I'm baaaack (Again)!

The trip was good. The conference was long and stressful as usual, but it wasn't as unpleasant socially as the previous ones have been. I also picked up another website and listserv admin gig. This one will actually get me my hotel bill paid at future conferences and next year is at DISNEY WORLD! W00t!

Of course, the best part of the whole week was that I got to hang out with my best friend Mitch! Outside of the conference, we had breakfast at Petunia's, had beignets at Cafe du Monde, spent a day at the National WWII Museum, stopped by the Magazine Street Fire Station, and drove around the Garden District and the upper 9th Ward. I wanted to get to the lower 9th Ward and Jefferson Parish to see how the recovery process is going there, but we ran out of time and daylight. The last time I was in New Orleans, I saw those areas from the back of a deuce and a half truck while working as an EMS volunteer.

While we drove around in the Garden District, we stopped by the Garden District Needlework Shop so I could go yarn shopping. Details can be found on my knitting blog.

It was weird to see both automobile and pedestrian traffic for the first few days. It was also a bit weird to have to follow the traffic signs. On the other hand, there was no longer a curfew after dark and I didn't worry once about being shot as a looter by the military or security contractors. Then again, there wasn't really an obvious military/security presence like there was in 2005.

We did see and do a lot of things, but we didn't get to everything on the "Things To Do" list. We didn't have a muffaletta at Central Grocery. We didn't hang out at Preservation Hall. We didn't ride the St. Charles St. streetcar. We didn't get over to Algiers to see where I spent my first week of rescue work after Katrina (the firefighter/EMS camp was at Our Lady of Holy Cross College). But overall, things went very well. I even managed to balance my food intake with my activity level, so I did NOT gain huge amounts of weight like I did in Sept 2005. Of course, I also wasn't being fed by a wildland firefighter catering company either, so breakfast wasn't 1200 calories. :o)

Here are some photos....

In 2005, the USS Iwo Jima and a Carnival cruise ship were moored behind the Convention Center. The Iwo Jima served as a hospital ship while the cruise ship was housing for city and rescue workers. It was strange to see nothing there this time.

We had breakfast one morning at this restaurant (whose name escapes me). We just wandered around the French Quarter until I found something promising and not crowded. At first we were going to have breakfast at Petunia's a second time, but the line was too long and we were too hungry (and crabby) to wait.

Now, after all those nice things, I do have a few rants.....

What is it with expensive hotels?!

Why is it that I can get a hotel room for $50/night and get a complimentary breakfast, free exercise facilities and a free internet connection, yet if I spend a *conference* rate of $120/night I have to pay for all meals and get charged $12/day for working out and $10/day for Internet access? You'd think that a "nicer" hotel would actually include a few of those things in the price. I guess they assume nobody will be staying there on their own dime, but will instead be charging everything to their travel expenses. I don't know who these travelers are, but the state hotel rate won't cover that stuff. Obviously I need to be working in the private sector or at least have a big federal job instead of a little state job.

*WHO* dyed my swimming pool the same color as the Chicago River?!?
I *swear* I didn't have green algae in the pool before I left. I even filled up the floating chlorine dispenser and properly shocked the pool before leaving too. I returned to a pool the color of lime jello or lime gatorade. Running the filter almost constantly and treating *twice* with shock has made no difference. So tomorrow I'll go pick up some algacide at the pool store. I am concluding that having a pool is about as labor- and money-intensive as having a child.

Ok, I'll stop the rants there....

More garden-y Goodness
I now have tomatoes!!! I have eaten tomatoes for lunch the past two days. YUMMY! I also took tomatoes in to Marsha at work. She had requested tomatoes from me two months ago when she found out that I was planting a garden and I was happy to oblige her. I figure I'll leave a couple of tomatoes a week on her desk until the plants give out.

I also came back to find more Zucchinis that Ate Detroit. I don't think I'd ever seen a 18" x 4" squash before.... I also picked another eight more normal-sized squash. I'll take some of them in to work tomorrow. I still have eight to ten of them from *before* I went on my trip. I have GOT to get some of these things grated and frozen. I also need to make some zucchini bread and some brownies. I haven't baked anything in a while.


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