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New Orleans ~ My 65th Birthday!

January 31 to February 5, 2005:  

Day one and it was raining horribly but I took my umbrella and went to the River Walk and shopped until I dropped at the big mall on the river bank.  Then I went to Bourbon Street and had a few drinks at the local bars, one hot place is Oz, didn't feel like Kansas though!  Then it stopped raining enough for me to go see one parade called the Ancient Druids!   

It started around seven pm and the police and fire trucks came up the rear and since it had been such bad weather, they put on their sirens and made them move out as fast as possible.  We side liners all had a good laugh as we tried to keep up with the  floats to get our beads.  I met two women, one from Chicago and one from Washington DC.  The one from DC was head of a bowling league and wanted as many beads as possible for her team members and a party.  By the time we were finished, she had almost three bags of beads.  

Day two I went to see the local Plantations north west of the city, about 50 miles, the Laura Plantation and the beautiful Oak Alley Plantation with the beautiful oak lined walkway.  The trees are over three hundred years old and will live to at least 600 years.  I then walked all over the city again and then went to see the parade on St. Charles street.  There were two parades, the Saturn and the Muses.  I met a couple from Georgia and two young women and a man who were locals.  We had a great time and after the parade, we went to the local bar/restaurant and had dinner and a drink.  

On day three I went on a swamp tour which was 50 miles north east of New Orleans.  We rode in an open boat which  needless to say, was very windy and cold as it had rained that night.  

After returning to the city, I then walked all over again, then that night went to see another parade.  It was quieter this evening for some reason.  This was the Knights of Babylon and I did get a fantastic necklace with a medallion and a face that not only lit up but changed colors!

On day four, my big birthday, I did the river boat trip on the Creole Queen.  It went up the river to an old battle field where the battle of New Orleans was  fought around 1814 to 1815.   This was part of the War of 1812 when the British burned down the While House and tried to take over the New Orleans area!

Then I came back to the city and walked all over the French Quarter and especially Bourbon Street.  I took a lot of picture of the crowds, watched the hunks do their dances on the bars wearing only their undies and the young women in the streets baring their breasts for beads!  There were lots of small parades of people with great costumes on.

That night I met a couple from Medford Oregon and we had a great time fighting the crowds and trying to get the 'best' beads.  The wife and I kept the parade route busy while her husband was busy picking up the loose beads that fell against the walls of the buildings.  He was very nice and got us a beer as we were very thirsty with all our begging to the men on the floats, "Please throw us the Big beads!"   There were two parades that evening, the D'etat parade and the Hermes parade.  The Hermes had 600 members and 27 floats and they included neon lighting to make the floats some of the most memorable of the week!

Then I decided to go to bed after midnight as I had to get up by six am to catch the shuttle to go to the airport.  I thought, why not stop by the cocktail lounge in my hotel for one last drink as it is my birthday.  Well at the bar was a newly married couple, he is in his late 50s, she is around my age.  And get this, they live in Santa Rosa, only 60 miles north of San Francisco.  They were talking to an ex service man and at a table were a group of young people.  

I said it was my birthday so they all sang to me and the cute woman bar tender said, "I am going to buy you drinks tonight, have a Hurricane!"  Hurricanes are mostly run and a very little fruit juice.  Well we all laughed, told jokes, drank and had a fabulous time.  I finally went to bed after three am but didn't sleep long as people on the street were screaming on the way to their hotels.  So after a few hours of sleeping, I got up and it was a long day.

Day five was extremely long as I got up before six, drove to the airport in New Orleans, sat there for over two hours, then to San Diego and we had to wait almost three hours as the plane was late.  It came from Reno and that city has been fogged in several times this year.  Finally got to Oakland and took Bart to the City and finally home.   

Some of the bars that were very active and lots of fun were the Oz bar and the Bourbon Pub at the 800 block of Bourbon Street.  Plus the Rawhide at 740 Burgundy Street, the Good Friends Bar at 740 Dauphine Street and the Cafe Lafitte in Exile at 901 Bourbon Street.

I was tired and at seven pm, off to bed for a good ten hours of sleep before getting up and going to the Y to work out and meet friends for coffee.  Talk about a whirl wind trip.  I had a wonderful time and met a lot of wonderful people.  

Well the next one will be 66, what can I say, just that I wonder where I will go for that birthday!

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