The First Week

Posted on May 6, 2012 with 0 comments

I have have now been in the south for 5 days filled with a hurricane of activities.

The Breakdown:

Saturday: landed in New Orleans, got my rental car, and began the journey. Drove to the French Quarter on a mission to find some good food and visit Cafe du Monde. I drove in circles, snaking up and down the streets for damn near an hour, looking for parking. Finally found a spot and began the journey by foot. Jazz fest is this week, so the streets are flooded with tourists. There is nothing I hate more than feeling like a tourist. I prefer to blend in, but here I was in a sea of uncomfortable fish all dressed up in fanny packs and baseball caps and sandals with socks on, and cameras hung clumsily around necks. I pushed my way through the crowds like a salmon trying to swim upstream. Finally made it to Cafe du Monde, where I sat and ate an order of beignets and a cup of coffee. From here I made my way around around the maze of streets to Deanie’s Seafood for a Po’Boy. The weather is hot and humid and many of the streets smell of piss, though Mardi Gras has long since passed. I made the quintessential trip up Bourbon St. passing by Rick’s Cabaret (Titties, Beer, and Sports). I got a kick out of this. I walk down one of the narrow streets, back towards my car. The doors of one of the houses is left open and two feet stick slightly out into the sidewalk. As I pass the door, I discover an old woman in her wheelchair passed out on her stoop. She had wheeled her way to her door, set a table up with a drink, and made herself comfortable to watch the people pass by… instead she took a nap.

Two hours in the French Quarter (clearly not enough), and I head to the Garden District to look at the grand houses and wander down Magazine St. At this point the Po’Boy and Beignets combined with heat and lack of sleep leave me utterly exhausted. I park beneath the shade of a tree and take a quick nap. I get a second wind and drive to Audubon Park and go for a short run before meeting up with the girl I am staying with for the weekend (a friend of a friend). I drive to her house, she takes me out to dinner, and then we return to her house, both exhausted, so we are in bed and asleep by 10:30pm.


Sunday: Jazz Fest time! In the morning hear some interesting stories about Katrina and the storm’s effect from a local perspective… really neat stories and way to many to recount here. We head to the Festival. Something like a hundred thousand people showed up for this weekend. I am lucky to be hanging out with some native’s. Jen’s (the girl I am staying with) dad has attended every single Jazz Fest. Her family has a system where they go early, strike out a spot with blankets, chairs, umbrellas and ice chests full of water. They then stock pile on food from the vendors (an amazing and delicious selection) and then let the day pass. I got some shrimp and grits, a soft shell crab Po’Boy, a frozen latte, and later a strawberry lemonade. I camped out with them for a while. Despite the nice set up, it got hot sitting under the sun, and with so many stages and so much music, it felt wrong to be sitting still for too long. So I got up and walked around, checked out some of the art venders, and watched some musicians I had never heard of. I finished the day with Al Green! Who was fantastic!! Despite the heat he was dressed in a full tux with a green vest. He had a bucket of yellow roses on stage that he distributed to the crowd throughout the show. Definitely glad I got so see him in my lifetime!


Monday: Up-and-at-em at 6am. Left the house at 7am and made the 3 ½ hour drive to Pineville, LA where I photographed Central State Hospital for 4 hours. I then made another 3 ½ hour drive to Jackson, MS where I settled in with my mom’s old friends at the Pax Christi (Kathleen, Rhoda, and Genevieve)  They haven’t seen my mom in over 30 years, but pulled out the photo albums to show me pictures and recap stories of the past. Oh, and these 70 -80 year old women were also watching Dancing with the Stars when I arrived… it’s there favorite TV show. After a 14+ hour day I crawled into bed and passed out.


Tuesday: Woke up nice and early again so I could get on the road and make it to Meridian, MS to photograph Eastern State Hospital. I arrived on time to discover that the Director of the Hospital, the one who had organized and given me permission to photograph the grounds, had decided not to show up for work. His staff (apparently quite conditioned to “think on their feet”) did not know I was coming so scrambled to pull it together and figure out what I needed. It was a little hap-hazard, but they got it pulled together and I spend the next 6 hours photographing the campus and gathering its interesting history. I was exhausted by the time I was done, but still needed to make the 2 ½ hour drive to Mobile, AL where I would be staying for the night. I pushed on, found a hotel, and then searched the nether’s of Google for a restaurant nearby. I was so tired and SO hungry that this proved to be a difficult and frustrating challenge. Finally I decided on “The Blind Mule” a great local pub with a fantastic Grilled Chicken sandwich and a local Strawberry Wheat beer. I made my way back to the hotel room and found sleep.


Wednesday: This is my day off. I have to make the 4 hour drive to Chattahoochee, FL but am planing the drive along the Gulf Coast, hang out on the beach, and relax. To my horror, I awoke with a tick embedded in my… wait for it…. embedded in my ass! Okay…. left butt check/lower hip line. I probably picked up the tick while wandering the hospital grounds in Meridian, and it waited till the evening to strike! Ick. I was horrified and disgusted. Growing up in Colorado, we get used to doing seasonal tick checks. But I haven’t had a tick since my childhood. And I guess I never even thought of them here in the south, but they are prevalent. What made this experience so awful was being in a strange city alone. I could reach the tick, but not well. I didn’t have tweezers or rubbing alcohol to remove the tick. I had to make a Rite Aid run. When I returned to my room, I propped my butt up on the sink so I could see into the mirror. With shaky hands I attacked the little bastard. It fought me, refused to let go, but I persevered and won! I checked to make sure that I had gotten all of it. I investigated the little bugger and then did some research online for more information on that particular type of tick. It is a Lone Star Tick, aggressive and common in the South. Good news is that they don’t carry Lyme Disease. Bad news is it was still traumatic and gross! Nothing makes you feel more isolated and alone on the road like a quick medical emergency in an unfortunate spot… when all you want is a friend to hold your hand and help help you remove the critter from your butt. Hopefully you have good friends!

Now I am sitting at Carpe Diem (a cool local coffee shop near the University). I will be heading out to explore the Gulf in mere moments! Of course, to add to my already unfortunate morning, it’s raining. I love the rain… but this is my beach day to sit on the sand and sun myself and relax. Hum, well I hope the weather gets nicer as I get away from Mobile. It’s been fun mobile, but I’m outta here! Onward to the beach!



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