Miss. and La. Road Trip Pics: 1st Set: Leave DC, Drive, Arrive, First Day/Night in NOLA

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UPDATE #1: Here’s a master page of New Orleans pics and videos: www.buzzpal.com/no.

UPDATE #2: Here’s the rest of the pics, all on one page.

Here’s the first batch of pics from my 9-day road trip down to Pearl River, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Why/how’d I go on this trip?

To help my friend Alan move all his stuff down to his and his wife Amy’s organic blueberry farm, Pearl River Blues. Plus I absolutely love great road trips, and what could be better, especially if you love music, than a road trip to Mississippi and New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, funk, and blues?

This first set of pics starts out at our old building in Adams Morgan, where I met Alan in 1994, when I moved in (he moved in a few years earlier).

Helping carry his stuff down three flights of stairs and into the truck were Alan, Kevin, Marc, Philip, and me. Max was in charge of beer, pizza, and truck packing. I think it took about five hours, at a medium pace.

After getting everything packed, we took showers and Alan said his goodbyes to his home of 20+ years and his life as a native Washingtonian. Then Alan and I hit the road, driving a couple hours to get the truck full of goodies out of the hood. We spent our first night (Saturday, March 28th) at Richard and Irene’s summer house, near Old Rag, Virginia.

Sunday morning we set off early and drove down to stay with Alan’s high school friend, Barbara, and her husband and kids in Huntsville, Alabama, home of NASA’s Space & Rocket Center. (Sorry, no pics of our stop in Huntsville.)

Monday was an easy drive to Pearl River, Mississippi, where we were greeted by Amy, Cirillo, four dogs, two cats, 80 chickens, and one (tired) rooster.

Amy made us an amazing lunch/dinner of pork chops and gravy with a side of green bean salad with bacon and olive oil (fresh bread and homemade salsa, too). After lunch, we took power naps and then Alan and I got to work unpacking the truck while Amy and Cirillo did some farm work.

Tuesday, after Cirillo’s delicious breakfast of huevos rancheros (fresh eggs from the free-range chickens) and homemade salsa (Mexican-style), we hit the road for our first day/night trip into New Orleans, which is about an hour and a half southwest of the farm. On the way in, Amy took us on a guided Katrina tour (Amy is from New Orleans). Pictures below.

Next stop was Central Grocery for a Muffuletta, stuffed artichoke, Barq’s (root beer), and Zapp’s Cajun Crawtators (potato chips), which we ate on a bench in Jackson Square Park. Yum!

After that was walking around the French Quarter, stopping off at the Louisiana Music Factory, and then meeting up with Amy’s cousin, Caroline, at the Ugly Dog Saloon and BBQ joint. Also hangin’ that night were Pittsburgh John and Mr. Andy.

Before heading back to the farm for the night, we stopped off at Cafe Du Monde for latte’s and beignets. I think we made it home at 3:30 and spent the next 30 minutes on the porch sipping Hornitos and going through the Offbeat magazine and other papers we scored to plan our music for our upcoming nights.

BTW, you still have time to get tickets and get down to Jazz Fest later this month and first week of April. I’ve only been once, but hope to go back again next year with Susanne and some of my original Jazz Fest crew, John and Steveo from my Georgetown MBA dayz (Jumbo Jet, guys. Good times. Are you with me?). For streaming music: WWOZ’s website.

The rest of my pics, and some videos, are coming in the next few days or so (check back). Before we get to them, though, I want to share a touching, and hopefully motivating article, plus my personal thanks and comments to Alan, Amy, Cirillo, April, Carolyn, Mr. Andy, Chris, Sam, and all the other people I met and hung out with on this adventure.

First, the article, which I found on the front page of The Times-Picayune on my flight back from New Orleans Monday morning:

Squatters hidden in N.O.’s abandoned houses often need more help than other homeless people [PDF]

Why do more people not care? What can we do? We can start by standing up for others. I don’t mean our friends and family, or the people who can do anything for our careers or desires, but for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Also by communicating with our elected officials, and by taking it to the streets (hey, I’m from DC and attended my first protest/rally in 1984). And, of course, by giving what we can to whom we can, even if it’s just a smile or acknowledgment.

Next, my personal comments (originally in an email to Alan):

Thanks again for everything and apologies for almost certainly catalyzing, encouraging, and over-extending, so much back-to-back-to-back Nawlins action and otherwise delaying the settling in of your your settling-in process. For what it’s worth, the entire trip was a super-duper, over-the-top blockbuster for me. I mean crazy great! From the drive down, to the farm, to Nawlins and all moments, sites, smells (except the occasional Bourbon St stank), tastes, sounds, and more.

I made a lot of friends as I wandered the streets on my own this weekend, many of whom you will see photographed and videoed (once I get things processed and posted). This ranges from the pair of guys at the bar where I had lunch (one from DC, one from Jacksonville), to the reluctant forced-to-dress-like-a-pirate-event-flier-hander-outer I met at Jackson Square Park, to the pair of buxom pirates we chatted with, to my two drinkin’- and jammin’-buddy girl friends (from Jacksonville) I partied with at Cafe Negril (check out the accordon player who was there), to my Acme oyster-eattin’ buddy, who happened to be from Columbia Heights, Washington, DC, to the four Nawlins natives (attorneys) who bought us many drinks and some tacos from the taco truck on Frenchmen Street Saturday night, to the best breakdance-troupe I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few), to the tween trumpeter who rocked it with the Treme Brass Band, to the tromboner and brass band who had people dancing in the streets, to the just-married couple who popped out of the cathedral just as a happened by (pics coming), to the horse who poked his head into the bar to listen to the music, to the Rock & Bowlers, to the keyboardist at Maple Leaf, and the…. it goes on and on. Yes, I was up ’till 4:00 AM a few nights and close to it a number of others (power naps are the key). I cannot believe so much fun was sandwiched into such a short time. Thank you!

You, Amy, Cirillo, and April made it all possible. You know I am a minimalist as far as stuff goes, that’s because I am an “experience guy,” specifically a “sharing experiences” guy. We did that. You guys did that. Thank you, thank you, thank you (that’s one for each of you, Amy, and Cirillo) and thanks to April, Caroline, right, and everyone else.

Special mention to Mr. Andy, who is living proof that anyone can change their lives dramatically, if they’re willing to (it’s a choice) escape the known, free their minds, free themselves, and launch into the unknown, to where our dreams live. Follow the white rabbit.

Now, finally, on to the pics 🙂

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On the phone to Susanne, in Sweden

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