officially N'awleans. Dinner was non-traditional Japanese (sushi for me without soy sauce). Then it was back to the hotel to pack and sleep.
Day 9: To the airport and flying back to Oakland. SS picked us up at the airport and we all went for dinner to Fentons. We regaled her with pictures and stories. Then home, sweet home.
I did a lot more with S with me than I would have done on my own, except that I did less shopping. I hardly got into a store for anything but food. I did buy myself a lovely t-shirt with a cartoon of 2 dogs on it. This made me exceedingly happy. What also made me exceedingly happy is that, except for the hotel bill, I spent only the cash that I brought with me. As S paid for many of the meals and tours, this helped alot.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I really enjoyed NO and I hope to return for a visit sometime soon.