On Thursday, the day after Official Eating and Dive Bar Day, Andy and I woke up early to get ready for an 8 AM pick-up from the Louisiana Tour Company. As mentioned in my last post, neither of us likes being a tourist and neither of us enjoy tours but I had wanted to see one of Louisiana’s many plantations and we were both very interested in taking a ride on the air boat through the swampy Bayou. While we could have rented a car and taken ourselves, it was cheaper and what we thought would be more convenient to do a combined tour package. If we knew then what we know now, I think both of us would be very happy paying the extra $50 to never have to go through that pain again.
We happened to be the first people to get on the bus that was first headed out to the Laura Plantation in Vacherie, about an hour away from New Orleans. This would have been fine, but before we took that hour drive, we had to sit on the bus for over an hour while it went around to all the hotels in the French Quarter picking up passengers. By the time we got to the Laura Plantation it was nearing 10:30 AM and both Andy and I were very cranky sitting on a small hot bus with a bunch of old ladies and French tourists. Because of this, neither of us enjoyed the plantation tour that much. It was interesting enough, but drawn out and the tour guide (who also happened to be the owner) had to mention at every opportunity that 1. He owned the place. 2. He wrote a book about it. 3. The book was available for sale in the gift shop and he’d be more than happy to sign said book for us. It was nearing 11:30 AM when we finally boarded the bus again, exhausted, hungry, and ready to shove a signed autographed copy of the History of the Laura Plantation book up the owner’s tight backside.
Can't you just see the happiness on Andy's face after being on a bus for two hours?
We had hopes that the bus would take us directly from the plantation to the air boats. Jaysus, if I had known what was ahead of us before we got to the air boats, I would have gotten off the bus and walked back to New Orleans. First there was the 40 minutes at the 2nd plantation while we waited for the other group to join us. Then 20 minutes pulled to the side of the road so the tourists could take pictures of trees (TREES! C’MON PEOPLE!). Then the hour ride back to some dinky town to wait for the 2nd tour bus to transfer the swamp tour tourists away. Then the 40 minutes on the bus before we got to the air boats. Then the 30 minute wait before we actually boarded the air boats.
The only redeeming point in the entire day was the air boat ride itself. We opted for the slightly more expensive 6 seater air boat (opposed to 12). It was more personal and the tour guide, Ragin’ Cajun Captain Ernie, was eager to answer our questions and made sure we got a bit of a speed thrill when we weren’t cruising slowly looking for gators. Besides the huge tool of a man who sat in front of me who had to ask the cringe worthy Hurricane Katrina question, it was loads of fun.
Cute, sleeping little baby gator. Man, I wish I could sleep with my eyes open, it would be really useful in meetings.
Which I guess is a good time as any to go into the Katrina Thing. I don’t mean to belittle hurricane Katrina by calling it a ‘thing’ by the way. I don’t know how else to describe it. Hurricane Katrina happened 4 ½ years ago. It was horrible and awful and the City of New Orleans went through some horrors that I don’t think the rest of us could even imagine. BUT, that was 4 ½ years ago. New Orleans took a hard hit and it’s working to come back. It’s going to take a long time to get New Orleans back to what it was before but that city has so much heart, it will come back. With that said, we didn’t witness much damage, or that we noticed. On our air boat tour we saw the effects of the hurricane on the native cypress trees, which are fresh water trees but are dying as there is so much salt water left in the soil that the trees have barnacles on them. But that’s about it. (You can take a Hurricane Katrina damage tour, btw, but personally I think that does more harm than good). The people that you talk to in New Orleans don’t like to talk about Katrina; they’re tired of talking about Katrina. What they do want to talk about is how the city is coming back, slowly but surely. They want to talk about the hope and the determination of the people left there. Most of all, they want to talk about how the Saints won this year’s Super Bowl. If you go to New Orleans, please keep that with you. I know you’re curious, we all are – but that’s what the books written about the subject are for. Respect the people and keep your curiosities to yourself.
So yes! The air boat! Even though it was winter time and alligators hibernate when it’s cold, we managed to see a bunch of baby gators. Sadly, the Ragin’ Cajun wasn’t able to grab the baby 1 footer for us to hold. That was probably the only bummer of the afternoon. Oh wait, yes…the hour and half it took us to get back to the French Quarter after the tour was a huge bummer. Never have I loathed a form of transportation as much as I loathed that damn 16 seat tour bus. Even though Andy and I were both absolutely exhausted after 9 hours of busses and tours, we bee lined to the next dive bar in our Quarter Rat book in an effort to erase the memory of the day.
On Friday, our last full day in New Orleans, while we were walking around looking for somewhere to eat we happened to run into a place that rented 3-wheeled motorcycle type buggies. I could tell from the start that Andy wasn’t interested (i.e. being a wet blanket) but because Andy loves me and sometimes lets me get what I want (operative word there being “sometimes”) he agreed – as long as we only did the hour rental instead of the special priced 2 hour rental. Andy drove as he has a motorcycle license (not required, but definitely helpful for operation) and I sat as a passenger with a shit eating grin on my face, giggling and taking pictures. We basically cruised around the French Quarter and pissed off delivery trucks (the 3 wheeler just didn’t go that fast) while people took our picture and asked where they could rent one for themselves. The hour went way too quickly and as you can see in the picture, we looked like dorks, but it was well worth the $55.
For Beth, who loves pictures of me looking like a dork.
Afterwards we walked around some more, did a few more dive bar locations, and as night fell, headed over to Frenchman Street to catch some live music. There are places in the Quarter that have live music, Preservation Hall being the main one, but having now been, I would hands down recommend Frenchman Street for live music, especially after 8 PM on a Friday night. Every place had music and all the music was good. I was absolutely chuffed (English slang, I’m sorry, means “thrilled”) that we managed to catch both a man who played two guitars at one time while playing the bass guitar with his feet, and Chaz, the washboard man, and his band. It was a perfect end to a near perfect honeymoon (tour bus, I’m looking at you!) and I was a bit sad Saturday morning having to say good-bye to it all.
The only other thing to note is that I was an absolute pill (how old am I, seriously?) on the plane ride back home. I was tired and cranky and quite a bit sad to be leaving New Orleans and irritated that we had two toddlers sitting next to us that wouldn’t shut up and a friendly but creepy born again Christian in our row with us and we were at the very last row on the plane and we didn’t have time to have a cigarette on our layover in Houston. Once we landed I may have (can’t say for sure, my mind had gone into Crazy Lady mode) grabbed my bags and pushed ahead 3 rows in an effort to avoid having to wait for the toddler family. I also may have sighed loudly and then exclaimed loudly, “What is your problem people? MOVE” and “Anyone from Irvine, please step aside and let the normal speed people go.” I was obnoxious and once I was outside smoking, I refused to go back inside for the baggage as I was quite embarrassed about my actions. Nicotine addiction isn’t pretty. I’m not proud.
The happy couple still happy in New Orleans. We tend to frown when not on vacation.
NEXT…my normal mundane blog!