Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
I have always wanted to go to New Orleans. I was supposed to go for New Year's Eve 1999 for the "Y2K Debacle" with my best friends and former college roommates who were from Louisiana, Monique and Heather, to meet our other friend from college, Sam, who actually lived there and was going to show us around and take us to all the great places and make sure we stayed safe because he was a guy. But then my mom had to have a hysterectomy to remove a benign bowling ball sized tumor in her uterus right before Christmas. So I went to Austin instead of New Orleans and instead of exploring the French Quarter, I got to do her Christmas shopping for her at Walgreen's on Christmas Eve. After the surgery, was even more fun. Instead of getting Hurricaness at Pat O'Brien's, I got to insert catheters into her swollen urethra so she could pee, and instead of going to a drag show on Bourbon Street, I got to rent movies from Blockbuster so she could fall asleep on the couch halfway through. My step dad, Joe, and I eventually gave up picking movies that she wanted to watch and just rented movies we wanted to watch because we were the ones who stayed awake to finish them. Joe was an ex-Navy man, with a boat and a vision. He was a survivalist who had taken the whole Y2K thing seriously. He had invested in solar-powered appliances, as well as a generator, and had also amassed gallons of gasoline, sacks of rice and beans, cans of food, and other non-perishables, and had been storing it all in the garage. Had every empty bottle, jar, and glass in the house filled with water. There was so much safety gear, food, and other stuff they could no longer park their cars in the garage. On New Year's Eve at the stroke of midnight...the world did not end, as you probably already know. So I went to bed that night still mad that I wasn't in New Orleans with my friends.
When Rob and I got married in 2010, he promised me that he'd take me to New Orleans one day since he'd been several times and I'd had my New Orleans dreams crushed. It took 13 years, but we finally got there. I made a bucket list of all the things I wanted to do while we were there. It was four days three nights and there were so many things I wanted to do that we could really only accomplish a handful of them. I wanted to go during Spring Break, so it wouldn't be so damn hot, but they didn't have any rooms available then, so we had to push it back to June. It shouldn't have been so hot already, thanks global warming and the heat cell that was stuck over the South that week. Nothing went to plan, of course, but we made the best of it and managed to make it home safely without dying of heat stroke, so I call that a win.
List of things I wanted to do but didn't get to do:
Eat beignets and drink coffee at Cafe du Monde.
Go to the French Market.
Tour St. Louis #1 to see Marie Laveau's grave (Glapion Family Crypt), and Delphine Lalaurie find a grave $25 each for the tour. Closed to public, you have to be on a tour to get in.
Lafayette #1: Yellow fever victims. Open to the public.
Tour the Garden District.
Drink a Hurricane at Pat O'Briens.
Ride the streetcars.
Eat at Coop's.
Go to Jefferson Variety Store.
Visit Gator Chateux: a wildlife rescue in where you can pet a baby alligator. You have to do this on the way to N.O. because it's in Jennings which is right after Lafayette. NO is still 3 hours away. If you try and go after you leave NO, you probably won't get there before they close.
Things I did get to do:
Visit the Mardi Gras Costume Museum:
St. Louis Cathedral
French Quarter and Bourbon Street.
Night Haunted Tour
Sazerac House Tour
Drink Absinthe Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House $20 for one drink.
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo
See a real drag show
New Orleans Museum of Art: free because of reciprocal museum membership with DMA.
Did that first thing. It was great. Got there an hour early and took 99 photos before the tour even started. Our MC was awesome. She sang, danced, and was super nice. She suggested another museum that we wanted to go to but it was expensive to get in and we were already broke. A couple of days later we were walking in the French Quarter and she was driving home after work and noticed us on the street and stopped her car to ask us how we were enjoying our vacation. That's a first.
Haunted History Walking Tour
$21 each. "New Orleans Ghost Adventures Tour" the only historically accurate tour. Our guide was drunk but he still knew his stuff and was hilarious! We had a great time and learned so much history. It was even better than the Ripper tour we did in London, but only because all the locations we were there to see were actually still there and hadn't been destroyed or built over by gentrification like Whitechapel. Our destinations included:
Lafitte Blacksmith Bar
The Old Absinthe House
Mayfaire Witches House
The Ursaline Convent
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo
The Vampire Cafe
The Ladies of Oz Drag Show
The only bar on Bourbon street that is owned by a trans woman. They celebrated their 30th anniversary this year. Drag shows every Wednesday and Sunday nights, excluding Ash Wednesday.
St. Louis Cathedral
Although we are not Catholic, we do love ourselves an old cathedral and St. Louis is the oldest cathedral in North America, built in 1718. It was named for and dedicated to King Louis IX of France who was canonized in 1297.
I have been a big fan of Anne Rice since I read Interview with a Vampire in high school. Back then, there was talk about making it into a movie and casting Rutger Hauer as Lestat, but that never materialized. After that, I read every Vampire novel as they came out and the Mayfair Witches novels, and the other stand alone books. I tracked down the erotica she'd written under a pseudonym. Years later, I even bought the Jesus ones just to see what they were all about and although I still have them, I have yet to actually read them.
When I was a senior in college, she was doing a book signing in Houston to promote The Body Thief, which I'd already bought and read. I had to write a paper for my philosophy final that weekend so instead of going myself, I gave my copy to my roommate, Danette, who was also in my philosophy class and also had to do her final paper that weekend, but who had chosen to go to the book signing instead to meet our hero. I gave her $20 for gas since I couldn't/wouldn't go with her, for her trouble. When Danette got there, she was forced to buy me a new copy of the book with my gas money in order to get it signed, because what is a free book signing event for besides selling copies of the book? (We were so naïve back then) Anne said some very nice things to Danette about her hair and signed both of our brand new books.
Cut to years later. I'm in graduate school in Long Beach, CA. I'd just moved there and was exploring the local mall's bookstore. Lo and behold as I was browsing the sci-fi shelves, a worker bee was setting up a table for a book signing and the author was just getting settled in. No one else was in the store yet. You guessed it, it was Anne Rice promoting Memnoch the Devil! I just had to tell her the story of the earlier book signing that I forsook to do my philosophy final instead. That just tickled her pink. She said that I definitely did the right thing by doing my philosophy final instead. Then the worker bee kicked me out because the store was closing to get ready for the book signing. So when Anne died in 2021, I felt all the feelings.
Anne's Rice's house in the Garden District 1239 1st Street
Metairie Cemetery: Anne Rice's Grave
New Orleans Museum of Art
There is no parking lot here. You just have to park on the side of the road, but at least it's within the museum grounds. There is a huge sculpture garden that we did not go see because it was already too hot. We got in for free because we are members of DMA and they have a reciprocal agreement. SNAP recipients also get in for free.