Volume I : Chapter XIX
I love New Orleans, I loved it before I ever set foot there and when you go part of it leaves with you. You'll understand when you make it there, why there are so many songs about this place. You'll know what it's like to miss New Orleans.
Luckily, one of my oldest friends understood this too and moved here from California a few years ago. Jen was my first partner on the road, the first friend I crossed state lines with, we made it pretty far in those days before we got caught up with all this growing up stuff. I remember driving to Colorado one weekend for no reason other than we had never been there and there was a town called Dinosaur and I had dishonestly got my hands on a Chevron gas card. It's one of those friendships that lasts even if you go a few years without being in the same room. We had never lived in the same place so when we saw each other it meant one of us was travelling and we made the most of it. This was no exception.
We left the trailer in Baton Rouge and made our home in Jen's living room on Gov. Nicholls St. The French Quarter has its own music, you could never record just right it but you know it when you hear it. The apartment is along the tour route so we'd hear a good sampling of it; the slow trot of horse drawn carriages, the distant sound of brass instruments from the bars near by and muffled conversations between drunk passerby's. We drank a lot by the river.
We had never spent a Christmas on the road, we had kind of assumed we would be home by Christmas but we were happy not to be. We couldn't really afford presents or a fancy dinner but Jill and I thought it would be a nice touch if we could take $20 each from our account and go shop for each other. It was Christmas, we wanted something to open in the morning. We separated and spent a few hours apart scouring the quarter for gifts, came back to the apartment and sat in different rooms while we wrapped. When I came downstairs with my gift for Jill I immediately burst out laughing. Her gift was wrapped but had two metal legs sticking from the bottom, same as my gift for her. Somehow we had both ended up buying each other the same pink plastic flamingos. Typical.
During the days in town we just walked and walked and walked. That was free and New Orleans wasn't short on things to look at. We drank in the streets, met up with some friends that had been riding trains from the North West and spent a lot of time with them down by the river. The fog was heavy and warm most nights and we loved sitting on the banks of the Mississippi watching it roll in. I'd heard people refer to the fog "rolling in" before but this was the first time I could truly see what that looked like.