Exploring New Orleans

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post(s), there was a tornado watch one of the days and severe thunderstorm warnings when we were staying at the RV Park. It was an interesting experience. I hadn’t really thought about weathering a storm in a school bus, but we concluded that if it turned into a tornado warning we would go to the bathroom house thingy @ the RV park and huddle around in there. The tornado watch finished up but the severe thunderstorm continued. It ended up having some pretty intense winds. It buffeted the bus a little bit even with a fair amount of cover from the wind. I think Matt ended up taking a video of it. Previously the temperatures were in the mid 80’s and the storm brought the temperature down into the 50s which was a bit welcome. Anyways, just one of the things that I almost forgot about with our stay in the park.

So we ended up moving into the front of Loren’s place. Loren’s roommate Ben had moved his truck (Hate machine? I’m kinda fuzzy on the name of the truck) from the front of their house to across the street in front of an abandoned house so that we could park at their place. We pulled up right next to the curb, but the curb is prettttty steep. So the bus ended up being on a tilt. The first couple of nights we were there, I ended up rolling into bed and I’d end up laying against the wall and my bed. Getting out of bed I had to escape the bed’s gravity well and vault myself out of it. It kinda reminded me of this house Matt and I rented when we were younger. It was in East Lansing and the house had settled… just a ‘bit’. And by ‘bit’ I mean a lot. If you set a baseball in the center of a room it would roll to a corner in every room. You had to feng shui the shit out of your bed/desk placement because of the crazy tilt of the house. TV placement was also important, you didn’t want it falling out/off of its stand. Eventually we ended up moving and parking up on the curb, ironically by that point I kind of missed the tilt of my bed.

To start out, I didn’t know if we could plug the bus into the house or what was cool. So we were planning on getting some gas and running the generator to charge up the batteries. Before we could do that though, Ben and Loren were like ‘Do you guys need power? Here let me go grab an extension cord.’. So we were able to run our laptops and fans and all that without having to resort to gasoline.

From what I could tell everyone in New Orleans owned a dog or they were in between owning a dog. Walking along the streets, dogs would harangue us. The best was the little dogs barking with all of their might letting us know how mean they were. WOOF! WOOF!! The little dogs definitely elicited a chuckle from all of us whenever we passed them. It seemed like everyone in Ben/Loren’s house owned a dog. It was definitely a house of people who liked animals. The dogs of the house were dubious of our nature for most of the first week. Want to come in for a piss or a shower? Open the door and… “BOWOWOWOWOWOWOW. ‘WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU WHAT’RE YOU DOING IN MY HOUSE?!?! BOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!!”. I think one of my favorite dogs was Linus. A little black lab mix. He looks like a puppy even though he was 3 or 4 years old. Super timid guy though. Anytime someone new would come over he’d hide between/behind your legs and bark away. Ridiculously precious dog though.

We worked from the bus and weathered the heat. We went out a bunch of the nights and checked the city out. It’s kinda dangerous though, if you’re not paying attention to the time 4AM CST can creep up on you. 5AM EST, which means just barely enough sleep if you fall asleep right as you hit the bed. One of the nights we ended up staying out super late, and from that point on I made it a priority to check the time so I could get enough rest.

The city has all sorts of little quirks, from the pronunciation of things (the street Burgundy is bur GUNdee) to people’s houses to the traditions of the people in the city. One of the traditions is that you take a dollar and pin it to your shirt if it’s your birthday. You can wander around the bars and people will pin dollars on you and wish you a happy birthday. This ended up working out pretty well for Matt and I since our birthday occured while we were in New Orleans.

On one of our last nights we ended up riding bikes around City Park and around midtown with Ben and Loren. It was definitely a highlight for me, a chance to see more of the city outside of the bars and the neighborhoods. While we were biking around City Park we stopped at this spot that has some statues and columns in front of a pond. We hung out there for a bit and drank some beers. Loren swilled the remaining of the bottle of vodka. He then wound up to hurl the bottle into the lack and overstretched a little bit and SPLASH. Wet Loren. He ended up bouncing right up and tossing us his cell phone and trying to get out. I was looking away, so I was like.. ‘Man, that’s ballsy.. taking a dip in this pond.’. Anyways, we were backing back to the city to hang out in midtown again and we mentioned wanting to do a boil. A boil can consist of crawfish, corn, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, oranges/lemons/limes, artichokes, tons of garlic, and the boil seasoning (I might have missed something). When I say, ‘we mentioned wanting to do a boil’, what I mean is that I drunkenly said ‘HELL FUCKIN YEAH WE SHOULD DO A BOIL! I’LL BUY THE CRAWFISH!‘. The next day, nursing a minor hangover and a little bit of lack of sleep.. I was determined not to do the boil. Fortunately Ben held me/us to our word and said ‘Fuck you man! I’ve been calling people, we’re doing the fucking boil‘. So, with a fire under my ass.. I finished reading my book. Matt kept harassing me to get it together, but I was determined to be shitty. Eventually I relented and started calling people. One of the guys we met, Heath, has a car so he drove us to Walmart to pick up all of the sides.. and maybe crawfish. One of the wonderful things about Walmart is that they don’t care what they sell. If it’s local and people will buy it? They’ll stock it and sell it to you. They had crawfish! Also it was like $1.68/lb which the guys were saying is an amazing price. Especially considering at the start of the season they cost around $4/lb. So we picked up 65lbs of crawfish (2 sacks.. sacks are anywhere from 30-40 lbs). Matt and I bought the crawfish and some beer for around $140. Loren (maybe Ben threw in on it too?) bought all of the extras, potatoes etc. Ben had the boil pot (which is a huge monstrous thing), that Heath had been using for his beer brewing. So, long story short we ended up putting the boil together in something like 2-3 hours.

There’s a process with the boil. You get the crawfish and they’re chilled, which slows them down. As they warm up they turn into frenzied monsters. That doesn’t matter so much as what you do with them next. Which is to bathe them in a salt water mixture and let them sit around for a while so that they’ll purge. The little mudbugs will just sit around and shit out all of the mud and whatever other garbage they eat. While we weren’t planning on doing this for 4 hours, we ended up doing it for 4 hours. The propane that was heating the boil pot ran out, so Heath went out and picked up a new one with Matt. That took a while to do. So, we got the propane hooked back up, but now we needed to boil 25+ gallons of water. Ages. AGES. Ben ended up tweaking the propane so that it was burning hotter, and then another hour later we had boiling water.

Now, boiling water. Most of the veggies go in along with the boil seasoning.  Withholding the mushrooms until later. Let it come back up to a boil, and then wait 10-15 minutes to cook the corn and potatoes. Then, with the boil rolling dump a sack of crawfish in along with the mushrooms. Run the heat for 2-4 minutes? Then turn it off and let them soak. This is all guesses. By this point most everyone who showed up was drunk or getting there. We ended up digging into the fruits of our labors. I learned some better crawfish eating methods as well as finding out that the first boil is never as good as the subsequent boils. The cops were called earlier in the night because we had some loud music going. He saw that we were doing a boil, and just asked us to turn the music down. Which we did. Party continued! Eventually we wound down. Full, drunk and tired. My first ever boil completed.

Leaving Lexington (Part2)

I was surprised at the diversity of the food in Lexington. We stopped by Sav’s Grill & West African Cuisine for a quick bite. I had a fantastic lamb dish. Matt had a vegetarian soup with dumplings made from plantain flour. The dumplings were kinda chewy and hearty. They worked really well with the soup.  Apparently Sav’s also has an ice cream shop that’s kitty corner to this.

We were walking to a place called Nat’s but on the way we were enticed by the smells coming from Bombay Bar and Grill. We went in and ate too much indian food. We got 8/10 on the spicy scale which didn’t seem that hot while eating it. The next day, however, my body let me know how hot the food was. (The soup appetizer was the hottest part of the meal)

Dave took us to Indi’s Fried Chicken with the promise that it was the best Kentucky fried chicken he has had. I’m not big on fried chicken, but hot DAMN if that wasn’t the best fried chicken I’ve had. We ordered some hot wings and some fried chicken with greens.

We ordered some “New York” pizza from Goodfella’s which was stupid huge. The bread was a little too thick for NY Pizza in my opinion but it was a pretty good slice. Pazzo’s pizza is also worth mentioning. They have some crazy hoagies which we had sampled last year on our way up from Tampa to Detroit.

What was really cool about Lexington is that we were able to walk to everything from Dave’s place. Which is fortunate since winter didn’t want to relinquish its grip this year. Spring finally showed up as we were leaving. While walking we got a chance to look around at the scenery and architecture. Some of the houses look like they were held together with elmer’s glue and a whole lotta love. These conditions were no doubt due to additions over the years, settling, and whatever other environmental factors.. Lexington felt older than any of the places I’ve lived in.

Dave and his roommate Ian were great hosts and suffered us well. I’m sure I’ll continue to reflect fondly on the time we spent in Kentucky. I’ve forgotten too much about the trip already so my goal is to write daily; even if they’re little notes so that I don’t forgot the goings on to relay later.

Leaving Lexington (Part1)

I’ve been hoping to write up about each place as we’re still there. Lexington however is getting a belated write up. Matt chronicled the first week pretty well, so as we’re traveling down to Tallahassee I’ll cover the rest.

After the near miss on the bus getting towed Matt researched and found some parking for us (via http://en.parkopedia.com). We ended up going with http://lexington.centralparking.com/ because they could fit a bus and they allowed overnight parking. We ended up talking them down on the price (so if you’re looking at parking in Lexington or anywhere, be aware that you can talk prices down.. especially if there aren’t special events going on). Matt and Jake went and moved the bus to its new temporary home. I fretted a bit about someone breaking in (which was unfounded). Eventually I realized that it was a waste of worrying/brain power. If someone breaks in, they break in. So What. Worrying won’t stop that.

Anyways, we went to a couple of different bars while in Lexington. My bar recommendations are:

West Sixth Brewing Company 
501 West Sixth Street
Lexington KY 40508
859-951-6006

West Sixth is a brewery that has food trucks and carts come and serve food outside of the bar that you can bring inside. Our buddy Dave who we were staying with and his girlfriend Nesa are part of a running club that starts and ends their runs here. While they were out jogging and getting that heart rate going, we were sitting back and enjoying some flights of beers and watching the joggers toil away. There happened to be a Greek food truck (Athenian Grill) while we were there. They had really excellent spinach pies and salads that you shouldn’t miss if you’re in Lexington.  The highlight of West Sixth’s selection is definitely their Amber and IPA for me. Keep your fingers crossed that they start distributing out of state.

 

Charlie Browns
816 Euclid Ave
Lexington KY 40502
859-269-5701

Dark and quiet on the inside. Books line all of the walls and there’s a gas fireplace going. You can come in and take a book if you leave one. Lots of old guys drinking here and youngish college kids. It’s a great hang out with friends spot.

 

Arcadium Bar
574 N Limestone St
Lexington, KY 40508
(859) 317-9712

Arcadium is full of vintage arcade consoles. Galaga, Centipede, Contra, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Punch Out and a whole bunch of other games I am now equally bad at. I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out why my frog was dying when I jumped onto the land in Frogger. We walked here on a Wednesday evening and it was surprisingly busy. Fun spot.

Beer Trappe is also worth mentioning. Great bear selection and an expansive bottle selection.

There were a couple undergrad type bars we stopped by. The best was probably Two Keys (their website is flipping out as I’m writing this, so once it gets its shit together you can see more details about it or google it..). Beer pong tables, goldfish racing. Listless bar staff. All good college bar fare. Matt mentioned the two cute twins we chatted with and their potential beau’s mean mugging us. That seems like it might be quintessential Two Keys. Continued in Part2.