I realized, the other day, that I never did a recap of my trip to New Orleans. The trip, being mostly for the ALA conference, also includes about 24 hours of research. Originally I was going to be researching a book I wanted to set in New Orleans. Over time this plan has evolved and I made the decision to focus on the haunted history of New Orleans. There has been an on-again-off-again idea in my head to do a Northanger Abbey modernization around hauntings. It feels like its on again, but requires more research!
ALL THE RESEARCH!
Anyway, the time I spent doing research and the time I spent at the conference are two different things, but there are moments where they overlap. I had hoped to spend most of my time focused on research, but my writing plans changed and in the middle of the trip I realized an abandoned idea was still poking at me.
The Library element of the trip had to do with the annual conferences for the American Library Association. Last year it took me to Chicago and, two years ago, to Orlando. It was after the San Francisco conference three years ago that a number of things happened to result in my current life plan. I love this conference, but due to tax code changes and work priorities, I won’t be attending much longer. I wanted to spend this trip around New Orleans, a city I love in spite of the humidity, but all these amazing events and program opportunities came up. What I did stick to was a plan to not bring home as much stuff from the conference, other than things I picked up for others. I did well only keeping about three books for myself. I had a moment when I considered committing myself to two more years with the committee I belong, but I knew to let some time pass before I made that decision. I can get very “rah-rah” at the moment only to have a lot more clarity when I’m removed from the environment. I looked at my notebooks from the conference, once I was home, to see notes on upcoming conference locations and what I could make happen realistically and with my budget. Don’t worry, rationality won and I’m back to recognizing that I need to stick to my priorities.
As far as the research goes, that was fun! I focused the first day of my trip on touristy things like tours. It’s been 20 years since my last trip to New Orleans, so I wanted to get a feel for the city again. It’s not the same city and I’m not the same person. I got a ticket to do a hop-on-hop-off tour of the city. I sat on the top and in the sunshine. You could still see the Mardi Gras beads hanging from trees, where nobody could reach. We did a quick tour through the Garden District, my favorite part of the city. I considered getting off for Lafayette Cemetery, but the time wasn’t good. They close in the early afternoon and it was close to closing when we got there.
I ended up getting off at the far end of the French Quarter, right by the French Market. We drove past spots I had spent Mardi Gras at. I skipped Cafe Du Monde and beignets but walked through the market getting gifts for friends and souvenirs for myself. I picked up beads, masks, and other things as I walked. In Jackson Square, I stopped and had my cards read. She told me love was closer than I knew and probably someone I already knew. They always tell me this… little do they know it’s just as oblivious as I am. I continued walking all the way back to my hotel, in the head and humidity down Bourbon Street. My plan was to take a shower, have a quick dinner, and go on a haunted walking tour! I did this in San Diego a few years ago when I went there for a Wikipedia conference and it was so much fun. I think I need to do this when I visit all the places. This is where I get some fun ideas.
My plan worked and I got to the location for the haunted tour with time to get a Hurricane and chat with the others on the tour. It was packed with librarians there for the conference, so it was my kind of tour group. They gave us 2-for-1 Hurricanes, so I handed off my second drink to another person. I know my limits and I was already dehydrated. I even brought a bottle of water with me to drink when I was done with the alcohol. Not that it worked, but I did try. Our tour guide was great, focusing on the legends as something different than reality. He talked about the legend of vampires and the LaLaurie house. This was the one featured on American Horror Story’s Coven season. The owner tortured and experimented on her slaves in her French Quarter home.
I spent the rest of the weekend in conference sessions, trying to keep cool. One night a company took me out for dinner at The Commander’s Palace. This is where some of the most famous southern chefs were trained like Emeril Lagasse. The meal was amazing and the venue is historical. I would never have the chance to eat there if I hadn’t been there with a vendor. The mean was amazing and I, who really don’t like seafood, ate a Sheepshead fish. It has human teeth, Google it! It was so fresh and cooked so well that it was an amazing course in an equally amazing meal. For dessert, we had bread pudding, something they are famous for. They bake a soft meringue on top and then when they put it before you, crack it open so they can pour whiskey caramel sauce in it. I ate it all and drank Sazeracs, which is another drink the city is known for.
In the end, it was an amazing trip and I hope it’s not another 20 years before I go back. Here are some of the pictures I took on the trip and at the conference!