We have been in New Orleans since the end of August. What a city! What delightful denizens. And, oh my gosh, the food! Such sinless delight.
We drove here from Santa Barbara in August, with my mother, Tiny, in tow. She’d had a rough few months with the startling death of my oldest brother, Dennis, and so we suggested that perhaps she could enjoy a road trip with us. We promised to take it easy, no more than four or five hours of driving a day. We are prone to drive ten hours without blinking, but we promised to behave. (As I write this in April 2020, we just completed a drive from New Orleans to Santa Barbara in two days, driving 13 hours the first day and 17 the next. So, see, we had to promise Tiny that we would behave.)
Tiny accepted the offer and we set off for the South, to a place new to all of us. First stop, Scottsdale, AZ. Then on to Las Cruces, NM. Then Fort Stockton, TX. Yes, in case you are wondering, we found the garden spots en route. There’s a lot of “nuthin'” linking the West. We stopped over in Austin to visit family and friends, and then drove straight through to New Orleans (10 hours) at Tiny’s insistence: she was ready to hit the Big Easy.
Tiny is a fabulous travel companion. Simply the best. Never a word of complaint, never a mumble of discontent. Whatever happened, she was game.
Of course, while we waited on her hand and foot, we did demand that she earn her keep!
Arriving in New Orleans, I was as disoriented as I was when we first arrived in Sao Paulo. It was so foreign! We were staying in a hotel in the middle of the French Quarter and arrived on the last day of Southern Decadence, a PRIDE event weekend. Needless to say, given the added costumed zest of attendees, we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore!
Tiny simply looked, judged a tinge, and accepted. Welcome to New Orleans!
We had great rooms that connected by patio, so she had her own room and Sydney could visit Nana whenever the mood struck her.
That first night, we stopped for a cocktail in the hotel lounge before heading out, enjoying an excellent Sazerac, our first and Tiny’s second in her life. Her first was in 1949 in Japan. “It wasn’t very good,” she recalls! In Japan shortly after WWII and having a drink created in New Orleans. “It wasn’t very good.” Well, she enjoyed this one!
We ate at Deany’s Restaurant right across the street, and had fresh oysters, beer, boiled shrimp, and boiled potatoes, a NOLA staple. And Bloody Mary’s. (I mean, New Orleans…) Delicious. But what Tiny fell in love with was the bread pudding. Thereafter, Deany’s bread pudding contested at least seven other restaurant offerings, and Deany’s was judged the best. To be sure, we took Tiny back to Deany’s the night before she left; verified. Deany’s wins hands down.
We stayed in the hotel for a few days until our AirBnB rental was ready on Sept. 1. It was a cute little former grocery store turned AirBnB down in the Irish Channel. It had a lot of character…and rats. Which we each saw the second night as we watched TV. Forty-five minutes later, having called the owner’s rep and packed our car, we left the place to the vermin. Of course, the owner denied there were any rats, and had an inspection FIVE DAYS LATER, in which it was determined that there were no signs of the vermin (gosh, could they have scrubbed the place first?), but we noticed the next time we drove past that they had closed off the space between the bottom of the door and the worn-away concrete floor, or as we call it, Rat of Way. AirBnB sided with the owner (surprise-surprise), and we lost our month’s worth of rent. (We are not a vindictive people, but we hope the karma bat smacks the owner big time.)
It was Labor Day and all of the hotel rooms that would take dogs were booked, so we had to drive over the river to Gretna to find a place for the night, while we scrambled to find another AirBnB for the month. As we drove over the bridge, I asked Tiny if she was enjoying herself. She admitted that running from rats was a new adventure for her!
We settled back onto our original hotel for a week until we could get to our new, wonderful AirBnB. In the meantime, we drove to see some plantations, took a bus tour of NOLA, enjoyed great food, and had beignets at Cafe du Monde in City Park.
Tiny went on drives with us as we looked for a place to rent, first downtown, then further out in the Garden District, and finally in the Lakeside District, which I immediately declared for us: suburban and roomy, right next to City Park and Lake Pontchartrain. A place where I can breathe.
We’ve been in the house for seven months, and have four more months there before we up stakes and head for Washington, DC, and then on to new foreign adventures in Bucharest. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much fun we’ll have in NOLA in the next months, given that everything that makes NOLA unique is shut down for the time being.
But we’ve had a blast so far, which I will recount in my next installments.
In the meantime, we are back with Tiny in Santa Barbara during the quarantine and dreaming of taking her to NOLA again.