DAY ONE

Wednesday – April 6th

Day One – Let the fun begin!

We are up at 3:45. That is A.M. for our flight to New Orleans. I booked our flight online through Web Jet. Wendy had gotten a quote for our flights (Melbourne – L.A. – New Orleans but with me being a savvy Internet user I knew I could get cheaper flights. What with the Aussie dollar being a lot weaker than it has been on previous trips then a dollar saved is a dollar drunk. I did get cheaper tickets but there was a down side. Hence the early flight and also (unfortunately) we have a ten hour stopover in L.A.!
First up is a one hour flight to Sydney. Smooth flight (Virgin airlines) and then through customs for the International leg. We are flying Delta airlines but for this first leg of the journey we are on a Virgin flight. I had my first senior moment, heading for seat 56 only for Kate to come and get me as we are in seat 34, we boarded through gate 56!
A long haul flight of just over 13 hours is a head of us. Having noise cancelling headphones (Bose) is so good. If you have never tried this type of quality (noise cancelling) headphone then you don’t know what you have missed. They sure beat the hell out of the bud earpieces you get with Apple products.
Finished up listening to a few albums;
 Pop Staples ‘Peace to the Neighbour
 Wishbone Ash – Pilgrimage (an old favourite)
 Pirana – Pirana !
 Pokey LaFarge – Pokey Lafarge
 Reverand Horton Heat – Reverand Horton Heat
I also watched a movie that I had downloaded (legally) onto my tablet called: Tale of Two Cities an expose of Louisianan Zydeco music. If you want to learn where this music came from and where it is going then this movie is a good start.
On a flight like this (for me) it is near on impossible to sleep. You read as much as you can, listen to music, watch movies and eat airline food all intermingled with trips to the toilet. Still the hours drag. Your eyes become very tired and itchy. But at long last you see that breakfast is about to be served which means you are about 90 minutes out of L.A. I always then get a second wind and the trip somehow feels to have slipped passed rather quickly.
Every time I have got this close to L.A. an old Arlo Guthrie tune pops into my head.
“Coming in from London from over the Pole
Flying in a big airliner
Chickens flying everywhere around the plane
Could we ever feel much finer?
Coming into Los Angeles
Bringing in a couple of keys
But don’t touch my bags if you please
Mister Customs Man”

Well I am not bringing “in a couple of keys”, you old hippies should know what I mean. However I do have a large stash of vegemite and a case full of prescription medicine! I always get crest fallen when I see the length of the line. Today we are in luck as one of the security people spotted my cane and she has ushered us through to an express line. I feel like a bit of a cheat but after such a long flight my legs and feet are hurting and being so tired I also get a little wonky on my feet. Our border protection passport checker was real nice and friendly. As he looked at Kate’s passport photo he commented “seems like the colour of your hair has changed”, if only he knew. When he asked where we were going and we replied “New Orleans” he then asked if I was a Jazz Muso – if only he knew!

We are through all the checks by 8:30 A.M. and even have our bags checked for the next flight. Pretty good of Delta to do that for us as we don’t fly out until 4:30 in the arvo. The girls spoke to an older gentleman who was behind an information desk. He suggested that we hop on a bus and head down to Santa Monica. It will take about an hour but he assured us it would be worth it. He even took us out of the terminal and told us where to pick up a free transit bus.

We got the correct bus without any problems. A $1.25 fare for each of us. This is the “Big Blue” bus line and it is pretty full, with people heading off to work. A well dressed guy in a suit jacket spoke to the girls and gave them a heads up on what to do when we get to Santa Monica. I have heard of the city and know that it is well known for its beautiful beach. Another guy got off at our stop. He looked like he was a chef or something as he had a white jacked over his shoulder. He told us to walk with him as he was heading to a grill/bar where he works and it is right across from the famous Santa Monica pier. He asked some questions of us and I asked him his thoughts on the fascist Donald Trump. He said he was a fuck-wit!

The last sign post for Route 66 is half way along the pier. The weather is real nice, no clouds, now wind and early 20’s temperature wise. Spring has just started in this neck of the woods. The per has amusement rides and food outlets along its length. The waves are rolling in and it looks nice with the hills in the background. Sort of like a bigger and more upmarket version of Apollo Bay.

We finished the pier walk around 10:50 and I am already knackered. The girls want to go shopping so I opted to sit on a park bench and just watch the world go by. Chilled out for about 90 minutes with Kate coming back to my spot with many a shopping bag. We are still in transit and she has smashed the shopping already. Nothing for me though. On our walk back to the bus stop we got a SIM card for my old IPhone. It was desperately needed as I have not been able to contact Devin in New Orleans. We are staying at his house on Tuoro St (in da’ Marigny) we booked through the Air bnb site. I mucked up the dates for our trip and we can’t get into our normal place on Bourbon St for another 5 nights.
I have not been able to confirm how we get a key for the house. We don’t get into New Orleans until 10:45 P.M. I have visions of us being homeless tonight. We can’t yet use the phone as it is not charged.

Back onto the ‘Big Blue’ bus for the trip back to the airport. We are all now dog tired and we still have more than a three hour flight ahead of us. Plus we lose another two hours when we hit New Orleans due to being in a different time zone. We got the phone charged enough at the airport to message Devin and leave a message on his voice mail but we still don’t have a clue on how to pick up a key. Devin has been trying to contact me via the Air bnb site but my replies asking for information have not been getting through. I know the general area where we will be and it is not to far from our favourite neighbourhood bar from last year ‘Iggys’ Kate said if it comes to the worst then the bar is open 24 hours and she will sleep on the pool table.

The flight was uneventful but I am sure I was not imagining that the passengers were all upbeat. They are all either returning home or excited visitors like us. I read a piece of news that two young Australians were shot in Algiers last night (not kiled but still). It turns out that they were in a Bourbon St bar very late at night and decided they would try and source drugs form a guy they had just met. They then got in a car with that same guy that they just meet and were driven across the Mississippi to Algiers where they then decided they didn’t want to buy any drugs. I know it is bad but how stupid can you be. To be honest the same thing could have happened if they had been in a King Street shithole.

We landed right on time and our bags where available for collection as soon as we got to the carasoul. Even better news is that Devin has got a message to us explaining the entry procedure. He has a small key safe attached to the front door and we now have the combination.

Our taxi driver had a lead foot and we were outside our new home for the next few days in a flash. The combination worked fine and we were finally bedded down about midnight. Whew!