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.

End of the week and moving into the city

We ended up getting into a rhythm in the RV Park. Wake up, go to the bathroom, login to the computers and start working. Make some eggs, and toast some bread on our griddle outside beneath the awning.  It was actually quite comfortable. We broke the AC unit out and vented outside the driver window. It wouldn’t get the bus terribly cold but it would relieve us of the humidity which, if you’ve lived in the South, you know can be pretty brutal.

Eventually we went into the city for a night. I think it was on Monday. Loren told us to eat at The Joint in the Bywater before they closed down for the night. We took a bus stop to a stop that we thought we could take into the city from the RV park. We waited and waited. Waited some more. It was near a Winn Dixie so I thought, heck I could go get some more sudafed to help with my killer allergies (of course the pharmacy was closed because of how late it was). Eventually a bus went by in the wrong direction (or so we thought) that was numbered what we wanted. We waited a little longer and said ‘Fuck it, call a cab’. So we did. The driver dropped us at The Joint for some to-go food. Matt and I both got sausage sandwiches and Jake got the chopped pork. Some seriously legit barbecue. Smoked to perfection.  This was my first night in the city and it was interesting. All of the houses are close together, the roads are complete bullshit. Lots of one ways. It was dark when we got into the city so I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. Anyways, we took our food to a bar up the street to a bar Loren used to work at called J&J’s Sports Lounge to watch the NCAA Men’s championship game. Michigan lost. Loren introduced to everyone there as his brothers from Michigan. Loren ducked out right after this. We finished up our drinks and we stopped by a bar that I can’t remember the name of. Neither can Matt or Jake. We ended up meeting some cool people there. Some guy from Cleveland who knew our friend DRB. I met a girl Zooey who was road tripping her way from her family’s place in California back to her place in New York, apparently just because it was something to do. We also met Kelly who was in town for conferences. Jovial drinking and listening to live music. We ended up going to Karaoke @ Kajun’s pub to finish out the night.

I woke up with a nice hangover the next day and worked my way through it. We went back into the city to get some dinner @ Buffas. Looking at the menu I saw redfish and po boy, and knew instantly what I was getting. Jake opted for the red beans and rice with sausage. The redfish was ridiculously good. We ended up getting some more drinks later on and cabbing back to the bus.

The next morning/afternoon Matt and Jake walked down the street and got some monstrously huge shrimp po boys. They were pretty good greasy messes. Just too much bread.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. We just worked and hung out on the bus to start with. Matt called and setup an appointment for his Tattoo on Friday, so we decided to take the day off and go into the city and eat some seafood. We stopped by Super Seafood in Uptown which was near where Matt was gonna get his tattoo. The pictures speak for themselves. We got a pound of boiled crawfish. Matt and I ordered a cup of gumbo each and split some fish on corn. Jake opted for a half dozen char grilled oysters covered in herbs and cheese.

Jake and I wanted to go check out Loren’s place. He said there was a spot for us to park, but many people don’t realize how large the bus really is. Anyways, we took the trolleys up as close as we could to his place and walked the rest of the way. We dropped by bars along the way and got day drunk in the city. I kept not bringing a beer to walk with. It still felt unnatural at this point. We ended up making it to Loren’s place and there was ample room for the bus!

Day turned into dusk and into night while we waited for Matt. Jake fell asleep for a bit. Matt showed up in the cab, and regaled us with his troubles finding a cab. He waited over an hour, the French Quarter Fest was going on so the city was a bit of a shit show. Anyways, Jake and I were still a little drunk so Matt had to drive. Which he was not super pleased about after having gotten his tattoo. We ended up going out that night after parking the bus. It was a bit of a mad rush to get everything secured on the bus so that we could head into the city.

I’m kind of surprised at how long this post is, because the first week felt so uneventful while it was going on. We managed to fit stuff in though to keep it eventful. We parked the bus on the street, unfortunately the street in front of the house dips way down near the curb. This meant that the bus was at an angle and I’d roll into bed. I eventually got used to this and it got to be kinda comfortable. We didn’t plug the bus into the house to start with. I didn’t know if it was cool or not since the only person I knew in the house was Loren.

Anyways, after going out on saturday night and getting a pretty nice hangover.. Matt and Jake wanted to get some breakfast. There were a lot of good reviews for The Ruby Slipper in Marigny (pronounced Mare ih knee). The food was fantastic, and the place was still pretty packed in the early afternoon on a Sunday. Everyone was ordering mimosas and bloody mary’s. I opted for an iced tea. We ended up walking back to the bus and I napped most of the day and caught up on some reading.

The one thing I noticed when walking back. There are so many little things to look at around the city. Just always something to check out. Street art, or decorations, or how someone painted their house.

So. Now we were in the City.