Not afraid

I celebrated by 61st birthday in New Orleans. While there, my wife and I went on a swamp tour and wrestled monster alligators.

Turning 61 isn’t that bad, especially if one gets to fly to his birthplace (New Orleans) the day after a hurricane, and things, with some itinerary changes, work out.

I put the weekend edition out a little early so my wife and I could fly to New Orleans last Thursday night.

When we left Rockport, all our plans, even with Cat 2 Zeta’s eye crossing New Orleans the day before, were still a go.

Luckily, it was a fast moving storm with a storm surge that rose and fell quickly, minimizing the damage, if there is such as thing.

We planned to eat a late supper in the French Quarter Thursday, get a good night’s sleep, and head out to a swamp tour in Jean Lafitte, LA the next day.

After the tour we were planning to go to Biloxi for the next two nights and just chill, taking a break from all local and national politics.

I got home early Thursday morning and turned on the news. What I saw wasn’t good. The first floor of one of the Biloxi casino parking garages was filled with water.

That couldn’t be good for our plans.

I had received word the Biloxi hotel at which we planned to stay Friday night and Saturday night had closed Wednesday afternoon, but planned to open once the storm passed (Biloxi was on the bad side of the storm).

Driving to Houston Hobby I called the swamp tour folks and asked if the tour was still a go.

They said their docks were damaged, but planned to have them repaired in time for the next day’s tours.

As we pulled into the parking garage at the airport I got a call from the swamp creatures. They told me the damage was more extensive than they originally thought, and all Friday’s tours were being cancelled.

Being a hurricane veteran (unfortunately), I quickly realized the chances weren’t good that our Biloxi hotel reservation would work out.

We changed the swamp tour from Friday to Saturday and kept moving.

Then I got an email from Beau Rivage saying they couldn’t open until at least Sunday. They are still closed, with plans to reopen tomorrow (Thursday).

It’s not like this was the first time in our life things didn’t go as planned, so we just laughed and figured it would turn into a mini-adventure.

I woke up Friday morning in New Orleans, an hour earlier than planned, to a sweet voice saying, “Happy Birthday honey. Clean up because we have to be on a bike tour in 30 minutes. I also got rooms at the Intercontinental Hotel on St. Charles Street for the next two nights.”

So much for worrying about what was in store for our weekend!

On several occasions we have gone places after a storm hits. There are plusses and minuses to doing that.

The good part this trip was there were plenty of nice hotels with discounted rates (lack of tourists due to Zeta, as well as COVID-19) and, we were the only ones on our bike tour. We covered a lot of territory because we weren’t in a large group. If one is interested in a New Orleans’ bike tour, call Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours at (504) 522-4368, or visit freewheelinbiketours.com.

Our guide suggested Adolfo’s, a neat little restaurant, overlooking the local music scene in the Marigny district in New Orleans. We ate there that night. If you want a non-touristy place to eat, that is quite good, Adolfo’s is located at 611 Frenchmen Street, just outside the French Quarter.

We rolled our way back to our newly booked hotel room and prepped for the big swamp tour the next day.

Back on my 50th birthday, I sort off crossed off “swamp tour” on my bucket list. It was the last trip our family made together before our oldest daughter was married.

On this trip I sent a bunch of videos of the all the alligators we saw, and my oldest daughter commented, “We got gypped on our tour.”

It had been cold for more than a week prior to that swamp tour 11 years ago, and all the alligators had gone underground.

Now that I got to see gators do their thing in their natural habitat, I can officially mark “swamp tour” off my bucket list.

The rest of the weekend was spent in total relaxation, which was apparently needed. I took a nap every afternoon, something I never do.

Another advantage to traveling during hurricane season and a pandemic is airplanes aren’t nearly as full as they used to be.

Our original flight home was set for Sunday evening, but was easily changed to an earlier flight since we didn’t have to drive in from Biloxi.

We’ve always enjoyed traveling, and staying very active on trips, but this one was different. Staying put in New Orleans for three days, filling up on the great food only that city can serve … including beignets … was the perfect birthday gift.

I can’t complain at all. Louisiana has been through a lot this hurricane season. Hurricane Harvey was bad enough. I can’t imagine getting hit and/or threatened by a hurricane three or more times in one season.

Until next week, have a good week.

Mike Probst can be reached at publisher@rockportpilot.com.

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