Today's full day of driving started with a sudden awakening. Planning to wake up to a watch alarm before our "RV park," breakfast diner opened, we were instead awoken to traffic in the drive thru! Here we were rock star parked in the reserved spaces and there they were driving over the extension cord we had plugged into the side of the building. We quickly packed up and hit the road.
The drive was long. The scenery changed from plains to swamp and the humidity grew to our discomfort. The signs for New Orleans were encouraging us that we were drawing closer. Finally we were being blessed with some cheaper gas that worked out to $0.474 per liter.
It would seem that if Las Vegas had
any close competition for sin city that it would be New Orleans. We
pulled into the Mardi Gras RV park at dusk. It is conveniently located
across from a men's club. At 8p.m. the gates of the RV park closed and
we spent the night sheltered from the local freaks lurking in the streets.
Never has a shower and a good night of sleep felt so good.
The only thing crazier than a night never to forget is a night never to be remembered. It was Independence Day, and the night would end as such. (You'll understand.) It was a big night out on the town for the Boys of the Wide Load.
Before going out, we spent the day recovering from the long haul we'd made to get here in time: laundry, small repairs, cleaning up etc. With such a late start to the morning, it was soon time to get ready for downtown. The 60 oz. bottle (with a handle) of Jim Beam came out and a free flow of Busch. When we were good and ready we took some for the road and headed for the bus.
It was more than just Independence Day in New Orleans. It was also Essence Festival. This is a huge week-long celebration of African American music and life. We were the only white people on the bus. We felt intimidated to be the minority but felt far more safe than we had been led on to believe.
We set out to see what New Orleans was famous for. Bourbon Street was the place to be. It was packed and traffic had been blocked of by cops on horses. Almost immediately, Joel disappeared as he does on average at least once a day. Ken, Ryan and Jason took in some of the local food at a well recommended restaurant. Maestero's served a great Muffletta. We all regrouped on Bourbon Street right where the action was happening. It's simple how it worked, boobs for beads. We took in the sights and sounds for a while and even Jason , Ken and Joel earned some beads of their own.
Everyone had enough going on in front
of them to draw their attention away from the group. Before long we
were all on our own, partially by accident. The rest of the night is
better said with photos and campfire stories, but it was a bit like choose
your own adventure. We all had extremely different experiences.
We each got back at dawn or later, and we each arrived back safely to the
Wide Load at different times.
Last night was a bit of a shock to the system so tonight would definitely be more toned down. That's no reason not to go out though. We made for town and had dinner at the same place. Joel, Ryan and Ken treated Jason to dinner for his birthday - 24 today.
We hit Bourbon Street again and were surprised to run into some of the same people we had the previous night. Ken and Ryan too tired from the night before, decided to split and head back early.
Joel and Jason went on to check out all the clubs on the strip and found that it wasn't really their scene. With it being Essence Festival, they just couldn't booty shake like the rest of them. Before 3a.m. they decided to head back on the bus. It didn't arrive until after 4:30a.m. Jason made conversation with the people at the bus stop to pass the time while Joel got some rest perched on the side of a building until the bus came.
Ryan and Ken found a few
familiar faces: Angela, Amy, Jessica and Trisha. That persuaded them to stay out about
as long as Jason and Joel had. Everyone was in good spirits until Ryan
lost hold of his stomach and showed off the Jambalaya he had eaten earlier.
That ended the night very quickly.
Onward and eastward. Biloxi was our next stop. We thought it was all swampy around here but the gulf has some calm ocean waters and beautifully white sandy beaches. First we wanted to find our RV Park.
We ended up out of town at a Passport America site for $10.
We had a pool and a lake with paddleboats to ourselves. The best thing
about this place though, was the hospitality. Betty and Ron who ran
the Leisure Lake RV Park invited us in for a drink and for a good chinwag.
We spent the night by staying up drinking and talking life with them and
then ended it with a movie.
The weather today lent itself better to being in the casinos than being at the beach. We didn't really go to the casinos to gamble. The buffets are the real draw for us. We sat there and gorged ourselves for a few hours. Ryan tried his luck at the slot machines and got himself a few free drinks, and then we took in Terminator 3 at the movie theatre there at the Imperial Casino.
When we got back to the RV site, there was catfish there waiting for us that Betty had given us and Ruth (another sweetie we met) made us coleslaw, corn, cornbread and batter to make it a complete meal.
Ryan and Ken finished the night off
with a Monte Cristo cigar extravaganza.
We started on our way to Birmingham.
It was a late start. We picked up some music books: guitar harmonica.
The oil change and fluid check was due. Not 20 minutes after they
checked the fluids, the radiator hose blew. Jason and Ryan did a quick
fix and we were on our way again. We ate at the Waffle House for the
first time - good hangover food. We ended up at some remote RV park
off the highway and watched some Canadian news on the dish.
We made it north to Birmingham. The Wide Load pulled into Angela, Amy, Eric (and Jessica's) house. We had a warm southern welcome and Angela and Amy came out to dinner with us before we hit the town.
Being a Wednesday night, the downtown
scene was pretty low key but we went out anyway. Amy and Eric were
working at Tiki Bob's that night so that's where we went. It was foam
night which was pretty cool.
We woke up late and hung out in Angela's house. She had already gone to work and left us to make her house feel like our own. Eric made it out of bed in time to start the party off at 4:20p.m. We started to tell him about the beer bong and that would be the beginning of a legendary night.
The bong came out and Eric had three beers before he had to go to class. This was a day worth missing lectures for though. Angela and Amy were back with us by this time, and then the calls started going out; house party! We got absolutely smashed. Every previous beer bong record was broken this night. Ken sits on top with a 1.50s. to drink a beer.
Hung out with Eric and Amy. Got ready to go out.
Started drinking at 4:20. Pulled out eh beer bong. The grils
called all their friends to come out. Got smashed. Played pool.
Went to Tiki Bob's. Those who made it in had a blast. Jason too
drunk. Joel got kicked out. Very Late night
Very slow start to the day. Most
hung over ever. Layed around Angela and Amy's house all day watching
movie to take mind away from feeling bad. Amy took us to Fat Sam's for
great food near UAB. Dinner at Amy's Mom's house (Mamma Sue).
Fantastic meal. Not much to drink at all. Sat out on porch and
watched thunderstorm. Ate homemade icecream. Back to Angela's
house to watch Road Trip. Jesicca was with us.
Headed to Atlanta this morning.
Picked up Jenn from Airport. Headed out to Athens where we were to
meet Kasey. Called, got through. Tried 10 more times and finally
Chris called us back at a pay phone. Got directions to bush party and
set the wheels in motion. Had a fantastic time. Hay bails, keg etc. Stayed up late.