Sunday, November 24, 2013

What This Blog's About

This was the online manifestation of my travel journal, which up to now consisted of a few scrawled notebooks and thousands of digital photos. Each entry is a painstaking recreation of all the notes I have, poring over Google Maps street view, and cross-referencing geographic and financial information online, all to enable me to tell the most complete story possible.

Failing that, I've injected plenty of my own opinions on other people and my nation's conservative bent.

On Feb. 23, 2015, Google announced that they would begin deleting adult-content blogs starting March 2015. This isn't an adult-content blog, I don't have any adult-content blogs, but this gesture represents an encroachment upon freedom of speech and expression, and I refuse to support it. I've begun migrating my blogs to other, rival locations that do support freedom of speech.

As of Feb. 27, 2015, Google retracted its intent and will support its previous policy. It's good that Google listened to the concerns of its users, but this does not change my plans: I'm migrating my travel blog to TravelPod. Please visit me there!

And I'll be deleting this blog as I repopulate the entries on TravelPod.

Friday, November 2, 2001

Road Trip to New Orleans: the Swamp and the Departure

We woke up, packed up most of our clothes and crap, and I drove Paul to work one last time. Janet, Joel, Ursula and I drove out to Cajun Encounters for our 2:30 PM swamp tour. We chose this one with just a smidge of regret: it was the company of that amazingly brash and rude pitchman from two days ago, but it was also the best-sounding package.

Our guide was Luka Cutura, a ruggedly handsome young man whose father owned an alligator meat-packaging plant. (I tried to contact Cajun Encounters when I got back home to find out more and procure a few pounds for my Kung-Fu Grilling event, but I never heard back from them.) The tour boated us down West Pearl River, through thickets and, once, right under a large but nigh-invisible spider web with an angry little beast in its center. Luka took us deep into the swamp and showed us a tall and dead tree with many branches, explaining this was where moonshiners would congregate and vote on who distilled the best hooch. The winner got to market a "Best Of" label for the following year, and the location was perfect for moonshiners who needed to lose lawmen on their tail: they knew the swamp's ins and outs and the lawmen didn't, so it was easy to get lost and hidden. This tree was also a location in Interview With the Vampire, I guess, where Lestat or someone dumped someone's body. I dunno, I never saw it, but Luka delighted the tourists who had with this magical little tidbit of trivia.

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Road Trip to New Orleans: Cemetery

Woke up quite late today but still in time to drive Paul to the 201. Returning to Michael's, I roused Ursula and we brought Janet and Joel out to a cemetery. I want to say it was the St. James, but there evidently was some contention as to where exactly we ended up. That'll come up later.

Yours truly, the author.
Regardless, I had an amazing time touring a real New Orleans cemetery! I didn't care if it was the "right one" or a "popular one," it was ancient and decrepit and gorgeous to me. The crypts must be above-ground, because the region is so prone to flooding that graves would commonly be exhumed and corpses distributed in most undignified fashion throughout the town. Without even considering what a bureaucratic mess that would be, the biohazard it would represent was enough to make my skin crawl.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Road Trip to New Orleans: Hallowe'en

Woke up around noon. Drove Paul to work—the grade of his mood must be indicative of environmental stressors, because he's rarely happy. I went back to the French Quarter and hung out with Joel (different Joel: Ursula's other brother) and Ursula. We were attempting to research swamp tours but ran afoul of a very grandiose and pushy salesman. Ursula had a handful of pamphlets she was going to compare, but this pitchman swiped them right out of her hand, tore them in half, and informed us that her looking around didn't do him any good. To this day I regret not turning on my heel and escorting Ursula away, because that kind of jackassery should never be supported. Instead, we listened to his pitch politely and left, but she fumed about that for a long time afterward.

This was another bright and hot day, with hawkers and street performers out in full force. From a convenience store Ursula picked up a disposable camera for the night's festivities as well as a phone card. We went for breakfast back at Clover Grill, and I took a moment to call my temp agency to straighten out my paycheck issue once and for all, as well as to submit my previous week's timecard in the mail.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, New Orleans, LA.
Meandering through the French Quarter once more, we finally found a very cool location: Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, reputedly the oldest continually patronized bar in the States. It was densely packed, even in the early afternoon, and we were unable to find even half a chair to share for a token drink, but it was still interesting to wander through and examine the interior, at least. It's very badly warped but all the timbers look stout and solid, and it's bad business to have a place that collapses on its patrons, so it must be totally safe in there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Road Trip to New Orleans: Day of Quarrels

We woke up around noon and drove down to a little  café called Flora's (Royal and Franklin) for breakfast. Low on funds, we tried to avail ourselves of the ATM in an old bar across the street. Just like in a traveler's nightmare, though, the ATM's phone connection stalled and we had no idea whether our transfer of funds had gone through successfully. Ursula and I were stuck in this bar, waiting about 20 minutes for a conclusive answer. When we were reasonably sure the connection had been cut off, we simply went to another bar, checked, and ran the transfer normally.

I remember it being a bright spring day, though the streets were damp with having been sprayed down, a pathetic rinse job that did nothing to scour away the spilled domestic beers and Hurricanes from drunk and stupid college kids out to follow the well-beaten tracks of drunk and ignorant frat boys before them. It was not unreasonable to me at all that the people who lived here became quite jaded and a little joyless. Entertainment and partying meant "business as usual" to them, and living in New Orleans was hardly an escape of any sort.

Though we were a dozen-hundred miles away from home, we managed to run into a friend at the café, Joel. A familiar face was a comfort unto itself, after stamping around a strange city. He was down here for Hallowe'en, along with some other people we knew, and the coincidence of this brightened my mood. Ursula had ordered a turkey, cheese, and pineapple sandwich, which I note was "just the kind of thing one would expect from a place called Flora's." That probably means it was tasty but also tasted like it was good for you.