When I joined this cross-country journey about a week or so ago, I envisioned blogging every night about what I experienced each day, just as I often envision getting eight more things done each day than time ever allows. Then reality rears its head and firmly clocks me on mine. There’s nothing wrong with my reach often exceeding my grasp, however. I wouldn’t get to half the things I do if it didn’t.
So here I am, all these days later, with just a single blog post, but the truth is, I’ve been too busy living it to write about it and that’s okay.
We start everything with some preconceived notions, but this was one time that I wasn’t thinking too much about what the experience might hold. I felt I knew one thing only; that the students we would be meeting would be excited about what we are doing. Other than that–I was throwing all caution to the wind and leaving myself open just to experience it.
In the past ten days, I have been in Tampa, St. Pete’s Beach, Clearwater Beach and Pensacola, Fla., along with New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., and Dallas, Texas. I have showered approximately twice to three times a day, while in Florida and New Orleans due to clothes-soaking humidity each day, and nearly welcomed the oven-quality heat of Texas. We stepped off the bus shortly after hitting Texas and seemed to lose any bit of moisture still clinging to us in seconds. By Dallas, we were taking in that 100+ degree warmth in a big way.
Now that every bit of fluid was not leaving my body in rapid-flowing streams down my back, it decided to take refuge in my ankles on Friday evening–a very strange turn of events. I remember my ankles feeling a bit weird and when I looked down at them in the mirror, it was like ”what the heck is going on?” Nothing against cankles, but there are far better things to be had in Dallas.
We spent a couple of days in New Orleans, beginning with a diploma delivery to a fabulous woman the day we got there. We had a student meet-up that night down in the French Market and met up with a young couple whose relationship began as a result of SNHU. She was on a campus-related internship down in the Big Easy and he was working at his dad’s restaurant. They hit it off, fell in love and now were telling us their story. Very cool. We had fried alligator tail that night as well as alligator sausage, and some other local offerings.
I fell in love with New Orleans, in spite of the intense humidity. After finishing up my work the next afternoon (we had a full-day shoot with a student in New Orleans, which I sat in for part of the day, listening to her story on the monitor so I could go back to the hotel and document it in the blog—and what a privilege it was to hear that story), I headed down to Bourbon Street to see what all the fuss was about. Man, it was hot, but more than that it was so humid that I was soaked through the skin in just a short while. Paying little attention, I plunged on. There were things to see!
There’s a kind of charm to the French Quarter that totally appeals to me. It’s a bit worn down, a lot of color, funky architecture and lots of little shops and restaurants, all touting something just a little bit different. And of course there’s the music, lots of live music coming out of each open bar, along with musicians in the street. I didn’t stop in anywhere; I mostly took pictures of doorways that appealed to me, buildings that I loved the look of and neon signs and musicians.
It was so muggy that my camera seemed to just freeze up several times in one of my phones and the stickiness of my hands made the touchscreen a bit less reliable too. So I didn’t photograph as much as I would have liked to. Mostly I just looked around and did my best to remember what I was seeing. I can’t wait to go back, and hope I can get there next year again. I have no interest in going during Mardi Gras. That kind of crowd and madness holds no appeal for me. I liked being there during what might be construed as off-hours, in the off-season, wandering about seeing what I could see.
The funny part is that my main intent heading down that way was to take in a great meal and the afternoon heat/mugginess proved so intense that I had little interest in eating. I had a fresh, warm beignet at the start of my walk and ended it with a chain-restaurant power smoothie with Red Bull, just to revive a bit and get back to the hotel. At one point, I honestly felt like I was going to pass out, and should have been drinking water as I walked around that afternoon. A cab ride and a smoothie set it all right. So much for taking in local cuisine.
We departed for Baton Rouge and a full day of filming the next day with an alum at his home, and I was sad to leave New Orleans behind. I had taken a couple of exploratory walks while there, but had barely scratched the surface of what was there. It was enough to awaken a longing to return sometime soon.