Having dropped over $1000 for football tickets, we chose not to pay the inflated prices for airfare and elected to rise relatively early on January 1st and drive to New Orleans (after stopping in Montgomery to drop 3 children off at their grandmother’s house). Did you know that I-10 is so flat that you can exceed 100mph for miles and miles without worrying about a hidden highway patrolman? I do. Now you do, too.
We arrived at 3pm and had beers before returning to the place where I had the greatest Po’Boy I have ever consumed–just before last year’s Sugar Bowl–at Borgne. However, when we sat down and glanced at the menus, we saw no Po’Boys. My eyes welled up with tears.
Server: We stop serving Po’Boys after lunch. That’s the dinner menu.
All 6 of us: BUT WE MUST HAVE POBOY SANDWICHES!
Server: I’ll ask if we can still serve some…
She returned to the table a few minutes later and informed us that we could, in fact, consume the glorious entrees for which we had driven across Alabama and Mississippi before walking across the filthy streets of New Orleans. I knew then that this trip had been blessed–ordained, in fact–by the living God in Heaven and that there was no way the Crimson Tide would fail in its quest for victory. Until it did 42-35.
Just as we did after last year’s loss in the Sugar Bowl, we drowned our sorrows with sazeracs at the Sazerac Bar, and they were wonderful (it is, after all, the world’s first mixed drink). Most of our group turned in for sleep afterward, but my friend Josh (who went to elementary school, junior high, high school, and college with me) and I had pizza at a daiquiri bar on Bourbon Street at around 2am and then stayed at Old Absinthe House until after 3. By the time I got back to our hotel, I was pretty sure we’d won the game.
I forgot to write about our hotel. We stayed somewhere I’d never been on my previous 17 trips to the Crescent City–a place called Le Pavillon that my friend Jody secured for us on Hotwire. It was over 100 years old, had a beautiful interior, and was in a great location for a Sugar Bowl game. But, the service was–to quote my bride–a “hot mess.” We arrived just after 3pm, which is supposed to be check-in time, but our room wasn’t ready. They said they could store our bags, and since we drove, there were several of them (including my briefcase with the MacBook in it, which made me uneasy). I stood there for over 5 minutes waiting on some kind of numbered tag to match with the tags that had just been stuck to each of our bags, but none came. I expected the cart to be rolled into a locked closet or something, but it stayed in the middle of the lobby. The front desk clerk asked if something was wrong; I explained my confusion; he said the bags would be put away and that he’d call my cell when the room was ready, and my bags would be taken there for me. Half an hour later, I went to the front desk, was told I’d be in 703 but was handed a key to 803, and no one knew where my bags were. My friend Jim Bob went to 703 while I stood there and hoped someone would find our bags. My bride went into 803 and saw no bags. Then a bellhop pushed a cart toward me containing about 2/3 of our bags. I may have used a bit of profanity when I inquired as to the location of the missing items. He disappeared and assured me he’d meet me in room 803, so I went up the elevator. Other service “hot messes” included a bartender who appeared to give fewer than 2 craps about getting us a drink and an inability to get my car back from valet. Most of the folks were super nice; they just didn’t seem super well trained to perform their jobs. All that said, it was a nice hotel at a great price, and they had a cool rooftop pool flanked by statuary.
The second day, there was much roaming about the French Quarter, including notable stops for drinks, eats, and ambiance at Tujague’s Restaurant, Port of Call, Chart Room, The Carousel bar, and Trenasse. The first and last of those were placed I’d yet to visit.
Taking trips with friends I made in the ’80s (who also went to undergrad where I did) is my favorite way to start off a new year, even if our team loses. We left Saturday mid-morning, happy with the first 3 days of 2015. So happy, in fact, that we had to pull into the back of a truck stop parking lot on I-65 to act on our happiness before getting the children in Montgomery. Dinner was at the overrated (but it’s BBQ, so it’s still good) Sprayberry’s, and then we were home.
And we’re already planning our next trip to New Orleans–the first to include the children–at Mardi Gras.