New Orleans
Thursday, August 20, 2009

Distance: 152 Miles
Travel Time: 3.5 hours

So... I left Mobile in a hurry. I forgot my pillow... but at least I was away from that terrible motel. I spent a few hours in Biloxi shooting Roger, a shrimp fisherman. I stopped on the side of the road for a soda and some gas and ran into a slew of shrimp fisherman. Biloxi is right on the Gulf of Mexico. The beach just stretches on for miles and gambling is legal as far as I could tell.

Just in the nick of time Erin called me and told me she had a place for me to crash as long as I wanted. It was perfect. I was saved from having to stay with the girl who lets drifters stay with her and the guy who only had floor space.

When you drive into New Orleans you pass over a bridge that is really narrow and scary and then the highway dumps you right in the middle of the city. When you are on the outskirts you can see remnants of Katrina.

I got to Erin's house and her sister answered the door. For a minute I thought it was Erin with long hair. And then I realized my mistake. They look so alike it's crazy. I ended up having own room with a queen sized bed. Erin & Tim got in shortly after I arrived and to my surprise everyone including Tim had red hair.

As we were getting ready to go out I had this nervous breakdown by myself where I just sat on the end of the bed and held my head in my hands and sort of just had a minute of pure panic. Where was I? What was I doing? Why was I there?

Every time I get to a new place there is a moment of relief that I have made it but also the stress of adapting to a new situation and meeting new people and trying to be gracious and have good manners.

It's really exhausting. As a result, when I leave somewhere I end up having butterflies in my stomach. I know I have to do it all over again in a new and strange environment. I pulled it together, got my back pack and camera and just walked out of the door and met everyone on the porch. My heart was still in my throat. I looked like a total tourist with my camera & backpack. I couldn't stop thinking about how dangerous New Orleans was. I just kept thinking my car is going to be stolen along with me getting mugged for my camera.

Last time I was in New Orleans was for work and the kid we worked with told me about how after he moved to the city he was carjacked by two guys with a sawed off shotgun. I basically spent my whole time in New Orleans with the overwhelming sense that something bad was going to happen. I have a lot of gear with me and was really worried.

We went out, bought beers, and then took them on a walk.

New Orleans is one of maybe three places where you can do that in the U.S. (the others are Vegas & Savannah). It's quite a novelty to drink a beer on the street. It also leads to drunken mishaps...

Erin, Tim & Sarah had to go to a friend's for dinner and just dropped my off at ground zero - bourbon street. The wished me good luck and were off. All of the fear quickly dissolved as soon as I looked around and realized where I was. My first thought was I bet this is what Cuba looks like.

I talked to my girlfriend on the phone and she told me to get a hand grenade while I was on Bourbon Street. She told me to look for a little hole in the wall with a guy making them. As soon as I hung up I found him and ordered one. A Hand Grenade for those who don't know (like me before I had one) is a fruity drink with at least half a dozen different types of alcohol and sprite more or less. It is designed to do one thing: get you drunk. And that it did.

Fifteen minutes after I finished my hand grenade I was stumbling around. I didn't plan on being drunk but I found it completely appropriate for the situation. I stumbled my way around taking photos the whole time.

The thing about a hand grenade is the glass it comes in is neon yellow and the drink costs somewhere in the range of $12.00. Everyone around me was in exactly the same state of inebriation. I was is good company.

I found these kids sitting on a roof and ended up talking to them for a while. Thanks to the drink I don't remember about what, or who they were or why... I just found the photos the next day.

This appears to be a transgendered person giving directions to some tourists. I think this pretty much sums up Bourbon Street.

This is the Madame Laveau's House of Voodoo

Voodoo is a big part of the Bayou and the South. It's a result of the African influence during the slave days. And it is really interesting. The farther west you go the deeper you get into the swamp and the more it really takes hold. I ended up buying post cards from here. I was too drunk to really look around.

I walked home as it got dark and made it back to the house. It took a couple of phone calls to Tim to direct me how to get there. I immediately fell asleep with all my clothes on.

I woke up about an hour or two later and everyone was coming home. I some how managed to rally and hang out even after my drunken escapades. I had arrived and it was great.

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