It is a really gray drizzly and misty day here and I think I’ve finally gotten home. Even though I’ve been back here since Wednesday afternoon and back at work since Thursday morning I’ve felt in transit. I’ve also been exhausted. So here is the beginning of my account of the New Orleans trip. Frankly, I’m writing this as much for myself as for anyone else’s edification. I’m finding this blog is turning into my personal journal. Why it has taken me moving to a public forum to keep a journal is something I should probably consider.
As I write this I’m listening to the Great Lakes Myth Society album I downloaded. I love their indie rock meets folk sound and the various regional references to the land of my youth adds a nice edge of nostalgic melancholy that really fits the day.
So, the trip:
The conference in New Orleans started on Sunday afternoon and ran through Tuesday morning. The college was only willing to pay for Sunday and Monday nights at the hotel, but the contingent going from my area decided to pay for Saturday night ourselves so we could arrive that day and spend Saturday night in New Orleans. I’m generally not a bar-hopping kind of guy (to say the least) but I had really been feeling the need to break my routines for awhile. This was also going to be the first time I’d left the state or gone anyplace new in about ten years (literally – it was the summer and fall of 1997 when I went to Jamaica for dissertation research.) One of my friends was making a lot of plans about stuff we could all do and I simply put my itinerary in her hands knowing that my own instincts would leave me eating in the hotel restaurant.
Saturday I dropped Dog off at a friend’s house and headed for the airport. I hadn’t flown since before 9/11 and despite the news accounts I was rather taken aback by the security screening – especially the physical search of a pregnant woman I saw at Dulles. I was flying through Washington to New Orleans and on United Express all the way. My flights to and from Washington were on an United subsidiary called Chautauqua. That should have told me something. The large amounts of duct tape visible in the cabin verged on the alarming. The people were fine, though, and so was I when I arrived in New Orleans about five hours later.
Within ninety minutes of arriving at my hotel I had met up with my friend and we were going to find something to eat. I was walking down the sidewalk and looking up at the city and not down at my feet.
As a result, I did not see the large pothole.
I felt my ankle roll over sideways and things going pop and I remember thinking two things on my way to the pavement: “There is nothing in reach that I can use to catch myself” and “Of course.” I knew it was sprained and was just hoping I hadn’t broken it. When I could move it without horrific sharp pains and could limp on it (that took a few minutes to work up to) I figured it was just sprain number three for that particular ankle. My friend helped me limp to a nearby place called Ernst’s Pub where we got a table and I put my foot on a chair while we got some burgers (very good) and beer (very welcome). Then it was find a cab and head back to the hotel. By that point the pain was REALLY kicking in. We got back to my room and she kindly got me settled and sat with me until my department chair and her husband – a nurse – arrived. He checked me out and wrapped the ankle and then they went out for awhile after making sure I was okay. As I’ve said before, I work with good people and good friends. So much for Saturday.
During the night I decided that I was going to push the ankle as hard as I could because I did not want to lose this trip to sitting in the hotel with ice packs. Sunday morning we all went to the National World War II Museum. It is quite a place. We heard everything there was to hear about Higgins Boats from an elderly vet who had run them during the war and who goes to the museum every day he can just to tell people about them. He credits Higgins with saving his life. There are excellent displays, including a very good one about racism in wartime propaganda. It was three hours well spent – and three hours walking on that ankle. My friends offered to get me around in a wheelchair, but I am way too big (physically) to ask them to do that. I just walked until I needed a break and then sat for awhile. It was very tiring walking that way and it hurt but it was well worth it.
After the museum we went to lunch at a place mentioned in the tour guides called Mother’s. It specializes in Louisiana cuisine. While there we met an actual “Soup Nazi” who ran the line getting people in the door (you went in, lined up, gave your order, and then went to the table) and had a really scary waitress (she had bigger arms than me and tattoos to boot). We also had excellent food. I thought I had tasted Jambalaya before… I was wrong.
By then it was afternoon and I was worn out so I grabbed a cab back to the hotel while they headed for the French Quarter. Later they were coming back to the hotel and then we were all going out to dinner.
Well, we are having a department Christmas party tonight, and I am going to have to wrap this up. More later…