Archives for June 2014

FOLLOWING THE MISSISSIPPI: The Waterfall That Starts It All (Minneapolis)


Minneapolis & The Waterfall That Built A City

Minneapolis & The Waterfall That Built A City

Last we spoke I was lying on an air mattress in an empty house contemplating the future. Now I’m curled up in a leather recliner cradling a streaming cup of black coffee in a rugged, wood hewn coffee shop along Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota warding off the chill of a northern summer as I eagerly embrace the glorious present tense.

Granted, Duluth is slightly beyond the reach of the Mississippi River—the alpha and omega of my journey –but anyone familiar with my life knows that I’m always susceptible to a delightful detour. In fact, One Final Detour could serve as my epitaph!


Hauling Aspirations Past A Missouri Sunset

Hauling Aspirations Past A Missouri Sunset

Exorbitant rental car rates made flying north impractical so the morning after my dining room dissertation I packed my truck so full you would think I were [Read more…]

One Last Adventure: Exploring The Spiritual Artery of New Orleans


One Last Game With The Guys

One Last Game With The Guys

Tonight I’m lying on an air mattress in the dining room of the now empty New Orleans house I’ve rented for the past ten months. Last night this room was filled with the stories and laughter of the good friends I’ve made over the last year and a half. It took an entire year for my ‘Red Beans On Monday’ parties to draw a steady crowd, but the last several gatherings have been smashing successes. Last night’s encore performance didn’t disappoint, delivering all the enrichment and communion that I’d hoped for when I began this tradition after reading about the phenomenon in Gumbo Tales. Thus inspired, I made my first Monday pot as a New Orleans resident within weeks of moving here and tried to give them away to the neighbor who begged off, citing her diabetes. I’ve come a long way.

It figures things would finally start to click as my time winds down.



Therapy work is still slow in New Orleans, writing opportunities have failed to materialize, and I’ve yet to hear back from my last gasp TV audition. Meanwhile, several interesting opportunities are beckoning back in Florida, so perhaps it’s time to join the real world again and resume the daily grind, relegating passion back to hobby as most adult do.


Visiting My Old Decatur Street Home

Visiting My Old Decatur Street Home

I have no regrets. It has been an enlightening year and I never truly intended to permanently relocate, anyhow. Still, it was a little melancholy over the past week packing up and looking back. As I’ve reminisced I’ve visited old haunts and caught up with everyone I could. Sunday afternoon I took one last opportunity to play croquet with the Chewbacchus folks and that night headed to Frenchmen Street while it’s still just down the road. At one point in the evening wanderlust overtook me and I strolled back by my Decatur Street home of last summer’s misadventures, checking on the old neighborhood.

Last night’s red beans was the final stop on my farewell tour, so this morning I put my stuff in storage and cleaned the house, setting aside food and camping gear for one last adventure.


The Old Neighborhood At Night

The Old Neighborhood At Night

Tomorrow I’m heading north, driving to Minnesota—specifically Lake Itasca, source of the Mississippi River. From there I plan to follow it back to New Orleans, blogging about my discoveries along the way. I have no itinerary. I’m just heading out like a Lewis without the Clark (though with a GPS, which is probably better, anyhow.)

There is no New Orleans without the Mississippi River and all that enters that great draining basin must pass the Crescent City on its search for the sea. I have wanted to take this trip since arriving in town–for the river seems such a natural extension of the city–and recently it has occurred to me as the perfect farewell. So I’ll spend the next two weeks exploring the river that made New Orleans a necessity and contributed to is wild and delinquent nature, following it back to my current adopted home.


One Last Night On Frenchmen

One Last Night On Frenchmen

Unless something drastic happens as I meander, then I’ll pack upon return and head back East, having found such fitting closure in seeking out the spiritual artery that feeds New Orleans.

The blog will continue, as will my visits to New Orleans and participation in Mardi Gras, but differently. The blog and my study of New Orleans will again become a hobby rather than focus of my time and attention.

Empty House

Empty House

Yet before I go trying to grow up again, I have one last grand adventure to undertake, so I hope you’ll check in from time to time as I cut through the heartland of this great nation looking for the people and places whose essence has drifted down towards this famous bend in the Big Muddy to create one of the most unique and interesting cities in the world.




My Year of Mardi Gras: The TV Show?!?


Yoda Pat Pontificates While Bartending at Two Tony's (Or Demonstrates How a T-Rex Eats Red Gravy!)

Yoda Pat Pontificates While Bartending at Two Tony’s
(Or Demonstrates How a T-Rex Eats Red Gravy!)

An interesting wrinkle cropped up last week while I contemplated my future and the future of this blog. Since Mardi Gras I have pondered whether to stay in town and double down on my writing aspirations or move back to Florida and move forward compiling my adventure as a memoir. Although returning would feel a little like a retreat, I have deeper roots and more therapy opportunities in Florida (and I certainly need to refill the coffers after my year-long adventure!) Whatever I decide, I will continue to blog and participate in Mardi Gras. It’s just a matter of focus and priority. I intend to stay connected, marching in Chewbacchus and rolling with Morpheus no matter where I live; frequent down I-10 have become old hat by now. The question is whether to continue to make New Orleans my daily reality or return it to the status of my favorite escape from real life.

My lease ends this month and my roommate is reuniting with his wife so the pressure of the decision has increasingly weighed on me considering I’ll be homeless in two weeks. Perhaps it would be easier just to move back to Florida, go back to work, and resume writing on the side.

Just when it seemed cut and dried, though, my friend Yoda Pat sent me a Facebook invitation that could change everything. [Read more…]

Mardi Gras Marches On: The Gravitational Center of the NOLA Calendar


Me, Aimee, Reid, & Mark at the Morpheus Captain's Crawl

Me, Aimee, Reid, & Mark at the Morpheus Captain’s Crawl

I have written many time about how Mardi Gras is a year round event. Even though 2014’s Carnival Season ended with Ash Wednesday on March 5th, minds immediately turned to 2015’s festivities. In fact, only a handful of days into Lent my ever enthusiastic float mate, Don, posted the first of his now regular countdown updates on Morpheus’s Facebook wall: Only 342 days until we ride! Mardi Gras—not New Years or Christmas—is the epicenter of the New Orleans calendar, drawing all other days and events into its orbit.

In the opening pages of this blog I asserted:

Mardi Gras isn’t a few weeks of planning followed by a big blowout.  It’s a year of preparation and perspiration that unfolds over several weeks like a military campaign hell-bent on spreading heaven throughout the darkest months of the year.

This thesis was confirmed last summer during my visit to Mardi Gras World—a tourist attraction that provides the public a behind-the-scenes view of how Mardi Gras is built. During my tour I learned most krewes hand the facility’s conceptual artists their theme for next year’s parade on Ash Wednesday—or sometimes before. Even in the more informal and DIY Chewbacchus my sub-krewe of K.R.A.P. was bouncing around plans for a Jabba the Hut’s Barge float next year before the final parades had rolled. (Since I’d yet to embark on My Low Carb Lent to shed my ‘transplant twenty-five,’ I offered to play Jabba but co-leader Rachel Unger shot back that [Read more…]