Had a great time in New Orleans. Barely got out, though: by Friday, the rain was coming down and by Saturday at five, Louisiana was starting to flood. We were at the airport with two hours to spare, but as I sat there in the terminal, I kept getting messages on my phone: "Your flight is delayed by 45 minutes," "Your flight is delayed by 30 minutes," etc.
By the time that the delay was exceeding the time we were set to board for the stopover, both Corb and I knew we had to speak with someone. I walked up to the reservation desk and was fortunate enough to have a no-nonsense African American woman behind the counter. In my opinion, if you want something done without any bullshit whatsoever and have it done correctly, always put your faith in the hands of a no-nonsense African American woman.
"I think we have a problem," I said to her, showing her my tickets.
She frowned. "Your plne is coming from Dallas. They are diverting it because of the storm. Taking a roundabout way."
"I wouldn't want to be the people on those plane," I replied.
"I wouldn't want to be the flight attendant on that plane," she replied. She glanced at the ticket information. "Well, it says here that you would still have ten minutes to get from one gate to another once you touched down in Charlotte..."
"Is that enough time?" I asked.
She gave me her most no-nonsense look. "Oh, honey. No."
Then she waved her magic wand and in ten minutes, we had been switched from United to American Airlines and she also managed to move our luggage without a fuss. All it took was our leaving one gate and getting searched and inspected once again. Theo, who had been stopped because they found a weird object on the X-ray, was the only one to complain about this (PS: it turned out to be his plastic hoodie from the rain in New Orleans.
Once at the new gate, our plane was boarding. Then we made it to Charlotte, which was PACKED because of all the delays. They were giving out free food and drinks. It was wall to wall people. But somehow, we managed to just walk across the floor and poof! Our plane was boarding.
Despite the horrible flooding, we managed to arrive in Providence right on time.
My favorite trip in New Orleans? The visit to alligator country. I loved traveling through the bayous. Our tour guide would spot an alligator and then slow down, pluck out a marshmellow, place on the end of a stick and dangle it off the side of the boat. At one pointed we had five alligators heading toward the boat. At one time the marshmellow fell off the stick and the tour guide petted the top of the alligator's head. I just had a ball. It was very True Blood.
What I didn't particularly love was the smell of New Orleans. Our hotel, the Maison Dupuis, was lovely for the most part, but did have an overall odor on the first floor of sewarage that they tried valiantly to mask, but...well, you can only cover shit so much, I guess.
I booked one room for the four of us: me, Corb, Ashes and Theo. The first room we had was way too small, even with a fold out bed rolled into the room. We lasted one evening in that room, and then moved into a slightly larger locataion. Given the humidity, we did spend a bit of time in the room, so it was a necessity. You needed time to recover after each outing. We would conduct a walking tour of the French Quarter, go back to the room and collapse, take a steamboat ride on the Natchez, go back to the room and collapse, take a bus tour of New Orleans, go back to the room and collapse. Corb does not like heat! New Orleans would not be his city to reside in.
Being so up close and personal did have its advantages and disavantages. On the plus side, since they were a captive audience, during tours, I was able to get the kids to wrap all up all the college stuff that needed getting done for the year ahead. Confirmed college funding? Check. Signed off on health care waiver? Check. No nagging, it just got done.
I also saw some great signs of selflessness from Theo that made me admire him even more. For example, on the way to New Orleans, Corb and Theo had to split up from us and travel to NOLA with a Chicago stopover. Ashes and I went through Charlotte. Theo learned that he had been given an upgrade to First Class when he got to the gate. What did he do? Turned it right over to Corb. Also, there were quite a few situations (given the close quarters) that could have been far more contentious had he not be there to help defuse the situation. At one point, Corb was getting really upset about some things he felt slighted by during the day. Theo chose to get some sleep rather than let it escalate. At another point, Ashes was headed for a meltdown about not getting a certain type of appetizer before dinner (I kid you not, although there were other reasons behind it, too, and she did wisely head to the bathroom to mellow out after the incident) and he was a lifesaver in getting us back on track, telling us more about his colege life than we had ever heard before.
For example, this semester, he and seven of his friends are moving into a quad together. One of his friends, Frank, is scheduled to room with a kid that decided to come out during the end of the summer and tell the boys that he is transgendered and transitioning to a woman. Theo and his best friend Lucas knew that Frank was going to feel uncomfortable about that, so they've devised a back-up plan for him: if he starts to freak out, they will separate and Frank will move in with Theo and Lucas will move in with their other friend. They didn't need to, they just wanted to make life easier.
Ashes, on the other hand, did require a bit of attention. Every day was a new drama: Michaela wasn't going to her birthday party when we returned, another friend had been offered a job at the library at school she wanted. All of them resolved and were uneccessary dramas. Interestingly, she was her most agitated at five in the afternoon. That seemed to be a consistent thread. I wonder if it has something to do with her diet? In any event, it was interesting to see up close. She'd start every day fairly positive. But around five...well, things would get intense. They'd be resolved after supper.
Also, she's been taken a class in Statistics that I've been tutoring her in. To do so, I've had to learn an awful lot about Statistics. There was a lot of work done on vacation! Again, in some ways, another reason I was grateful for the close quarters.
But most of all, what I loved about the trip were the great meals that we enjoyed. From Pierre Maspero's to Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, from beignets at the Cafe du Monde in the Franch Quarter or Morning Call in the Park, the food was out of this world. Definitely a happy memory I think all of us will never forget.