Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Orleans!

Brace yourself, this is a post about something OTHER than Lilly.  {whaaaaaattt?!?!}

Back in March {so I'm a little behind} we set off on yet another 311 day adventure.  This time to New Orleans.  {if you recall, we've done this before - you can read about our first trip to Vegas in 2010 here, here and here, and you can read about our second trip to Vegas in 2012 here}

A little backstory for you... Ashley and I's friendship was practically born at a 311 concert.  We've seen I can't even tell you how many shows together, and we've shared every 311 day experience together.  Our first was in 2006, in Memphis, way before this blog was born {and just before we met/fell for our respective husbands}.  You see, 311 day started in New Orleans in 2000, and has continued every other year since then.  2006 was the first year it wasn't in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina the previous year, and that was our first time experiencing it.  We had a BLAST in Memphis - we were in college at the time and road tripped there with a group of friends, having the time of our lives.  I will have to dig up pictures of that epic trip...although maybe I should leave those buried...  In 2008 they were back in New Orleans, but Ashley and I didn't make it.  In 2010 they moved it to Vegas, and went back in 2012.  This year, they went back to New Orleans once again, but it was the first time for us.  We had our buddy Nate tagging along for this trip, he went to Vegas with us in 2010, but skipped out in 2012.

I must start my recap by admitting that we sort of failed at this vacation.  Don't get me wrong, we saw an awesome 311 show and overall we had a GREAT time.  But we didn't really do New Orleans right.  I think it was just a lack of planning to be honest - Lilly's birthday party was 2 days before we left for this trip.  As you can imagine, the weeks {months} before we left were pretty much consumed with birthday plans, so I didn't do a whole lot of research and planning for this trip.  Looking back, its kind of humorous, really.  Every time I talk to someone about our trip they'll ask "did you go to {insert famous New Orleans place here}??" or "did you eat {insert famous New Orleans food here}??" and every time I say "uhh, no.".  So yeah, there's that.  But I'm not saying we didn't have a blast!  Because we totally did.  We just didn't do all those N'awlins things that everyone is supposed to do there.  Except for walking around on Bourbon Street.  And drinking.  We did both of those things. :)

We left on a Monday morning to fly out to New Orleans {side note: this was the first time Matt and I left Lilly for more than one night.  Let's just say I was a giant ball of anxiety that Monday morning.  but, spoiler: everything went great, and she did totally fine}  We got to the airport and I got a kick out of this sign which was clearly catered to all the 311 fans traveling that day. ;)

Then we got to our hotel and were pumped to find out our room number.

Ok, so originally we were in a different room.  But it wasn't ready, so they had to switch us, and we jokingly asked if room 311 was available.  Well, it was. :)  

We got unloaded and ventured out to explore the great city of N'awlins.

We stopped for lunch at a tiny little spot called Jimmy J's.  Little did we know that would be the only "authentic" New Orleans restaurant we would visit.  We all got po'boys. This picture isn't all that exciting, but it sure was a cute little place.

Then, we set out to continue exploring.  We walked, and we walked. And we walked some more.  We made our way to Bourbon street, and basically just walked all around the French Quarter.

Matt got hustled by this shoe shining guy - who did nothing but put a stain on his new tennis shoes (HA)

and we saw a lot of beads.  Mind you, we were there the week after Mardi Gras.

We pretty much just spent the afternoon walking around, stopping at various bars to get a beer.

We eventually made our way back to the hotel {we stayed at the O'Keefe plaza - a few blocks from the French was the cheapest and almost only hotel with rooms left by the time we got around to booking.  It was actually decent...considering we spent hardly any time there, it did the trick!} and relaxed for a bit before starting our evening.

There was a pre-party for 311 fans at a couple of bars on Bourbon Street, so we made our way over there that evening, but the lines were INSANE and the crowds were crazy.  So instead we just hung out on Bourbon Street all night.

At one point we went to the Absinthe Bar, where Nate and Zach each had a glass...the night just got weird from there.

see what I mean?  This is probably a good place to stop the pictures from that night. :)
I'll just say there was electronic-bull riding, stumbling through the streets, and shenanigans back at the hotel room to follow.

The next morning {concert day!} we all stumbled out of bed, and decided to check out the Aquarium of the Americas - sounded cool enough.  It happened to be a stormy day, though, and we thought we could make the walk over to the other side of town to get there, and, well, that turned out to be a pretty bad idea.  We ended up getting caught in a torrential downpour.  We stopped on the way to buy ponchos and umbrellas, but that almost didn't even matter.  we. were. soaked.

But, we did finally make it to the aquarium, and wandered around checking out all the sea life.

It wasn't the most exciting day of my life, I must say, but it was a pretty nice way to spend the day, not wasting too much energy since we had a marathon of a concert to attend that night.  Oh, we also realized as we left, that there was a trolley that would have taken us from about 2 blocks away from the hotel, practically to the front door of the aquarium, for a whopping $1.50 per person.  So yeah, glad we knew about that WHEN IT WAS POURING DOWN RAIN.

After we got back to the hotel and dried off (no, really, Ashley and I sat on the bed, taking turns drying our jeans with the tiny hotel hair dryer...), we hit Bourbon Street again for some dinner, and then it was off to the show.

We had some lovely overpriced food and drinks at Hard Rock (and Ash drank a Hurricane - so there's another "true" N'awlins thing, right???), and then we headed out to the concert venue.

Then, we watched 311 play for 5 hours.  FIVE HOURS.  They played 66 songs, including several from their new album which was released that day.  it. was. awesome.

I took quite a few pictures during the show, but they all just came out as crappy iPhone pics for the most part.

Except for this one.  I really dig this one.

We actually ended up moving from these seats after the first couple songs, because the sound was horrible.  Like, it sounded like we were in a tunnel.  Not cool.  But we made our way to the middle of the arena, and it was muuuuch better.  We proceeded to enjoy 5 hours of great music with  10,000 of our closest 311-fan-friends.

{funny how the whole point of our trip, and therefore purpose of this post, is the 311 day concert, and I have 2 pictures to show for it. ha!  just use your imagination for the rest...}

311 never disappoints, and always puts on a GREAT show.  Especially on 311 day.  They pull out all the stops, and really dedicate the night to their fans.  We got to hear several songs they'd never played live before, new cover songs, and songs from the album that just came out.  I know I'm biased, but I just don't know of any other bands that are this awesome for their fans.  These guys have been doing this for a long time, and still, every other year (for 14 YEARS NOW) they give it their all and put on an amazing show.  Ashley and I danced our little hearts out, and sung the words to as many songs as we knew - which was most of them. :)  All in all, it was SUCH a fun night.  An exhausting night, but a fun one, nonetheless. :)

As you can imagine, it was also quite a late night, so no one was in a rush to get up early the next morning.  Our flight didn't leave until late in the evening, so we had another day to kill.  This time, we ventured to the old cemeteries.  This was the one time I busted the big girl camera out, and got some pretty cool shots actually.  It was an overcast day, which honestly just made the vibe at a 200+ year old cemetery extra creepy.  But it made for good photos. :)

After our cemetery adventure, we stopped for a quick drink, and then went back to Jimmy J's one more time before heading to the airport.  We found out they served breakfast all day, so decided to try out a little breakfast-for-dinner, and oh my was that a good idea.  YUM.

After dinner {breakfast}, we hopped in a cab and made our way back to the airport, to catch our flight back to good ol KC.  It felt like one of the looooooongest plane rides ever, but by then I was just ready to get back and see my baby!  Not to mention, my body was missing its little nursling {ouch}.  I spared you the details in this post about my adventures trying to pump breastmilk during this whole trip, but let's just say it was an adventure.  One hotel room, 5 people, tiny bathroom...yeah not the most conducive environment for pumping.  But I made it work!  

So, there you have it.  311 day adventure number 4, in the books.  This was a pretty different experience than any of the others, for a lot of reasons, but it's certainly a trip I'll never forget.  Can't wait to see where the next 311 adventure takes us...

ok, spoiler: we're going on another cruise with them in February.  to Jamaica.  :)