The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans

A visit to New Orleans almost always focuses on the French Quarter, and since it was the second weekend of Jazzfest and friends were coming to stay with me and Harley, I picked the French Quarter Rv Resort for the convenience of being able to walk everywhere. That one week's stay at the FQRV cost $700...!!!....yup, because of their location and because of Jazzfest, they get to gouge you. But divided by three, it was more manageable and worth the convenience...and oh yeah, especially worth it for the hot tub. After standing and walking around all day, our feet were screaming for that hot tub.

2011 Jazzfest gates

Jazzfest happens every year and it's a festival celebrating all kinds of music, not just jazz. The music at the fairgrounds starts at 11 am and ends at 7 pm. The most dedicated people gather their krewe, get there early and setup camp at their favorite stage and stay all day. There are two main stages at either end of the fairground that feature the major headlining acts, with smaller stages in between - with stage names like "Congo Square", "Fais do do", "Blues", "Gospel", and "Jazz and Heritage" - giving you a large selection of music to experience.

My krewe and I were lazy Jazzfesters. We only got tickets for two days on the second weekend, and always arrived at the fairgrounds later in the afternoon - in time to eat some of the Best Festival Food ever, see what was going on at each stage, and settle in for the big closing act. Some of the lineup for our days there: Arcade Fire, Jimmy Buffet, The Strokes, Willie Nelson, Beau Soleil, Mystikal, Lauryn Hill, and always an energetic brass band that New Orleans is famous for.

I'm not a big fan of standing all day in crowded 100-degree sunshine, so going later in the day and staying for just three or four hours was just fine with me. The thing is, most of these bands (except for the big headliners) play at smaller venues around town at night and you definately want to plan on staying out into the wee hours of the morning. So it occured to me: since I'm apparently allergic to big crowds and direct sunshine and appreciate being rested enough so that I can be out all night long, that it might just be better to skip the fairgrounds during Jazzfest and go to the night shows. Blasphemy! I know. But in New Orleans, I channel my inner vampire.

Frenchman Street is where the music is and also where the crazies cut loose. A stroll down Frenchman Street at three or four in the morning is unlike any other place I know of in this country. By then, everybody's got their drink on, show audiences have spilled onto the street and the party is raging. In New Orleans, you can walk around on the sidewalks drinking alcoholic beverages (as along as it's in a plastic cup), so the streets are always filled with lively people from all walks of life: hippies, druggies, lawyers, homeless, doctors, students, musicians, dogs, entertainers, you and I. For a change of pace, Mojito's just around the corner is a good place to have a seat in a beautiful courtyard, listen to some live latin music, watch salsa dancing, dance and sip a decent cocktail.

Bourbon Street, yes of course....I suppose any tale of a visit to New Orleans would be remiss without a mention of Bourbon Street. Skip it. There's nothing to be had there, unless you're looking for cheap strip clubs with women shaking their booty in the windows, bad "cocktails" served in big cheap plastic souvenir cups, watery beer and noisy bars competing with each other with very loud bad music. Even Lafitte's Blacksmith's shop, which is a very interesting historic place ends up being something else when it's filled with the bourbon street crowd....but it does get more interesting around 3 or 4 in the morning when the crowd thins out...and yes, this city never sleeps....not around Jazzfest, at least. Bands play all night long, until the sun rises, so there always are people stumbling about.

It's New Orleans! ...of course there's some stellar food and cocktails to be had in this town. I wasn't here very long, but was able to try a few of the local gems: Cochon Butcher (house-made charcuterie), Cowbell (farm-to-table goodness), Juan's Flying Burrito (magazine street Mexican), Cure (very crafty cocktail bar), Mahoney's po-boy's, The Barley Oak (draft, craft beer on the north shore of Pontchartrain). And always Cafe Du Monde, of course...because hot donuts with powdered sugar are never a bad idea.

New Orleans

New Orleans architecture


After my friends left and I was cleaning up the place, I found a funny discolored spot on the floor beneath the dinette table. I touched it and pressed on it, and it was soft. I considered the possibilities and my options, before deciding that this time I really had to rip up the linoleum. And what I found was rot. !?!?!?! WTH?!?! Airstream has always told me that the floor is made to dry out - as long as there is not a continual leak somewhere - and that I should not rip up the linoleum and create a bigger repair job. Well, this rot spot does not seem to be in a place where there could be a continual leak. It's right where my feet would rest when sitting at the dinette table.

After reading many similar accounts on the Airstream Forums, I believe that water has been trapped under the floorboard and between the bubble foil insulation from the leaky panoramic window and perhaps also from a lack of sealant on the rub rail. I also believe that the vinyl flooring creates a sandwich effect, trapping the moisture in from the top. This is apparently not uncommon for trailers in my model year 2007. I believe that the most current models have corrected this little problem with the insulation, and I KNOW that the current models (starting in 2010) now have welded miter joints on the panorama windows. Remember, these were the windows that got my floor tremendously wet when I drove during a rainstorm. Airstream is obviously aware of these design issues, since the new models have been corrected.

New Orleans tomb
There's some voodoo going on here...

Despite the bad news about the floor, New Orleans was still at my doorstep. Not only was the RV resort located on the edge of the French Quarter, but it was also right next to St. Louis Cemetary #1, where the voodoo queen Marie Laveau is said to be buried. I wanted to leave a gift at her grave and do a little voodoo thing for luck when nobody was looking, but I left New Orleans before I had the chance. Actually, I was really looking forward to staying in New Orleans and Louisiana much longer, learn more about the cajun and creole cultures and read up on Marie Laveau and all that voodoo too, but then I saw this map in the morning newspaper:

...and I got scared. Of course I knew the Mississippi was in a terrible flood state, but THAT! That was no joke. Yes, it was unlikely that New Orleans would suffer another major flood like Katrina, but I didn't want to stick around to find I left. For these two pieces of major bad news, here's a beverage to help remember not to take life too seriously: A River Runs Through It.

New Orleans
Yes, Uneed it.

crappie hotspots
(heehee) Brochure I picked up at the Mississippi visitor center.


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