What a busy day today was. This morning I got up and went to Empire State College downtown Ithaca to discuss starting back at college in a few weeks during the summer semester. That, in addition to packing and getting ready to fly out this afternoon made for a very busy morning. At 1:30 I headed out for Rochester and met Josh at his office in Victor. Josh drove me out to the airport where I met up with Eric. All during my driving, today, I have been listening to Harry Potter: The Chamber of Secrets on CD. It really makes the time pass easier. It is eight hours long. The worst thing is that I managed to listen to seven hours and thirty minutes of it before I had to get out at the airport. So, now I am on my way south for the week and don’t get to hear the last thirty minutes to see what happens until I get back.
The flight went well. Eric and I got to the airport in Rochester with plenty of time. Security has gotten pretty efficient at the smaller airports and it really takes no time at all to get your tickets and get into the terminal. We had enough time to grab some quicke at Phillips European and read a little while waiting for the plane. We flew AirTran (the only cheap way to fly that I know of) on a Boeing 717.
We were unable to get a direct flight to New Orleans so we ended up having to fly from Rochester to BWI in Baltimore but did not have to get off of the plane there. We sat on the ground for about thirty minutes and then were off to Atlanta. Atlanta is the main hub of AirTran and BWI is slowly becoming a secondary one. In Atlanta, we had to switch planes and had an hour and a half lay-over. After a security search (that every male under the age of thirty goes through everytime he gets on a new plane) we were on our way again. We have gotten so used to being profiled and searched every time that we just walked up and went into the security line – it is easier that way.
We arrived in New Orleans at 11:00 at night (midnight to us EST people) and had to rent a car. Avis was the only place open and we were lucky enough to be able to get something. We got a Buick Century. What a piece of junk. This car had to power, was ugly and uncomfortable. But at least it was a little better than the Lincoln Town Car that Josh, Loopy and I got last year. That thing was even worse. Both cars handled terribly, though. We talked to the girls working the rental car booth and asked where we could find good, authentic New Orleans cuisine late at night. We were directed to Gene’s Po-Boys. So we set out on our adventure in NO. The first thing that we did was get ourselves good and lost and ended up driving along the industrialized side of the Mississippi. That was kind of cool for me since I had never seen the Mississippi before. What a huge river that is. Eventually we figured out how to get back to the city and managed to eventually find our way to the French Quarter. What a dump. We thought that we might stop there but the quality of the crowd and of the establishments directed us to go elsewhere. NO is one of the poorest cities in the US and it really shows when you are in the French Quarter. The term French Quarter is a clever bit of NO marketing meaning – Shantytown. If I was French, I imagine that I would be pretty offended by the use of the term. Maybe it is some reference to the slums of Paris or maybe French Equitorial West Africa.
After exploring Bourbon Street for as little time as we could get away with and still say that we got to see it, Eric and I managed to find out way to Gene’s Po-Boys. This was supposed to be the best example of real NO food. None of the tourist stuff. This is where the locals ate. It was in a really bad section of town (come to think of it, I am not sure that we found a good section of town) and we had to watch the car the whole time we were there. We were told that it was a pretty rough neighborhood. When we spoke later with people who had lived in NO and explained where Gene’s was (take Claiborne off of i10 and turn right onto Elysian Fields and it is on the right) they were surprised that we had gone to such a bad area. The best way to explain this place is “Tahou’s” to all of you from Rochester. Just like Tahou’s downtown. Only instead of Garbage Plates, they had Po-Boys. Now, in the north, Po-Boys are a cajun sandwich made with crawfish or crab, etc. In NO, they are just subs. Cheeseburger, sausage and cheese, etc. Basically, Tahou’s in a sandwich. It was 1:00 in the morning and we weren’t about to drive around looking for more food so I had my first meal with meat in over six months. It wasn’t too bad but I would have been better without the meat. I wanted to try local cuisine so it was worth getting a little sick from it. Eric got a little sick as well. There wasn’t much getting around that, let me tell you. There was gambling going on in the back room too. How exciting.
After having driven around NO for the last couple hours, Eric and I decided that we were completely disgusted by everything New Orleans and so we hit the road and drove north towards Mississippi. It only took two hours for us to reach Hattiesburg, MS – a nice and clean small town where we felt comfortable getting a hotel room. We managed to find a room at the Baymount (the Comfort Suites was booked due to a race.) The place was fine. We where very relieved to be able to get to bed and not have to travel anymore. It was also nice to know that we would not have to wake up in NO in the morning with a long drive to Hattiesburg in rush hour ahead of us.