Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Feb. 7, First day in New Orleans

We slept in, having arrived at our destination, and it felt good on the old legs. I've had a pretty good stretch of riding, now time for some recovery and relaxation. We decided to take the Jeep to Uptown, where we watched the parade last night, and catch the trolley to Canal Street, which is in the heart of town, near Bourbon Street. We got into town, and learned that the trolley was going to shut down for parades in about an hour, so we really didn't have time to do anything, before we had to head back, or face a huge taxi bill. ( the trolley was only three dollars for an all day pass). We did have time to grab lunch in a little place on St Charles, and I had an alligator sausage sandwich, and a bowl of red bean and rice gumbo, not my ordinary fare, but good New Orleans food. Pam had a Po'boy and a cup of gumbo. We caught one of the last trolleys back to our Jeep, and watched three parades (they run back to back). We saw the Krewes of Babylon, Chaos, and the all female Krewe of Muses. Besides the great marching bands and floats, there were some unusual groups marching, including the Krewe of Rolling Elvi, which was about 100 guys dressed as Elvis, riding on motor scooters.
Krewe of Elvi

 The Dead Rick Jameses also appeared dressed as Rick James, a dead, black musician from the 80's. the 610 Stompers were a group of about 100 guys, dresses in short shorts, tank tops, and busting out choreographed disco moves for the entire six mile parade route.
610 stompers

One of the things I noticed about the marching bands, was all new uniforms, compliments of Hurricane Katrina. Last time I was here, pre-Katrina, I had noticed how poor the New Orleans bands were dressed, with old ragged, unmatched uniforms and tee shirts, but, man did they play! Now, they still play great, but they all are newly dressed, and the size of the bands has grown, probably due to the new uniforms, as well as new instruments.
We took some back roads home, following a levee along the Mississippi, as I tried to learn my way around, see some sights, and beat traffic. We were successful at each!
Morning after my first parade - counting my beads!!!

These are Mardi Gras parade ladders!  You sit up in the ladder so you can watch the parade over all of the heads!  The seat up on top has a back to it and wheels so you can roll it into position.  It is a BIG thing down here.

Parade viewing stand set up in front of a house.

The jeep is wearing its beads!

The start of the Muses parade.  Their big thing is that they throw decorated shoes along with beads from their floats.

Fancy drum major

More Elvi
One of the Muses' floats.  Notice all the hands up in the air, begging for beads!

 Okay, this is where I explain what Mardi Gras is really about!  Carnival started on Jan 6 (Twelfth night after Christmas, when the 2 Kings arrived to see Baby Jesus) and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  Mardi Gras basically means Fat Tuesday and the whole time of celebration is called Carnival. It is not all about what you see on TV, AKA Bourbon Street with lots of drunk college kids acting stupid.  It's about celebrating and preparing for the 40 days of Lent.  The whole Gulf Coast celebrates, not just New Orleans, and it is family friendly.  It has many parades that people go to and watch bands and beautiful floats.   The riders on the floats throw beads and trinkets and everyone has fun!  Each parade is sponsored by a Krewe and sometimes has a certain item that they are known for throwing.  Example was Muses who throw decorated high heels!  Some Krewes have better parades than others, some are daytime parades, others are known for night time parades with their beautifully illuminated floats.  Many Krewes have fancy balls or extravaganzas where there are traditions to follow and everyone dresses in gowns and tuxedos!  I can't tell you how much fun these parades are!  You feel like a kid again, begging for beads, stuffed animals, glow sticks!  It's awesome!

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