It was a hectic, crazy, fun week and I barely had time to eat and sleep, let alone blog. As a result, I'd left some good events and pictures and shout-outs out. So, to give New Orleans its due, at least where the dark hours are concerned, are just a few of the highlights...
Monday: This was the night for Bourbon Street.
Cover band at 544, or maybe it was 445. One of those.
Me with co-worker Ryan at Pat O'brien's.
Hurricanes were had.
That was when the trouble started.
Ya see, there's a fountain in the middle or the courtyard at Pat O'Brien's. It's a very crowded court yard.
The fountain, though, has a friggin' flame at the top! I know!!!
Problem was that they really don't want people in the fountain. So much so that they have tall plants anchored with steel rings and hooks ringing the rim.
The other problem was that Ryan really didn't want me to go into the fountain. He acknowledged that such a situation makes him uncomfortable. He was the self-appointed "Voice of Reason" (VOR).
Truthfully, he talked me out of it. It was too risky. Too many people. Just wasn't right.
Voice of Reason.
Then I got in.
That's Kay, my bosses wife, ducking out of the picture. She was instrumental in overcoming VOR's logic attack.
To celebrate we went to Pizazz.
Another cover band. Also rocked.
Ryan took revenge for a miscreant behavior with a vile shot of... something. I think it was mostly pineapple juice and battery acid.
Once we were sure we weren't going to be rendered blind, we moved on to Famous Door.
On the way we were talking about... LOOK OUT!
That was close.
Ok, Famous Door.
Yep, another cover band. Don't really remember them...
... probably because of the test tube shots and the hypodermic jello shots.
But we survived.
Ryan, Kay, Deb, your humble blogger.
Cluster-Funk is our company's band, made up of employees, and hugely popular with the Microsoft IT geek crowd.
Cluster-Funk: Very fun. All keeping their day jobs.
The bass player is our CEO. He REALLY likes the band. He also REALLY likes taking his bass into the crowd.
CEO/Bassist rubbing up against the GF.
It's hard not to have fun at a Cluster-Funk show. Mostly thanks to the open bar. But also because the audience is made up of introverted IT geeks who don't get out much. Seeing some "peers" rock out, and being more or less wasted, loosens those guys up.
Including my boss...
My boss, Tim, and me.
I won't bore you with the literally dozens of very similar pictures of me with other co-workers.
Maybe one more...
Me and Christian, though come to think of it, he's like this most the time.
The open bar and the heat and the dancing and the long-arm-photo-taking took its toll.
Especially on this guy...
... who reportedly awoke to throw up and then went back to sleep, all without leaving the couch.
Wednesday: Finally found some jazz.
Landry's Seafood House - classic NOLA.
Amazing etouffee, served in a rather blush-inducing fashion...
[I may have moved as many as two shrimp before photo.]
Then, finally, some jazz...
Market Cafe Jazz Band
An open cafe between two busy streets, scattered tables, cheap beer. These guys sounded, well... good. Tired. Maybe a little bored. But it was still better than anything we'd found up to that point. They played "While the Saints..." 3 times in 40 minutes. We didn't care.
Bass players get all the chicks.
We moved on and spotted the polar opposite of The Market Cafe.
White table clothes, $5 cover, expensive beer, and amazing music played by guys in ties. We danced up stairs. Not on an upper level, but literally up a set of stairs. It was fun. I'm sure we looked like dorks. We didn't care.
Thursday: On our own.
The GF and I decided to go our own way for our last night. And it was an absolutely wonderful evening.
First, the Napoleon House.
Doesn't look like the best bar in the world, does it? In fact, it looks closed. Vacant. Until you try the door. And it opens.
Apparently, the building was constructed as a residence for The Napolean when he was in exile. Unfortunately, the plan was foiled by his inconvenient death.
Now, it is an amazing bar. Old as dirt. Classical music. That "Big Easy" vibe, the one you hope to find when you walk into one of these places, but every other place is lacking in one way or another, this place marinates you in it.
And they have hands-down the best summer cocktail in the universe.
The Pimm's Cup
I want to have a drink here every day.
It took a pending hard-to-get reservation to pry me off of the barstool.
Make sure your feet are set if you eat at NOLA.
The food here is in-f'in-credible.
A nice couple sat next to us and I noticed the woman fiddling with a disposable camera. There was the unmistakable ratcheting sound that says "empty".
I leaned over and asked if she'd like me to take their picture. "I'll just email it to you."
Turned out it was their 40th wedding anniversary. Would have been a pity if they didn't have a photo.
"I've heard the first 40 years are the hard part. It's cake from here."
We are food people. We love great food. We savor great food. And when we absolutely can't contain ourselves, we take pictures of great food, I guess so we can drool over them later.
Pork Chop. Hickory smoked duck. Both to die for.
Seriously, this is "last meal" kinda food.
Not pictured: stuffed chicken wings (I know!), Crab cakes on an amazing corn salsa, Best Gumbo EVER!, fantastic Rioja wine, jalapeno corn bread, and a Creme Brulee Trio (3 different kinds... I KNOW!!!).
2.5 hours of feasting on magically delicious food wears you out. We waddled out.
But we rallied and hit some jazz clubs.
The Spotted Cat Music Club
A neighborhood club, no cover, standing room only, lots of locals, some just hanging out outside the door. The music was raw and perfect.
Note: The sets in NOLA clubs are about 40 minutes. Perfect for one drink and then moving to someplace else.
Our next place else was...
Right across the street, also a local's place. About 2.3 jillion beers, all listed on chalk boards hung above the bar. This night, it had a $5 cover for...
These guys were more polished. Soul jazz. And every song in the first set was an original. I could have listened to them all night.
But... we were exhausted. Part of that exhaustion was the looming 4am wake-up, glaring at us, then looking at its watch, tapping its foot.
Our only local cab ride of the trip saved us the long, depressing, "vacation's over" walk, on tired feet.
Summary: I love New Orleans.
And Thursday was one of the best days of my life. Great run, breakfast with the girl, fun (short) day at work, won a Ducati (!!!), and the wonderful evening helped make it so.
But sitting at dinner, taking it all in, and I mean all of it, not just that day, or the trip, but how lucky I am to have the people in my life and the good fortune that has come my way, I couldn't help but shake my head, thinking how far I've come in just 6 months, from a really crappy year.
Numbers: 1.2 miles in heavy rain. (Awakened from a micro-nap by thunder. Jumped out for a quick run in pretty heavy rain, just beating the lightening.)