Always tweaking something!

Ok, ok, ok, I’ll update already!

Today (Saturday) being Aug. 22 will be day 1826 of my smoke free campaign.  My 5th anti-smokiversary!  Nice start.  Only the rest of my (now extended) life to go.  Some stats (to appease the geek in me):

My Stats:
Your Quit Date is:  8/22/2004 7:00:00 PM

Time Smoke-Free: 1825 days, 14 hours, 51 minutes and 49 seconds

Cigarettes NOT smoked: 36512

Lifetime Saved:  9 months, 8 days, 21 hours

Money Saved: $7,450.08

That money saved is based on butts being $4.08 a pack when I quit.  For New Yorkers, a pack of butts now costs $7.50 or more depending on location, brand, etc.  Cindy is currently burning a $7.60 bill with each pack.

Folks have been cashing in on that cash for clunkers deal left & right.  Gotta admit that I bit the bullet too.  Traded in the ol’ 2001 Grand Caravan (18mpg) in favor of one of them there Ford Escapes.  I went on a two week long search for my next vehicle.  Pretty much knew what I wanted and also knew that inventories of these things were preciously low.  Sure enough, my first two choices were flat out unavailable.  For one (Toyota Tacoma), the closest one that met my specs was in Pittsfield, Mass.  AND it was spoken for.  My other choice (Ford Ranger) was just flat out gone, and the F100 don’t quite exist yet.

Test drove a Toyota Venza.  Sweet ride, but the only models available locally were kinda pricey.  Ended up back at a Ford dealer where they had one 4 cylinder equipped Escape left.  6 speed tranny, 4 cylinder engine – government says it’s good for a combined 24mpg.  It’s real purdy too – black exterior, charcoal interior.  It’s got the minimum bells & whistles required for comfort – A/C, cruise, power locks & AM/FM/CD.  And it qualified me for the max rebate.  The salesman did all the paperwork, we signed a few dozen forms and drove it home Thursday night.  I’m noticing that a lot of people are into naming their vehicles.  I’m thinking maybe I ought to too.  Well, something besides ‘that piece of crap van”.  I’ll gladly take suggestions for naming this:

I need a name!!!

I need a name!!!

As a matter of fact, I drove it home just in time to find out that the garbage disposal cracked it’s case and water was leaking all over the sink cabinet and surrounding floor area.  That’ll bring a guy back to earth in a hurry.  Guess what I did last night?

About New Orleans:

What a wonderful city.  By daylight, even Bourbon Street is a wonder.  At night, it became apparent that we were perhaps 20 years too old to be hanging out.  Especially till 2 or 3 in the morning.  It’s rough on us old folks.

In a nutshell, I had gumbo in 4 different places, jambalaya twice, never a mediocre meal.  We hit most of the “must have” spots – Café Du Monde (those beignets are killers!),  Gumbo Shop, Central Grocery (I could eat Mufaletta’s for lunch 2 or 3 days a week), we even squeezed in a lunch at Emeril Lagasse’s “Nola”.  Then we hit a few of the chain joints – Bubba Gumps, Margaritaville, the local chain Pat O’Brien’s, and a few out of the way places – Johnny’s Poboy’s for breakfast one morning, and our only meal outside the French Quarter at the Camellia Grill.  Huge but light as a feather omelets.  Totally worth the 3.5 mile streetcar ride at 8:00 on a Sunday morning.  Only way to beat the crowd.  Get there when they open.

Several things were very surprising:

1 – How narrow the streets in the quarter were.  Wow.

2 – A good portion of Bourbon Street being off limits to cars after 6pm or so.  During Mardi Gras, sure, but in August?!?!

3 – How small some of the venues were.  Nola’s had 13 tables.  Thirteen!

4 – There are gorgeous little courtyards everywhere.

5 – It seemed no matter where we went, the aroma of fetid dumpsters was always juuuuuussst above the level required to be noticeable.  After a few days you stop noticing, but residents of N.O. – do the world a favor and wash out your damn trash cans once a month or so.  It’s a hot, humid city – that stuff can get out of hand in a hurry.

6 – The effects of Katrina are still very evident.  The lower 9th ward is a ghost town.

7 – Balconies loaded with hanging plants are gorgeous.

8 – Street performers are pervasive and sometimes aggressive.  Art is everywhere.

9 – If I see one more Fleur de lis I may scratch my eyes out.  The only place safe from the fleur was apparently the elevator in our hotel.  (But I have a suggestion as to how they can sneak some in very tastefully)

10 – Drinks are ridiculously expensive.  It really helped curb the drinking.

Think I mentioned I had over 600 pics and 20-some videos.  This weekend I plan to spend an evening sorting them to find the best of the best and I’ll post a bunch on my photobucket site.  For those that have never been, you’ll like seeing most of them.  For those that have been – it’ll make you want to go back.

Here’s a small sample of the city:

Sidewalk meter cover.

Sidewalk meter cover.

A quick history

A quick history

The view across the street from the Cafe Du Monde

The view across the street from the Cafe Du Monde

A view down some random street.

A view down some random street.

Balcony shot

Balcony shot

Speaking of going back – Cindy & I discussed it and figured we would probably not go back.  We’ve seen a fair chunk of the city, time to go somewhere else.  Personally, I’d love to do Seattle, Tacoma & Ft. Lewis some year.  Mt. Rainier, The Olympic peninsula, the Cascades, heck, even downtown Seattle.  Haven’t been there in 30 years.  I imagine that a lot of buildings & people stuff has changed some, but the geography hasn’t.  Time to saddle up the camper and go cruising.  Maybe a 4 week excursion out I-90, see Yellowstone, Rushmore, Bryce Canyon, who knows?

Now.  It’s the weekend and I gotta get shit done.  Talk at ya later.

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4 responses

  1. A name, huh? I’ll put my thinking cap on. Bick and Pebbles have thrown a fit on my name choice (You must name guns, ships and cars after women or at least gender-neutral – they say) for the new Malibu and after seeing “Ken” in person, he might be too sexy for his name. So I’m in the market for a new car name, too.

    Great pics of NOLA. And the food sounds just yummy!

    And most important, a big congratulations on the smoke stats – from one big quitter to another.

    August 23, 2009 at 8:02 am

  2. Q

    Super Duper Congrats on the 5 year mark!!

    That lil’ SUV is NICE lookin’ 🙂

    I can’t believe I didn’t get to go to N.O. myself – looks amazing! Those really are narrow streets…

    August 24, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    • bikinfool

      Thanks Q. Feels good. Smells good. Now if the wife would just quit . . .

      The streets down there were surprising more because I had gone on Google maps and done the street view thingy. That just doesn’t convey the closeness. Those mini-bus tour vehicles would frequently have trouble with left turns. They seemed to avoid right turns entirely.

      Finally get to put some highway miles on the new beastie today. Been hovering right around 22mpg with my typical suburban driving. Today I have to make a run for work that’s about 20 mile ones way – get to stretch the legs a bit, see how it does.

      I better go work on something . . .

      Take care, Brian

      August 25, 2009 at 7:51 am

  3. Maria in Mpls

    Hey Brian,
    We took our honeymoon to New Orleans…before Katrina. We haven’t had the heart to go back knowing the memory of some of the places we were at are now ghost towns. The pics of downtown on Bourban Street were awesome and didn’t seem to look any different.
    Thanks for the update and pics
    Maria In Mpls

    August 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

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