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June 1, 2008

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February 18, 2008

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My Trip to Big Sky
Country, Part Two

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My Trip to Big Sky
Country, Part 0ne

July 29, 2007

Letterboxing, etc.
May 25, 2007


May 9, 2007

Barbara's, St. Louis,
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April 18, 2007

Letterboxing Event
March 22, 2007

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March 8, 2007

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February 25, 2007

Best Photos of 2006
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February 10, 2007

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January 21, 2007

January 2, 2007

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September 19, 2006

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September 4, 2006

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August 22, 2006

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July 5, 2006

Museum of Bad Art
June 21, 2006

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June 14, 2006

The Return of
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June 1, 2006

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June 6, 2008


I've taken two trips recently, one for work, and one for fun, but both felt like fantastic vacations. The fun one will be in the next post. But this first one, the one for work, was to New Orleans! I was notified that I would be going just a week prior to the trip, so I barely had any time to prepare, search for restaurants to try, things to do, etc.

Luckily, my traveling companion Angel was on top of all of that! It turns out that we have a coworker who used to live in New Orleans who had given Angel all of the information we could possibly need for our travels.

Our first stop, which was literally right after we got off the plane, was Emeril's Delmonico restaurant. Angel really wanted to go there because her parents are huge fans. Here she is with Emeril's own knife, which has his name engraved on it. :D Look behind her and you can see the piano and the bar.


And here I am drinking Emeril's own wine. It was tasty! The restaurant itself is in a beautiful mansion, and our table was actually situated in an archway between what I assume were once two sitting rooms. And the waitstaff was incredibly personable and attentive. I was a little disappointed with the food though. My appetizer rocked, but my entree was kinda boring.

Between the two trips that I took, I'd have to say that New Orleans was my EATING vacation, while the other was my NOT eating vacation. There's nothing better than knowing money isn't an issue and you can order anything you want, because Uncle Heinemann is footing the bill! :D


It didn't hurt that this was the hotel I was staying in. Apparently the President of the company was booked at this hotel originally. Then she couldn't make it. Then we found out that the other manager who was going would possibly have to leave during the conference due to an illness in her family, so they needed a backup person in case she left. That backup was me. But when my hotel room needed to be booked, the only room left in New Orleans was the one the company President would've stayed in. :D Which was part of the Ritz Carlton. (!!!) This is the lobby.

Unfortunately, since it was in fact the last room left in all of the city, I got the weirdest shaped room EVER. It was long and thin, with only ONE window opening to the outside world. And the view left much to be desired. But it had wireless and that's all I care about. :D


The reason for this trip was the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development conference. So during the day I was on my feet, helping customers, selling books, and saying, "No, that's Heinemann-RAINTREE, they're a separate company. No, I don't know where their booth is. I think it's somewhere in that direction," because those bitches had the gall to print a coupon in the conference program. But on the first full day in New Orleans, all we had to do was set up the booth in the morning, and then we had the rest of the day to explore!

I was really happy to travel with Angel because I knew she would be up for anything, including posing for dorky photos with me. :D A kind gentleman was nice enough to snap this one of us with the "crawgator." We popped in many shops filled with Mardi Gras beads of every color, shape, size, and theme you could possibly imagine, plus voodoo dolls and many delicious-looking Cajun delicacies. And of course I bought many of those things for friends and family.


New Orleans is a fantastic city to just wander around in... during the day anyway. And in the right parts of town. Due to Hurricane Katrina, it still has one of the highest crime rates in the country. I used to walk alone at night at 2am in Boston and New York City, but honestly, I would NOT be comfortable doing that in the Big Easy. In the touristy areas of the city, which is where I was, the flood damage has all been repaired or hidden. But in the poorer sections of town, there are still markings on the buildings showing how many bodies were found inside.

The spirit of the city is alive and well though, let me tell you. We were walking along on our way to dinner when we saw motorcycle cops with flashers on circle around to block off the city block we were currently walking down. Then we noticed a group of people gathered across the street. "Maybe it's a famous person!" Angel said. So we stopped and watched and waited. And waited. And waited. And nothing was happening. So we crossed the street to get a closer look. And waited. And then finally decided to walk off, when we heard music coming from the hotel, and getting louder and louder, until...

Out of the hotel came a parade! A random, theme-less, bizarre parade in the middle of the day, filled with a marching band and costumed dancers. Out of the hotel they came, followed by many drunk hotel residents, and they marched...

directly across the street into another hotel. :D It was quite humorous!


After the random parade we continued down Canal Street to The Palace Cafe, which had been recommended to us by numerous people. The menu had SO many delicious-sounding things that we decided to order a bunch of appetizers so we could try as much as possible.

We ended up with shrimp and crawfish cheesecake (sounds weird but trust me it was divine), crawfish mac and cheese (delicious!), gumbo (eh), fried green tomatoes (delicious), and shrimp...something (it was good, whatever it was).


The best part was when we tried to figure out how the heck to eat a crawfish. Since it LOOKS like a lobster, we tried take it apart the way you would with a lobster. This was humorous. Later we learned we were supposed to suck the head of the crawfish. I'm kinda glad we found that out later. :D Crawfish are REALLY tasty though. Maybe now that I know how much I like them I'll be a little more daring next time.


After that fantastic and leisurely meal, we ventured to Mardi Gras land—Bourbon Street. It reminded me of the many, many Girls Gone Wild commercials I used to see when I got home after working nights, but luckily the girls had not yet gone wild while we were out that night.

However, we were not at a loss for topless women. Every single pornography magazine that you can think of has a strip club on Bourbon Street. And then there were at least twice as many that were not spinoffs of porno mags, with names like "Darlings" and... I don't know. But they all had pictures in the windows showing their "offerings." And they were not censored. At all. :D I would also like to point out that there are some dumbass tourists who bring their kids down Bourbon Street. :D

We watched and observed and peeked in a few more shops here and there, and then lo and behold, more cops blocking off a street. This time though, we were ready! So we ran up the street a little further and sure enough, it was another random parade! Complete with fire-breathers! :D


Well, this one wasn't quite so random, since it was nighttime and it was the day before St. Patrick's Day, but still. There was some of the usual parade fare: marching bands, people on floats smiling and waving, horse-drawn carriages, etc. And then there were roller girls, a group of women with a male blowup doll, and Camel Toe Lady. :D And they were all throwing Mardi Gras beads! And since I'm tall and have funny glasses, all I had to do was hold out my hand and I scored a ton of beads. SERIOUSLY, THAT'S ALL I HAD TO DO. :D Don't even go there, it didn't happen! :D


We followed the parade a ways up the street until we came to Pat O'Brien's, which we were told to stop at and buy a hurricane. So in we walked and I proudly stepped up to the bar and said, "Could I have a hurricane TO GO, please?" I was very proud of myself about this "to go" business. You're allowed to drink on the street in New Orleans. We even passed an establishment called "HUGE ASS BEERS TO GO." Too funny! Angel doesn't drink but of course we had to get a picture of her having a sip of my insanely strong hurricane outside.


And then she was kind enough to take this fine photograph of me with my hurricane—to go—outside. :D I don't think I ever imagined having a photograph of myself looking like this, drinking outside on Bourbon Street with multiple strings of Mardi Gras beads around my neck. :D


The following day was the first official day that the exhibits were open to the conference attendees, and our booth looked great I thought. Look at this especially beautiful display of one of our newest and most expensive products! See the fine television displaying the DVD included with the product? See it? Okay, remember that.


The day at the conference was long, but it was definitely not over! The highlight of my trip was about to begin: the LETTERBOXING MINI-MEET!!! I had carved Angel a signature stamp during some downtime during the day, and as we walked to Jackson Square I prepped her about the many wonderful details of my most favoritest hobby.

We passed this pretty donky along the way. I really wanted to pet her but I know donkies bite and I was afraid. But it's one of my favorite photos from the trip!


We were meeting up with Blackberry Patch and her friend in front of the Jackson Square Cathedral, which was just beautiful. Plus, the weather during the whole time we were there was perfect—80 degrees-ish and sunny!


After we found Blackberry Patch, we did the requisite exchanges and answering of personal traveler questions, and made our way to Cafe Du Monde. There are two planted letterboxes there so Blackberry Patch waited for a table while the rest of us went to find them.

And then, ... then there were beignets. Delicious, delicious beignets.


Beignets are French doughnuts. Delicious fried pastry covered in mountains of delicious powdered sugar that gets ALL OVER you while you eat them and you don't mind one teeny bit! :D Oh they were wonderful. So much so that Angel and I went back the following day for more! :D

After I managed to drag myself away from the remains of the beignets (I had been dipping my finger in the leftover powdered sugar), we went to find more letterboxes! We visited General Robert E. Lee, who lives in the middle of a traffic circle and watches over a Mardi Gras themed stamp there, and then I found my very first Green Tortuga box at a cancer memorial, hidden in a palm tree! For all of you non-letterboxers, Green Tortuga is the kind gentleman who runs the best letterboxing website, Atlas Quest.

We tried to find one other letterbox, but unfortunately the area where it was supposed to be had been landscaped and the box was not there anymore. :( So we went back to the car and were about to be on our way, when Blackberry Patch's friend suddenly rolled up the windows of the car (this was odd because it was hot out). And RIGHT AFTER she did so, a crazy drunk guy walked up behind the car and tried to open the driver's door! This was a little freaky. We pulled away quickly but were forced to stop only a few feet further down the street at a red light, and the dumbass came up to the car and tried to open Blackberry Patch's door! She then rolled down the window and yelled at him to get lost, which was quite humorous. This is why you don't wander the streets of New Orleans alone at night. :D

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only crime we encountered in New Orleans. The next morning, Angel and I arrived at the convention center and she stopped to get breakfast while I continued to the booth. And when I arrived, something was amiss. No televisions. We had two TVs that were displaying DVDs of our two big new products, and they were both missing. I contacted security, and sure enough, they were stolen. Nice of the thieves to leave the cords for us though, eh?

I had to spend the rest of the morning running around giving statements to police officers, security personnel, conference staff, and one reporter who did not take any notes while I spoke to her and misquoted me like four thousand times If you're curious, the "high-end monitors" were probably the cheapest flat-panel TVs you can buy. And the TV was NOT "a little shaky and doesn't work quite right," it was "ON THE FRITZ," which are the exact words I used. Whatever, at least she spelled my name right I guess. Go ahead and Google me, that article will pop up. :D I'm famous! :P


After another long and grueling conference day, Angel and I took the streetcar to see the beautiful mansions of New Orleans. We passed by the house where The Real World New Orleans was filmed, but I didn't watch it enough to be able to remember which house it was. There were SO MANY gorgeous buildings though, with high ceilings and patios and beautiful lawns and iron work...

And Mardi Gras beads EVERYWHERE! :D


Including the trees! It really didn't look trashy though, oddly. I enjoyed watching the beads swaying in the wind and sparkling in the sun. :)


That evening we had another amazing meal with the Sales Director and his son, who are both charming and hilarious Southern gentleman, and then we left them (they were going to party on Bourbon Street, no joke :D) and walked back to the hotel through the French Quarter. We passed by a bunch of antique stores that look NOTHING like what we have in New England! Just imagine HUGE, gorgeous chandeliers EVERYWHERE. Opulance galore! None of the puritanical wood that is pervasive in our antique shops. :)

And you know I couldn't leave New Orleans without SOME sort of owl. These little guys were in the window of one of the antique stores.

It really was a fantastic trip and I honestly forgot that I wasn't on vacation at one point and Angel had to remind me that this was a business trip. :D I'd go back there in a minute!
Next blog: Disney World! :)


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