Day Seventy-five, Date Thursday, May 14, 2009
Time in Saddle: n/a
Distance for the Day: n/a (Still in New Orleans)
Accumulated Trip Distance: n/a
Speeds: Avg: n/a
Weather: low 90s and somewhat humid°
Got up about 7am and had Lucky Charms for breakfast with Ray and Emily. I haven’t had Lucky Charms since I was a pre-teen, and they were just as fun and tasty as I remembered them. Ray went off to work, Emily hung out at home, and I went out to see the French Quarter. It only took about 25 minutes to reach it by trike, and I parked it by the east end of Riverwalk, an enclosed, two-story building that ran along the waterfront. I went in, and perused the shops and restaurants. It was close to noon, so I got some Cajun-style red beans and rice($6), with a sausage and potato salad. It was tasty, but nothing to write home about. I’m afraid I’m going to have to wimp out and forego trying crawfish, or catfish, or any kind of seafood – I just don’t like seafood – it tastes “fishy.” One of the shops was a tour info place, so I stopped in there to find out about swamp tours and ghost tours. They had both, so I signed up for a swamp tour ($49) that left at 1:15pm, and also bought the book, “New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo, and Vampires: Journey Into Darkness,” ($16) A little something to read while waiting for the swamp tour. I went to the designated pickup spot, and got picked up by a mini-bus that was already three-quarters full. It took us to Honey Island Swamp, where we boarded covered riverboats to tour the waterways. The tour boat operator and guide found and attracted alligators using marshmallows(?!!), and even petted one that came swimming up. A thunderstorm dropped a bit of rain on us, but since the boats were covered, it wasn’t a problem. We saw white egrets, gray herons, ducks, turtles, fish who would fly up out of the water and slap down on their sides, trying to dislodge parasites from their gills, Cypress trees, poison ivy, razor grass, colorful, small orange birds, and got attacked by gnats and no-see-ums, whereupon the guide would rev up the engine, and lose them behind. It was an enjoyable experience, and highly recommended to anyone visiting the area.
After returning from that tour at about 5pm, I got some baguettes (freshly fried lumps of dough, kind of like donuts, only a bit heavier, covered with powdered sugar – a New Orleans specialty) and hot cocoa at the Riverwalk ($4), and wandered back to my trike. I rode around the French Quarter, looking for the meeting place for the Haunted History tour. Man, what a crazy place. I can only *imagine* what it must be like during Mardi Gras. Maybe it’s a bit tamer during the day, but it was like one big party in the entire district. Live bands banging out loud music, people in the crowded streets walking from bar to bar, more people up on second-story terraces drinking, talking, and some were throwing necklaces of colored beads down to the people in the street (I got one!) Mardi Gras must be the same thing, only tons more people, more noise, more parties and music, and all stuffed tighter into the several-block radius around Bourbon Street and St. Ann Street. Ca-RAY-zee! I found the Haunted History tour place, parked and locked the trike, and paid the $20 to do the 8pm walking tour. Our tour guide (whose name was long, complicated and impossible to remember) was the real thing: she practiced voodoo, her family history went back 250 years in the area, had worked in various jobs throughout the French Quarter district all her life, and she was a born “sensitive,” who was aware of spirits since she was a baby. She took us around to the buildings and locations in the French Quarter that were haunted (some of which she’d worked in), and told us the history and stories behind each location. She told us that when we took pictures of these places, some would likely capture “something,” and that this happens every day. It was night, and let me tell you, the French Quarter at night really does feel spooky. I’ve never seen a ghost, or had any occult type of experience, but even before starting the tour, while just meandering around, that area really does give you the feeling that ghosts could be there. New Orleans is called the most haunted city in America, and they don’t call it that for nothng! One of the tour participants took three pictures of the 732 Royal St. house where a young woman died of self-imposed exposure on the roof. Two of the pictures showed nothing unusual, but one showed a light-colored blob between one of the small dormer roofs and the chimney. These were all taken from the same spot, with no change in angle. Cool! After the tour, I wandered a bit more around the area, revisiting some of the haunted buildings, but saw or felt nothing (poop!), so I returned back to Ray and Emily’s at about 11:30pm, and hit the hay. Busy day!