Day Twenty One – Audobon Zoo

Day Twenty One – Audobon Zoo

Blues Idiom – Chitlin – Short for chitlings, chitlins are pieces of pig intestine. When blues musicans were on the road they were said to be on the chitlin tour. Chitlings being the only cheap food they could afford to eat.

Went out for a walk early to deliver a tube of vegemite. On my last visit I browsed a second-hand book store and finished up buying a cook book. The owner, an older guy had a lot of his life-time memorabilia on display. I was surprised to find  a dusty old empty vegemite jar amongst his stuff. The owner told me that back in the sixties in San Francisco he had a brief affair with a travelling Aussie girl, she had turned him onto vegemite and said he loved it. He kept the vegemite jar to remind him of the girl and his love for the snack. I promised if I came back then I would bring him a tube. He was blown away when I handed the vegemite to him, ‘I am gunna make some toast and use it straight away.’

There was a three alarm fire overnight not far from us. An oyster restaurant caught fire. Hmm, charred oysters anyone. I have read about fires in town before, being described as two alarm fires or four alarm fires etc. Mickey tells me that the number of the alarm represents the number of fire trucks called out.

Just after 12 we are on Magazine Street waiting for  the number 11 bus to take us to Audobon Zoo, a ride to the end of the bus route. Kate checked her Metro app and said the bus was due in 3 minutes. I scoffed, remembering that Brian Wise told me 5 years ago that there is no such thing as a bus timetable in New Orleans. Imagine my surprise when the bus turned up right on time. I have a sneaky feeling that it was the previous due bus running 30 minutes late.

No line to get in and not a lot of people around when we do get through the gates. Heavy rain is predicted and people are a bit hesitant to go out I guess. Suites us as we have the run of the Zoo. The zoo itself is part of an old sugar plantation. Beautiful old oaks some as much as 4 to 500 hundred years old. We maybe only saw 50 or so people all day. The down side is that nearly all the food and drinks stalls are closed as well.  We were lucky to arrive at the alligator swamp enclosure just as the feeding was about to begin. Also saw a couple of large white alligators. They are lucky to be in the zoo as they would never have survived in the wild without their natural camouflage
The rain held off all day and the temperature sans the normal humidity is most acceptable.

We caught the bus back and called into the House of Blues for an early tea. I went with the waiters recommendation, buttermilk fried chicken, garlic mash and coleslaw. It was real good.

We are going to have an early night as tomorrow is going to be a biggin.

Also sorry for the lack of recent photos. I am having problems with my tablet

Rob Rowe

Day Twenty – St Charles Street Car

Day Twenty – St Charles Street Car

I have breaking news, as unbelievable as it is, it has stopped raining. There is even a blue colouring to the sky! Our very good friend Pat has offered to pick us up during her lunch break and take us for lunch in the Bywater area.
It was great to catch up with Pat and chat during the car ride over to Elizabeths for lunch. A true neighbourhood restaurant. I went for two small dishes, the Boudin balls and praline bacon. I had to ask Pat what were the ingredients of the food I had ordered. Boudin is a meat and rice ball that is deep fried and sits in  a lake of seeded mustard. The bacon is covered with brown sugar and then cooked and crisped. Although Pat did comment that the bacon could have been crispier and we look forward to eating some of her home-cooked praline bacon. Wendy went for the fish po’ boy and Kate the cheese burger. My meal was washed down with a nice and spicy bloody mary.

Pat is a really lovely person as is her partner Bob Gentilly Jnr. They have both looked after me and Wendy (on her last visit) and taken us to places outside the normal tourists haunts.
After a real nice lunch Pat very kindly dropped us off at Armstrong Park so as I can show Kate around. The park sits just over Rampart St (back of town) which is the divider between the French Quarter and the historic Treme district. Within the Park are many fine sculptures of legendary music icons. Louis Armstong, Buddy Boldin, Sidney Bechet and Mahalia Jackson. Indeed the Mahalia Jackson performing arts centre sits within the park. Integral to the park is Congo Square where in days long gone by, African slaves were allowed to congregate on Sundays and sing and dance to the rhythms of their drums. These very rhythms that eventually morphed into the jazz and blues that we know today. Kate has noticed that there are hundreds of caterpillars out for their constitutionals (being stalked by lizards) and had deemed the park to dangerous for her.

We walked a couple of blocks over to what remains of the old Basin Street railway station (Basin Street Blues.) The station sat within and area known as Storeyville. Storeyville housed most of the brothels of the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s. I have wrote extensively of this historic area before and don’t want to repeat myself. If you want to learn more about the seedier side of New Orleans well over a century ago then I suggest you call on Mr.Google,
Very close to the Station is St Louis No. 1 cemetery. The cemetery where Marie Laveau is buried. Tourist guides are frequently taking their paying customers for a look. We don’t need to pay as I am nearly qualified as a tourist guide. Wrong we were not allowed in. As of March the 1st this year you need to be with a sanctioned tour guide to gain access. I sort of understand as inconsiderate tourists have been known to want to take home souvenirs But please Mr Smith, no smoking come April 22nd and now a ban on cemeteries. What is happening!

Next off we walked for 10 minutes to catch the famous (a street car named desire) St Charles Street car and as the name implies we head down St Charles. Before we hit the beautiful area known as the Garden District we go past Lee Circle. A very impressive statue of Gen Robert E. Lee sits very high above the ground ( looking north, never turn your back on a Yankee.) The Garden District is the Toorak of New Orleans. The mansions here are something to behold. House after house of ‘Gone with the Wind.’ A lot of the tourists alight at Washington Avenue and then walk around the sides streets to view the homes. We decide to ride to the end of the line. Our plans are thwarted when about three quarters of the way down we had to get off our car and jump on a car going back to Canal, a Street Car ahead of us has caught fire.
It is pleasant sitting on the street car, all the windows are open including the front drivers and a nice breeze comes down to us. With the rain ceasing the humidity sets in.

Back on Canal and Kate has found a kids Foot Locker shoe store. She can fit into a kids size and the shoes are cheaper here than in the grown-ups store next door.

We started walking down Bourbon around 4:30 to get back to our apartment. Guess what another thunder storm has just rolled in. Next thing I know I get a tap on the shoulder, we have run into Williamstown’s Brett Stammers and his wife Jeannie and a couple of their Oz travelling companions. I knew Brett was coming to town but to meet up so unexpectedly was a surprise. We all sought shelter in a Daiquiri store and exchanged notes. A tornado alert has just come through on Kate’s phone. I reassured all that, ‘not to worry’ as the warnings come through regularly. Not sure I reassured anyone really.

Back home and I got the wandering urge at around 6:30 and am keen to head over to Frenchman for some music. We had to ask Kate if we could go out for a couple of hours by ourselves. She reluctantly agreed by told us not to be too late!
We called into the first club we came upon. Vaso’s sounded like they had a blues band playing. We made a bad mistake by going in for a drink here. The band is awful and they absolutely murder a Stones song. The singer screams and the guitarist is a shocker. They wouldn’t get a gig at the Pirates Tavern! The beer was cold though.

As soon as we could we moved on to d.b.a. Three piece band playing and local artist Washboard Chaz is part of the band. They are o.k. for a listen and we have a good position at the bar. Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington & the Roadmasters (he is a favourite of mine) are the main act and they are due on at 10. Decided to stay and catch the Wolfman’s first set. We don’t want to break curfew with Kate.
As the sound engineer was setting up between bands he was nervously glancing toward the basketball game on T.V. The New Orleans Pelicans are playing the San Antonio Spurs. If the Pelicans win they will go into the conference play offs for the first time in many, many years. With 5 minutes to go the Pelicans are 7 points up. I spoke to the sound man and said ‘the Pelicans are gunna win.’ He said, ‘this is New Orleans we are used to losing when being ahead.’ The good news is the Pelicans are through not like that other side favoured by Kate, the Miami Heat.

We called into the Verti Marte on the way home for a take-out lasagne and a cheesy mac. All in all a full day.

Rob Rowe

Day Nineteen – Rain

Day Nineteen – Rain

Blues Idiom – Lesson Five – Cat – Blues and Jazz musicians use ‘cat’ to refer to another musician they respect. Scholars suspect this use of cat stems from the Wolof* word for singer, Katt. *is a language of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania and the native language of the Wolof people.

Have I told you lately that it has been raining here in New Orleans? There has been thunder storms and very, very heavy rain for most of the night and all morning. We were to go for a drive with Stew and Carol down to the Lower 9th today but we have postponed until later in the week.

By 10:30 hunger drove Wendy and I out to get some breakfast. The rain has eased a little. Kate has decided to stay in bed. We headed a few blocks over to Envy’s a little local cafe on the edge of the Quarter. I found this place a few years back and have had many a fine breakfast there. Wendy has also been there before. We both went for the French Toast with fresh fruit. The storm is getting a lot worse and though we are going the get very wet we made a dash back to the apartment as Kate might think that she will get washed away.

My tablet has been giving me the shits. Just wants to keep locking up. I am nearly ready to throw it out.

We are out and about at 1:30. Rain is now relenting a little. Kate took her umbrella and Wendy has  on my poncho. I being a local can see that the sky is clearing. A block later Kate volunteered to go back for my umbrella as I waited under a porch. The heavens have opened up again!

Just across from Jackson Square is the Louisiana State Museum. A good place to escape the wet and learn a little at the same time. I have been here twice before. The first floor is a reminder of what this city has been through with hurricanes Katrina is documented thoroughly. I have written before about the apparant lack of help after this devastating storm One display that sums it all up is titled ‘Is this America?’ I am sure Kate now has a better understanding of the devastation that occured on the streets she is now walking.

The second floor is a celebration of the history of Mardi Gras not just in New Orleans and Louisiana but going way back to early Europe. Please don’t confuse Mardi Gras with Sydney’s festival it is far more than that.

We decided to head down to the Camilla Grill for a burger. Got there at 3 and it had just closed. Headed back to the infamous Clover Grill. The rain has kept  most tourists inside and we got a table straight away. Kate is not sure of the food that is available and so she is going to share a toasted chicken breast, cheese and lettuce sandwich. Me I order a burger. The place may look like the grungy 24 hour diner it is but I know the food is good. In fact the food was so good that Kate and Wendy ordered a repeat of the sandwich they have just devoured.

Nothing to do now but head back in the rain to dry off and watch television The girls have found a chanel that has old movies and are watching in sequence the three animated ‘Ice Age’ movies

Let’s hope the rain clears tomorrow however the forecasts are not good.

Rob Rowe

Day Eighteen – Wedding Annivesary

Day Eighteen – 30th Wedding Anniversary

Blues Idiom Lesson Four – Cabbage – The blues are rife with food metaphors for genitalia. There’s cabbage, cake, jellyroll and pie for women, and bacon, hot dog, jellybean and lemon for men – Bessie Smith sang:

He boiled my first cabbage and he made it awful hot
When he put in the bacon it overflowed the pot

It is our 30th wedding anniversary today. Thunder storms are predicted for most of the day. I went on-line and booked tickets for tonights show as Snug Harbor (that’s how it is spelt) for the incredible Charmaine Neville.

The rain cleared a little which was good as Kate is booked in for her Tattoo at Electric Ladyland at noon. As usual we were early so we had a coffee at a real nice cafe. The menu looked so good that we ordered a late breakfast (b’fast at noon how very New Orleans) while Kate was getting her ink. A breakfast sandwich for Wendy and I being a little more adventurous ordered the ‘sweet southern breakfast,’ scrambled eggs, avocado, curried potato and pecan fig bread. Cara would be happy here as there are many tasty sounding vegetarian meals (very un New Orleans)
With our stomachs full and still some time to waste we headed a few doors down to the Louisiana Music Factory. I normally spend a week’s pay here on new C.D purchases. It was Wendy that cut loose. Tab Benoit and Glen David Andrews.

Kate is finished and we walked the ten minute journey to Sally Ann Glassman’s ‘Island Salvation of Botanica.’ If you have followed my previous adventures in New Orleans then you know that Sally Ann is a close friend of Kerri Simpson. ‘Sally Ann has been practising Vodou in New Orleans since 1977 and in 1995 became one of a few white Americans to have been ordained via the traditional Haitian initiation. ‘Island Salvation of Botanica’ as the name suggest is a botanica and art gallery with religious supplies, medicinal herbs and Haitian local art works.’ (Wikipedia)

We are carrying the latest Ska Vendors C.D. which Kerri has asked us to give to Sally Ann. In fact this is the third C.D. over three years that I have delivered. We are in luck as Sally Ann is in residence. I told her that I still carried my gris gris that she made and blessed for me three year ago. She said ‘how have you been,’ I replied ‘up and down.’ ‘Well,’ she told me, ‘without the gris gris, things would have been a lot worse.’ I gave her the C.D. and she was very thankful. She told us that she has built a shrine out front in honour of the legendary Vodou priestess Marie Laveau and that in the shrine is Kerri Simpson’s C.D. ‘Vodou Songs of the Spirits.’ I feel like I achieved something important carrying the album all the way from Australia. I am sure Kerri will be very pleased.

The rain has now cleared and we are seeing some blue sky for the first time since landing. Rain and now blue sky means it is going to get real steamy. We headed back to the French Market to let the girls look over the stalls. The French Market is no where near as big as Vic Market but the goods they sell (although touristy) are better that some of the crap that is infiltrating our own market. While the girls shopped I sat down with a cold drink and talked to an oyster shucker who was having a quick smoko. Being an oyster expert he told me, once he knew where I was from,’that apart form Louisiana the best oysters in the world are from Australia.’ I had to agree. He even talked about our yabbies and compared them to the crawfish that have just come into season.

We then went over to Cafe du Mond. I wanted to get Kate to try a Beignet (French doughnut)she seemed very impressed with this fried lump of dough covered in a mountain of icing sugar.

Took a leisurely stroll down Royal Street and this time we had time to have a look inside a few of the classy antique shops and art galleries. Kate has found a chandelier she likes at 50% off. That is 50% off $22,000. One art gallery has some very impressive large (very large) 3D type paintings of super heroes. The Batman is in the front window and I must admit it looked very cool. I went in to get a price. $15,500! We went into a vintage memorabilia  store. I have spotted a Jimi Hendrix signed guitar that would look nice on my wall. $45,000 is the asking price.
We went into an antique jewellery store, the same store that I purchased Wendy’s poison ring last year. Wendy is looking for a ring. She didn’t get anything but I have a new ring!

Then headed down Canal St to have a look in some jeans and sports apparel stores. Finally have found a present for Wendy. Pretty cool cowboy boots but unfortunately that do not have a 9. They have the sizes either side. Luckily,  as we are in town for a few weeks the salesman has ordered in the correct size and he will have them within  a week.

Back to the apartment for a quick shower and rest and then we are off to Snug Harbor.

This is my third visit to the club for Charmaine’s show. We ordered some drinks and a couple came and sat next to us. They are from San Franciso and this is their first trip to ‘awlins. They gave us some very valuable advice on spots to visit when we get to Frisco.
Charmaine announced our 30th wedding anniversary from the stage and also welcomed Kate for her first time visit. Another great show as usual. She got up a young 16 year old boy to sit in with the band to play saxophone. As she said it is a baptism of fire and he did good. She sang a scat version of the Flintstones song which was funny. She also invited up Mr. Batiste an 80plus year old local guitar player to sit in on a few songs. She did a little talk on why it is good to live in New Orleans. One reason being that ‘they sell cars here that have no indicators.’ She also rapped about how interesting the weather is down this way. A good fun night and Kate seemed to enjoy it. When I told her we were going to a Jazz Club I think she had visions of the staid Trad Jazz she gets to see on Sundays at the Willy R.S.L.

We left the venue just after 10 and went across the street to the ‘Dat Dog’ restaurant. They have every imaginative concoction of beef hot dog you could imagine. The girls shared an alligator hot dog (isn’t Kate getting adventurous.) In honour of Mr. Smith I ordered the Guinness special made with Irish Guinness and covered with andoullie sauce, chedder, onions, bacon and yellow mustard. First time I have every had to eat a hot dog with a knife and fork!
Oh and Mr. Smith I have just read that come April 22nd a law has been passed that there will be no smoking in any bar or restaurant in New Orleans….

Rob Rowe

Day Seventeen – French Quarter Fest (last day)

Day Seventeen – French Quarter Fest (Last Day)

Blues Idiom Lesson Three – Boogie – May have taken several routes to arrive in American English by the 1700’s. The Bantu word Mbuki means to dance, and speakers in Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa use Bogi to mean dance, especially up tempo music.

Rain, rain and more rain. Good chance to catch up with the writing but would sooner be out listening to some music. I did go out around noon to get some lunch from the Verti Mart, a block down from us. Verti Mart is open 24 hours a day and the food is more that acceptable. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. I have learned from experience that one meal here is two meals at home.

At 1;35 the rain finally relented and we are out, baby. A band that Wendy and I both like a lot, the Creole String Beans will be playing at an outdoor stage near the Old Mint, only ten minutes from us. The weather is still looking iffy. There is a large grassed area in front of the stage which reminds me of an old fashioned mid-winter footy ground. Mud, mud and more mud. The Beans are a great party band, playing classic New Orleans R’n’B the likes of Fats Domino, Lee Dorsey, Professor Longhair and Smiley Lewis as well as some real good originals. The crowd gets involved with a bit of mud dancing. I went to get a Chardonnay for Wendy and the elderly lady said to me ‘you want a shot of what.’ She even asked me for I.D. which made me think she was taking some shots herself. After the Beans had finished we walked down to the Abita Stage (15 minute walk). Don’t you like it when you can walk out your front door and take a quick stroll to hear some of the finest music there is.

Kermit Ruffins & the Barbeque Swingers were in full flight by the time we got to the stage. Quick hello to Stew & Carol and off to get a beer. I had to get Kate to buy my Amber as I had no I.D. The authorities have cracked down and irrespective of how old you are you must have I.D. A light drizzle has set in and it looks like it is here to stay.

We headed over to the Tropical Island Hand Grenade Stage to catch a favourite band of mine. The Honey Island Swamp Band, great country driven rock a little like the Allman Brothers but definitely their own style. Excellent musicians and great songs (mostly originals). The Natchez is in dock and the huge Ocean Liner the Norwegian Dawn is pulling out of dock. What a sight to behold as it  makes the huge right turn of the Mississippi. It looks like the river is taking the ship were it wants as it swings around.

I can see (being a semi-local) that the weather is closing in again. Time to make a move. We decided to have dinner at Cafe Maspero (Ian Fraser’s favourite ‘awlins bar). Kate has gone for the roast beef ‘po boy (poor man’s sandwich) with gravy on the side and Wendy and I share a fried oyster plate.
We headed back home in the rain, wet but not cold.


Honey Island Swamp Band with a one of a kind back-drop

Rob Rowe

Day Sixteen – French Quarter Fest

Day Sixteen – French Quarter Festival

Blues idiom lesson two – ‘Balling the Jack’ when a conductor got a locomotion steaming at full speed, he was said to be balling the jack. The train was the jack short for “the jackass carrying the load.” The blues made it into an all out effort, from dancing to sex to gamblers risking all.

Overcast looking day with rain predicted in the afternoon. The bad news for me is I have Kate’s cold. We called in to see Robert at ‘Wicked Awlins’ my favorite clothing shop in the quarter. We had a chat. Kate remarked when we left that Robert and his two friends were very polite. Southerners are in general. ‘Yes Ma’mm, Yes Sir always asking where you are from and welcoming you to their city.

We walked around to Frenchman Street. A block of music clubs and restaurants and of course my tattoo parlor ‘Electric Ladyland.’ The receptionist even recognized my past tattoo as one of theirs. Kate has booked in for this coming Monday to get a small Fleur De lis behind her ear.
Next we called into the Louisiana Music Store where radio station WWOZ has a presence. We have purchased our ‘brass passes’ for Jazz Fest which is a couple of weeks away. The cost of the pass gets you into the festival for all seven days as well as giving you access to the WWOZ hospitality tent. You can sit and take a load off your feet and avail yourself to the mountains of fresh fruit salad and a cold iced coffee.

We sat in the French Market area for a fruit smoothie while watching some dance lessons being conducted at the Trad Jazz Stage.

Back to the Abita stage for the commencement of Little Freddie King and his band. One of my favourite bluesman in ‘awlins. The 75 year old gets a beautiful groove going and you just never want it to stop,dressed resplendently  as always, in bright blues pants, blue shirt with white polka dots, white cuffs and collar, orange tie and white fedora and of course cool shades. Thanks to Carol and Stew we are allowed to sit in front of stage. Kate was getting into Little Freddie’s groove although I was unhappy to learn that while I was taking a leak before the set-up that Stew introduced Kate as his granddaughter to the maestro and she got her photo taken. Look like I have competition in the groupie photos.

I spotted Rob Steinberg being ushered in to our area by Stew. I met Rob last year. He is an actor and had a part in the HBO series ‘Treme.’ We shook hands and Stew also told us that Rob has a part in the excellent new film, ‘Twelve Years a Slave.’ In fact Wendy watched the movie on the flight over. Next you know Kate is sitting on his knee for a photo with me lurking in the background. At least Rob gave me his business card and said ‘welcome back.’
We then took a short walk over to the Cajun/Zydeco stage to catch Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Heel Raisers. Kate’s first Zydeco experience and I am sure she was impressed. It is a modern twist on this traditional style of music. Dwayne was out in the crowd by the third song getting a second line going. Back up on stage he is laying on his back playing his accordion like a man possessed. ‘Somebody scream’ that familiar refrain you hear all the time from New Orleans musos, and we all do.

It is about 4:30 and the rain is rolling in again. You feel the temperature drop and know a down poor is imminent. We headed to the casino for cover (oh yeah) and Kate and I lost $20 each. The curse of the Rowes.

We made it over to the Riverwalk Factory Outlet and walked the undercover two story mall. Sat down for a bite to eat. I ordered Wendy and I  a Chinese meal and large coke. Cost for three types of chicken and fried rice plus the drink $8.90. Neither of us could finish the large meal and we took home the rest in a take away container.

We walked home in the rain. Down Royal Street. Although only one street back from Bourbon they are worlds apart. Art galleries, antique stores and quality clothing stores. Kate wants to go back to explore this street when more time permits. It is ok to walk in the rain here, much like a warm shower really. We spoke to a couple of cockney poms and they also were enjoying New Orleans even in the rain. As the husband said ‘if it was raining like this in London I would be freezing…


Stanton Moore

Rob Rowe

Day Fifteen – Miami to New Orleans

Day Fifteen – Miami to New Orleans
For the next few weeks I willl give you a lesson (for those that need it) in Blues speak. All the informationis taken from the excellent book ‘The Language of the Blues from Alcorub to Zuzu’ author Debra Devi
Canned Heat is obtained from the extraction of alchol from Sterno, Canned Heat cooking fuel. Listen to old blues songs such as ‘Canned Heat Blues’ also the name of course of blues boogie band ‘Canned Heat’

We caught a cab at 11 for the 15 minute drive to the Miami International Airport. It will be good to put down rots for the next three weeks and not have to repack the suitcase. The Miami Airport is huge, clean and looks real good with the sea life wall murals. We checked our bgs and then caught the sky train to our departure terminal. Kate is happy as we have found a cafe that has penne and bolognaise sauce.

The flight is a little over two hours although it was a little disconcerting when the pilot announced to buckle up early as the decent will be a little bumpy. We were to expect mild to severe turbulence due to thunderstorm activity over New Orleans. That description mild to severe leaves a lot in the middle. I glanced out the window and the cloud formation reminded me of big bags of fairy floss they were so thick. Luckily the said turbulence was on the mild side.
Once in the cab the heavens opened up with some very heavy rain. I had already told Kate to expect rain like this sometime during our stay but so early was a bummer. I am not confident that the French Quarter Music Festival will still be going. We are hoping to just drop our bags and head out to the music. The Festival is free with a dozen or so stages scattered throughout the French Quarter. Four days of music which started on Thursday (today being Friday) with start times around 11 and finish around 8:30.

We arrived out our apartment around 4:30. 1123 Bourbon St will be our home for the next 3 weeks. I have stayed here on two other occasions We are close to all the good thing the quarter has to offer and away from the debauchery of the top end of Bourbon St.
William our landlord greeted us like long lost friends as it was still raining we caught up on all the news. Fifteen minutes later with the rain all but stopped we headed out.

We headed to the big outdoor main stage on the banks of the Mississippi. We wanted to catch up with our friends Stew and Carol Sadowsky. Stew and Carol head the security crew. We are in look twofold. The stage crew are setting up the gear for the Irving Mayfield New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and we spotted our good friends. Hugs and kisses and introduction of Kate. It was good catching up. I also ran into Joey a New Orleans Police Officer while I was off getting us some drinks. He said he would come over and say hello to the girls.

The band started off with some Jazz numbers and throughout their performance bought up special guests. Joey came over and chatted for over an hour. Kate was excited to meet him and they talked about Tasers and guns and police enforcement in the States. He seemed impressed with her knowledge. ‘How do you ķnow much about Tasers’, he asked. Kate replied. ‘I watch a lot of real drama American cop shows.’ One of the special guests that Irving got up was the incredible drummer Stanton Moore from the band Galactic. I had my first groupie photo taken with Stanton when he came off stage. Stew has also allowed Wendy to go into the photography pit front of stage to take some great shots.

Time for another drink run. When I came back Kate was missing. I thought she had gone off somewhere by herself. Not to worry though as Wendy told me that Stew had taken her up on stage for a close up view. Stew then beckoned me up on stage and here was Kate sitting on a stool nearly close enough to touch the tuba player. For the last three songs Irving got up some members of a local rock band to sit in with the brass orchestra. Pretty cool to hear Led Zepplin songs with a full brass backing.
The last band for the night were New Orleans stalwarts Bonerama. They also invited up a special guest on trombone. A young boy of maybe ten who nailed his solo. They start ’em young in ‘awlins.

We wandered off to Canal Street. The French Quarter is locked in by Canal St (uptown), the Esplanade (downtown), Rampart St (back of town) and the Mississippi (front of town). It is important to know these descriptions as that is how the locals give directions.
I wanted to walk Kate down Bourbon St from Canal st to our apartment in the 11 hundred block. Again that is how you know where you are by the block description.  I.E. if the address on Bourbon is 953 then you are in the 9 hundred block. I think Kate got an idea of what Bourbon Street has to offer if you are in a party mood.

We were about to go past the Funky Pirate Tavern when I thought I heard a familiar voice. Yep. Bluesman ‘Big’ Al Carson was playing. We went in for a seat and sat up side of stage. Now I know that ‘Big’ Al likes to involve young pretty girls in his act. Sure enough just before the end of the set he pointed and winked at Kate and asked if she would help him out by taking the tip barrel around during thr break. She was too embarrassed to do so. He said ‘Come on ya’ll ya daddy will let ya.’ I offered up Wendy’s services but he politely moved on to another young woman.

We have only been in town a few hours and we are up and running. Sure is good to be back at my second home, ya’ll


New Orleans law enforcement and new recruit

Rob Rowe

Day Fourteen – South Beach Miami

I woke and enjoyed a Bob Marley iced tea. No herbs but very nice indeed.

Kate has been panicking about getting our basketball tickets printed. She purchased them online before we left Oz. The receptionist at our hotel came to the rescue for us. One problem solved.

Only a short ten minute work to the bus terminal to get a bus down to where all the beautiful people like to be seen – South Beach Miami. We had no assistance whatsoever from a very unfriendly bus driver. The downtown area as is a lot of ‘downtowns’ in major cities are not the prettiest of sights. Once we crossed the bridge the scenes of huge luxury cruises moored along the river told you that this is the money end of town. One of the boat moorings was three times the size of the St Kilda marina. It is the Miami that we are all familiar with in all those T.V. shows.

We are off the bus at 11 o’clock and it is time to eat, I liked the look of a chicken place but Kate said it was to dirty. A few doors down a street spruiker invited us into Deco Sandwiches. Kate gave her approval and in we went. Good pick. A 10 inch Churassa sandwich and fries filled the spot and I will not have to eat again until tonight. Finally we found a Walgreens and werre able to get some medicine for Kate’s cold. She is battling on like a trooper but she has been very sick.

We hit the beach area at 12:15 and the beach stretchs on forever. Very clean sand with beautiful coloured water. Not much in the way of surf. It does put Surfers to shame. I had to put on my shades as there are a lot of good sights and I don’t want to look like a dirty old man.
We strolled down the sidewalk side of the beach where there are restaurants and cafes of all types. Seating is outdoors. I am starting to feel crook myself with a sore throat. The area is being transformed into a weekend gay pride event. Sure would be some sights but we will be leaving tommorow (Friday). English seems to be the second language down this way. I have read that Cuban and Haitian people make up a fair amount of the population.
We decided to have a cold drink at the ESPN sports bar. The waitresses are very easy on the eye and a little (cheeky) if you know what I mean. Bad luck for us as we got the only male waiter working the outdoor area.

I am now so tired that I can barely walk but it would not be fair to force the girls to go back so early. After all we only have this one full day in Miami.
Kate spotted a tatto shop ‘@ Oxygen Tattoo.’ Every block has a tatto parlour but this one is special. It appears regulary on a T.V. show and Kate watches it back home  We called in and she recognised the owner straight away. They got talking and he seemd pleased that she knew of his business. Both the owner and another aritst commented on how good the work was for her own tatts.

About 4 P.M. we lined up for the bus to downtown. Not a good time of day as a lot of local workers are heading home. I young guy offered me his seat. The first five rows of the bus are designated for the elderly and people with disabilities. Nice of him to do so but I declined the offer. A few stops down the road another older guy got on. There was a smug looking young guy sitting and he did not offer up his seat. A verbal stoush in Spanish errupted, In fact most of the elderly people up front ripped into this young guy in heated Spanish. He didn’t move.

We had a rest back at the hotel before heading out around 6ish for the Miami Heat game. A short 10 minute bus ride. Incredible stadium with a buzz like an AFLfinal. The Heat need to beat the Chicago Bulls to stay in the pennant race. They have not been the same team as last year after Lebron James left.
The pre-game hoopla is entertaing. Non stop music and commentary and the the team mascot was hilarious. Even when the game started the noise and music contiued with the crowd singing along and clapping and making as much noise as possible. It amazes me that the primadonna tennis players have to have complete silence just to hit a tennis ball. The Miami Heat dancers put on a good show. During one time out the young spunks were replaced by a grandmother troupe who danced and gyrated away as if they were still in there teens. I am hoping there are no wardrobe malfunctions.

The Heat was kicking arse and at half-time lead by 19 points 51 to 32. Looks like a blow-out and Kate is very happy. Guess what they got beat by 11 points. A 30 point turn around. Sort of like coming from10 goals down at half time at an AFL game.  Wendy and Kate know the feeling, just like Essesndon last week! Still it was great to see an NBA game for the first time.


Rob Rowe

Day Thirteen – Orlando to Miami

Day Thirteen – Orlando to Miami
We checked out at 10 A.M. and caught a cab to the Amtrak Rail Station in Orlando. Our train does not leave until 12:50 but I am hoping we can check our bags and have a quick look around the city of Orlando. Unfortunately the station is not centalised like Southern Cross and there is little around to explore. We have an hour and a half wait for the train. Time to grab something to eat, 2 hot dogs and ketchup, one chilli dog (guess who that is for) and three sodas for $10. We left Orlando right on time and settled in for the just over 5 hour journey. You get plenty of leg room and you can also charge your electronics. I like train journeys. They give you a chance to look at the landscape. There is something comforting about the clickity clack and the rocking motion. The continual blast of the trains horn as we approach level crossings tells you that the train is the boss over the motor car. Get out of my way I have the right of way here.

The journey flew by and before we knew it we were in a cab and on our way to the historic (1906) Miami River Hotel located downtown. A journey time of only 20 minutes.Our cab driver is a Pakistani who has been in Miami for 25 plus years. He knows we are Australian and congratulated us on our World Cup win. I asked if he had watched the games and he had. He told us that he was well acquianted with the M.C.G, the S.C.G and the Adelaide ovel. I said maybe one day you will get to see the M.C.G. He said he had and in fact played a few tests for Pakistan and also played to County Cricket in the U.K. Told us that he had faced the greats, Dennis Lillie and Jeff Thompson. His name is Nadeem Mohammed. A real nice guy who chatted about his past life and also gave Kate advice about respecting your mother. He could not have been more accommodating and we have got his cell number so we can call him when we need a cab to get us to Miami airport in a few days.

Our hotel is located in the old Cuban section of Miami. A short 10 minute walk to downtown. We unloaded our cases with the time being  around 7:30 and headed over the bridge that spans the Miami river. There are many fishing trawlers moored along the bank. The area is safe to walk around but pretty grotty. I was taken by the number of homeless that are bedding down in their makeshift cardboard homes for the night. None of them give any trouble. I thought New Orleans had a fair number of homeless but nowhere near as many as this part of town.

Kate is still crook and not that hungry. We found a clean looking restauarant that advertised ‘east meets fresh organic food. ‘Buddahs Belly’ sort of burritos meets sushi. I had the beefy korean – garlic beef, kimcher, cucumber pickles, organic field greens, scallions with black bean sauce. It looked like a burrito, very thick but it was made with the traditional seaweed casing. Very nice and a totally new taste sensation. We also shared some Thai Donuts – hot mini dognuts topped with icing sugar and warmed sweet condensed milk. Kate miracously found her appetite!

Tommorow we have a full day ahead, exploring Miaimi’s south beach and also a night basketball game with the Miami Heat taking on the Chicago Bulls.


South Miami Beach

Rob Rowe

Day Twelve – Universal Studios (take two)

Day Twelve – Universal Studios

We were up early again to catch the shuttle over to Universal. Kate is not well and has gone back to bed and will meet us mid-morning. She has had a heavy cold since the start of our trip and she can’t shake it.
We got in a very long line for our bus. Although there are many ahead of us we did not wait long. Three buses pulled in at once. There is a family behind us  and the Grandmother (I assume she is) is worried that she has left her cell phone back in her room. She searched for 5 minutes and then told all with in ear shot that she had found her phone. She said ‘praise the lord Jesus Christ.’ He must be the god of telecommunications.

Wendy and I headed straight for Springfield where all the Simpsons characters and the various shops are featured. Really well done. I went into the Kwiki Mart and an Indian lady said ‘welcome to the Kwiki Mart,’ maybe Apu was sick?

We now headed back to Diagon Alley where all good wizards (and bad) go to buy their supplies for the coming school year (Harry Potter). We first went passed the triple-decker English style bus ‘the Knight Rider’ which features in one the the Potter films. The English driver lets me come over for a photo. I asked him if he wanted to talk cricket, he knew I was having a go at him but he came back with ‘no sooner talk about Quidditch.
A lot of the younger kids have talked their parents into buying them a wand from of course Ollivanders. The wands are pretty pricey but they are interactive. The kids can wander around to various locations and use the correct spell to make something happen at a statue or shop window. A lot of those kids are going to be disappointed when the get home and can’t change their T.V. channels with the said wands. It is good though to watch the young kids faces when they successful cast the right spell and something moves. I sat down and had a butter beer (root beer with ice-cream float).
I went and purchased a Slytherin watch. Not sure why really but it looks good. It sits nice and sinister on my wrist with my voodoo tattoo.

Next we lined up for the Shrek 4D movie adventure. I still get a laugh out of donkey.

Kate has messaged us to say she should be with us at 10:30. We decide to meet at Krusty Burgers for a bite to eat. We sat out front until she arrived and then went and got our Krusty Burger and Duff beer and sat in Moe’s tavern to eat. I tried the love tester and scored a Casanova rating (the top rating I may add). Wendy was below that (Hot Tamale) and sorry Adam as Kate rated as a cold fish.
I got my Picture taken with Homer and Bart and an autograph if you don’t mind!

We headed back to Diagon Alley as Kate is looking for a necklace. It is after 12 and there are people everywhere. Just goes to show that getting to the park early makes the experience a little more comfortable. We also went for a walk down the creepy Knockturn Alley where all the bad dudes hang out.
It is now 1:30 and I am shopped out and lined out. Kate still wants to look at the NBA shop and me I head to the Hard Rock Cafe for a cool bud.